Paul Luna, CEO of Helios Education Foundation, is an incredible champion for equitable education in Phoenix, and was one of the keynote speakers at our recent Education Summit.
February 13, 2017
Paul Luna joined TFA at our inaugural Education Summit on January 28, as a keynote speaker on a day when we brought over 240 corps members, alumni, and community partners together to explore what it means to Connect, Impact, and Thrive in classrooms, our community, and beyond.
Paul spoke of education as a means to improve communities, and of the role that both Helios and TFA can play in shaping the future for our community.
“We need to continue to work on creating a culture in our community that values education and values equity. At the end of the day, it will take the entire community banding together,” Paul said.
He also spoke of the opportunity for Arizona to lead the nation in improving educational outcomes and opportunities for our growing Latino population.
“When you look at the Latino population and you see that only 9% will earn a college degree, that’s a data point that we need to improve, especially looking at the demographics of our state. We care about all students, but when you look at where we can have the greatest impact, it’s closing the Latino student achievement gap,” Paul said.
Paul believes that the goal of Achieve60AZ, an initiative to see 60% of adults in Arizona earning a post-secondary degree or certificate by 2030, will only be possible if Latino student achievement improves. Achieve60AZ is an alliance of 60 community, business, philanthropic, and education organizations across Arizona, including Helios Education Foundation and Teach For America.
Paul has been an ardent supporter and champion of Teach For America since first hearing about the organization in 2007, shortly after he joined Helios Education Foundation as President. He and his wife, Gema, have personally participated in our Sponsor A Teacher program since 2009, sponsoring 8 teachers and gaining insight to the kinds of passionate, committed individuals that TFA places in classrooms across Phoenix. Through that program, Paul became close with some of our alumni who are continuing to impact students in our community, alumni like Martin Perez and Eva Masadiego. Not only has Paul been a financial supporter to TFA, he has also been a mentor and partner for many of the organization’s executive directors.
“The benefit [of the program] over the years is a blessing because of that relationship alone. Getting to know them and see them as they evolve has been incredible,” Paul said.
Paul’s involvement with TFA has become even more personal now that his daughter, Ariana, has been accepted to the 2017 corps and will teach in Phoenix starting this Fall.
Helios and Teach For America share a commitment to educational equity, something that Paul is proud of. He acknowledges, though, that community support is what will really enable both organizations to move closer to this shared vision.
“We need to continue to work on creating a culture in our community that values education and values equity in the manner and spirit in which our organizations are driven. At the end of the day, it will take the entire community banding together,” Paul said.