Helios donates $2-million to USF for scholarships

By Times Staff Writer
Published February 13, 2008

The same nonprofit foundation that donated $10-million to Florida's state university and community college systems last year is giving $2-million to the University of South Florida, creating an endowed scholarship fund for minorities and low-income students.

The Helios Education Foundation's $2-million gift, announced Tuesday, is eligible for an equivalent match from the state of Florida, so it has the potential to generate $4-million in scholarships.

"This is an extraordinarily generous gift," said USF President Judy Genshaft. "And we are delighted to receive funding for those students who are in particular need of scholarships."

USF officials say they will look in particular for scholarship recipients who are undergraduates from low-income families and diverse ethnic backgrounds.

They'll also give strong consideration to students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Helios officials say they want their gift to help increase the number of students entering and completing college.

The Helios Education Foundation is a large nonprofit organization with a nearly $600-million endowment.

Helios opened its Florida office in downtown Tampa last fall, around the time it donated $10-million in scholarships for first-generation college students attending one of the state's 11 universities or 28 community colleges.