A Wholistic Community Resource

Neighborhood resilience, caregiver support, workforce development, economic mobility and even connecting well-off people – these are all interrelated social issues. That’s why Second Sky serves so many functions under one roof. The key to community is enabling individuals and families to spend long periods of time close to one another getting many things done. That becomes possible when we locate multiple attractions in a carefully overlapping design and put it in one convenient location.

A suitable location that ensures accessibility and convenience for Tucson.

This project will be located on the Creative Machines campus near the intersection of Alvernon and Irvington. Creative Machines is a well-established Tucson business that designs and fabricates monumental sculptures, interactive museum exhibits, and large-scale special projects for a global market. Creative Machines has an 8-acre campus with a 12,000 sf newly-renovated indoor space and an adjacent 1.3-acre outdoor parcel that they would like to transform into this exciting new venue.

Creative Machines has hosted hundreds of local students, teachers, and area residents through school field trips, open houses and special events. Many people didn’t want to leave at the end of the day and suggested that Creative Machines create a permanent community center. Our visitors are very diverse. Creative Machines is less than 15 minutes from 20 of the poorest schools in Tucson, sits adjacent to neighborhoods identified as highly vulnerable, but also sees many visitors from relatively affluent areas.

Creating opportunities for everyone.

Second Sky combines two personalities that don’t always go together: 1) a destination that people who can pay full price will choose in the open marketplace, and 2) a charitable organization helping vulnerable neighborhoods. How can we do both? How can we take charity beyond ameliorating symptoms and use it to create permanent changes in economic and social mobility?

One clue to how Second Sky is a new type of non-profit comes from two widely cited papers published in Nature in August 2022. Lead author Raj Chetty argues that friendship and exposure across economic differences is one of the most important factors in upward mobility for disadvantaged populations. “Social interaction across class lines is a key factor that predicts upward mobility out of poverty,” Raj says. His team’s research is summarized in this article.


Looking beyond the safety net.

According to the Social Capital Atlas created by this research, Pima County exhibits low economic connectedness, low cohesiveness and low levels of civic engagement. 

Tucson’s People, Community and Homes Investment Plan (P-Chip) echoes this assessment and asks us to “look beyond the safety net” by investing more in institutions like Second Sky that strengthen community so people don’t need safety nets.

Tucson is a segregated community and we don’t have public spaces that are accessible and attractive to both disadvantaged and affluent populations in the way that Second Sky will be. This is especially true in the immediate neighborhood.

But Second Sky is also adjacent to relatively affluent populations that work in the growing tech corridor to the southeast of Tucson. Second Sky is close to Vail, Rita Ranch and the entire east side of Tucson.

With deliberate focus, we aim to address specific inequities, such as:

  • Lack of after-school programs
  • Lack of public space
  • Lack of exposure to STEM careers and approach to life
  • High proportion of single-caregiver households
  • Poverty

These specific inequities overlap to create challenging problems. The inability to pay for after-school care and the high proportion of single-caregiver households mean that children often spend their after-school hours without supervision, mentorship or a stimulating and challenging environment. The great distances between school, home, and public spaces in this area means that single-parent households spend much of their time shuttling kids around or not taking advantage of programs because they are too stressed for time. Life is reduced to atomic economic individuals each circulating in their own orbit, intersecting with others briefly, then moving to other facilities. 

This facility aims to provide a one-stop solution to many of these problems, tackling several inequities at once.

The Time Map

Filling all hours is crucial to supporting families, while also ensuring financial success.

Consider a typical weekday.

It’s 9:30 am when a book club meets and its members buy coffee and pastries. A business group has brunch. A group of home-school and micro-school parents bring their kids to the Adventure Playground for socialization all day long, while the parents talk and have snacks.

Around 2:30 pm, after-school groups arrive by bus. After-school programs are run by Higher Ground, Boys and Girls Club, and Kidco supported by outside funding. Helping other non-profits fulfill their missions is one important way that Second Sky serves underprivileged populations.

Around 5:30 pm, caregivers arrive and the kids in the after-school programs shift to the adventure playground. Caregivers meet and socialize with their adult peers while their kids play within earshot and under supervision by staff. This gives the caregivers the chance to decompress after work and be more present for their kids.

Later, families have dinner at the built-in fast-casual restaurant. For those who want, there is an event after dinner every night of the week: applying to college, energy saving updates to your home, homework help, robotics, etc. By providing temporary supervision of children and eliminating the need to drive to many different locations, we help children and caregivers build a community of mutual support rather than isolated individuals each facing challenges on their own.

Second Sky is a team player, partnering with the non-profit ecosystem in Tucson.

Your generous donations and partnership would play a pivotal role in furthering our mission and creating lasting change.

Our project is dedicated to building and strengthening the community by addressing specific inequities and fostering inclusivity. As we continue our efforts, we recognize the importance of collaboration and support from like-minded individuals and organizations. Together, we can make a significant difference and create a more vibrant and equitable community. Let’s work together to build a better future for Tucson.