Building Public and Political Will

Author: Paul J. Luna, President and CEO

January 31, 2018

Helios Education Foundation believes that education changes lives and strengthens communities.  As a result, we strategically partner and invest our knowledge, expertise, and resources to create opportunities for individuals in Arizona and Florida to succeed in postsecondary education.   By fostering a college-going culture and advancing the academic preparedness of all students from early childhood through postsecondary education, Helios seeks to increase the number of young adults graduating from high school prepared to succeed in college, career, and life.

However, in both Arizona and Florida, we have significant achievement gaps that must be addressed.  In Arizona, Latino students lag behind their White peers in academic achievement across the K-12 system and are underrepresented in postsecondary degree attainment.  In Florida, first-generation, low-income and minority students still trail their White peers in academic performance and degree completion.

In light of the significant academic achievement gaps in both Arizona and Florida, Helios Education Foundation is working to build public and political will to ensure more minority and underrepresented students are prepared to pursue and complete a postsecondary education and acquire the skills necessary to obtain high-demand, high-paying jobs.  

Recently, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced a significant investment into K-12 education as part of his Fiscal Year 2019 budget.  We are pleased to see that schools may receive much needed funding that will allow them to address needs both inside the classroom as well as capital needs that facilitate quality education.  However, we have much more work to do to adequately fund all aspects of our education system – from early education to K-12 and from community colleges to universities. 

In Florida, the Legislature is considering an expansion of the Bright Futures scholarship program and a doubling of the state-to-private match requirements for contributions to the First Generation Matching Grant program.  In addition to legislation aimed at increasing school readiness by improving early learning program accountability, policymakers are also considering bills concerning K-12 and higher education accountability, charter schools, and private school choice.

As the legislative sessions in both Arizona and Florida have now begun, we will be monitoring the education-related activity that is aligned to our priorities and will raise our voice to champion and support legislative activities that help ensure all students in Arizona and Florida have access to a high-quality education that prepares them for success in college and career.

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