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Helios Invests $1.85M to Improve Latino Student Success at Maricopa Community Colleges

News October 7, 2022
Logo - Helios Education Foundation

[PHOENIX, Oct. 7, 2022] – Helios Education Foundation is making new investments to improve Latino student success at colleges across the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD).

Helios awarded a $1.85 million grant to the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation to deliver resources aimed at strengthening educational outcomes among Latino students at six colleges: GateWay Community College, Glendale Community College, Estrella Mountain Community College, Mesa Community College, Phoenix College and South Mountain Community College. In addition to the grant, the MCCCD Foundation is waiving $36,000 in administrative fees and contributing $14,000 for a total of $50,000 to support student basic needs and emergency funding.

Each of the colleges are Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), a federal designation given to postsecondary institutions with at least 25 percent Hispanic student body.

The grant, known as the “HSI EXCELlence Program” comes at a critical time. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed glaring inequities in our education system, impacting our most vulnerable students the most, including Latinos. As of 2021, only 30 percent of Latinos in Arizona had completed a degree or certificate, compared to 54 percent of their White counterparts.

Helios, in partnership with MCCCD, originally launched the EXCEL Program in 2014 with a $1.5 million grant at Estrella Mountain Community College and Glendale Community College, and reinvested in 2018 with a $1 million grant. The findings of the program have shown to improve academic success. EXCEL students consistently have higher year-to-year persistence rates, higher transfer rates to four-year universities, and higher degree or certificate completion rates.

“While, thankfully, more Latino students are going to college, significant gaps in college graduation still exist between Latino and other students,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO of Helios Education Foundation. “Helios’s overall goal for the HSI EXCELlence program is to increase postsecondary persistence and completion. That’s important for these students and also for the state of Arizona.”

Dr. Ray Ostos, District Director Student Affairs, MCCCD said, “Our EXCELlence mentors and coordinators work in step with HSI EXCELlence participating colleges to provide resources, advice, and guidance while emphasizing the significance and impact of completing post-secondary education. They utilize a holistic case-management approach in academic progress, degree completion, FAFSA completion, engagement, and participation.”

“The Helios EXCELlence program is about changing lives and providing our Latino students with additional resources, tools, and the support they need to achieve their educational goals,” said Dr. Steven R. Gonzales, Chancellor, MCCCD. “We thank the Helios Education Foundation for their support of the HSI EXCELlence program.”

Bill Bertolino | [email protected] | (480) 678-5622

About Helios Education Foundation
Helios Education Foundation exists to support postsecondary attainment for low-income and under-represented communities in Arizona and Florida. Driven by our fundamental beliefs of Community, Equity, Investment, and Partnership, Helios has invested more than $300 million in partnerships and initiatives focused on improving education outcomes in the two states we serve. Helios takes a multi-pronged approach—working across four domains, including performance-based community investments, systemic public policy efforts, research and data, and impact-driven communications—that together support the significant changes required to foster equitable progress across the education continuum. Learn more about Helios Education Foundation at

The Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation, with its donors and partners, supports the Maricopa County Community College District, its students, faculty and staff, through scholarships, programs, equipment, and financial and human capital. Visit to learn more.