Helios Education Foundation is dedicated to enriching the lives of individuals in both Arizona and Florida by creating opportunities for success in postsecondary education. Fundamental beliefs in Community, Equity, Investment, and Partnership propel student supports and guide the foundation’s strategic investments. While all students benefit from the transformational power of education, Helios focuses on serving first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students, thus addressing the education equity gap that often prevents these students from realizing their potential.

Focused on student success in Arizona and Florida, Helios invests in partnerships that address each state’s education needs.

In Florida, Helios implements a Regional Student Success Strategy by investing in the Tampa Bay, Central Florida, and South Florida regions, where the majority of the state’s underserved students reside. By empowering partners to explore innovation, reimagine education pathways, and fund initiatives that seek to propel student success, Helios addresses educational inequity and empowers communities to challenge systemic injustices.

In Arizona, where Latino students represent over 40% of the K-12 student population, the foundation executes its Latino Student Success strategy that seeks to elevate college preparation and completion among this growing population. Arizona’s Latino students lag behind their nonminority peers in academic achievement across the K-12 continuum and are underrepresented in postsecondary degree attainment. What starts as an inequity in elementary school further develops in middle school and remains consistent throughout high school, as Latino students trail behind their White peers in college readiness. Elevating Latino Student Success all along the education continuum will ensure a growing proportion of Arizona’s population can leverage the transformative power of education to benefit their community now and for generations to come.

To ensure students not only have access to but also complete a postsecondary degree, Helios supports initiatives that seek to dismantle barriers to access and completion. The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on these initiatives that support the most vulnerable populations. The global pandemic has forced both Helios and its partners to transform the way they invest and respond. This brief will examine this impact.

Section 1 describes the landscape: minority enrollment in postsecondary education and the pandemic’s impact on a post-COVID-19 workforce. Section 2 identifies a framework funders can use to support strategy development during a time of crisis and details Helios’ response to the pandemic. Section 3 explores how Helios’ nonprofit partners quickly shifted to new ways of work prompted by COVID-19.v

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