TALLAHASSEE — On April 28, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) announced a grant from Helios Education Foundation to enhance enrollment opportunities for Florida College System students. Phase 1 provides over $300,000 to finance and “Fast Track” summer courses for 2020 and 2021 high school graduates to enroll in associate degree programs at all 28 state colleges. Phase 2, targeted at enrolling students in fall 2021, will include additional awards exceeding $600,000 and be announced soon.
Administered by the Florida Student Success Center, in partnership with the Florida College System Foundation, the grant will incentivize students to enroll in programs that prepare them to transfer to a four-year institution or entry into employment. In addition to grants to state colleges, the center will collaborate with the Florida College Access Network (FCAN) and Local College Access Networks (LCANs) to expand the reach of the grant through partnerships with K-12, postsecondary institutions, businesses and community-based organizations. Leveraging existing efforts to promote Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion, the LCANs will also receive support funding through the grant to promote college enrollment for 2020 and 2021 high school graduates.
Commenting on Helios’ generosity, Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said, “This generous grant, funded by Helios Education Foundation, will open the door to higher education to students who may think that their dream is out of reach or only for those more financially fortunate – students like me when I was college age. My attendance at my local colleges is truly what set me on the path to success. A special thank you to Helios Education Foundation for their generosity and sincere care for the education of our young people.”
Helios Education Foundation has invested in the success of Florida’s students, particularly first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students, since 2006. “The impact of COVID-19 on the high school graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 extended far beyond classroom disruptions. Data on class of 2020 college enrollment indicates a steep decline in first-time college matriculation,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO of Helios Education Foundation. “In partnership with the Florida College System Foundation and the Florida College Access Network, this grant helps high school graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 rise above pandemic-related challenges, enroll in postsecondary education and benefit from the transformational power of education.”
In assessing the potential impact of the scholarship, Florida College System Chancellor Kathy Hebda said, “This scholarship helps students start right now in AA and AS degree-seeking pathways that are uniquely available in our Florida College System. Florida’s 2+2 system of matriculation from a state college to a state university is still the envy of the nation. We are excited to partner with Helios Education Foundation to help high school seniors realize that their path to success is close to home. I encourage our seniors and graduates from the class of 2020 who have not yet started college to contact their local college’s financial aid office and take that first step today!”
About Helios Education Foundation
Helios Education Foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals in Arizona and Florida to succeed in postsecondary education. The Foundation’s work is driven by four fundamental beliefs in community, investment, equity and partnership. Helios invests in programs and initiatives across the full education continuum – from early grade success through postsecondary education. In Arizona, where Latino students comprise a large proportion of the K-12 public school population, the Foundation is implementing its Arizona Latino Student Success initiative focused on preparing all students - especially students in high poverty, underserved Latino communities - for success. Through Helios’ Florida Regional Student Success Initiative, the Foundation is helping first-generation, minority, and underrepresented students from the state’s large population centers of South Florida, Central Florida and Tampa Bay achieve a postsecondary education. Since 2006, the Foundation has invested more than $260 million in education programs and initiatives in both states. To learn more about Helios Education Foundation, visit www.helios.org.
About the Florida Student Success Center
In 2018, the Florida College System launched the center in partnership with Helios Education Foundation and the Florida College System Foundation. Florida was the 15th state to join the national Student Success Network in supporting Florida’s 28 state colleges in developing student-centered postsecondary pathways to increase students’ completion rates and success.
About the Florida College System Foundation
The Florida College System Foundation was established in 1994 and has been providing student scholarships to Florida’s 28 colleges since 1999. The Foundation supports the mission of the Florida College System and advances aligned statewide initiatives. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and the official direct support organization for the Florida College System. The mission of the Florida College System Foundation is created in Florida Statute 1004.71. The Florida College System Foundation will award over $1 million in student scholarships for the 2020-2021 academic year.
About the Florida College Access Network (FCAN)
Florida College Access Network is at the heart of a movement to ensure all Floridians have the opportunity to achieve an education beyond high school and prosper in our dynamic economy. By partnering with leaders, educators and communities throughout Florida – especially through community alliances called LCANs – they strive to achieve the State of Florida’s SAIL to 60 goal for at least 60% of Florida adults to hold degrees and workforce-relevant credentials by 2030.