Foundation complements district programs, aids students’ needs

The Foundation for New Education Initiatives,The Foundation for New Education Initiatives, created by the Miami-Dade School Board in 2008, complements the educational programs of the school district and responds to many needs that exist among our students.

In an effort to be a vital and active public/private entity in our community, the Foundation has created a series of fundraising events that counts upon the participation and resources of all sectors of our community.

On Apr. 2, I will have the pleasure of hosting and presiding over an event called the “Superintendent’s Challenge,” a 5-kilometer run/walk to raise funds for the Foundation. The run/walk also will raise consciousness about the importance of exercise and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. More than 2,000 participants are expected for this inaugural event.

Tickets are available online at, and funds received will go to the Foundation, which will contribute a percentage to each school in proportion to the number of participants registered in that school’s name.

Why is all of this activity necessary? We live in a community where some 73 percent of the K-12 student population is registered to receive free or reduced-price lunch, signifying that at least 73 percent of our population is living at or below the poverty line, an astonishing realization for a community that is wealthy in so many other ways.

Add to that reality, more than 4,000 students in our community are homeles and require personal assistance. That number is expected to top 6,000 by the end of this year, and we have the civic obligation to ensure that all of those students benefit from world-class educational opportunities and strong academic programs.

Among the Foundation’s initiatives are Project UP-START, an educational program for homeless students that helps them with their studies, transportation, and nutrition. The students also receive school uniforms, gift cards, and tickets to events like “Grad Bash,” an annual graduation dance celebration. Additionally, students can access the START UP-Shop, where they can access donated articles of clothing, as well as personal hygiene items, for free.

Another important initiative supported by the Foundation is the Cultural Passport, which offers students access to the arts in collaboration with organizations and cultural centers in South Florida. This year alone, more than 55,000 K-12 students have participated in these programs, which include activities that develop good reading, writing, and problem-solving skills to enhance student achievement. All of our fifth-graders, for example, travel to the Arsht Center to experience the magic of “Rock Odyssey,” a first-class musical theater production.

The Foundation has distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships to deserving students who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to attend college. It also supports the Parent Academy, which offers free classes and workshops in more than 200 locations throughout the county. The Parent Academy recruits parents and converts them into education partners.

For more information about any of the Foundation’s programs, visit

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