Community Engagement

In addition to investing its resources in education initiatives in 2013, the Foundation advocated for the kind of education reform needed to achieve its vision that every student should have access to and be prepared to succeed in postsecondary education.

That advocacy work included engaging publicly in support of the continued implementation of the Florida Standards and Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards, convening opinion leaders, teachers, students and others to participate in dialogue about reforming education systems in Arizona.

Common Core State Standards Engagement

The Foundation fully supports the continued implementation of the Florida Standards and Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards and the selection of aligned assessments. The bar must be raised for all students who will be expected to bring high-level analytical and critical-thinking skills to the global workforce.

Helios spoke in support of higher-bar standards at public meetings and hearings, sent letters of support to state political leaders and key education policymakers and engaged in public discourse about the issue in the editorial pages of major daily papers.

Nationally, the Foundation supports the Collaborative for Student Success, a grant-making initiative created with the pooled resources of a diverse group of regional and national foundations who are committed to improving public education. The Foundation is particularly engaged in the Collaborative’s specific work in Arizona and Florida.

In Arizona, the Foundation is part of the Arizona Public Engagement Task Force, which is an independently formed collaborative of more than 45 partner organizations who share the desire and commitment to ensure that all Arizona students are prepared for college, career and life.

In Florida, the Foundation is a key supporter of the statewide Learn More Go Further campaign, which will employ strategic communications efforts, including a multi-media campaign, to help parents and teachers understand the importance of the Florida Standards and their role in supporting them. The Foundation is also engaged in statewide philanthropic efforts to ensure the successful implementation of the Florida Standards through its involvement in the advocacy work of the Florida Philanthropic Network’s Education Affinity Group.

NBC News’ Education Nation Tour - Phoenix

In 2013, Helios also helped create a space for opinion leaders, educators, students and others in Arizona to convene about some of the most pressing, troubling and successful education issues in the state. The Foundation served as the lead sponsor of NBC News’ Education Nation “On-the-Road” Tour in Phoenix, Arizona, in May.

The Phoenix event centered around a series of panel discussions and special activities hosted by NBC News correspondents, local Arizona leaders, educators, parents and students. Some of the most memorable and enlightening activities included the teacher and student town halls where attendees shared their candid and emotional experiences, ideas and concerns about the future of education in Arizona’s schools.

With the education stakes getting higher and higher in Arizona and Florida, and as more and more students move up the pipeline each year, the Foundation’s goal is to ensure each of these students graduates and is fully prepared for a high-quality education beyond high school.

Investing in education programs alone won’t solve every issue, but by layering its community investments with education advocacy and community engagement, the Foundation is working to reform education systems, create college-going and completing cultures and build a pipeline of academically prepared students who can compete successfully with their global peers.