A few years ago, a small focus group within the Scottsdale Unified School District Foundation (SUSDF), had a brainstorming session to discover a new way to showcase talented students in the district and raise funds for scholarships. 

“We really wanted to maximize our attendance and the amounts that we were able to give back to the kids,” said Anne Kaufman, a 2019 event co-chair.   

Scottsdale on Stage, a performance event that showcases the singing and acting talents of Scottsdale students, was born from that brainstorming session. It helped reduce the cost of staging the fundraising galas of the past, while increasing community participation. 

“The galas were wonderful events in amazing venues, but this fall event seems to be a hit with some of our business partners too. We tried to mimic America’s Got Talent with ‘celebrity’ judges and a people’s choice award,” Kaufman said. “It’s a great way for the community to see the amazing talent within the district.” 

More than 40 students auditioned this year. A $1,500 scholarship is awarded to the “People’s Choice,” which is the performer who receives the most audience votes during the event. 

“Last year, we had singers, dancers, musicians, song writers, a magician, an actor monologue and a comedian. All of the acts were literally amazing. Just when you thought you knew who the winner would be another awesome performer would be next,” Kaufman said. 

This year, Scottsdale on Stage was emceed by CBS 5’s Kim Quintero in October at Harley Davidson of Scottsdale.  

The winner of this year’s show was Shea Levine, a Hopi Elementary student whose contortionist act wowed the judges and crowd alike. There were two students who tied for second place. This years acts included singing, dancing, cheering and drum solos. 



Through fundraisers like Scottsdale on Stage and the annual golf tournament held in the spring, the foundation has helped raise funds for programs and unique student-and teacher-driven initiatives that align with the mission, vision and goals of the school district. 

Since 2006, the foundation has funded many SUSD programs and grants, such as the Quest for Excellence Mini-Grants, National Board Certification for Teachers, All-City Athletic Awards Banquets, Collective Capacity, Camp Invention, Common Core Standards Training and others, totaling more than $800,000 to date. 

SUSDF raises funds year after year in support of educational opportunities that would otherwise go unfunded.  

The foundation’s mission is to help students achieve educational excellence by supporting programs that enhance the learning experience and by bringing community awareness to the significant financial challenges within public schools.  

For more: susdfoundation.org.