We build more equitable and vibrant communities by celebrating the everyday expressions of culture, heritage, and diversity in the Greater Southwest. 

Startup Unidos Youth at VozFrontera WASTE NOT: Borderlands Innovation in Food Waste Management is a 25-week one-of-a-kind program in Nogales, AZ offering a curated hands-on-experience to 10 local high school students. 

Managed by three partners: Southwest Folklife Alliance (SFA) an affiliate of University of Arizona, Startup Unidos (SUU) and the University of Arizona Compost Cats. 

The project grows out of prior work in Nogales by all three organizations. In 2018, SFA launched VozFrontera, a center for youth engagement, leadership, and local arts incubation in Nogales. Startup Unidos Youth launched a pilot program through VozFrontera, offering a certified training in economic development and entrepreneurship to five Nogales youth. 

The program kicks off APRIL 2019 offering a specialized project to engage Nogales youth in ethnographic documentation of local foodways to develop innovative business ideas around the community‚Äôs waste management systems. 

Every year, 60 percent of all fresh produce in the United States (November-May) arrives through the port of entry in Nogales, AZ. Over 6000 tons of that produce, much of it still fresh, ends up in the Rio Rico landfill. That surplus could be turned into value-added food products or fertile compost for use in household or commercial ventures. The project aims to create educational and experiential opportunities for young people to create real solutions to issues of food surplus in the region by 1) engaging young people youth in ethnographic research, documenting narratives of cultural traditions around food waste, 2) creating business innovation opportunities, and 3) building greater community awareness of and engagement with the borderlands produce industry. It builds on strong partnerships and ethical practices of community engagement, foregrounding the importance of traditional knowledge to inform inventive solutions to pressing community needs.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, March 22, 2019 **Extended**

STUDENT/PARENT INTERVIEWS: Mon-Thurs., March 18-21, 2019


PROGRAM BEGINS: Saturday, April 13, 2019

PROGRAM ENDS: Saturday, October 19, 2019

SCHEDULE: Students will meet mostly Saturday's 10AM - 12PM; Field Trips 10AM -2PM with exceptions: Techstars LatinX In Tech Startup Weekend 6/14-6/16, Specialized invites to regional events (varied, optional), Tucson Meet Yourself 10/12 (all-day volunteer), 10/19 TENWEST Gig Experiment (all-day). The program will commence at TENWEST on Saturday, October 19 at a pop-up commencement ceremony. 

*Techstars LatinX In Tech Startup Weekend event is flexible lasting an entire weekend from Friday - Sunday June 14-16. 

NO CLASSES: APR 20 Easter Weekend, MAY 25 Memorial Weekend, AUG 31 Labor Day (Sept 2nd)

ENROLLMENT : Fellowship offered for participation; supported by Agnes Haury Environment and Social Justice Program Seed Grant


  • Complete program application
  • Submit a letter of recommendation to expedite application or provide reference contact
  • Schedule Student/Parent Admissions Interview with Stephanie Bermudez at startupunidos@gmail.com; Subject: Application submitted, Interview Request
  • Upon acceptance, Pledge to 100% Attendance and sign Fellowship Agreement

Southwest Folklife Alliance 2019 Master-Apprentice Award Program Guidelines:

DEADLINE May 1, 2019

The SFA Master-Apprentice Award seeks to support and encourage the preservation and perpetuation of traditional art forms present and thriving in Arizona. With the goal of strengthening the transmission of community-based traditions in the region, it fosters and supports the critical teaching/learning relationship between traditional artists and their apprentices.

The award supports a master artist or tradition bearer who has identified a qualified apprentice (or group of apprentices) to engage in a one-year long teaching-learning relationship that includes one-on-one mentorship and hands-on experience in a traditional artistic practice. Our highest priority is to support apprentices to learn from master artists within their own cultural traditions. The award can be used to support the master artist, offset costs of raw materials, and support any travel essential to the exchange. SFA will make 10 $ 2,500 awards to artists and 10 $500 awards to apprentices in the State of Arizona in 2019.

 Applicants may include but are not limited to a wide variety of traditional artists such as;
Artisans: weavers, basket makers, jewelers, mask makers
Occupational folklife: adobe brick makers, leather workers, iron workers
Oral traditions: storytellers, musicians, poets
Performance: dancers, traditional garments, ritual objects

Applicant Nominees must be:

  • United States citizens, lawful permanent residents, or have permission from the U.S. Department of Immigration to work in the United States.
  • Full-time residents of Arizona for a minimum of one full year.
  • Master Artists must be at least 18 years of age. Apprentices must be at least 16 years of age.
  • Recipients must remain residents of Arizona for the duration of the award year.


Nomination: Artists are first nominated by peers within their community, cultural institutions, apprentices, or by self-nomination. Once a nomination has been made, SFA will invite nominees to apply. The nomination selection process is based on these three components:

- Mastery of artform.
- Nominees ability to describe how the mastery of this art form has been recognized by  the artists cultural community and the artists ability to share traditional knowledge.
- Nominator/Master Artist fills a cultural art form or geographic area in the State of Arizona not currently being supported by SFA.

 Nominees will be invited to apply by SFA Staff based on the above criteria.
NOMINATIONS are made through this online portal. Please set up an account to submit your nomination. It is free and can be deleted by you at any time. If you have any questions or concerns about the nomination process please don't hesitate to call: Nelda Ruiz, Program Coordinator @ 520-621-4046.

Once invited to complete an application you will be paired with SFA staff who will answer any questions you may have about the program and offer technical assistance with submission of a full application on the submittable portal.

Program Timeline

May 1, 2019 - Nomination Deadline

May 15, 2019 - Application Notification  

July 31, 2019 - Application Deadline

Sept. 15, 2019 - Award Notification

June 30, 2020 - Award Program period ends

TBA-SFA staff site visit


Southwest Folklife Alliance Inc.