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USF Receives $1.4 Million Gift to Support Student Access to Higher Education

Author: University of South Florida

Posted on: March 24, 2021

The University of South Florida today announced a $1.4 million gift from Helios Education Foundation to benefit the Florida College Access Network (FCAN), a statewide organization hosted at USF with a mission that supports student success.

The gift, made through the USF Foundation, is the fourth Helios Education Foundation has made over the last decade in support of FCAN, bringing their total investment in the organization to $5.1 million.

Hosted by USF, FCAN partners with leaders, educators and communities throughout the state to ensure more Floridians have the opportunity to achieve an education beyond high school and a rewarding career.

FCAN envisions a Florida working together where education is the pathway to economic mobility for all. To help achieve this vision, FCAN supports the state’s SAIL to 60 initiative, which aims to increase the proportion of working-age Floridians with a degree or workforce-relevant credential to 60 percent by the year 2030. Only 53 percent currently hold such a credential.

“The University of South Florida is proud to host a statewide organization that so clearly reflects USF’s commitment to support upward economic mobility for all,” USF President Steve Currall said. “We are grateful to Helios Education Foundation for their ongoing, generous support of the work FCAN and USF are doing to improve the lives of every Floridian.”

FCAN provides support for local college access networks (LCANs) across the state, including coaching, offering data support, hosting monthly LCAN leadership affinity groups, an annual statewide summit and webinars, and providing seed and capacity-building funding.

The gift from Helios Education Foundation will help FCAN continue to build and strengthen these partnerships, building capacity throughout the network.

“Our LCANs are comprised of community leaders coming together to create solutions and partnerships that support local talent development,” FCAN Executive Director Charleita M. Richardson said. “LCAN members work together to better coordinate and leverage resources that lower the barriers preventing students from completing their educations beyond high school.”

FCAN also helps build public knowledge of key trends and issues through policy briefs, data dashboards and reports illuminating opportunity barriers to postsecondary attainment along with policies and practices with promise to overcome them.

Helios’ support will allow FCAN to continue to be a source of non-partisan research and data for local and statewide leaders, educators and the public.

“The university is thankful for Helios Education Foundation’s longstanding investment in the efforts of FCAN and USF to increase college readiness, access and success for all students,” USF Foundation CEO Jay Stroman said. “Helios played a crucial role in the launch of this effort, and we appreciate their continued support.”

Helios is known for its innovative approach to creating opportunities for success in postsecondary education in Florida and Arizona. The organization played a pivotal role in getting FCAN off the ground, providing a $200,000 gift in 2011 to develop the initial FCAN business and strategic plans. Since then, Helios has invested an additional $4.9 million in support.

“In partnership with FCAN and leaders at the University of South Florida, Helios is focused on closing attainment gaps for all students — particularly first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students,” said Paul J. Luna, president and CEO of Helios Education Foundation. “We believe education changes lives and strengthens communities.”

Over the years, Helios has given more than $16 million to the USF Foundation, including support for the Black Leadership Network, the Latino Scholarship Program and the STEM Middle School Residency Program, among other initiatives.

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