August 5, 2021
A Note from CEO Kim Jowell
We are excited for the start of the new school year next week and the return to in-person learning for students and teachers in order to close the achievement gaps that have widened during the pandemic.

This school year, HEF has reopened our Teaching Tools Resource Center to ensure teachers at our Title I schools have access to the basic supplies students need for academic success. We will continue to work tirelessly to close the digital divide and provide a hybrid of in-person/virtual mentoring, college and career readiness programs, classroom grants, scholarships and more.

Over the past year, we have learned many lessons and some of the disruptive changes in education from COVID-19 have offered opportunities that we can continue to support our students and bridge inequities. That is the focus for our EmpowerED luncheon on September 15th: how we are emerging stronger as a community to deliver education for any circumstance. We hope you will join us for this engaging conversation, led by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor as our keynote speaker.

On behalf of all of us at HEF, we wish students, teachers and families a safe and successful school year!
Don't Miss EmpowerED 2021!
Advocating for Public Education
School board members recently adopted Hillsborough County Public Schools’ 2022 Legislative Platform—the district’s position on priority state issues and policy. Many of the positions align with HEF’s Advocacy Priorities.
Investing in Public Education: This legislative session, the district will urge lawmakers to bring Florida’s total per-pupil funding to at least the median in the U.S. Department of Education's Ranking of the States - $11,732. Right now, it’s unacceptable that Florida ranks 43rd in K-12 education funding.

Investing in Early Learning: The district plans to call on the state to increase funding for VPK to allow school districts to attract highly qualified teachers, improve programming and extend the school day.

The district also wants legislators to hold charter schools to the same safeguards and high standards of accountability, transparency and equity as district-managed public schools. This position mirrors concerns raised by HEF’s Board of Directors in this letter to the Governor this past legislative session.
HEF joins the district in advocating for change that will have the greatest impact on students, families and our community.
Help #EraseTheNeed for Students this School Year
As students head back to school, our need for support from the community is greater than ever to ensure all students have the tools they need to be fully engaged in their learning.

The pandemic has depleted our inventory in our Teaching Tools Resource Center and we estimate it will take more than 150 community supply drives to help restock our shelves this school year.

We are grateful for the dozens of businesses and individuals who have answered the call to help. These are just a few of the successful supply drives so far this summer:
"Road to Success" Supply Drive organized by
King HS students (L-R): Toluwa Ajani, Onella Moitra & Emma Bennett
Armature Works, duPont Registry's Cars & Coffee Event
Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA Back-to-School Drive 11 locations
Westfield Brandon's Stuff the Bus in partnership with Mix 100.7
Hillsborough County Tax Collector's Office
8 locations
Bill Currie Ford
Supply Drive
How You Can Help
From hosting a supply drive at your company or organization to purchasing from our Amazon Wish List, there are a variety of ways you can help get these basic supplies into the hands of students who need them most.
Donors Helped Pick Up the Pieces after School Fire
For students and staff at Tampa Heights Elementary Magnet, this will be their first full school year in their rebuilt facility.

The day after Hurricane Irma tore through Tampa Bay in 2017, an electrical problem sparked a fire in the historic East Tampa school, at the time named Lee Elementary.
Students and teachers were relocated to portables at nearby Lockhart Elementary Magnet for three years before returning to their new school last semester and reopening with a new name.

Teachers lost materials that some had been gathering for decades. In addition to supply donations, HEF's Relief Fund raised nearly $113K in cash contributions through the generosity of our community and business partners. We are thankful to have been able to help staff rebuild their classrooms with renewed hope for a successful upcoming school year in their permanent new home.
Mark your Calendar for our 3rd Annual CEOs in Schools
On November 5th, nearly 200 Tampa Bay area CEOs and senior executives will volunteer an entire day at public elementary schools in Hillsborough County. Business leaders will see, hear and do the things that educators and students experience every day and share their knowledge with school administrators and our future workforce. 
Registration will open in September. HEF is proud to partner with Vistra Communications and Hillsborough County Public Schools for this impactful initiative. For more information, visit
Support our Teachers: Help Fund Innovative Ideas
We love to see how teachers’ creative ideas for projects grow into hands-on learning opportunities for students!

Last school year, with support from individuals and businesses in the community, we funded more than 125 School and Classroom Enrichment grants to provide exciting learning experiences for students beyond what school budgets allow.

Teachers are now submitting applications for this upcoming school year. You can search their projects by school or subject here and help support a teacher's classroom.
A little “seed” money for the Green Paws project at Buckhorn Elementary, funded by Verizon, helped a 2nd Grade Teacher grow her idea for a butterfly garden into an entire outdoor classroom!
Lightning Strikes Twice and the
Stanley Cup Stays in Champa Bay!
We are so proud to once again congratulate the Tampa Bay Lightning on their back-to-back Stanley Cup wins! The team is an outstanding community partner and invests in our students, teachers and strengthening public education in Hillsborough County through their generosity to HEF.

We would like to give a special shout-out to our HEF MVP and supporter, Alex Killorn! Killorn has been truly amazing on and off the ice. In case you missed it, check out this story about the impact the #influencer has had on HEF and our community.
$AVE for Your Child's Future!
Summer is almost over and the countdown to college is closer than you think! You can start saving toward your child's college tuition costs in a tax-free, flexible Florida 529 Savings Plan.

Use promo code HILLS529 to get $50 added to your new account when you set it up by August 15th. See how at:
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 a new donor to HEF, Mr. and Mrs. Crab Seafood Restaurants.
Owner Tom Kuo and his family are part of our community. Employees at his restaurants around Tampa Bay have children who attend Hillsborough County Public Schools. He says he's seen the financial struggles many families have faced during the pandemic and wants to do all that he can to help. That's why he's hosting school supply drives at his 7 restaurants in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties to benefit HEF and the students and teachers we serve.

“Education is the foundation for our children’s future and our future. It brings that sense of community to us to see everyone coming together in this time of need," Kuo said.
Donors can drop off school supplies at any of the Mr. & Mrs. Crab locations in Hillsborough & Pinellas Counties through August 31st.
In addition to the school supplies, the restaurants are each donating $300 to support HEF's mission to strengthen public education.

Kuo also donated gift cards for giveaways to help celebrate our outstanding educators during Teacher Appreciation Week in May. He stands by HEF's belief that effective teachers are foundational to student success.
“We hope to see all our children succeed. For us to have the opportunity to be involved in this type of growth is truly a heartwarming and humbling experience. We could not be more grateful for this partnership with HEF," said Kuo.
We are proud to shine a spotlight on Mr. & Mrs. Crab and appreciate the restaurants' investment in education!