President's Message - July 2021

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Recently, I had the pleasure of participating in a roundtable discussion with the Tampa Bay Business Journal and education and business leaders in Tampa, Florida.  The discussion focused on how education and business leaders can address workplace talent needs as well as explore opportunities that will prepare more students for future success. 

I was joined in the conversation by Bill Goede, Bank of America President, Tampa Bay, along with higher education professionals Dr. Mark Rosenberg, president, Florida International University; Dr. Tonjua Williams, president, St. Petersburg College; and Charleita Richardson, executive director, Florida College Access Network (FCAN).   Each of these individuals brought a unique perspective on our collective efforts to increase postsecondary degree attainment.

This was a timely discussion as both Arizona and Florida – and our nation – are rebounding from the economic devastation of the pandemic.  Nationally, our unemployment hit near record highs and young adults, those with less education, Hispanic women, and immigrants experienced greater job losses and are, in many cases, still struggling to recover. 

In fact, according to a recent survey by the Federal Reserve Board, almost one quarter of U.S. adults said they were worse off financially in 2020 compared to a year earlier and one of the factors associated with this drop is level of education.  Those with bachelor’s degrees or higher were more likely to report doing okay financially compared to those with less than a high school diploma.  And, of course, all of this is also impacted greatly by the realities of COVID-19. 

While the pandemic illustrated many realities about our communities, one thing that was reinforced to us at Helios is the need to ensure all students have the opportunity to pursue a postsecondary education.  It is imperative that we continue to create strategies and initiatives that will keep students – especially first-generation and underserved students - on the path toward postsecondary completion. 

Our conversation with the Tampa Bay Business Journal highlighted numerous strategies that are already in place and are paving the way for students throughout the state of Florida.  We are grateful to be a part of some of those initiatives and will continue to help create partnerships that will reach more students in the future. 

Click here to listen to our full discussion and learn more about how we are working together to develop talent for the workplace.