January 6, 2022
A Note from CEO Kim Jowell
Happy New Year! We are looking forward to 2022 and continuing to provide resources to teachers and students in need in our community. In the year ahead, we are laser focused on creating equity in education, closing achievement gaps and creating meaningful, sustainable change. Over the past year, we have adapted many of our programs out of necessity during the pandemic, but also embraced new innovative ways we can continue to support our students and bridge inequities.

In this new year, we are excited to grow our partnerships to strengthen public education and make our community the best it can be today and for all our tomorrows.
Mentor Appreciation Month: Celebrating our Mentors
Watch & hear what our mentors
mean to students!
By spending just a few hours together each month, a mentor can really round out a student’s life and set them on a path toward success. 

HEF's mentoring program also comes with special perks – students are not only paired with a caring volunteer mentor but receive guidance from a HEF College Success Coach and the opportunity to earn at least a 2-year Florida Prepaid college scholarship, too!
Connecting Thousands of Students to Critical Technology
Watch how HEF's Digital Equity program is helping Ariana Rodriguez & her family.
All too often, students do not have access to a personal computer and are unable to complete assignments at home, causing disproportionate learning losses for students in need. In response to seeing this gap magnified during the pandemic, HEF launched our Digital Equity initiative.

Since March 2020, we've been working tirelessly to close the Digital Divide and Homework Gap and have helped more than 2,300 at-risk students in Hillsborough County by providing internet access and devices to families.
Thanks to the generosity of individuals and businesses in our community, we've raised more than $1.3 million to support this initiative, but that's still not enough. Right now, there are 374 students on our waiting list—students who are disconnected and at risk of falling further behind in their learning. It costs around $700 to equip a student with the technology they need for academic success. Click here if you'd like to make a difference, your support will connect even more of our most vulnerable students to their online learning platforms, so they can be fully engaged in their learning.
Congratulations to Hillsborough County Public Schools students, teachers, school staff, families and district leaders for achieving the highest graduation rate in district history: 89.2 percent, capping off two consecutive years of graduation gains during one of the most tumultuous times in education.

This graduation rate increase also has a tremendous impact on our community. The district reports that students who graduate with a high school diploma earn $380,000 more during their lifetimes compared to students who do not graduate, translating to a more than $2 billion boost to our local economy over the past five years.

HEF is incredibly proud to partner with HCPS and support their amazing work to ensure all students graduate with the skills needed for academic and personal success. Way to go!
Open a Book and Launch into Literacy
Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida is January 24 - January 28, 2022! 

Literacy is the foundation for student success in school and in life. At HEF, we are committed to addressing low literacy rates in Hillsborough County and inspiring students to read.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, HEF introduced a new initiative – HEF Neighborhood Libraries – to ensure all students can access books and continue building reading skills. HEF Neighborhood Libraries are durable, house-shaped boxes created by Little Free Library where members of the community are encouraged to take or leave books on a variety of subjects for students of all ages.
As part of this initiative, HEF installed 40 of these boxes around our highest needs elementary schools in Hillsborough County, encouraging families and school staff to help spread the love of reading.

Just by reading 20 minutes every day, a child is exposed to about 1.8 million words of text every year, according to the Florida Department of Education. That’s 137 new words per minute!

Advocating for Education: 2022 Florida Legislative Session
The Florida Legislature kicks off the 60-day session on Tuesday. Issues impacting students, educators and public education will once again be at the forefront. Our CEO Kim Jowell and other HEF staff will join the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations next week for a Day at the Capitol, meeting with lawmakers and sharing the importance of investing in education.

HEF will be monitoring legislation relating to K-12 public education throughout the session and will keep you up-to-date on bills that could impact our students and neighborhood public schools.
Best of the Best: Meet our 2022 EIE Finalists
13 top-notch Hillsborough County Public Schools teachers and support staff, across three categories, were revealed as finalists for our 2022 Excellence in Education Awards. 
Join us on January 20th at the Straz Center as we honor all the nominees and name our 2022 Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator, Instructional Support Employee and Teacher of the Year!
Glow Crazy with us in your best neon attire!
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 our longtime donor: Amscot Financial!
Amscot Financial is committed to serving our community because this is where it all began. The MacKechnie family moved to America from Scotland more than three decades ago, putting down roots in Tampa and founding Amscot (the company’s name is a nod to both countries).
Wanting to have an impact on the place they call home, Amscot and the MacKechnie Family have been supporting Hillsborough Education Foundation and the students and teachers we serve in Hillsborough County for the past 20 years—contributing more than $750,000 to our mission and programs through donations, sponsorships and in-kind gifts.
“The potential to shape positive change by strengthening public education programs is critical to our future as a society,” said Fraser MacKechnie, Amscot Financial’s President & Chief Operating Officer. “Amscot is deeply proud to play a part in helping support education initiatives in our community and providing opportunities for all to learn and make their unique contributions.”
Amscot is the longstanding category sponsor for Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year for our annual Excellence in Education Awards. MacKechnie says it’s an honor to help recognize educators in our district who go above and beyond to meet the needs of our diverse student population.

“It is our way of expressing heartfelt gratitude for the work of those rare individuals who selflessly make a difference in students’ lives,” MacKechnie said. “We believe that every child should be equipped with the fundamental resources to thrive in school. Our educators therefore deserve all the credit and celebration for shaping the world we all live in by inspiring our younger generation and planting the seeds of curiosity and knowledge in them.”
The company also provides support to education foundations across the state through various campaigns, including matching dollars, through a partnership with the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations. MacKechnie gives of his time as well, serving on HEF’s Board of Directors and every year an Amscot representative is a presenter in our EIE Awards.

“Our time is the most valuable gift we may have. At Amscot, part of the fabric of who we are is showing up when it matters. And that means showing up and participating in special moments in educators’ lives to show with our actions that we believe in and stand by our commitment.”
2021 Excellence in Education Awards
(L-R) HEF CEO Kim Jowell,
Amscot's Human Resources Leader &
EIE Presenter Vega Moore,
2021 Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year Chardae Duffy and
HCPS Superintendent Addison Davis
We are proud to shine a spotlight on Amscot Financial's investment in public education and are grateful for the company's continued support!