FIU volunteers join Comcast to beautify Sweetwater Elementary

FIU artist-in-residence Xavier Cortada
FIU artist-in-residence Xavier Cortada

In partnership with Comcast for the nation-wide volunteer event—Comcast Cares Day— FIU’s Frost Art Museum, the Office of Engagement and Honors College joined more than 300 local volunteers to plant, paint and create projects reflective of Sweetwater Elementary’ s STEAM culture, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

With the guidance of FIU’s artist-in-residence Xavier Cortada, volunteers painted a 240’ mural destined to become a landmark in the school and the Sweetwater community. Cortada frequently works with scientists creating art that educates on the importance of Florida’s ecosystems, encouraging sustainable practices among the community.

“Comcast Cares Day is a celebration of our year-round commitment to service and making change happen in our shared communities,” said Marta Casas-Celaya, director of Government & Community Affairs at Comcast. “We roll up our sleeves, reach out to our neighbors, and work together to make a lasting impact.”

Volunteers also planted native trees and greenery to replace the plants that were blown away by Hurricane Irma and created an interactive eco-learning garden. Additionally, the helpers revived the butterfly garden, created an art installation for the school’s courtyard and assembled storage for the art studio and STEAM lab.

“FIU has been working to develop a long-standing partnership with our neighbors in Sweetwater,” said James Knapp, executive director of strategic partnerships in FIU’s Office of Engagement. “At the center of our partnership is a collaboration with our sister school Sweetwater Elementary. We are so proud to be able to continue to partner with other entities to benefit the kids at Sweetwater Elementary.”

Sweetwater Elementary School and FIU have a longstanding partnership including a 3-year-old initiative called STEAMworks led by the Frost Art Museum, which has helped the elementary school achieve its STEAM designation. In addition, Honors College students regularly volunteer at the school providing tutoring and language support.

Volunteers included Miami-Dade Public School District and Sweetwater Elementary’s teachers and staff as well as Comcast, Telemundo and NBCUniversal employees and corps members of City Year Miami. The Lil Abner Foundation mobilized volunteers from its broad base of supporters. The Arbor Day Foundation contributed the trees and vegetation and Citizens for a Better South Florida provided expertise for the planting and landscaping.

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