Helios Education Foundation Provides $1.35 Million Grant to Hillsborough Education Foundation To Improve Literacy in Schools

TAMPA, Fla.Helios Education Foundation today announced a $1.35 million grant to the Hillsborough Education Foundation to launch the foundation’s Transforming Early Literacy Initiative (TELI). The grant will be distributed over the next four years and aims to improve early educator practices, increase student achievement, and support the articulation of literacy skills between preK and kindergarten years in 12 high-need Title I schools in Hillsborough County. The groundbreaking partnership was announced during teacher training held today at Lennard High School and attended by Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) Superintendent Addison Davis, Hillsborough Education Foundation CEO Kim Jowell, and Helios Senior Vice President for Community Engagement and Strategic Partnerships Charles Hokanson.

“This partnership with Hillsborough Education Foundation and Hillsborough County Public Schools is one that Helios believes will enhance professional development in ways that improve students’ academic outcomes early,” said Paul Luna, Helios Education Foundation President and CEO. “Helping to get students to read proficiently by the end of third grade is key to ensuring their success in school and in life, and this is particularly true for students who have been underserved. This is a priority for Helios, as it is for Hillsborough County Public Schools, the Hillsborough Education Foundation.”

Grant funding will allow HCPS to hire three full-time literacy coaches who will work alongside Pre-K and Kindergarten educators to address literacy needs in the district and connect them through professional learning communities. TELI will also engage school principals and leaders in classroom observations and development opportunities.

Schools with the greatest opportunity for literacy growth were selected to participate in TELI. Data from Hillsborough County’s 2020-21 kindergarten readiness scores indicate only 28% of children who attended a TELI school were kindergarten-ready. Meanwhile, third grade English Language Arts testing scores show that only 27% of students who attended a TELI school performed at or above grade level.

“We are confident that this sizable grant will deeply impact students in Hillsborough County, allowing them to receive the quality education that every child is entitled to,” said Hillsborough Education Foundation CEO Kim Jowell. “For us, Helios’ investment in our teachers, students, and school district is more than just monetary. It will empower students to achieve academic and personal success and allow teachers to provide them the tools to do so.”

Helios Education Foundation exists to support postsecondary attainment for low-income and under-represented communities in Arizona and Florida. Driven by our fundamental beliefs of Community, Equity, Investment, and Partnership, Helios has invested nearly $300 million in partnerships and initiatives focused on improving education outcomes in Arizona and Florida, and has helped more than 1.4 million students participate in early learning, college and career planning, and postsecondary education programs.


TELI Schools include:

  • B.T. Washington Elementary School
  • Cleveland Elementary School
  • Edison Elementary School
  • Foster Elementary School
  • James Elementary School
  • Kenly Elementary School
  • Lockhart Elementary School
  • Oak Park Elementary School
  • Potter Elementary School
  • Sheehy Elementary School
  • Sulphur Springs K-8
  • Woodson K-8