Las Artes graduates

Valley of the Sun YMCA President & CEO George Scobas addressed Las Artes Graduates and their families at the July 26, 2012 commencement ceremony.

Roshan Spottsville

The Valley of the Sun YMCA recognized 112 students as they donned cap and gown at the Phoenix College auditorium on July 26 to receive their General Education Development (GED) certificates earned thorough the Las Artes de Maricopa Program.

Founded in 2007, Las Artes de Maricopa is a program for disadvantaged youth ages 16-21, struggling to overcome difficult circumstances and complete their education. Through Las Artes, students realize that they can set goals and achieve them. Students gain work readiness skills, obtain advanced training, and receive assistance in finding future employment. Young adults participate in a variety of public art projects while pursuing a General Education Development (GED) certificate or completing advanced job training programs.

The Las Artes de Maricopa program now serves more than 200 students annually and is a collaborative effort between the Valley of the Sun YMCA and Maricopa County. The program blends fine art and academic instruction, social and emotional support, GED preparation and work readiness training. This year’s ceremony honored the program’s largest graduating class with 112 students having earned their GED and successfully completed the program this year.

Since the program started, 337 students have graduated. Of those, 40 percent graduates have gone on to post-secondary education or trade schools, while 60 percent have attained employment.

Enrollment for Las Artes de Maricopa is ongoing throughout the year. For more information on the program, contact Matt Sandoval, senior executive director of Valley of the Sun YMCA Community Initiatives, at (602) 212-5122 or

• Beverly Stidham, (480) 898-7924 or

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