The Arizona We Want

In order for Arizona to thrive, citizens and leaders must be fully engaged in the challenges that confront us, must be willing to work together to realize the state’s promising future and must share a set of common goals and vision.

The Arizona We Want, an initiative of Center for the Future of Arizona, is a broad-based, statewide effort to connect Arizona citizens, leaders and organizations and provide a shared framework for working toward a citizen agenda that is based on the eight citizen goals.

We focus on three stakeholder groups that are critical to building a roadmap for the state’s future:

  • Leaders in all sectors with the influence and responsibility to shape specific policy goals relating to water and other environmental concerns, education, health, infrastructure and job creation.

  • Local organizations and citizen leaders working on one or more specific goals at ground level – and with the best chance of engaging local residents.

  • Young talent that must be given a voice and a role in Arizona’s future if the state is going to be successful in the long run.

CFA is committed to three primary goals.

  1. Increase the responsiveness of government and other leaders to citizen goals.

The growing disconnect between citizens and the democratic process makes it difficult to maintain the public confidence and public will to support a healthy and fully functioning democracy that can deliver the results that Arizonans want. At the same time, the rapidly changing demographics of Arizona make it the perfect “laboratory for democracy.” We have a unique opportunity to model innovative ways to bring citizens and leaders together around a shared roadmap and common purpose.

We will:

  • Provide ready opportunities for broader citizen participation in policy decisions and community building at the local level.

  • Participate in policy discussions, public investment decisions and advocacy opportunities that advance citizen goals.

  • Provide unbiased information on candidate positions and ballot measures impacting citizen goals.

  • Build strong working alliances with existing and new partner organizations committed to empowering Arizona citizens and impacting policy decisions consistent with citizen goals.


  1. Develop community-based exchanges that empower individual efforts and create a collective voice in Arizona for all citizen goals.  

Arizona has a tremendous asset in the talent available at the local level. People live next door to one another, attend the same school meetings, shop in the same stores, enjoy the same recreational activities and understand the day-to-day reality of dealing with their community’s future. Arizonans may feel powerless to have an impact on state or federal decisions but the barriers are not so high at the local level. The community exchanges will provide a platform for identifying activities and opportunities in local communities to further connect people, identifiy successful community models and provide information.

We will:

  • Create The Arizona We Want Exchange, an open online community to promote existing efforts to achieve citizen goals.

  • Select five to 10 communities to pilot the Exchange and other initiatives to broaden community participation.

  • Give visibility to good ideas and implementation models to help Arizona communities learn from one another.

  • Increase community and organizational participation in the Gallup Arizona Poll to keep a pulse on citizen priorities and shape local dialogue and decision-making.


  1. Develop, engage and encourage young talent to stay and be participants in Arizona.

Arizona is young and increasingly diverse in its cultural, ethnic and economic characteristics. All CFA data confirms that while young Arizonans are socially connected, they are not likely to participate in the political and civic life of their communities. We have to find a way to engage and empower them. Millennials (19 to 34-year olds) represent 35% of the state’s working age population.  We need their talent and their voice.

We will:

  • Tap the talent and fresh thinking available in young Arizonans and put it to use in the state’s high schools and colleges.

  • Embed young professionals statewide in all Center initiatives and activities.

  • Develop an “onboarding” strategy to introduce and link recent college graduates to Arizona opportunities, efforts and avenues for engagement.

  • Build a culture that gives young talent responsibility for helping shape Arizona’s future.