Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Arizona matches local kids with mentors.

The state of Arizona offers taxpayers a generous tax credit when they donate to nonprofit organizations that aid the working poor.

Here’s how it works: You give up to $400 (or $800 for a married couple filing jointly) to a charity such as the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona or the Emerge! Center against Domestic Violence. Then you get the a dollar-for-dollar credit against your state tax bill when you file your taxes. It’s essentially a way of directing some of your taxes directly to the nonprofits that help those in need.

You can find a complete list of qualifying agencies and more details about the working-poor tax credit at, but here are a few nonprofits worth supporting:

Even with unemployment rates dropping, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona has not seen much drop in demand. Food bank CEO Michael McDonald said the Food Bank is on target to help about 187,000 people, which is down from about 200,000 people last year. When it comes to food security in the six counties that the food bank serves, “we really haven’t moved the needle in a big way, because the economy has not improved for everyone. Poverty is still pretty high.”

The food bank always appreciates donations of non-perishable food, but can also leverage cash donations to buy food in bulk and support its other programs, such as gardening programs and the storage and distribution of perishable food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is purchasing food from farmers and ranchers who can’t sell their goods overseas because of the Trump administration’s trade wars. Several major donors are matching donations through the end of the year.

To make a donation visit and click “DONATE.” The organization’s Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 20488.

The Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse has seen a major surge in the number of people requiring their services as a result in a change of policy in how local law enforcement handles domestic-violence calls. Last year, Emerge! provided roughly 20,000 “bed nights” of shelter to people fleeing abusive relationships; this year, the number was closer to 28,000, according to Emerge!’s Lauryn Bianco. As a result, in addition to financial support, Emerge! has an ongoing toiletries drive. 

They are also accepting toys, books and the like for their Holiday House, a program that allows victims of abuse to pick out gifts for their kids. Holiday House opens on Dec. 10 but they will accept gifts through the holiday season. Details about both drives can be found at and donations can be dropped off at their office at 2545 E. Adams St.

To make a donation, call 795-8001 ext. 7010 or visit  The organization’s Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 20487.

Arts for All offers a safe space for children and adults with and without disabilities to express themselves artistically. The organization hosts a variety of programs, including traditional arts, ceramics, dance, drama and music, and provides for out-of-school programming, adult day classes and summer camps.

While Arts for All works to improve the lives of countless members of the local community, Executive Director Marcia Berger said 85 percent of attendees come from low income families, and 70 percent are living with a disability. When working to cover the cost of scholarships, Berger said donations from the community are a veritable lifeline, and allow the organization to accomplish its goals.

To make a donation, call 622-4100, or visit or mail checks to 2520 N. Oracle Road, Tucson, Arizona 85705. The organization’s Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 20349.

The Therapeutic Ranch for Animals and Kids strengthens youth and community through animal interaction. The ranch offers programs for children with and without specific challenges. Programs include horseback riding lessons for all ages and life skills learning.

According to the organization’s website, their programs and work “nurtures the gifts and abilities in everyone through animal interaction.”

When children work with TRAK animals, they gain confidence, motivation, trust and social skills. TRAK also provides the opportunity for volunteers to work with both children and animals, learning early education skills. With over 70 animals, including dogs, horses, rabbits, chickens, goats and more, TRAK is always in need of food and supplies. 

To make a contribution, call 298-9808, or visit Mail donations to 3250 E. Allen Road, Tucson, AZ 85718. The organization’s Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 20740.

The Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation, or SARSEF, funds local science education and creates “Arizona’s future critical thinkers and problem solvers thorough science and engineering.”

The organization hosts science fairs for local schools, offers a girls science camp and partners with local STEM organizations to help spread scientific literacy among kids. SARSEF also inspires science learning in schools by celebrating local science projects. Beyond helping students, SARSEF also provides professional development tools and instruction for teachers, and presents classroom instruction on effective scientific practices.

For additional donations, register for SARSEF to be your charity of choice when you shop at Amazon will donate 0.5 percent of eligible purchases to SARSEF.

To make a contribution, call 621-8646, or visit The organization’s Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 21048.

The Primavera Foundation, Inc. helps homeless and under-employed Southern Arizonans, either through affordable housing initiatives, or via its classes on financial and homebuyer education. 

The Foundation, was founded in 1983, and donation go toward helping local residents in difficult situations live financially sound lives, with the foundation helping 8,000 people annually in the greater Tucson region through the center’s emergency shelter and its various services. 

Primavera Marketing and Communications Coordinator Heather Strong said donations help those in-need in a variety of ways: Through the foundation’s affordable rental housing, homeless prevention drop-in centers and shelters, its work employment services, its financial education and empowerment courses, and its neighborhood revitalization and engagement exercises around Tucson. 

To make a contribution, call 308-3104 or visit Make donations to the Foundation’s physical address at 151 W. 40th Street. The organization’s Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 20680.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Arizona matches local kids with mentors. Besides the gift of friendship, the kids and their mentors go out and have fun at places like the zoo, the movies or even big events like El Tour de Tucson. 

“Most of the youth have a single parent and some have parents who are incarcerated,” said Michael Blimes, director of philanthropy. “A donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters can ignite the potential in child.” 

While Big Brothers Big Sisters is a nationwide nonprofit, all of the chapters are independent and autonomous. 

To make a contribution, visit The organization’s Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 20461.

Local nonprofit Make Way for Books has been serving Tucson for 20 years and works to improve literacy and language learning in children from birth to five years old. It is the only organization in Tucson focused on this critical age group. 

Working mostly with schools that have low reading scores for third-graders, the organization hopes to help children before they even reach kindergarten to increase their literacy and language skills. 

“Make Way for Books is changing the landscape,” said COO Ally Baehr. “We are taking the burden off the elementary school system.”

The nonprofit has recently revamped their app which gives children access to books online and provides parents with ideas about how to add literacy and language learning into their children’s lives throughout the day. 

While there are opportunities to volunteer and donate new or gently used books, the best way to help Make Way for Books is by donating money.

To make a contribution visit The organization’s Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization code is 20166.

Contributions to this article were made by Tucson Local Media staff Jim Nintzel, Logan Burtch-Buus, Jeff Gardner, Tirion Morris, Christopher Boan and intern Chandler Donald.

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