Neighbors, nurturing community bonds: ASU Prep South Phoenix and The Kroc Center

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This school year, ASU Prep South Phoenix and The Salvation Army Kroc Center Phoenix have become more than just neighbors. Thanks to a special partnership, every ASU Prep South Phoenix 7–12 student and all K–12 staff members will now enjoy gold membership access at the Kroc Center.

Intermediate and High School Principal Patrick Gibbs credits the support of ASU Prep’s senior leadership Amy McGrath and Betsy Fowler, along with the Kroc Center’s community-driven generosity for making this possible. The Kroc Center already offers a discount for nonprofit partnerships but also extended an additional neighborly discount, making it possible for ASU Prep to purchase memberships for staff and students.

“We wanted to make sure that it was 100% accessible to all students,” says Gibbs. The partnership doesn’t stop at students and staff—50 families have also been offered a discounted family membership that allows for up to 6 members. This way, parents/guardians and siblings can benefit too.

A shared vision

This partnership between ASU Prep South Phoenix and The Kroc Center is a testament to the strength of community collaboration. It’s about more than just sharing resources—it’s about shared values, shared goals, and a shared commitment to uplifting individuals and families.

As Principal Gibbs notes, “The Kroc Center is doing good work and we’re doing good work. It just makes sense for organizations that have that same goal of uplifting people and creating safe community spaces to work together.”

Captain Caroline Rowe, Corps Officer and Administrator at the Kroc Center, agrees, “ASU services the same individuals we seek to serve, so it is such a pleasure to have these children and families come and use The Salvation Army Phoenix Kroc Center.”

ASU Prep South Phoenix is more than a school—it’s a close-knit community. Many of the students are on the path to becoming first-generation college students. Their families send them to ASU Prep South Phoenix for its challenging college and career preparatory programs that include a dependable support network. Sometimes that support comes from family members who are also at the school. Whether it’s classmates who are cousins or a staff member who holds the title of godfather, many individuals at ASU Prep South Phoenix share connections and look after each other.

And now this network of support extends to the neighboring Kroc Center. The Kroc Center, since its opening in May 2012, has served more than a million people with its programs in arts, education, recreation, wellness, and spiritual guidance. It was developed thanks to a $90 million grant from a bequest to The Salvation Army by the late Mrs. Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. Captain Rowe says, “We believe this facility is here as a beacon of light and a safe place for the children and families in this community.” She’s happy to see all the new faces making use of the membership opportunity and all it has to offer.

The benefits

The Kroc Center is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., providing an accessible and safe space for students to use exercise equipment or study areas, before or after school. This is especially beneficial for students navigating parents’ work schedules that don’t align with school drop-off and pick-up times. Students enjoy the athletic opportunities, like basketball, volleyball, and the state-of-the-art Aquatic Center.

Students who are weightlifting might spot the school’s security guard or their math or English teacher. There might even be some students attempting to out-bench one of their teachers. Principal Gibbs says some teachers walk the indoor track at lunch, saying, “That’s a super cool bonus to help with teacher wellness and balance. It’s also really fun for the kids to see the teachers living a healthy lifestyle.”

Because of the close proximity of the Center, within walking distance, ASU Prep South Phoenix has even been using the facilities for regular P.E. classes. The school also takes advantage of the gaming lounge to host their weekly eSports club, a competitive electronic sports team.

Founder Joan Kroc’s vision for the Center was “A place where you will feel welcomed and supported no matter what your physical, educational, or social goals, and every person in our community is a critical component.” This collaboration recognizes and uplifts the staff and students of ASU Prep South Phoenix as the critical components they are—honored members of our community.

Learn more

To learn more about ASU Prep South Phoenix, visit For more information about The Phoenix Kroc Center, visit