OVERVIEW: The Helios Education Foundation provides support for education nonprofits that work with students from pre-K all the way through postsecondary education. Both public entities and established nonprofits are eligible for Helios grants; however, unsolicited requests are not accepted. The foundation typically invests up to $20 million per year in education programming in Arizona and Florida.
FUNDING AREAS: Pre-kindergarten through postsecondary education, college readiness, early childhood education, STEM education
IP TAKE: Arizona nonprofits and public education institutions must share grantmaking opportunities with their Florida counterparts. Yet Helios provides funding to more than just schools and colleges. Reform support organizations, cultural organizations, and community organizations have often seen Helios support as long as they improve overall learning in these two states.
PROFILE: The Helios Education Foundation is perhaps best known for its STEM education and college prep funding. However, this Phoenix-based funder is also a significant local grantmaker with a passion for the people of Arizona.
Postsecondary education is the primary focus of the Helios Education Foundation, while Arizona and Florida are the geographical focus regions. Grants are typically awarded in three impact areas: Early Childhood Education, the Transition Years and Postsecondary Education Success. Since the foundation was established in 2004, it has contributed millions of dollars to these causes in both states.
The Helios Education Foundation emerged from the Southwest Student Services Corporation (SSSC), the Arizona Educational Loan Marketing Corporation, and the Florida Educational Loan Marketing Corporation. SSSC was sold to SLM Corporation for over $500 million in 2004, and the net proceeds of the sale funded Helios’ endowment. Only nonprofit organizations in Arizona and Florida that have been either operating for at least two years or are a public entity are considered for grants.
The foundation's past financial reports can be viewed here for more information. Innovative local math, literacy, and other STEM education programs are always on the Helios radar.
Nearly 60 percent of Arizona students need remediation before entering a two-year college. So college readiness is also a big priority for this funder. The foundation has estimated that approximately 55 percent of future investments will be going towards its college and career readiness programs.
Helios invested over $11 million in new partnerships in 2013. Large, significant Helios grants in Arizona include $4 million to Science Foundation Arizona and $3.9 million to the Yuma Union High School District in Arizona. However, most Helios grants are considerably less than these two.
Unfortunately for grantseekers, the Helios Education Foundation does not accept unsolicited requests for funding. Grant recipients come from both the public and private sectors. The foundation does not provide general operating support or funds for capital campaigns, teacher recruitment, or non-programmatic professional development and classroom materials costs. Helios does provide funding for administrative expenses up to 10% of an overall proposal as long as they aren’t being used to secure more funds, replace public funds, or support operations.
- Linda Thompson, Senior Vice President and Chief Impact Officer
- Karen J. Ortiz, Ph.D., Vice President, Early Grade Success
- Julie Norwood, Director of Program Services
- Erika Morse, Grants Management Director