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$2.1 Million Grant Establishes Helios/BLN Scholars Program at USF

Author: Helios Education Foundation

August 31, 2018

Helios Education Foundation announced today a $2.1 million grant to the University of South Florida’s Black Leadership Network to support the future success of underrepresented students at USF.

The grant is divided into two parts, establishing a $2 million scholarship endowment that will provide future support for 40 students per year in perpetuity, and also contributes $100,000 immediately for scholarships, mentoring, and leadership skills programming to help students graduate faster, better prepared, and with less debt.

“Helios Education Foundation’s mission is to ensure more students, particularly first-generation, minority, and underrepresented students achieve a postsecondary degree,” said Helios Education Foundation President and CEO Paul Luna. “In partnership with the Black Leadership Network, we are proud to establish this endowment to allow more students, regardless of zip code, to experience the transformative power of education.”  

The Black Leadership Network (BLN) was founded in December 2016 with a mission to enhance the education and leadership opportunities for African-American students in the USF System.  The Helios Education Foundation grant increases the number of scholarships BLN can award in the upcoming year from 12 to at least 24 and provides an additional $20,000 for mentoring and professional development programming to further benefit the scholars.

“For African-American kids who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to stay in college, it will change their lives,” said Jerry Bell, a BLN founding member. “It could also provide them with the option not to work and instead take advantage of other opportunities like the study abroad program or a summer internship that is in their field but doesn’t pay. At the end of the day, that resume looks a lot better, and they can graduate with much less debt.”

Establishment of the Helios/BLN Scholars Program at USF continues a strong and meaningful partnership between the foundation and the university, and includes more than $15.7 million in support for scholarships, teacher preparation, and education policy. 

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