Youth advocate Brett McNaught received the 2018 Child Welfare Champion Award from Mike Carroll, Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, presented during a special closing ceremony of the 2018 Child Protection Summit in Orlando on Friday, Sept. 7.
Brett was joined onstage by his wife, Virginia Emmons McNaught, the president and cofounder of Educate Tomorrow, and their two children, Emma and Miles.
Brett was selected for the prestigious award for his tireless work on behalf of disadvantaged youth as the leader of Educate Tomorrow, a Miami-based nonprofit organization, that has grown over the past six years since he became the CEO, achieving 1,000 percent programmatic growth and 400 percent revenue growth over that time period.
He was recognized for his “steadfast advocacy” which “has made a positive impact on the lives of Florida’s youth and their families.” Under his activism, advocacy, leadership, guidance and tireless efforts, Educate Tomorrow has grown into a recognized leader in the field of foster care and homeless youth.
Children in Florida who are from foster care, adopted or homeless receive a tuition exemption at state colleges and public universities, and career and technical colleges.
McNaught’s work in this field, and his ability to increase graduation rates for this population, was a major contributing factor to recognizing him as a Child Welfare Champion. Focusing on academics, Educate Tomorrow’s aim is for disadvantaged young people to graduate high school and go on to achieve a postsecondary education degree or certificate, in order to achieve independence.
More than 1,200 young people currently are served by Educate Tomorrow, and, as a direct result of its programs, more than 150 students have received a college degree, vocational certification, or graduate degree. Under McNaught’s leadership, the program has expanded beyond Florida into Texas, Colorado, and California as well.
“We believe that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity isn’t. So, we connect talented people with opportunities. And we will go on doing it until our services are no longer necessary,” McNaught said.
Educate Tomorrow has received awards for partnership, leadership and innovation from Florida International University, Miami Dade College, Voices for Children, Switchboard Miami, The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, American Red Cross Women’s Spectrum awards and College Board.
McNaught is an alumnus of the National Urban Fellows Executive Leadership Program and the Miami Foundation Miami Leaders program where he attended the FIU High Potential Leader Program.
Before leading Educate Tomorrow, McNaught was an officer of BuildOn where he led their International programs from 2005-12 overseeing the construction of over 1,000 classrooms for more than 40,000 children in rural Haiti, Nicaragua, Senegal, Mali, Malawi, Niger, Nepal and India.
He also served as a United States Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, West Africa from 2001-03. He holds a MS Ed in Community and Social Change from the University of Miami. He currently is a board member of Hope for Haiti, and has been integral as the co-chair of the Education and Employment Committee for Helping Our Miami Youth (HOMY).
Educate Tomorrow is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides educational opportunities to disadvantaged children, creating a positive and enduring impact on their academic, personal and professional lives, helping them mature into strong, contributing members of the community.