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By Nikki Cabus

FPL helps two Florida classrooms transform into Innovative STEM labs

Read Time 3 Minutes

Two Florida schools, Gifford Middle School in Vero Beach and Lake Shore Middle School in Belle Glade, each celebrated the reveals of their classrooms transformations into Innovative STEM labs.

In 2023 both schools were awarded a $50,000 Classroom Makeover Grant to improve technology, equipment and resources for the next generation of innovators. The NextEra Energy Foundation awarded the grants as part of Florida Power & Light Company’s commitment to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.

As America’s largest electric utility, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) serves more customers and sells more power than any other utility, providing clean, affordable, reliable electricity to approximately 5.9 million accounts, or more than 12 million people. FPL operates one of the most fuel efficient and cleanest power generation fleets in the U.S.

On February 15, after a year of renovations, Lake Shore Middle School students got to experience their new STEM) lab. The Education Foundation of Palm Beach County and the School District of Palm Beach County, in collaboration with the Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), celebrated the successful completion of the STEM Classroom Makeover project at Lake Shore Middle School in Belle Glade. The project brought cutting-edge technology, including iPads, a 3D printer, robotics kits, and STEM project tables, to the school, creating an immersive and engaging learning experience for students.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support and generosity of FPL,” said Phylis Handford, Single School Culture Coordinator at Lake Shore Middle School.

“This grant has not only transformed our classroom physically but has also inspired our students and rejuvenated our entire school community. We sincerely thank FPL for its commitment to STEM education and for championing initiatives that enhance the learning experience for our students.”

FPL and its partners organized a ceremony at the school to showcase the newly redesigned classroom and highlight the positive impact of education on the lives of local students. FPL engineers led a generator build competition and a virtual career discussion to introduce students to different STEM-focused careers.

On February 22, students from Gifford Middle School in Vero Beach participated in a generator build competition with Florida Power & Light Company during their STEM Classroom Makeover Reveal. FPL was joined by the Education Foundation of Indian River County and the Indian River School District to celebrate the completion of the STEM Classroom Makeover.

As a Title I STEAM school with a focus on Marine and Robotics, Gifford Middle is a part of a SeaPerch Robotics program through Embry Riddle. This grant will further support the school’s efforts to expose students to unique educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

“Having this opportunity to expose my students to cutting-edge technologies, cutting-edge processes and procedures that are out there in the industry is phenomenal. It’s a great opportunity and I can’t thank FPL enough,” stated Principal Chadwick Bacon.

FPL’s STEM Classroom Makeover Grant program provides grants for $50,000 each to up to five schools in Florida to provide transformational learning opportunities in historically disadvantaged K-12 classrooms. Funds are available to address needs in infrastructure, technology or resources that will advance STEM curricula, exposure and careers to students in a classroom setting.

For more information about FPL’s STEM Classroom Makeover Grant and its commitment to education, please visit FPL.com/ClassroomGrant.

 

By Nikki Cabus

PBSC Belle Glade campus awarded $4 million grant to improve broadband access for the local community

Read Time 4 Minutes

On Friday, Feb. 2, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced Palm Beach State College will receive nearly $4 million in federal funding to transform the Belle Glade campus into an innovative digital hub for students and the local community. 

Palm Beach State College is proud to host this broadband initiative in partnership with the local community of Belle Glade and surrounding municipalities to ensure that PBSC students and all residents benefit from the digital resources that are vital to their daily lives,” said PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D.

The award, from the Multipurpose Facility Program, is part of DeSantis’ $223 million commitment to improve broadband internet access to rural and economically disadvantaged communities across Florida. “By connecting Floridians with centrally located community hubs, residents have increased access to find their next professional opportunity, upskill for future jobs and access telemedicine resources,” Florida Commerce Secretary J. Alex Kelly said in a statement.

“This grant will enable the Belle Glade campus to improve digital inclusion and provide our local community with access to much needed services,” said Dr. LaTanya McNeal, executive dean of PBSC’s Belle Glade campus.

PBSC’s Belle Glade campus aims to close the digital divide within the surrounding rural communities it serves in Belle Glade, Pahokee, and South Bay. Poverty and unemployment rates in these areas are 22% and 13% higher respectively, than the rest of the state. The grant will be used to renovate existing space on PBSC’s Belle Glade campus to offer local residents access to services including workforce training, career advice and telehealth.

To do this, PBSC is partnering with CareerSource Palm Beach County to create a dedicated CareerSource center on the Belle Glade campus. The center will provide the community with access to free or low-cost training services, informational sessions, career advice and placement opportunities.

“Our mission at CareerSource is to connect business with talent and that is especially important in areas like the Glades which has traditionally been plagued with higher unemployment than the rest of the county,” said Charles Duval, CareerSource Palm Beach County’s associate vice-president of business services.

Additionally, PBSC intends to use the funding to help community residents upskill into higher wage jobs. Currently, the Glades region lacks a dedicated testing site for industry certifications, forcing residents hoping to gain credentials in skilled trades or licensed professions such as real estate and nursing to travel at least 50 miles to the nearest accredited site. PBSC will expand its existing Pearson Testing Center at the Belle Glade campus, offering certification exams in professions including teaching, emergency medical technicians, among others.

“PBSC is laser-focused on workforce programs and increasing these opportunities for our residents, particularly in Belle Glade,” said Dr. Peter Barbatis, PBSC vice-president of student services and enrollment management.  “By expanding our labs and creating new spaces, we will continue to assist the youth trying to enter the workforce and midlife learners who are changing careers.”

Another key component of the grant, for PBSC, is to use the funding to improve access to medical services within the community. Recognizing that access to medical services is more difficult in rural areas, PBSC will create two private spaces for telehealth services within the existing library. These spaces will offer locals convenient, free access to medical advice in a quiet space.

The importance of PBSC’s plans to provide new digital services to the community is underscored by the numerous endorsements and letters of support the college received in support of its grant application. Industry and government leaders including the Mayors of Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay as well educational institutions and local employers all supported the project.

Founded in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, Palm Beach State College has been an integral player in the growth and prosperity of Palm Beach County. Our graduates impact every industry and are community and business leaders. With more than 130 programs of study, PBSC offers bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, professional certificates, career training and lifelong learning. Nearly 36,000 students enroll annually in onsite, online, live online and hybrid classes at five convenient locations in Belle Glade, Boca Raton, Lake Worth, Loxahatchee Groves and Palm Beach Gardens, and through PBSC Online.

Learn more at www.palmbeachstate.edu.

FPL helps two Florida classrooms transform into Innovative STEM labs
PBSC Belle Glade campus awarded $4 million grant to improve broadband access for the local community