Scottdale resident Chad Bays has devoted his life to providing Arizona students in need with the opportunity to learn and explore their interests.
Founder and CEO of Academic Opportunity of Arizona, a local student tuition organization, Bays is dedicated to helping supplement the needs of Arizona students. After leaving his job in the corporate world to create Academic Opportunity of Arizona, Bays has helped many students throughout their educational career while also providing AOA’s partner schools with exciting new learning opportunities.
Bays left his career in insurance to start Academic Opportunity of Arizona to honor his mother’s legacy. As a teacher, she passed on the value of education to him at a young age. Now he’s made it his mission to impart the same passion to Arizona students. Seven years later, AOA has provided more than 800 kids with the full support they need to finish their education both inside and outside the classroom.
Name: Chad Bays
Occupation: Founder and CEO of Academic Opportunity of Arizona
Why you chose to work in your field: After working in the insurance industry for years I felt like I could be more use helping the students of Arizona. I was raised by a teacher who taught me the true value of education and wanted to impart those ideals on the next generation.
What you most like to do: Spending time with my family and staying active. Our son just turned two, so he has a lot of energy, so this helps us to stay active and spend time together as a family.
Tell us about the students you support and what they are like: We support students across the state who are living with a developmental disability and/or low-income hardship. We’ve partnered with over 60 schools since 2015 and allocated over $9,000,000 for those students who need it the most.
What is the most rewarding part of your work: Watching our students grow and excel year over year. We’ve been grateful to support local students since 2015, witnessing their progression is a priceless experience. But now as a parent, what brings me great joy is hearing from the parents and understanding their relief to know that their child can get the education they need and deserve thanks to the generosity of the companies that support us and allow us to be the vessel to provide these funds.
What is one thing you did not expect while running a Student Tuition Organization: There’s a saying that “it takes a village to raise a child” that I really resonated with when starting this STO because it holds true with child education, especially when there is such a need to support these students K-12. With that being said, the generosity of our community that has come with it is unbeatable.
Is there something you think everyone should know about education in Arizona: This is your chance to make a direct impact for those who need it most. It’s no surprise that AZ consistently ranks in the bottom nationally for K-12 education and we’re on a mission to change that.