April 1, 2021
A Note from CEO Kim Jowell
One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts across Florida, including ours, continue to face increased expenses to meet the safety, academic and mental health needs of students. The impacts of the pandemic and the delays in receiving federal emergency aid have created budget pressures on Hillsborough County Public Schools.

As an education advocate, HEF's Board of Directors is asking in this letter to the Governor, key legislators and state education officials to expedite the release of federal funds allocated to school districts to help cover extensive, ongoing, unbudgeted requirements associated with COVID-19. Our district has faced unprecedented costs to support things such as remote learning and provide schools and staff with masks, sanitizer, bottled water and cleaning supplies to ensure healthy learning and working environments.

Many students continue to struggle with the impacts of COVID-19 and have suffered drastic learning losses that schools must addressthat's why access to this funding is critical.
Education in the 2021 Legislative Session
The Florida Legislature is set to adjourn the end of this month and we are still watching several important education bills, some of the bigger ones include: Senate Bill 48/House Bill 7045 and Senate Bill 86.

HEF continues to advocate for increased funding for public education, our teachers, early learning and mentoring programs. Click here to read more about our 2021 Advocacy Priorities. This year we've added a request for increased funding to bridge the Digital Divide to ensure all students have access to internet services and devices—to help close the Homework Gap.
This past year, we've been advocating for the state to invest in our teachers, increase teacher compensation and fund innovative ways to prepare, attract and retain high-quality teachers.

Last year, Governor DeSantis approved $500M to increase teacher salaries across the state, with the majority of the money going toward raising the minimum salary for new teachers to $47,500 annually. This year, he's proposing an additional increase to support veteran teachers, which we address in our Advocacy Priorities:
  • Research shows there is a direct link between experienced teachers and increased student learning gains. Schools serving larger proportions of low-income students and students of color are more likely to experience teacher shortage. Without elevated focus on valuing this profession, Florida will continue to see more teachers leaving and fewer teachers entering the profession—that comes at a cost.
Bridging the Digital Divide
HEF's Tech Connect Program Aims to Address Digital Inequities
for Elementary School Students & Families
ICYMI: Our Tech Connect program is in the news!
As part of our digital equity initiatives, a grant from the Children's Board allowed us to expand our work and launch Tech Connect this school year. The new program provides eLearning students with the technology and support they need for academic success.
Click on these news features to watch:
HEF Connects Students with 1,400 iPad minis from the Supervisor of Elections
Students at our highest needs schools received a wonderful surprise right before Spring Break—1,400 iPad minis! The tablets provided students with needed technology they don't have at home and were loaded with free books from myON, so everyone could take part in the Spring Break Reading Challenge.

We were proud to facilitate the donation of the devices from the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections to students in need in our district.
Pictured (Top, L-R): DeSoto Elementary School Principal Emily Tirelli and students, HEF CEO Kim Jowell, HCPS Chief of Transformation Network Shaylia McRae, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer, HCPS School Board Vice Chair & HEF Board Member Dr. Stacy Hahn and Read on myON's Julie Cole.
HEF Celebrates Music in Our Schools Month
Music has a way of moving us, connecting us, and for students the lessons learned go far beyond the beats!

To celebrate Music in our Schools Month in March, we visited our 2021 Teacher of the Year, Laura Meehan, Adapted Music Specialist at Caminiti Exceptional Center.
See the impact music has on students of all abilities in Hillsborough County Public Schools! Plus, check out how one of our School and Classroom Enrichment grants is helping students hit all the right notes.
Join us and #ThankATeacher Next Month!
Volunteer Appreciation Week: April 18th-24th
We couldn't carry out our mission to strengthen public education without the dedication of our valuable volunteers!

Thanks to the support of 725 Teaching Tools Resource Center volunteers last year, who stocked shelves, unloaded supplies and packaged orders, we were able to provide students and teachers at our highest needs schools with the resources needed for academic success.
During the pandemic, as our mentoring program transitioned entirely to virtual mentoring, 292 caring volunteer mentors didn't miss a beat and continued to provide support and guidance to students through online one-on-one mentoring sessions.

And while graduates didn't end the school year the way they expected or deserved, 237 scholarship reviewers spent hours combing through applications to ensure seniors received funding to support their dreams of pursuing higher education.

We are grateful for our volunteers who give the ultimate gift, the gift of their time.
Special Thanks to Our 2020 Sue House Volunteer of the Year!
HEF CEO Kim Jowell pictured with longtime HEF volunteer Bob Emerick, who was named the 2020 Volunteer of the Year during our annual EmpowerED event in September.
Bob is our second-longest serving Teaching Tools Resource Center volunteerdevoting 1,235 hours throughout 18 years! 

While volunteering at HEF, Bob has:
  • Helped HEF transform our onsite warehouse
  • Assisted with multiple school supply distributions to our highest needs schools
  • Supported our digital equity initiative by labeling hundreds of WiFi devices
  • Helped our Teaching Tools Resource Center team inventory our store and two warehouse spaces
To check out the variety of volunteer opportunities available at HEF, visit EducationFoundation.com/Volunteer.
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 Batson-Cook Construction!
Leaders of Batson-Cook Construction believe building solid relationships is the foundation for success as a company and within the communities they serve. They’ve been amazing community partners and supporters of Hillsborough Education Foundation for more than 20 years.
As longtime sponsors of our annual Play FORE Education Golf Classic and the Title Sponsor of the event for more than a decade, their involvement goes far beyond their financial support. Every year, employees devote countless hours helping to plan the event, recruiting sponsors and volunteering at the tournament to make it a fun day for golfers and ensure the fundraiser is a success.
“Every year, Batson-Cook looks forward to being the Title Sponsor of this event and supporting Hillsborough Education Foundation. This is the community we live in, this is where our kids go to school, where our friends and wives are teachers and administrators, and for us to have the opportunity to give back, it’s important for us to support HEF and all they do for our teachers and students.”
This year’s event raised more than $50,000—money that directly supports teachers and students in need in Hillsborough County through HEF’s programs that providing mentoring,
free school supplies, technology for our
digital equity initiative and more.
Batson-Cook’s VDC Manager,
David Minkin volunteered his time to shoot this drone video from the 2021 Play FORE Education Golf Classic. 
The company prides itself on supporting philanthropic endeavors that are largely employee driven and provides time off for its workers to participate in programs that make a difference in our community. Batson-Cook has also been a corporate sponsor for our Larry Wilder Memorial Fishing Tournament, our Excellence in Education Awards and Hillsborough County Public Schools Operations Gala.
Plus, Batson-Cook helps build the actual foundation for some of our students to learn in Hillsborough County—constructing Lamb, Thompson and Stowers Elementary Schools, Barrington Middle and renovating Gaither High School.
We are proud to shine a spotlight on Batson-Cook Construction’s investment in public education and are grateful for its continued support!
Last Chance to $AVE on Florida Prepaid
Time is running out! Open Enrollment in Florida Prepaid College Plans ends on April 30th!

There's a variety of flexible plans starting at $45 a month to ensure more families can start saving for their children's future without breaking the budget.

Use promo code HILLSSUP21 to save on enrollment & visit bit.ly/3q0qT7f to sign up!