Say YES to success: Helios Education Foundation gifts $2.7 million to support NAU’s collaborative Yuma Educational Success initiative

Biology students in Yuma

Aug. 7, 2019

A $2.7 million award from Helios Education Foundation will create a collaborative initiative at Northern Arizona University Yuma that that will help high school students transition to college and graduate prepared for successful careers in the workforce.

The Helios Education Foundation gift to NAU will support the Yuma Educational Success (YES) program, a collaborative effort between NAU, Arizona Western College and the Yuma Union High School District. The initiative will create systems that support enrollment, transferring and retention from high school into college and between AWC and NAU.

“Increased access to higher education and alignment to the workforce needs of our state are embedded in NAU’s mission, and student success and access is at the center of everything we do,” said NAU President Rita Cheng. “I am grateful for our partnership with the Helios Education Foundation, Arizona Western College and the Yuma Union High School District as we work together to provide the essential academic and student support services that will prepare first-generation and underrepresented students for success. Together, our collaboration will ensure students in the Yuma region can complete a degree prepared for a job, enhancing their lives and the economy of our state.”

The YES Program will build on efforts already in place, including Ready Now Yuma and Helios’ College Knowing and Going Initiative, which focus on creating college-going cultures and increasing the number of high school students pursuing and succeeding in college. The YES program is designed to support and encourage low-income, first-generation minority students.

The program includes:

  • Bridge to Success Experience, a two-week summer bridge program that aids the transition for Yuma high school students into college
  • Coordinated support services, academic advising and mentoring
  • Inclusive and integrated academic support
  • Enhanced student learning experiences such as internships
  • Scholarships

“Arizona Western College is thrilled to join our longtime partners Yuma Union High School District, NAU and the Helios Education Foundation in increasing postsecondary education attainment for students from Yuma,” said Daniel Corr, president of Arizona Western College. “The Yuma Educational Success program is exactly what our Yuma first-generation students need and we are certain this will move the needle regarding bachelor’s degree completion in Yuma County.”

Supported by funding from Helios, the initiative aims to serve 200 students each academic semester with program goals to increase student use of support and academic services, GPAs and transfer rates.

“Helios Education Foundation is committed to ensuring that more students pursue and complete a postsecondary degree,” said Paul J. Luna, president and CEO of Helios Education Foundation. “The Yuma Educational Success Program will help do just that. By utilizing best practices in academic and student support services, this program will help more students on their path toward postsecondary success. We are grateful for the partnership with Northern Arizona University, Arizona Western College and Yuma Union High School District in developing this innovative and impactful program.”

NAU Communications