Author: Paul J. Luna, President and CEOMay 28, 2018
In my role as President and CEO of Helios Education Foundation, I have the honor and privilege of spending time at education-related community meetings in both Arizona and Florida. It is always inspiring to hear about the great work that is being done in both states to increase opportunities for students.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with Arizona policymakers and Latino leaders at the NALEO Statewide Summit on the State of Latino Education. The policymakers were from the state, municipal and school board levels of office. It was an opportunity to talk about key educational issues in Arizona and how they are helping, or hindering, Latino students in our state. Helios’ commitment to Latino students is born out of our fundamental belief that every student, regardless of zip code, deserves a high-quality education. However, the fact is that there are many students in Arizona that are not getting that high-quality education and many of them are our Latino students.
I also recently had the opportunity to participate in Florida College Access Network’s (FCAN) 2018 Summit themed “Create the Future” where a major topic of conversation centered on the importance of reaching 60 percent degree attainment by the year 2025. Many of the sessions featured innovative approaches to breaking down barriers to student success and addressed such issues as college access, college affordability, career readiness and workforce development. Helios’ work in Florida focuses on ensuring more students, particularly first-generation, minority, and underrepresented students attain a postsecondary degree. Our work directly aligns with helping to increase postsecondary degree attainment in Florida and we are supportive of FCAN’S 60 percent goal.
One common theme that came up between the two events is how all students should have the opportunity to experience the transformational power of education. In Arizona, we talk about the importance of Latino student success and ensuring that the state’s fastest growing demographic has opportunities to succeed. In Florida, we talk about ensuring that all students, but especially first-generation, minority and underrepresented students have the opportunity to succeed in postsecondary education. While the communities are different and the organizational approaches are different, the end goal is the same – more opportunities for students throughout Arizona and Florida.
We are grateful to both NALEO and FCAN for their leadership and commitment on behalf of students. One of Helios’ fundamental beliefs is that we will achieve our mission through partnership and collaboration. With partnerships like these, we are well on our way to ensuring all students in Arizona and Florida have the opportunity to succeed in postsecondary education.