Our History

The Arizona Ivy League Project was established to encourage economically disadvantage students to apply to the most prestigious universities in America. The program selects, through a competitive process, the most talented and promising 10th and 11th grade students throughout Arizona and works with them for two years assisting them with building a compelling narrative, challenging them to take the most rigorous courses, and assisting them with the application process in apply to the best schools in the nation.


The Ivy League Project (ILP) has its beginnings in the small farming communities of the San Joaquin Valley. In 1992, local educator Martin Mares was encouraged by Ruben Navarrette, a Harvard graduate and now nationally syndicated columnist, to take a group of local high school students to visit Harvard and other prestigious colleges on the East Coast.

Within the first four years of the program, Martin’s students were accepted to both Brown and Princeton University. This made headlines within the community for few had dreamed of going to college, let alone attending the preeminent universities of the world. Over twenty years later, over 800 students have participated in the Ivy League Project. Of those 200+ students have been accepted, graduated, or currently attending a prestigious East Coast school. ILP alumni include doctors, lawyers, educators, engineers and the leading innovators in their respected industries. In 2008, the ILP was expanded to Arizona, under the leadership of James A. Montoya and has generated tremendous interest and support within the local community. With the support of Gary and Melissa Trujillo and the Be A Leader Foundation, AZILP has experienced remarkable growth. The Arizona Ivy League Project looks forward to duplicating the tremendous success the California program has had over the years.


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