Frequently Asked Questions
What is Helios Education Foundation?
Helios Education Foundation is a philanthropic, public charity focused exclusively on Arizona and Florida. Helios was founded on four fundamental beliefs (community, equity, investment, partnership) and with one purpose: To create opportunities for individuals in Arizona and Florida to succeed in postsecondary education. For nearly 20 years, we have never wavered in our commitment to educational excellence for all students, and especially to closing the achievement gaps for those underrepresented in education success.
What are your Foundation’s priorities?
Through 2026, Helios Education Foundation is zeroing in on improving outcomes for low-income and Latino students in Arizona and low-income and Black students in Florida. To increase college graduation rates for these students—and use what we learn to increase achievement for all students—we are focusing on three key drivers essential to getting these subpopulations on track for college attainment:
Ensure that students are reading by the third grade
Increase college enrollments
Increase attainment of two- and four-year college degrees
We are focusing on these three drivers because we believe that they provide the best leverage for ensuring that students are prepared for and on the path to a college degree. Ultimately, Helios seeks to ensure that all children in Arizona and Florida have the full potential to succeed in an educational pathway that will take them where they want to go.
How was Helios created?
Helios was created in 2004 through the conversion and sale of Southwest Student Services Corporation and began investing in education with an initial endowment of more than $500 million.
Why the name “Helios”?
Helios Education Foundation was named after the Greek Mythological God name Helios. He was the God of the Sun. The name was recommended by one of our founding board members because the Foundation serves Arizona and Florida – two of our nation’s sunshine states.
Why does the Foundation serve only Arizona and Florida?
Helios Education Foundation was created through the conversion and sale of Southwest Student Services Corporation, a student loan products and services company. Southwest had affiliates in Arizona and Florida, and the Foundation’s founding board wanted to give back to those states.
How does Helios raise/get its money?
Helios Education Foundation does not actively fundraise. The Foundation has a substantial endowment that funds our efforts. Designed to exist in perpetuity, the Foundation uses interest income from the endowment to fund our organization and community impact strategies.
How do you get funding from Helios?
Helios Education Foundation only accepts solicited requests for funding. Our staff actively seeks potential partners and investment opportunities. We encourage you to explore this site to learn more about our impact priorities and to determine whether your organization’s work aligns to them.
How much money does Helios invest each year?
Helios Education Foundation does not have a set figure to be invested annually. The performance of our endowment’s investment portfolio, our Board of Directors, and other business-planning activities determine our investment amount.