In 1967, while working for the Head Start program, Dr. John David Arnold wrote a grant proposal and submitted it to the Tucson War on Poverty Program, which was funded by grants initiated by the Kennedy/Johnson administration. The grant was funded at $19,000 and PPEP was born. Dr. Arnold purchased a 1957, 48-passenger, school bus and equipped it with educational books and supplies. He painted it green and named it “La Tortuga.” He was the driver, mechanic and school teacher, all rolled into one. Having lived in Mexico, he knew first-hand what it was like to live in an unfamiliar society with a different language and culture. So, he began teaching English and basic education, in his portable classroom, to the same Bracero farm-workers he had ministered to in the past, helping them prepare for life in America, by gaining a practical education. Hence, “Portable, Practical Educational Preparation.”
From its humble beginnings, PPEP grew and prospered and today it boasts of over 500 employees, making it one of the top 100 Employers in Arizona. La Tortuga’s legacy lives on and Doctor John David Arnold, PPEP’s CEO, continues to advocate for the poor and neglected citizens of not only Arizona, but the world. Every service PPEP has provided to the over 4,000,000 people over the past 40+ years, has been driven by Doctor Arnold’s dedication and commitment to the cause.