Last year was a significant one for Helios Education Foundation. We opened the Helios Education Campus, including ASU Helios Decision Center for Educational Excellence and the Vince Roig Convening Center. We adopted our Five-Year Impact Plan, and we restructured our team to enable the successful implementation of that strategy. Fiscal year 2021 was also a record year of giving for Helios, one in which we invested nearly $28 million in programs and initiatives to create opportunities for postsecondary success in Arizona and Florida. These investments included Helios’s expanded response to those most impacted by COVID-19, meaningful ongoing support for scholarships and partners in both states, and a legacy investment to establish the ASU Helios Decision Center for Educational Excellence.
With partners in Arizona and Florida, Helios helped to influence policy change that will have lasting effects. Legislation in Arizona provided fee waivers to enable more students to take Advanced Placement courses that will improve their college eligibility, and early literacy policy became the core of the governor’s FY22 budget. In Florida, Helios worked with partners to advance early learning legislation that helped, among other things, to develop a permanent Division of Early Learning to sit alongside Florida’s Division of K-12 Public Schools and the Division of Florida Colleges.
Through research and data, Helios continues to identify new approaches to improve education outcomes. We published research briefs on the implications of chronic absenteeism; lessons from expansion of preschool programs in the City of Tempe (AZ); strategies to advance college access and attainment for men of color; and a rapid-response framework for funders addressing the impact of COVID-19. Helios also published sharable ideas and scalable solutions in evaluations of the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Universities and Arizona’s College Knowing and Going Initiative, which seeks to create a college-going culture in schools.
All of this is described in our 2021 Annual Report, which provides a stunning visual tour of our Campus, and features five short videos of Helios leadership and Helios policy partners, who explain the meaning of our efforts last year and the challenges that lie ahead.