August 4, 2022
A Note from CEO Kim Jowell
As the new school year begins on August 10th, I wanted to take a moment to recognize and reflect on the remarkable gains that have been made by so many schools, especially amid the challenges and effects of the pandemic the past two years.

The district recently announced the results of school grades, and with the hard work and dedication of students, teachers and staff, the number of “D” and “F” schools has fallen from 28 to 5 since 2019 and the district has moved from the 35th ranking in the state to 19th. We are extremely proud of this progress and are looking forward to continuing to support our highest needs schools for many more amazing achievements in the year ahead.

Right now, we are also less than 3 weeks away from the primary election on August 23rd. The upcoming vote for the Hillsborough Schools millage referendum is critical for student success.

HEF is advocating for the passage of this referendum, because our children deserve strong public schools, and they deserve qualified teachers and staff who support them. Inadequate state funding, combined with the effects of a critical national teacher shortage and a competitive job market, are impacting our district. If this referendum does not pass, the ripple effect from a lack of funding will continue to be devastating for students’ learning gains and to schools struggling to cover vacancies.

I encourage you to do your own research on the referendum to make an informed decision about the need to support students and teachers now, for a strong future for our community.

Looking ahead to next month, on September 14th we will be coming together for HEF's annual EmpowerED luncheon at Armature Works, which is always an impactful event. I hope to see you there!
Join Us in Supporting the Hillsborough Schools
Millage Referendum & Vote YES
This primary election, Hillsborough County voters are being asked to approve a 4-year school millage referendum. The measure is projected to increase funding for the district around $146 million annually, of which, every dollar would remain right here in our community and in our public schools.
HEF believes this investment in our students, teachers and public schools is critical and cannot wait. Instructional vacancies have increased 240% over the past five years. Last year, around 8,000 students in Hillsborough County did not have a qualified teacher in their classrooms.

We understand any added tax can be a heavy lift for families. The same price increases that you’re facing, our teachers and schools are facing and inflation has significantly outpaced the increases in education funding over the last 15 years.
The state has mandated a steady decline in the Required Local Millage rate each year from 5.629 in 2013 to 3.601 today, costing the district nearly $975 million over those years. Even with the passage of the 1 mil, rates will still be lower than those in 2010. No other company with decreasing revenue and increasing expenses for more than a decade could still be in operation.

Our community’s economic growth and prosperity relies on a strong and supported education system. We hope you will join HEF, local business leaders, the unions representing teachers, administrators and support staff, among others to help pass this referendum.
Support from Community Groups Continues to Grow
There are a variety of ways to ensure your voice is heard on this important issue. If you opted for a Vote by Mail ballot, you should have received it. You can send it back, and it must arrive at the Supervisor of Elections office by August 23rd, or drop it off at any of the early voting locations. You can visit the select polling places every day, starting Monday through August 21st. On Election Day, you can vote at your polling location from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For most voters, the referendum will be the last item on the ballot.
New HEF Program will Transform Early Literacy
for Students & Teachers
We are excited to announce that HEF is launching a new literacy project this school year, thanks to a $1.35 million grant from Helios Education Foundation in a groundbreaking partnership with the district.

The 4-year program focuses on 12 of our highest needs Transformation Network elementary schools with the highest opportunities for literacy growth.
(L-R) HEF Board Chair Drew Marshall, HEF CAO Mike McCollum, HCPS Supt. Addison Davis, Helios VP Grace Maseda, HEF Board Member Sterling Ivey, HEF CEO Kim Jowell, HEF CPO Anna Corman, Helios' Kirsten Schmitz Phelps
At these schools, data shows only 28% of students were Kindergarten ready and 27% of third graders performed at/above grade level for English Language Arts testing.

The Transforming Early Literacy Initiative (TELI) puts services where they're needed most.

The grant provides funding to hire literacy coaches and a district resource teacher.
Coaches will collaborate with PreK and Kindergarten teachers during the school day and provide resources to align the literacy work of the two grades for a seamless transition for students. With early intervention and improved literacy instruction there will be higher student achievement.
Families, who play an integral role in student’s learning, will be engaged in schoolwide literacy activities, and books and materials will be provided for in-class and at-home learning. Principals will lead the work at their schools to help create systemic change beyond the length of the grant.
HEF and HCPS are also contributing resources for the initiative. An external company will evaluate the program’s strengths, opportunities and impact to help build a model that can be replicated to make a difference in even more schools.
Help put School Supplies into the
Hands of Students Who Need Them Most
Our Teaching Tools Resource Center is now open for the school year and it has been packed!

Teachers from the district's highest needs schools are getting ready for students to return to their classrooms on Wednesday. Before school has even started, we have already served nearly 700 teachers, who scheduled their shopping trips and loaded up their carts with free supplies and resources.
There are so many ways you can help stock our shelves, so teachers don't have to spend their own money to provide students with the basic tools they need for academic success.

Florida's Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday wraps up this Sunday. When you're out picking up supplies, grab a few extras to donate to HEF.

You can drop off supplies at one of our upcoming events as part of our Tampa Bay School Supply Drive in partnership with Pinellas Education Foundation, benefitting more than 200,000 students in need on both sides of the Bay.
You can also host a school supply drive at your business or organization to help make a difference for students and teachers, purchase supplies from our Amazon Wish List and your order will be delivered directly to HEF or make a donation online and we can purchase the most-needed items in bulk for you!
Interested in Hosting a Drive?
Call Laura Grucza at
(813) 574-0274 or click here to email her for more information & to sign up today.
Don't miss EmpowerED 2022
Hillsborough Education Foundation's 2022 EmpowerED luncheon is next month! We hope you can join us on Wednesday, September 14th for our annual event at Armature Works. We will be celebrating stories of success for our students and teachers and sharing how, collectively, we are Rewriting the Narrative to help our public schools now and in the next chapter.  

This event raises funds for thousands of our most vulnerable students and teachers at our highest needs schools in Hillsborough County who we serve and raises awareness about the important topics facing education today. Together, we can ensure students have the critical tools, resources and support they need to help create a positive story for every child.
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.

This month, we are featuring one of our newer donors, Peninsula Steel!
Peninsula Steel, with facilities in Plant City and Texas, manufactures steel products for the construction industry.

The company believes just as steel is important to the structure of a building, education is one of the main supports of the community where their employees live and work and their children attend our public schools.
“It is part of our mission to promote the growth and development of our community and work hand-in-hand with local organizations that contribute to elevating one of the essential areas in our society, such as education,” said Carolina Miranda, Peninsula Steel's Vice President and Director of Administration.
The company first became a sponsor of the Regional STEM Fair through HEF to support the innovative young minds of our future scientists, researchers and doctors. They wanted to do more to support education and this year, signed on as a sponsor of the Larry Wilder Memorial Fishing Tournament, which benefits HEF and the students and teachers who we serve.

“We found an ally in HEF who shares our beliefs and values. The nonprofit is able to work in small daily actions that are carried out to achieve the big changes of tomorrow," Miranda said. "We cannot think of a better way to invest than in the education of our future generations to make a positive impact that is sustainable over time."

In the coming year, Peninsula Steel says it plans to continue to grow its support for education as a "driver of change and transformation" and believes everyone can play a role in fortifying the structure of our community.

“We encourage others to help build the community that we would all like to see by investing in education to have a long-term impact.”
We are proud to shine a spotlight on Peninsula Steel and appreciate the company's dedication to help strengthen public education in Hillsborough County!