Maryvale One Square Mile Initiative

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Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions’ Maryvale One Square Mile Initiative is the opportunity to engage in and support community driven solutions to create sustainable solutions for priorities in Maryvale.

Located several miles northwest of downtown Phoenix, Maryvale is the most populous of the city’s 13 “villages” with over 200,000 residents. This economically and culturally diverse community emerged from beginnings as the first planned community in Arizona – made up of 25,000 affordable family homes.

Today, Maryvale is a young, diverse, affordable community with many positive attributes and has the lowest median age of any village in the city of Phoenix. It also has the second highest percentage of residents living below the poverty line, and lower test scores and education levels than much of Phoenix.

Maryvale Now

Total population: 230,000


Of Arizona's population
It would be the 8th largest municipality in the state


Of residents are under 24
Youngest area in Phoenix


Of residents attained a High School Diploma or higher


Of residents reported an income below $50K

Elementary School Districts:
Pendergast, Cartwright, isaac, Alhambra, Tolleson, & Fowler

Council Districts: 4, 5, & 7

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We are mustering the talent and ingenuity of faculty and students across ASU to focus on the same geographic area – working together on not just one aspect of that area, but on the interconnected web of education, health, employment, transport, environment, civic engagement, local leadership and more.

What’s in a Square Mile?

One way to think about what makes up a community like Maryvale is to think about types of “capital” - or “a number or collection of local assets, community resources that can produce other benefits through investment.” This concept of “community capital” comes from the fields of sustainable development and community economic development. In this approach, economic, social, cultural and physical attributes, and the interaction among, them are identified. Any investments or activity in one capital can build assets in others

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Social Capital

The connections between people and organizations (social cohesion); residents feel safe and have access to systems which encourage safety; inclusion and poverty reduction. The most common citizen mobilization programs are block watch groups and citizen patrols . Approximately 60 block watch groups and over 30 local neighborhood associations in Maryvale are registered with the City.

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Physical Capital

Infrastructure; safe and affordable housing; land; public facilities; and transportation options. The Loop 101 Agua Fria Freeway is a major regional transportation corridor that is bringing new vitality to Maryvale. While large tracts of farmland still dot the landscape, commercial developers own a significant portion of the undeveloped property along the corridor. The Golden Gate , Maryvale , and Desert West Community Centers all serve as hubs for recreational activities, community convenings and services provided by social service organizations.

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Human Capital

Health and wellbeing; education that is high quality and accessible. There are many socio-demographic characteristics that challenge the Maryvale community, such as teen parents, dropping out of school, drinking and using drugs. It is also a very young community overall, with more than one-third of the population under the age of 18. Language barriers are a major obstacle for all ages in Maryvale, but the percentage of adults who struggle in this area is significantly higher among Maryvale residents compared to the rest of Phoenix. Educational attainment is lower, with 37% of adult Maryvale residents not having finished high school compared to 25% for Phoenix; and the percent of Phoenix residents who earned a bachelor’s degree is more than three times greater than those in Maryvale. These youth are untapped assets to their community.

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Cultural Capital

Art, traditions, diversity and cultural heritage are celebrated and preserved; community identity. The Hispanic or Latino population in Maryvale is almost double that compared to the rest of the city, and the number of foreign-born residents is also significantly higher. While not large in number, Maryvale has become home to many refugees from around the world resettled in the area by the International Rescue Committee. These new residents bring a rich array of different cultures, perceptions and experiences to the community. Ak-Chin Pavilion , with a total capacity of 20,000, holds more guests than local venues Talking Stick Resort Arena and Gila River Arena . The amphitheater has been used to hold many famous concerts and tours, especially in the summer months of July and August.

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Economic Capital

Labor and jobs; financial resources for community investment; access to safe and affordable banking and credit; small and medium-sized business health; a strong economic framework; opportunity for all to accumulate wealth. The creation of job opportunities in Maryvale has not kept pace with the community’s population growth. While new economic developments may change that, the infrastructure required for long-term success needs improvement. Increasing academic achievement levels, promoting opportunities for postsecondary education and providing diversified job training are key elements to economic revitalization for the community and a more prosperous economic status for community members. Many initiatives, ongoing or in the past, focus on Maryvale. At present, Arizona@Work’s Maryvale Workforce Initiative is one with significant momentum.

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Natural Capital

Refers to those assets that abide in a location, including resources, amenities and natural beauty. Natural capital might include parks, farmland and features of the landscape or of nature. The visual characteristics of Maryvale vary widely throughout the community. Some areas have newer houses, well-lit and landscaped streets, moderate to upscale businesses and well-maintained properties. While there are neighborhoods that are challenged by blight and crime, there are others that are stable and flourishing, with new or renovated housing, active neighborhood associations, block watches and strong community pride. Underscoring these differences are efforts led by the committed community members, businesses and social service organizations that recognize and build on the strengths and potential of the community. Examples of Natural Capital include: American Family Fields of Phoenix , formerly known as Maryvale Baseball Park, a 56-acre facility built in 1998, and the spring training home for the Milwaukee Brewers; Desert West Park; El Oso Park; Sueno Park; Dust Devil Park; Grand Canyon University Golf Course; and Shamrock Farms .