Raytheon Spirit of Education Award
Jim Click Honored as Pillar of Support
By David B. Pittman
San Miguel High School, a Catholic preparatory school that provides hope to underprivileged students on Tucson’s south side, would not exist if not for him.
The same man created Linkages, a nonprofit agency that has been placing disabled Tucsonans in jobs for 16 years. He also serves as chair of the organization’s board and is its biggest benefactor.
And he was the single largest contributor to the 2007 initiative campaign that resulted in passage of Proposition 400, creating the Pima County Joint Technological Education District.
He was a visible leader and primary funder of Tucson Values Teachers, a group that supports classroom teachers.
He has given to a multitude of University of Arizona programs and projects, including the library, Arizona Cancer Center, Adaptive Athletic Program and the Jim Click Hall of Champions that bears his name. His first million dollar gift to the university benefited disabled athletes.
“Mr. Click’s support has enabled us to become the largest adaptive sports program at any university in the nation,” said Janet Olson, program coordinator of the UA Disability Resource Center. “We have more than 70 athletes and five competitive teams. This year we had seven of our athletics competing in the Paralympics in London. He has made this all possible.”
Tucson auto dealer Jim Click Jr. is a pillar of support for this community and on the evening of Dec. 12 at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort he will become the first individual winner of the Raytheon Spirit of Education Award. Last year, the inaugural award was given to its namesake at the “Salute to Raytheon Missile Systems” event.
But wait. There’s more to the list of Click accomplishments on behalf of education and children.
Click was the capital campaign chairman for a nearly $2 million construction and renovation project at the Salpointe Catholic High School campus in 1990.
He orchestrated an amazing turnaround of the once-failing Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson some 30 years ago – and ever since has helped expand the number of children served by the organization from 1,000 to 8,000.
Other organizations benefitting from Click’s goodwill include Junior Achievement, Special Olympics, Primavera, Beacon Foundation and Pima Community College. Click also provided a $1 million contribution to the Reid Park Zoological Society to make the Click Family Elephant Care Center at the zoo a reality.
Click is a product of public schools. He remembers virtually every teacher he ever had. His recollection is that the best teachers “were the ones that made me work the hardest.”
He graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in business. He was captain of OSU’s Cowboy football team. He’s since received OSU’s Distinguished Alumni Award and was inducted into OSU’s Hall of Fame. In 1971 he moved to Tucson and purchased his first auto dealership.
Click is troubled by the state of public education today, but is not convinced just throwing more money at schools is the answer. Instead, he chooses to invest his time and resources in programs that are making a difference.
“Obviously paying the teachers more would be helpful,” he said. “I think tenure probably needs to be changed so that if you get a bad teacher – and I didn’t have many bad teachers – you can get rid of them. I think we ought to pay for performance, like we do in the private sector.
“It’s concerning to me that we haven’t had more people from the business community running for school boards,” Click continued. “We need business people to step up and run for school boards.”
Click is a believer in competition, both in business and in education. He said many charter schools are getting good results and he hopes some other Tucson-area schools will try to emulate the successful model of San Miguel, the high school on Tucson’s south side that Click built.
San Miguel High School
San Miguel High School would not have happened without Click. He identified and purchased the land at 6601 S. San Fernando Ave. where it was built, organized the processes leading to construction and personally arranged the financing by providing a $3 million charitable donation and a $7.9 million no-interest loan to the school.
“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support we received from Jim and Vicki Click,” said Leslie Shultz-Crist, president and CEO of San Miguel, a part of the Cristo Rey Network.
“Not only did Jim and Vicki give us $3 million, but Jim has brought numerous people to us that gave another $3 to $4 million. Jim has opened doors that otherwise would not have been opened.”
The no-interest loan Click provided was paid off last year when the school took out a mortgage, which has been paid down to about $4 million. Of that, San Miguel has received pledges of almost $3 million. “So we are very close to paying it off in the big picture,” said Shultz-Crist.
“It’s a great facility, but the facility doesn’t make the school,” Click said. “It’s the teachers, the principal, the students and the parents.”
Click is no stranger at the school. He recently showed up there with a group of executives from Enterprise Rental Car, who presented 25 iPads to a group of sophomores selected by the faculty.
From an academic standpoint, San Miguel boasts amazing results.
The school began operating in 2004. The number of students has grown every year and has now reached 330. “We’ll top out at 400,” said Shultz-Crist, “and we hope that happens in the 2014 school year.”
There is only one hard-and-fast rule regarding attendance. Students at San Miguel must be from low-income circumstances.
“If you meet the income requirement, you qualify to go through the interview process,” said Shultz-Crist. “This year we had about 375 applications for 100 spots. So there were many students we were not able to service.” The majority of students start San Miguel below grade level.
Why are people lining up to get in?
“It’s hope,” said Shultz-Crist.
She said Click realizes how incredibly important the long-term impact of San Miguel could be for the Tucson community.
“He got it that this had the potential of promoting work force development and changing the trajectory of kids’ lives out of poverty, out of the cycle of violence and out of teen pregnancy,” she said.
“Ninety-eight percent of our students graduate from high school – and 100 percent of that 98 percent are accepted into a college or community college. Those are good numbers.”
There is another aspect to the school that is unique – students at San Miguel take a full load of school work, but also participate one day a week in a four-year work program that pays the majority of their tuition. Through this program, each student works in a professional setting (such as law firms, media, utility companies, manufacturers and auto dealerships, to name a few).
Shultz-Crist said workplace experience allows students to apply and make connections from the classroom to the world of work. She said the combination of classroom and workplace learning prepares students for success not only in high school, but in years after.
In the view of Shultz-Crist, no one is more deserving of the Raytheon Spirit of Education Award than Click.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson
Local Boys and Girls Clubs officials say Click has personally given about $4 million to that group over the past 33 years.
“Jim Click has no ability to say no to the kids at the Boys and Girls Clubs – much less any organization that helps kids, especially those most at-risk or from disadvantaged circumstances,” said Mark Irvin, a friend of Click’s who is also a longtime supporter of the Boys and Girls Clubs.
Because of Click’s leadership on behalf of the Boys and Girls Clubs, the organization’s most prestigious award, “The Click for Kids Award,” was created in his name to honor those who have provided dedicated service to the clubs over a long period of time. Click was also recognized with emeritus board status more than 25 years ago.
“Jim Click is the hero of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson, and has been since 1979,” Irvin said. “I am humbled by what he does and how he does it.”
Salpointe Catholic High School
In 1990, a decade before his involvement at San Miguel, the Clickswere involved in raising money for a $1.9 million construction and renovation project on the campus of Salpointe Catholic High School. The reason for the couple’s involvement was understandable. Their son, Chris, was a senior at the school at the time.
Charlotte Harris, who was Salpointe’s director of development, also worked on the campaign. Harris said that as capital Campaign chairman, click was not a figurehead, but actively worked with the school’s principal at the time, Rev. Leo McCarthy, as a team of two making calls for major gifts. Harris said the majority of Click and McCarthy’s calls were successful.
“Not only was the Click family major donors to the campaign, but Jim put us in touch with a professional fundraiser, who put together a plan for action that added to the success of the project,” Harris said.
The end result brought the school a new theater, a practice gymnasium, renovation of an existing gymnasium, and a free-standing mathematics building.
“Jim’s leadership and financial support made the Salpointe experience more meaningful by providing classrooms and school facilities that created a competitive edge for students at the school,” said Harris.
Click’s involvement in Linkages has attracted the attention of national political leaders from both major parties. Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kansas, made an appearance at the grand opening of Linkages in 1996. And in 2000, then-President Bill Clinton invited Click to the White House where he received the President’s Award for his efforts in creating Linkages to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
Click created the organization when he learned that community agencies working with disabled people were unable to place them in jobs. The name Linkages was chosen because its mission was to bridge the gap between disabled people and the business community.
Since Linkages began, Click has been its biggest donor, contributing more than $1.5 million.
Mark Ziska, a Linkages board member who owns Chief People Office, a strategic and human resources consulting firm, said Click also gives of his time, serving as board chairman of Linkages since it was launched 16 years ago.
Besides employing disabled people within his own auto dealerships, Click is also remarkably persuasive in convincing other business owners to do the same, Ziska said.
Like many people familiar with Click, Ziska spoke of his amazing energy and passion.
“Jim Click is the most passionate and energetic person I’ve ever met on any front,” Ziska said. “His passion and commitment goes out to those with disabilities and anyone who needs help.”
Ethan Orr, executive director of Linkages, said the organization would not exist if not for Click.
“Jim’s vision is the driving force behind Linkages,” said Orr. “His compassion and commitment to people with disabilities is an inspiration to me and the hundreds of people who work in this field.”
Click also receives praise for helping pass Proposition 400, which created the Pima County Joint Technical Education District, and for his continuing support.
“Jim Click was instrumental in the establishment of the Pima County JTED,” said a statement from the office of Alan Storm, JTED superintendent. “Mr. Click was one of the first and most substantial contributors to the Proposition 400 campaign. His contribution allowed the campaign to be advertised and promoted. His continued support of area high school automotive programs allowed students to participate in internships in his dealerships, and in many cases led to subsequent employment.
“Mr. Click has maintained a longtime sponsorship of the high school automotive awards program that recognizes outstanding high school seniors. Additionally, his support of JTED Project SEARCH, a program for developmentally disabled high school students, led to the placement of the program at the University of Arizona Medical Center South Campus.”
Reid Park Zoo
Diana Whitman, development director of the Reid Park Zoological Society, said Click became interested in touring the zoo after learning a Kresge Foundation grant would be available to the zoo if $1 million were raised from private sources.
“Mr. Click knew about the matching piece from the Kresge Foundation,” said Whitman. “He was here half a day touring the zoo. His daughter and granddaughter were with him. He was very attentive, enthused and excited about what he saw. It was a treat for us to watch because of his level of enthusiasm.”
Click donated $1 million to the society, which resulted in the organization receiving $750,000 from the Kresge Foundation. The money was used to build the Click Family Elephant Care Center.
“Besides viewing the elephants and taking in the beauty of these wonderful animals, visitors receive a conservation message and the ability to see behind the scenes to learn how these animals are cared for and why zoos are important,” said Whitman.
“This new exhibit is providing educational experiences every day for all generations” said Nancy J. Schlegel, executive director of Reid Park Zoological Society. “Grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, young and old alike have learning experiences while they are also enjoying the time outdoors together that the zoo provides.
“When Jim Click visits to the zoo, you see him in action – talking to children, asking about the animals, what they eat, how endangered they are in the wild and engaging with the guests. He is a blur of energy as he shares his love for the zoo with children of all ages. He is our best ambassador and has connected us with many people who otherwise wouldn’t have known about this treasure in the heart of Tucson.”
Whitman added, “We can’t find the words to express how appreciative we are for what he’s done.”
The late Roy P. Drachman – himself an iconic example of community commitment and caring – once said, “Jim Click has been the most valuable individual addition to Tucson in 75 years. He is a dear friend who has proven time and time again that he is for real. If he says that he will do it…he’ll do it.”
Raytheon Spirit of Education Award
By David B. Pittman
When the business community comes together Dec. 12 to present Jim Click with the Raytheon Spirit of Education Award, there will be a great deal to celebrate.
First, they will celebrate Jim Click’s four decades of compassion, care, generosity and leadership for education and countless other causes throughout Tucson and Pima County.
Second, they will celebrate a new tradition – thanks to Taylor W. Lawrence, president of Raytheon Missile Systems, and a pair of University of Arizona leaders.
Last year, a sellout crowd of more than 600 came together at Loews Ventana Canyon in “A Salute to Raytheon Missile Systems.” That event was organized by myriad Tucson business leaders to demonstrate their appreciation for Raytheon’s six decades of contributions to the Southern Arizona economy and its longtime efforts to improve education and the local workforce.
Lawrence was so moved by last year’s event, that he said he and Raytheon would host future Raytheon Spirit of Education Award presentations so other deserving companies and business leaders could receive the recognition they deserve. That prompted former UA President Eugene Sander to pledge the university would co-host the event along with Lawrence. New UA President Ann Weaver Hart agreed to honor Sander’s commitment.
And so the second-annual “Raytheon Spirit of Education Award” will celebrate a brand new business tradition in our community.
“Raytheon was so honored to receive this award last year, and we are proud that it will go on to another worthy recipient,” said Lawrence. “The future of Arizona and the nation is dependent on a skilled workforce and it takes dedicated people like Jim and his team to help make that happen.”
Ron Shoopman, president of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, said no one is more deserving of the 2012 Raytheon Spirit of Education Award than Jim Click and the Jim Click Automotive Team.
“Once again, the business, nonprofit and educational communities responded enthusiastically to make it possible for us to say thank you to another unique and deserving organization,” he said. “This year, we celebrate Jim Click and his automotive team for their leadership in education and for so much more. Tucson is a better place because of Jim Click.”
This year educational and child-based organizations that have benefitted from Click’s philanthropy – such as Tucson Values Teachers, the UA, San Miguel High School, Salpointe Catholic High School, Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, Linkages, Reid Park Zoo, Pima County Joint Technological Education District and Pima Community College – will set up exhibits at the event.
Oh yes, there is a third reason to celebrate. Proceeds will go to support Tucson Values Teachers, an organization which the Jim Click Automotive Team and Raytheon founded. Last year’s event raised $30,000.
“Jim Click believed in the vision of TVT from the beginning and has been an advocate for the last four years,” said Jacquelyn Jackson, executive director. “We could not be where we are today without his strong support and belief in our teachers.”