Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Monday, April 27, 2015

We have been busy since the March meetings and I will use this space to give you an update.

The “college access committee” has been meeting every week as we prepare for the Community Meeting scheduled for May 4th. JSF has been leading this initiative and it is our hope that other leaders will emerge at the community meeting and that an organization with dedicated staff will take it on shortly thereafter.

My meeting with Braulio Colon last week was a good one. As a former CEO of the Florida College Access Network, he had valuable advice on our attempts to start a college access network in Palm Beach County. We also discussed a potential merger of the Johnson Scholars and Take Stock in Children programs in Palm Beach. As an influential funder of Take Stock, Helios could play an important role in discussions.

We discussed several ideas for collaboration and co-investment. Perhaps the most interesting is a consortium of USF, UCF and FIU in an effort to raise retention and graduation rates. These 3 universities serve most of the minority, first generation and low income students in the SUSF. One attractive aspect of this opportunity is a seat at the table with universities that we know well. I have already had an opportunity to talk to USF President Judy Genshaft, who emphasized the University’s commitment.

On April 8th Sherry Salway Black represented the Foundation at White House Convening on Creating Opportunity for Native Youth. Look for a report in May.

King Jordan and I are meeting with Bridges and the Poses Foundation on Thursday. The Grant Program Committee has given us some parameters for a Foundation investment and we expect to begin negotiations on a proposal. We will likely find out at this meeting if the Poses Foundation intends to invest with us. The Eye to Eye meeting is more preliminary. King and I will find out what David Flink and company have in mind, discuss it and bring it to the Grant Program Committee for discussion and direction.

On April 19th Bob Lorence, David Blaikie and I will meet in Kalispell to begin a week of site visits. This has become an annual event for Bob and me and David Blaikie has asked to join us this year. We will meet with Janine Pease in Crow Agency, MT and Rick Williams will join us in Oklahoma. We will be checking on the health of our programs at Blackfeet, Little Big Horn, Northeast Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in Stillwater and gauging their readiness for an endowment/Foundation exit.