February 4, 2021
A Note from CEO Kim Jowell
There is no better way to kick off each year than by celebrating our amazing teachers and support personnel at our annual Excellence in Education Awards in partnership with Hillsborough County Public Schools.

While this year’s hybrid virtual event looked different than our typical evening at the Straz Center, it doesn’t change the importance of this recognition. In fact, after all the challenges our school staff has overcome this past year with the pandemic and eLearning, it made our 2021 awards ceremony extra special.

We would like to congratulate our 678 nominees, 12 finalists and three category winners:
Teacher of the Year:
Laura Meehan,
Caminiti Exceptional Center Adapted Music Specialist
Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year: Chardae Duffy,
Woodson PK-8 Leadership Academy Media Specialist
Instructional Support Employee of the Year: Michael K. Helton,
Dawson Elementary Student Nutrition Services Manager
If you weren’t able to join us for our Mask-a-rade themed event, we hope you will enjoy the recorded show here. On our website, you can also check out our digital program.

We thank everyone who tuned in from across Hillsborough County and beyond and appreciate our sponsors who made this memorable celebration possible.
COVID-19 & Learning Loss:
Disparities are Growing and Students Need Help
Students in the United States are likely to have suffered up to nine months of learning loss in math, on average, by the end of this school year because of disruptions caused by the pandemic, and students of color could be as many as 12 months behind, according to a recent report by McKinsey & Company.

“While all students are suffering, those who came into the pandemic with the fewest academic opportunities are on track to exit with the greatest learning loss,” the report said. Black and Hispanic students are more likely to still be learning remotely and are less likely to have access to the tools they need—devices, internet access, and live contact with teachers. Left unaddressed, these opportunity gaps will translate into wider achievement gaps.

HEF Provides WiFi Hotspots/Laptops to Connect 1,000 Students to eLearning
Since the pandemic hit our district last spring, Hillsborough Education Foundation has been working tirelessly to help close the digital divide and provide our most vulnerable students with the equipment and support they need for eLearning success. Through our Digital Equity Team and Tech Connect program, we’ve provided WiFi hotspots and/or laptops to more than 1,000 students, still more needs to be done.
NFL Donates $50,000 to HEF to Support Students Impacted by the Digital Divide
The NFL is teaming up with HEF to help students who are experiencing problems connecting to their eLearning platforms. Just this week, the NFL surprised our CEO Kim Jowell on a Zoom call and announced it is contributing $50,000 to HEF to help bridge the digital divide in Hillsborough County, with $10,000 of the donation earmarked to help our highest needs students at Jefferson High School.
Business Leaders Needed in Elementary Schools for CEOs in Schools on February 19
We believe it’s important for our business community to also be invested in elevating our future workforce and is one of the reasons we support CEOs in Schools. This innovative initiative in partnership with Vistra and Hillsborough County Public Schools will provide CEOs and senior level executives with an opportunity to experience the challenges our schools and students face every day. We still need about 15 volunteers for CEOs in Schools One Day of Change on February 19th. To volunteer your time, visit CEOsInSchools.com.

We can all play a role in ensuring our most vulnerable students don’t fall further behind in their studies and have the crucial tools and support system they need to stop this learning gap from getting worse.
Thank You, HEF Mentors!
While last month was Mentor Appreciation Month, we know our mentors are changing the world and changing lives–one student at a time–and we appreciate them every day!


We can't thank our amazing mentors enough for dedicating your time to make a difference in the lives of some of our most vulnerable students in Hillsborough County and ensuring they're on the path to continued academic and personal success!

Do you have an hour a week? Sign up to be a mentor! All mentoring is being done virtually this school year. Check out our website to learn more about this amazing opportunity and to apply.
February is Black History Month
We are proud to celebrate Black History Month by honoring the many achievements of African American pioneers in the education system and those who are making a difference today!

Follow along on our social media channels as we highlight some of our African American leaders and the incredible contributions they've made and continue to make for our students, teachers and schools!
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 the Kilene Kelly Group at Keller Williams Suburban Tampa!

Every time Realtors Kilene Schelle, Kelly Heldreth and their team seal a deal, they aren’t just making the new homeowners or sellers happy—they’re making a difference in the lives of students and supporting teachers in Hillsborough County!
For each real estate closing, the Kilene Kelly Group (KKG) donates $100 of every transaction to Hillsborough Education Foundation, and at the end of each quarter they present a check to HEF. Since starting this planned giving in 2020, they’ve donated $6,600 and are projecting that amount will more than double in the year ahead with even more sales.
Kelly Heldreth says giving back to the community is a top priority for KKG, and HEF’s mission to strengthen public education in Hillsborough County is the perfect fit.
“We chose HEF because we believe our school system is crucial to the foundation of our community. All our agents’ children attend Hillsborough County Public Schools. So, it means a lot to us to make sure students have everything they need to be successful. HEF makes that possible. We see it as not only investing in the future for our own kids, but giving to the future of all Hillsborough County kids."
Kilene Kelly Group also supports HEF by giving the gift of their time. The team has volunteered more than 20 hours in our Teaching Tools Resource Center helping to prepare supplies to distribute to teachers and students at our highest needs schools.
“We believe that being present to volunteer and seeing firsthand all of the hard work that goes on with HEF makes it that much more special to us,” says Kilene Schelle. “An organization this large and successful, we know lending an extra hand means a lot. When the company started, it was just me and Kelly volunteering. As our team grew, we felt it was important that they experienced the importance of this organization by going to volunteer and seeing what it is all about.”
We are proud to shine a spotlight on Kilene Kelly Group’s investment in public education and are grateful for their continued support!
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Florida Prepaid Savings Plan This Month!
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