January 7, 2021
A Note from CEO Kim Jowell
Happy New Year! We are looking forward to 2021 and continuing to provide resources to teachers and students in need. In the year ahead, we are laser focused on creating equity in education and closing achievement gaps.

After an unprecedented year in education, we are incredibly proud of how our partners rallied to help our most vulnerable students and their families facing economic hardships.
With the community’s generosity, we raised nearly $7.1 million in our last fiscal year to support our programs and the students and teachers in our district’s highest needs schools. With our financial audit now complete, we can share the highlights of our work with you in our most recent Impact Report.

During this pandemic and beyond, HEF is living our core beliefs. We believe a community engaged in making educational excellence a priority will transform Hillsborough County and are looking forward to furthering that impactful change with your continued support.
Literacy is Fundamental!
Literacy is the foundation for student success in school and in life. HEF is committed to addressing the low literacy rates in Hillsborough County and inspiring students to read. Unfortunately, not all students have books at their fingertips, especially during the pandemic and eLearning.
Access to books is critical. HEF is happy to support Brooke (10) and Haili (12) Smith through their nonprofit, Books Like Me, by funding culturally relevant books for the sisters to distribute to students in our district's highest needs schools.

"We like reading and want to share that passion with other kids, so they have the opportunity to read books with characters like them," said Brooke.

"It'll make kids feel better about themselves," Haili said. "We feel proud to help schools that couldn't afford books."

And more needs to be done to get books into the hands of students. In Hillsborough County, there is a 36 percent achievement gap between non-economically and economically disadvantaged students based on the latest state English Language Arts test results.
Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida is January 25th-29th
Celebrate Literacy Week encourages families and school staff to help spread the love of reading and the importance literacy. Reading a book to young children builds cognitive skills, motivation for reading, curiosity and memory.

According to the Florida Department of Education, studies show that it only takes 20 minutes per day to vastly improve a child’s reading ability. In one year, a child who reads 20 minutes a day is exposed to 1.8 million words. 
Click here for grade-level tips and activities to help develop a love of reading in our youth that leads to lifelong literacy.
Supporting Students & Teachers is at the Heart of
HEF's School and Classroom Enrichment Grants
Every day, teachers and administrators go beyond the curriculum looking for ways to enhance the learning environment for their students. HEF's School and Classroom Enrichment grants fund their creative ideas and projects to better engage students in their learning, which promotes better academic results.
Corr Elementary Physical Education Coach Virginia Santesteban has been working to take fitness to the next level for her students and help them understand the connection between exercise and cardiorespiratory endurance, but many 4th graders struggled to feel their pulse on their neck. The class recently receive a grant from HEF to purchase heart rate monitors. Santesteban says the new technology fills the gap and allows for authentic learning.
"Teachers have great ideas, it's hard because those thing take tools and cost money. The grants really allow us to take on projects that we'd never be able to do. That changes students' whole trajectory of education," says Coach Santesteban.

You can directly support a teacher's request by school or subject including health, literacy, character development and more through our online platform. It allows projects to be funded by individual investors in the community and HEF. So far this school year, we've awarded 100+ grants totaling more than $100,000, but there are still 55 projects in need of $72K in funding.

Fourth grader Amya is grateful for the support. "Thank you! I love you! You're helping a lot of people!"
Teachers & Staff Surprised as Finalists for our
2021 Excellence in Education Awards
Twelve stand-out teachers and school district personnel across Hillsborough County got quite a shock as our Surprise Patrol revealed they are finalists for our 2021 Excellence in Education Awards.

Congratulations to these 12 finalists, selected from nearly 700 nominees!
We hope you will join us for a memorable evening on January 21st as we honor the nominees, finalists and winners for Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator, Instructional Support Employee and Teacher of the Year!

Our Mask-a-rade themed event will be held virtually this year. Registration is FREE!
Celebrate National Mentoring Month and
Volunteer to be a VIRTUAL Mentor today!
Would you like to make a HUGE difference in a student’s life and impact the future of our community? Would you believe you can do it safely from the comfort of your home and invest an average of just 30 minutes a week? That's all it takes to help guide a deserving student down a successful path in school and beyond.
National Mentoring Month is an opportunity for us to show how much we appreciate the volunteers in our community who serve as mentors in our Take Stock in Children programand we'd love for you to join us! Right now, we have students waiting to be matched with a caring mentor. It only takes a few minutes of your time connecting online to make a lasting impact!

Check out this interview with one of our mentees, Britnee, and her mentor, Bailey, on Mix 100.7 talking about how our program supports students by providing a mentor, college success coach, college scholarship and so much more!

Sign up to become a HEF mentor today at EducationFoundation.com/Mentoring.
Innovative Initiative Creates Vital Alliances Between Local Business Leaders & Elementary School Principals
Ever wonder what it's like to help build the future workforce for our community? It's a pretty big responsibility! Learn more about how it's done every day by our teachers and principals by taking part in CEOs in Schools on February 19, 2021.

As part of this HEF and Vistra Communications initiative in partnership with Hillsborough County Public Schools, business leaders can experience the challenges and opportunities our schools face, while making a lasting impact on students.

Our work doesn't happen without the generosity of our donors. That's why we are dedicating a section in our monthly newsletter to showcase the individuals and companies making our mission possible.
For this month’s feature, we are celebrating Helen Gilbart! Not only is she a HEF donor, she is also one of our longtime mentors. 
For decades, education has played an important role in Helen’s life. The Tampa retiree taught classes and administered programs at St. Petersburg College for more than 20 years. She understands that higher education is instrumental in providing a world of opportunities for young people, especially our less fortunate students. That’s what inspired her to become a mentor in our Take Stock in Children program. Over the years, Helen has mentored around 10 students, providing them with academic support and guidance in life.
For many students in our community, the cost of affording college is too much to bear. Helen doesn’t want the financial challenges that families face to hold students back from achieving their dreams. She is dedicated to supporting students and leaving a legacy for years to come through a planned gift to HEF.
“Money shouldn’t be a factor that holds students back from higher education,” says Gilbart. “I didn’t go to college until after I was married, because I didn’t have the means when I was younger. It was a game changer for me. I want to provide deserving students with the same opportunity.”
We have a variety of ways you can make a difference in the life of a child. For more information about HEF’s planned giving, please contact Mike McCollum at mmccollum@educationfoundation.com or call (813) 574-0296.