June 3 , 2021
A Note from CEO Kim Jowell
The 2020-2021 school year is in the books—and what a memorable chapter it's been! While many students, teachers and families enjoy some well-deserved rest this summer, at HEF, we will be busy lining up our supply drives to get ready to support more students and teachers in the new school year.

With such a challenging year, we are deeply concerned how we will continue to #EraseTheNeed for our most vulnerable students in Hillsborough County. With more employees working remotely this past year, fewer companies held in-person supply drives, which impacted the stock in our Teaching Tools Resource Center. Right now, inventory levels are detrimentally low, and as we prepare for next school year the problem will only be compounded as telecommuting continues and we work to overcome this supply deficit.
How You Can Help
From hosting a supply drive to purchasing from our Amazon Wish List, there are a variety of ways you can help get these basic tools into the hands of students who need them most.
If you're interested in hosting a supply drive, call or email Laura Grucza, Resource Development Manager at (813) 574-0274 or lgrucza@educationfoundation.com.
Legislation Strengthens Early Learning Programs
On July 1st, new legislation takes effect that was passed by Florida lawmakers this session and approved by Governor DeSantis to help strengthen early learning programs and improve state accountability. Early learning programs that prepare students for Kindergarten are foundational for their educational success.

House Bill 419 reforms the state’s voluntary Pre-K program and helps support young learners by:
  • Establishing a Division of Early Learning within the Department of Education (DOE) that places the responsibility of overseeing VPK and School Readiness programs with the State Board of Education.
  • Phasing in a new VPK accountability system based on performance metrics that include student outcomes, learning gains and observations of child-teacher interactions.
  • Strengthening the accountability system using coordinated screening and progress monitoring programs to identify emergent literacy and mathematics skill deficiencies and provide those students intensive, personalized interventions.

The Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County reports that by the time a child is 5 years old, 90% of their brain has already developed. “What we do today, determines who they become tomorrow. By investing in early learning beginning at birth, the statistics will change, the stories will change and the future will change for our youngest children, for our community and for all of us,” said ELC CEO and HEF Board Member Gordon Gillette.
One of HEF’s Advocacy Priorities focuses on investing in early learning to increase access to programs with high-quality instruction. Research shows high-quality early learning programs provide better outcomes in education, health, employment and social behavior for students and remove employment barriers for parents. HEF continues to advocate to strengthen public education to ensure all students achieve success.
HEF's Take Stock in Children Mentee, Ankit
Named our 2021 Outstanding Senior
We are so proud of the 77 seniors in our Take Stock in Children mentoring program graduating in Hillsborough County! Every year, we select one mentee who has gone above and beyond as our Outstanding Senior.

We are beaming with pride to announce Ankit, a senior at Plant City High School, is HEF’s Take Stock in Children Outstanding Senior for the Class of 2021!

He is so smart (check out the video below to see how his double-digit weighted GPA goes beyond what the system can handle) and he is also very driven and incredibly humble. Combine that with his community service work and involvement with extracurriculars (Interact Club President, Science Club VP, Secretary of National Honor Society, and member of the Health Occupation Student Association and Robotics Club) and it’s easy to see how Ankit is OUTSTANDING in so many ways!
Watch as we surprise Ankit with the Outstanding Senior Award and a MacBook Air!
Plus, the National Merit Scholar very well could be your doctor one day as he’s heading to the University of South Florida this fall with dreams of pursuing a career in Emergency Medicine.

Congratulations, Ankit! This is a well-deserved honor and we can’t wait to see all the amazing (additional) accomplishments you’ll have in life. We know you’ll continue to make us proud.
Hillsborough County Students Advance to
International Fair After Regional STEM Competition
Congratulations to the three Hillsborough County high school students who were selected to compete in the Regeneron Virtual International Science and Engineering Fair after wowing judges with their projects at our 2021 Hillsborough Regional STEM Fair. HEF is proud to support the annual event.

Check out the students' video submissions of their projects and you can see how the future is bright with these brilliant minds at work in our community:
Anya, King High
“Silica-Supported Perovskite Oxides for Low Temperature Carbon Dioxide Conversion”
Arko, King High
“A Novel Approach to Citrus Disease Management: Leveraging Computer Vision, Machine Learning & Convolutional Neural Networks”
Shloke, Hillsborough High
“In-vitro evaluation of herbal bionematicide & its effect on management of nematodes in Solanum lycopersicum”
Students were able to meet with sponsors from Bristol Myers Squibb to prepare their presentations for the international competition, along with Madison, a student at Liberty Middle School who won at the state level with her project: “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”
Congratulations to these gifted students!
HEF and our Community Celebrate Teachers for
Teacher Appreciation Week
We LOVED celebrating teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week!

Throughout the week, we had more than 1,100 entries in our daily Swag and Supplies and Classroom Grant giveaways, that’s more than a thousand heartfelt stories that teachers shared with us... from their favorite memory this school year or innovative classroom idea, to their favorite token of appreciation that made them feel special and the teacher who inspired them to become the educator they are today!

Thank you to all our AWESOME Hillsborough County Public Schools teachers who joined in our #TeacherAppreciationWeek celebration!
Thank you to the businesses who supported HEF and helped show our PHENOMENAL teachers how much our community appreciates them by offering incredible discounts and deals for them to enjoy!
Our work doesn't happen without the generosity of our donors. That's why we dedicate a section in our monthly newsletter to showcase the individuals and companies making our mission possible.
For this month’s feature, we are celebrating the Tampa Bay Lightning and their partners.
As we cheer on the Bolts in the playoffs, off the ice, our reigning Stanley Cup winners truly are champions for education in Tampa Bay. Over the past two decades, the team has been supporting HEF in a variety of ways—providing financial contributions for classroom grants and community scholarships, school supplies to students in need, game experiences for students, as well as giving the gift of their time.
HEF was honored to receive the Lightning’s Community Hero Award last year from the Vinik Family Foundation, supported by the team’s owner, Jeff Vinik, who personally invests in making a positive impact on our community. The $50,000 donation for school and classroom enrichment grants supported students by funding innovative projects to further engage students in their learning.
The Lightning also teams up with businesses in our community to maximize impact. In partnership with Chase, the Lightning Foundation recently funded three grants at Dunbar Elementary, Mann Middle and Plant City High School providing opportunities beyond what school budgets allow.
In addition, through a partnership with Stantec, they awarded college scholarships to deserving students in our Take Stock in Children mentoring program.

Throughout the years the club has also provided supplies for our Teaching Tools Resource Center, and sponsored the STEM Fair and a School Excellence initiative. 
HEF has also been fortunate to be chosen by the Lightning to benefit from fan-favorite fundraisers like #BeardTheThunder and player-signed Mystery Stick Sales.
Last spring, shortly after the onset of the pandemic, Winger Alex Killorn solidified legendary status in our hearts when he launched his Instagram series “Dock Talk.” While he made his way from dock to dock interviewing fellow teammates and celebrities, Killorn raised more than $50K for HEF through the sale of his Dock Talk t-shirts.
Killorn has also supported educators with a special recorded appearance at our 2021 Excellence in Education Awards. As the son of a teacher, Killorn truly understand the power of education and we appreciate his support.
The team’s generosity extends beyond just their contributions. Lightning staff also volunteer their time at our Teaching Tools Resource Center and routinely send Thunder Bug to our supply drive events to help ensure shelves are stocked and students have the tools they need.

We are proud to shine a spotlight on the Lightning and are grateful for the team’s investment in education—building a solid foundation for a prosperous community!