Helios Education Foundation Provides $375,000 Grant to Thriving Together to Help a Quarter-Million Young People Succeed from Birth to Career

Posted on: August 20, 2015

Helios Education Foundation is committing $375,000 for the upcoming year to support the Thriving Together initiative in Phoenix. The grant will be used to fund the broad work in schools that Thriving Together has planned for the upcoming year.

The work for the unprecedented education initiative, Thriving Together, began last summer. The initiative, which uses the resources of the private and non-profit sectors, aims to change the course of lives for a quarter of a million children in the Phoenix metropolitan area and change the future of Arizona.

Thriving Together co-chairs Dr. Kent Scribner, superintendent of the Phoenix Union High School District (PUHSD) and Pam Conboy, Lead Regional President of Wells Fargo Arizona, along with Merl Waschler, President and CEO of Valley of the Sun United Way, convened education and community leaders from PUHSD schools to launch the initiative – the first of its kind in Arizona.  

“This grant will help sustain the momentum achieved in the classrooms in the first year of Thriving Together,” Waschler said. “Our collaborative action teams are critical to the initiative and we are excited to get ready to launch, with the generous help of Helios Education Foundation, our Kindergarten Readiness and Career Attainment teams. The experts who lead our collaborative action teams help us reach key benchmarks and place and keep students on a path to success.”

“The Helios Education Foundation grant will help augment the efforts of the business community in support of Thriving Together,” said Don Smith, Chairman of the Board of Valley of the Sun United Way and President & CEO of CopperPoint Mutual Insurance Company. “In the first year, we’ve already seen a willingness to work together on the part of all stakeholders—educators, the community and non-profit organizations. That has translated into early positive results. Now, with our two new teams about to launch, thanks to Helios, we can look forward to even more progress toward improving Arizona’s future.”

Helios Education Foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals in Arizona and Florida to succeed in postsecondary education. It invests its knowledge, expertise and resources across the education continuum to advance student academic preparedness and to foster college-going cultures within the two states it serves.

Paul J. Luna, President and CEO of Helios Education Foundation, said: “Thriving Together is an innovative approach to closing the opportunity and achievement gaps and help put students on a path to success. With the help and participation of the community, it not only will move the needle, it will move it in big ways. Helios is proud to support this initiative and collaborate with other community organizations on this important work. What Thriving Together is setting out to achieve is not easy, nor simple, but it holds great potential.”

The Thriving Together initiative starts when a child is born and concludes when that child succeeds in the workforce. Along the way, the initiative measures progress and works to make sure goals are being met. If they are not, it looks to identify opportunities to improve and resources to support students to get back on track. It uses data to identify the effectiveness of a practice. If there’s room to improve, Thriving Together draws on its resources to offer a path to success for students.

Studies have shown that if children are prepared at several key milestones in their educational career, they can stay on a path to success. Those milestones are the focus of Thriving Together and its efforts to provide measurable results. They are where children and young people are most likely to lose their way — it’s where they fall behind, or get frustrated, or suffer from a lack of support. Thriving Together will initially focus on four key areas: 3rd grade reading, 8th and 9th grade math, high school graduation and college readiness.

Dozens of leaders from more than 60 local organizations – including higher education, social services, community groups, business and industry, government leaders, and parents – are coming together to help children succeed from birth through careers via Thriving Together. 

The Thriving Together initiative is patterned after the successful nationwide movement StriveTogether, which was founded in 2006 and which has improved student success in school districts throughout the U.S. by bringing together leadership across sectors. The Strive Partnership, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, is focused on the success of our children: every child, every step, from cradle to career by taking a data-driven look at whether programs and processes are effectively meeting goals. In 56 communities in 28 states across the country, it is impacting millions of students.

In Arizona, the initiative launched as Thriving Together, which is supported by the anchor entity, Valley of the Sun United Way, a neutral third-party that coordinates the activities of Thriving Together. The Phoenix collaboration is quickly emerging as one of the fastest of the 56 efforts across the country to get up and running effectively in schools. 

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Category: College and Career Readiness

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