South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Nikki Cabus

A.D. Henderson & FAU High School recieve $2M grant to launch a research and innovation center in Boca Raton

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Florida Atlantic University Laboratory Schools received a $2 million grant from The Marcus Foundation, established by Bernie Marcus, to launch the Marcus Research and Innovation Center at the A.D. Henderson University School and FAU High School campus in Boca Raton.

Alexander D. Henderson University School is a public elementary and middle school on the campus of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. A.D. Henderson is a developmental research (lab) school established in 1968 to enhance instruction and research in specialized subjects to improve outcomes for all students in the country. FAU High School is the only public, accelerated pre-collegiate program that has every one of its students working towards a cost-free bachelor’s degree and high school diploma simultaneously. It paves the way for students to graduate college debt-free.

This grant will enhance the pipeline of students at Henderson and FAU High as they strive to become talented researchers and innovators who can address the country’s most pressing challenges, while becoming part of a highly skilled workforce to meet the needs of the nation. It also will help to re-engineer education to train future school leaders and educators.

“The science, innovation and research that will occur within the Marcus Research and Innovation Center will expose and engage youth at early ages in these important fields, and could be an educational model for the rest of the country,” said Bernard “Bernie” Marcus, chairman of The Marcus Foundation.

Founded in 1989, The Marcus Foundation focuses on fulfilling the philanthropic vision of Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot. Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the Foundation’s grantmaking philosophy is derived from Bernie Marcus’ personal life experiences and awareness, and his success as an entrepreneur enables him to give back. The Foundation has five key areas of philanthropy – giving back in spheres that uphold Bernie’s beliefs and values – all with the goal to save and change lives through entrepreneurial philanthropy. The five focus areas are: healthcare and medical research; Jewish causes; the health and welfare of children, with an emphasis on civics education; free enterprise, including veteran issues and national security; and local community.

The Marcus Research and Innovation Center will provide more than 12,000 square feet of STEM and research space to serve as a training center and incubator for current A.D. Henderson and FAU High students as they prepare to become researchers and innovators of tomorrow. The labs within the center will focus on bioimaging, neuroscience, ocean science and conservation, along with a health care pipeline for teaching, high-performance computing, and rapid prototyping methods. Each of the labs will be equipped with top-tier research instruments not typically found in K-12 settings.

The center will also host visiting scholars and researchers, as well as advance the partnership and research already underway at the Marcus Neuroscience Institute at Boca Regional Hospital and Marcus Institute of Integrative Health at FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine.
The Marcus Research and Innovation Center will introduce students to research as early as kindergarten. To date, students participating in the lab school’s research program have produced 78 student publications in peer-reviewed journals, six patents, and more than 1,500 citations worldwide. Student research collaborations now include work with Boca Raton Regional Hospital, the Max Planck Society, UF Scripps, Jupiter Medical Center, Wahoo Bay, Loggerhead Marinelife Center, and others. The state-of-the-art Marcus Research and Innovation Center will house and expand the current programs at the FAU Laboratory Schools to grow and inspire exponentially more students in diverse research activities.

In addition, the Marcus Research and Innovation Center also will provide spaces to support the FAU Laboratory Schools’ Stiles-Nicholson STEM Teacher Academy (SNSTA) and The Cane Institute for Advanced Technologies (TCI). The SNSTA bridges high-caliber research settings with middle and high school instructors by developing experiential professional learning opportunities and instruction to inspire innovation and create lasting educational benefits for students nationwide. TCI is a premier, K-12 STEM continuum, and serves as the lab schools’ epicenter for STEM education and technology transfer.

“This generous grant will accelerate the transformational re-engineering of education already in progress at our lab schools,” said Joel Herbst, Ed.D., superintendent of Florida Atlantic Laboratory Schools. “The Marcus Research and Innovation Center will serve as a blueprint for developing researchers and a globally competitive workforce, as well as train the school leaders and educators of tomorrow.”

By Nikki Cabus

MPFI on the road to offering hi-tech programs thru Mobile Science Outreach Initiative due to generous donations

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According to Palm Beach Post data, last year, only 51% of Palm Beach County 5th-grade students and 46% of students in 8th grade passed state standardized science exams. Thanks to a generous donor, the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience hopes to help improve those numbers.

Philanthropists David Nicholson and John and Stephanie Pew have donated $50,000 each to MPFI’s education outreach program. This $100,000 gift has enabled MPFI to purchase a customized STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) van to bring high-tech scientific experiences to Palm Beach and Martin County schools. “Ask Max” will be a mobile science engagement program aimed at schools and community groups throughout the region.

“Children learn in different ways, and we have found that providing exciting hands-on activities helps them understand complicated concepts like genetics or brain anatomy – even at the elementary school level,” said Dr. Ilaria Drago, Head of Outreach and Advancement. “We are profoundly grateful to the generosity of David Nicholson and John and Stephanie Pew. Their gift will impact thousands of students for years to come.”

The custom-outfitted van brings vibrant, hands-on neuroscience activities right to the stuidents. Led by experts, these sessions not only teach but inspire, showing science as a playground of curiosity. “Ask Max” is equipped with high-quality scientific tools like dissection microscopes and gel electrophoresis kits, ensuring a stimulating educational experience right at your doorstep.

The Ask Max initiative aims to bridge the gap between the research conducted at MPFI and the broader community, fostering a greater understanding and appreciation for science. The curriculum-aligned activities will go beyond neuroscience to encompass a broad range of STEM-related topics such as genetics, DNA, experimental design, microscopy, optogenetics, and more. By bringing immersive science experiences directly to schools, MPFI hopes to ignite curiosity and passion for discovery among students of all ages.

“Our goal is not only to help students understand the science, but to be excited by it. Studies have shown that students, particularly girls, will not consider a STEM-related profession if they don’t have a positive experience with science by their middle school years. We want to help every student in our region understand that they have what it takes to pursue a career in STEM, and that science is fun and within their reach,” said Erica Eggerman, MPFI Education Outreach Coordinator.

In the last 18 months, MPFI staff have visited dozens of schools and connected with 9,000 students and community members. For teachers who have brought MPFI to their classrooms in the past, this new expansion of the program opens even more possibilities.

Caitlin Holloway of Wellington High School has participated in MPFI’s teacher training as well as classroom visits. As an educator, she saw firsthand how MPFI’s education outreach impacted her students. “Students often have a difficult middle school science experience and tend to check out in science classes in high school. Max Planck classroom visits reinstate joy in science and spark a love for learning,” she said.

Susan Hahn of Eagles Landing Middle School in Boca Raton agrees. “Students receive many benefits from this program. They are exposed to different career paths in science and get an idea of what it takes to become a scientist. They get to practice the steps of the scientific method. Hands-on practice with variables, control groups, and trials will help them comprehend and remember the steps,” she said.

To bring the “Ask Max” program to your school, visit mpfi.org/ask-max or email education@mpfi.org.

By Nikki Cabus

Black woman-owned STEM nonprofit receives $4M to launch Smart Health Hub initiative in Miami

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$4 Million has been awarded to the S.E.E.K. (Seeking Education Empowers Knowledge) Foundation Inc. to open a Smart Health Hub for children in Miami.

Founded in 2012, SEEK Foundation‘s mission was to improve the value of life for South Florida’s youth by providing public services, whenever. wherever, and however needed to help empower lifelong problem solvers through innovative programs​. The S.E.E.K. Foundation has since expanded to make STEM and STEAM education accessible for children across communities in the United States, especially minorities living in under resourced and marginalized neighborhoods.

The nonprofit was launched by Anike Sakariyawo, Executive Director at SEEK, who has a focus towards STEM education, community involvement, and health and wellness for children ages 3 to 18. With this recent funding, Anike plans to open a four-story building in Opa-Locka, a suburb of Miami. This facility will give access to residents, children, and their families to STEAM education, workforce re-entry programs, and broadband service, dismantling existing entry obstacles. The hub will also provided basic essential health services.

Its presence is being described as “the first of its kind in the city,” explained Anike, as there has not been a technical facility in the area nor a high school. “We are looking to provide Opa-Locka community members of all ages access to educational resources and pathways to STEM careers to children and adults, and a space to innovate and follow individual curiosity.” Being born and raised in Opa-Locka, this project is special for Anike.

“The partnership with the Miami Foundation’s Digital Equity Collective program has been pivotal in advancing this initiative,” shared Sakariyawo.

Through the 2022 Digital Equity Grant, Miami Connected invested in partners who delivered impactful programming aimed at building community members’ digital literacy skills as well facilitating access to existing opportunities related to internet service, technological devices, and digital literacy. With the support of generous funders and guided by community input and partner feedback, Miami Connected identified two funding priorities – Digital Literacy and Digital Navigation.

The SEEK Foundation was awarded $40,000 to support the implementation of a digital literacy program using the NorthStar Digital Literacy curriculum. The Digital Literacy category’s efforts were to improve community members’ ability to fully participate in educational, economic, and social opportunities by helping them strengthen the skills needed to leverage technology in their daily lives. This included expanding the reach of the STEAMtastic Saturday program featuring activities such as “Book Creation Using AI.” Programs intentionally include parents and caregivers so they can learn digital skills alongside their children and prepare to join the STEM workforce. 

With this new significant funding, Miami locals can expect the building to be up and running by December 2026. The first and second floors will be geared towards STEAM education and daily operations and serve as a destination for children and for staff members. Educational offerings will include a pipeline program to support students in industries such as USDA – food, Agriculture, Artificial intelligence (AI), Cybersecurity, Coding. Robotics and UI/UX Design. The third floor will be designated for children and their families to receive care for their health needs such as annual shots and vaccinations, back-to-school boosters, and telehealth services.

“We are looking to partner with local public health entities, county health departments and federally qualified health centers,” explained Anike Sakariyawo.

S.E.E.K. also recently joined South Florida Motorsports (SFM), the organizers of the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix, and the City of Miami Gardens to launch the F1 in Schools program in Miami. The program introduces students to STEM fields by providing them with the opportunity to build their own miniature F1 car.

According to the SEEK website, the Foundation has served over 15,000 children since its inception in 2012. They have a second South Florida location in Ft. Lsuderdale and additional locations across the country in Califiornia, New York, Texas, Georgia, and Washongton D.C.

To learn more about the S.E.E.K Foundation, visit www.seekedu.org

By Jason Steinfeld

TEDxBocaRaton does it again, this year’s theme ‘Divergence’

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On May 11th, 2024, TEDxBocaRaton held their eighth independently organized event with over 500 in attendance. 

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event.

This year’s TEDXBocaRaton theme ‘Divergence’ was a thought-provoking exploration of the widening differences or disparities among various groups, individuals, and ideologies, inviting us to delve into the complexities of our world. The organizers, Erik Mintz and Cindy Metzler, aimed to ignite discussions that challenge conventional thinking and inspire new perspectives on a wide range of topics.

With over 500 people in attendance, the newly renovated presentation hall at the Boca Raton Innovation Campus (BRiC) was the perfect venue. With it’s history as IBM’s Research and Development outpost, birthplace of the first personal computer, and now a state-of-the-art, accessible 1.7 million square foot office park, it’s a magnet for forward thinkers in technology and life sciences.’ BRIC is known for its convergence of innovation, technology and art at the campus being home to companies such as ModMed and Lynn University’s NFT student gallery.

The doors opened at early at 2:30 pm offering the unique opportunity explore the businesses who sponsored the event. This unique access allows you to engage with these brands and the folks who lead them in a more intimate way. One of those brands, Live Wellness, led by Dr. Adam Dombrowski and Dr. Kriste Imre, were educating attendees about their medically certified holistic wellness programs. Also onsite was Dr. Haasseemm Mohammed, D.C., showcasing innovations in chiropractic, as well as The Silver Logic who displayed their cloud-based technicolor lighting control solutions.

“It’s cool to be here, TEDx – it changes lives, so we are transforming people’s lives through health. It is great to be here and exciting to be with amazing people,” Imre and Dombrowski explained.

The event was supported by multiple volunteers and community supporters working closely with event’s organizers, Erik Mintz and Cindy Metzler, who have been the original TEDxBocaRaton hosts since 2018.  In addition to BRIC, this year’s sponsors and partners were Dell Anno Boca Raton, VConnex Services, Inc, LivingFL.com, GrayRobinson, Owwll, Holiday Inn Boca Raton North, Media Components, and, of course, South Florida Tech Hub.

“South Florida Tech Hub has been an incredible supporter over the past eight years. Their support has been instrumental in our growth and success, and we are deeply grateful for their partnership and belief in our mission,” Cindy Metzler explained.

TEDxBocaRaton has a tradition of delivering a captivating lineup of speakers who are making waves in their respective fields.  This year was no different. The TEDxBocaRaton stage hosted an eclectic array of thought leaders, innovators, and visionaries who embody the theme of “Divergence” who explored the myriad ways in which our world is evolving, intersecting, and diverging.

This year’s speaker lineup included: 

  1. Sixcia Devine – Social entrepreneur and author Sixcia Devine empowers communities through her non-profit organization, Caritas Smile. Her innovative approach combines philanthropy with eco-tourism to create lasting change worldwide.
  2. Carole Blueweiss – Redefining aging, Carole Blueweiss brings over 25 years of physical therapy and geriatric care expertise. Her holistic approach emphasizes the mind-body connection and challenges traditional notions of aging.
  3. Pete Vargas – Teaches people how to grow their businesses and spread their message through stages. In 2003, one man on a stage deeply impacted his life, and since then, he has dedicated his life to the power of stages.
  4. Kanwal Bawa, DO – A distinguished Cleveland Clinic-trained medical doctor and a leading expert in sexual medicine. She is known to millions around the world as “Dr. Sex FairyTM.” With her extensive knowledge and experience in medicine, particularly sexual health, Dr. Bawa has become a prominent figure in advocating for sexual wellness and empowerment.
  5. Ved Chirayath – Professor, physicist, inventor, and National Geographic explorer, Ved Chirayath pioneers next-generation sensing technologies to study and protect life on Earth and beyond. His interdisciplinary work pushes the boundaries of scientific exploration.
  6. Angela Hunte – Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Angela Hunte performs her nostalgic song Empire State of Mind. Angela is passionate about music, having spent her childhood in Trinidad and adulthood in Brooklyn, NY. Her musical journey and upcoming projects promise to captivate audiences worldwide.
  7. MeiMei Fox – 2X NY Times Bestselling author MeiMei Fox empowers individuals to share their stories with the world. Her Forbes column focuses on purpose-driven entrepreneurship, and her company, Your Bestselling Book, takes a scientific and soulful approach to helping others find their voice and make an impact.
  8. Sean Davis – Philanthropic private equity investor Sean Davis pioneers models for combining wealth creation with social impact. His work at Merton Capital Partners is redefining how philanthropy intersects with private equity to transform the world through giving pledges.
  9. Melissa Daimler – A culture thought leader, Melissa Daimler, focuses on aligning organizational values with behaviors to drive long-term success. Her innovative strategies have significantly impacted employee engagement and performance at many organizations, including WeWork and Udemy.
  10. Pedro Meneses – Aerospace engineer turned entrepreneur Pedro Meneses pioneers drone-based logistics solutions with his company Aerialoop. His innovative approach to technology and business is shaping the future of transportation.

At the end of the evening, South Florida Tech Hub journalist, Jason Steinfeld, had the opportunity to connect with some of the night’s speakers, attendees and organizers. The event’s opening speaker, Sixcia Devine, stayed the entire evening stating that she is “absolutely in love” with the event and would love to hear all the TEDx speakers and their ideas on the TED stage.

“It was an honor to be able to share at this event. There are so many ideas and thoughts on this stage that need to be presented to the world,” Sixcia stated.

To view the official photo album, click here

 

By Nikki Cabus

TEDxBocaRaton 2024 is welcoming 11 speakers; theme Divergence

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Haven’t signed up for TEDxBocaRaton yet?

TEDxBocaRaton 2024 has a stellar lineup of speakers for the much-anticipated event on Saturday, May 11, 2024. This year’s stage will host an eclectic array of thought leaders, innovators, and visionaries who embody the theme of “Divergence,” exploring the myriad ways in which our world is evolving, intersecting, and diverging. South Florida Tech Hub community members can get $20 off by using 𝐒𝐅𝐓𝐞𝐜𝐡𝟐𝟎.

The event will be held at the Boca Raton Innovation Campus, or “BRIC.” Originally home to IBM and the invention of the personal computer, BRiC is now an office park changing today’s workplace. BRIC was acquired by CP Group in 2018 and is a state-of-the-art, accessible 1.7 million square foot office park located in the heart of Boca Raton.

BRiC was initially developed by IBM as its North American Research and Development facility. Since world-renowned architect Marcel Breuer designed the IBM facility in the late 1960s, this unique office campus has been synonymous with the spirit of revolutionary design and creativity. Now, BRIC serves as the stomping grounds for a new generation of technology, life sciences, and service companies that are aiming for leadership and disruption in their respective fields.

“The Boca Raton Innovation Campus (BRiC) serves as the perfect backdrop for our event, symbolizing the convergence of innovation, technology, and creativity,” said Erik Mintz and Cindy Metzler, TEDxBocaRaton organizers.

“With our theme of Divergence, we aim to ignite discussions that challenge conventional thinking and inspire new perspectives on a wide range of topics.”

TEDxBocaRaton invites attendees to join this transformative journey of exploration and discovery. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to engage with ideas that challenge, inspire, and reshape our understanding of the world. TEDxBocaRaton continues its tradition of delivering a captivating lineup of speakers who are making waves in their respective fields.

This year’s speakers include:

 

1. Kanwal Bawa, MDDistinguished medical doctor and sexual wellness expert, Dr. Kanwal Bawa, is known globally as the “Dr. Sex Fairy™.” Through her advocacy, research, and innovative products, she is reshaping conversations around sexual health and empowerment.

 

2. Carole BlueweissRedefining aging, Carole Blueweiss brings over 25 years of expertise in physical therapy and geriatric care. Her holistic approach emphasizes the mind-body connection and challenges traditional notions of aging.

3. Ved ChirayathAerospace engineering professor, physicist, inventor and National Geographic explorer, Ved Chirayath, pioneers next-generation sensing technologies to study and protect life on earth and beyond. His interdisciplinary work pushes the boundaries of scientific exploration.

4. Melissa Daimler – A culture thought leader, Melissa Daimler, focuses on aligning organizational values with behaviors to drive long-term success. Her innovative strategies have made a significant impact on employee engagement and performance at many organizations including WeWork and Udemy.

5. Sean DavisPhilanthropic private equity investor, Sean Davis, pioneers’ new models for combining wealth creation with social impact. His work at Merton Capital Partners is redefining how philanthropy intersects with private equity to transform the world through giving pledges.

6. Sixcia Devine – Social entrepreneur and author, Sixcia Devine, empowers communities through her non-profit organization Caritas Smile. Her innovative approach combines philanthropy with eco-tourism to create lasting change throughout the world.

7. Robert DePalmaDinosaur hunter and researcher, Robert DePalma, unlocks the secrets of the past through cutting-edge fossil analysis. His work sheds light on Earth’s history and provides valuable insights into our planet’s future.

8. MeiMei FoxNY Times Bestselling author, MeiMei Fox, empowers individuals to share their stories with the world. Her Forbes column focuses on purpose-driven entrepreneurship and her company Your Bestselling Book, takes a scientific and soulful approach to helping others find their voice and make an impact.

9. Angela HunteGrammy-winning singer-songwriter, Angela Hunte, performs her nostalgic song Empire State of Mind. Angela is passionate about music, having spent her childhood in Trinidad and adulthood in Brooklyn, NY. Her musical journey and upcoming projects promise to captivate audiences worldwide.

10. Pedro MenesesAerospace engineer turned entrepreneur, Pedro Meneses, pioneers’ drone-based logistics solutions with his company Aerialoop. His innovative approach to technology and business is shaping the future of transportation.

11. Pete VargasSerial entrepreneur and father of five, Pete Vargas, teaches others how to stay on track even when life throws you a curve ball or two! He shares with others the power to help grow their brand and businesses through storytelling and stages. His system has transformed the lives of thousands of entrepreneurs worldwide.

By Adam Elitzur

PBC STEM Ecosystem Meeting

Join us for our PBC STEM Ecosystem Meeting on Friday, April 26, 2024 at the Mandel Public Library in West Palm Beach. Be part of the discussion about STEM education and experiences that align with our local STEM industry workforce needs.

The Palm Beach County STEM Learning Ecosystem is a collective impact initiative of private, public, and nonprofit sectors committed to cultivating and sustaining a robust and equitable ecosystem that provides world-class STEM opportunities and experiences for all learners throughout the region.

By Nikki Cabus

U.S. Department of Labor awards Palm Beach State College a $1.75 million grant to expand skilled trades training

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The U.S. Department of Labor announced the award of $65 million in grants to 16 colleges in 14 states to expand their capacity to provide training to meet the skill development needs of employers and help students obtain good jobs. One of those colleges was Palm Beach State College. 

At a press conference held on April 15th, U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel announced that Palm Beach State College is not only one of sixteeen colleges nationwide to receive funds, but the only one in Florida to receive $1.75 million in funding in this fourth round of Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants.

“Florida’s population is growing—by more than 1,000 people a day—and there’s lots and lots of building going on.” Rep. Frankel stated.

“Here’s the challenge: 85% of the contractors in this country are having a problem finding workers, and Palm Beach County is almost at the top of that list. We are blessed to have in this county a college that responds to the needs of the workforce. This grant is a very big boost, not only for students but for our county.”

Administered by the department’s Employment and Training Administration, the fourth round of Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants will support individual community colleges, as well as consortia of colleges, to prepare students for jobs that pay family-sustaining wages and offer career development opportunities based on the Good Jobs Principles developed by the departments of Labor and Commerce in 2022. Grantees will work with industry stakeholders to identify the workforce needs of multiple employers within a selected industry in the labor market area.

“Training programs should not end in a job search; they should end in a job. The Biden-Harris administration is investing in training programs that are demand-driven; Strengthening Community Colleges grants will help connect people to good jobs and employers to the people they need,” said Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su.

“The Department of Labor is awarding funding today that will help community colleges equip workers with the skills they need right now, and that will strengthen workforce infrastructure in their respective communities.”

Palm Beach State will dedicate the funds to expanding its plans to transform construction trades education at the College, which started with the $1 million award PBSC received in January from the Lowe’s Foundation. The new Labor Department grant will go toward personnel, employer and student outreach, technology and resources to increase enrollment, persistence and completion in construction pathway programs. The grant will elevate PBSC’s capacity to provide many more students, particularly those from marginalized and underrepresented populations, with equitable access to real-world training that equips them to succeed in the construction sector, with the goal of creating an inclusive pipeline of qualified workers for the construction-related jobs waiting to be filled.

“This grant is important for us because it allows us to expand and be more responsive to our community,” said PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D. “We have the best students in the county, and because of this support, we’ll be able to build a dynamic pathway to a sustainable future for students who can prosper in a skilled trade.”

Julia Dattolo, president and CEO of CareerSource Palm Beach County, pointed to the fact that the number of construction projects in the county is enormous, not to mention the great need to maintain existing structures.

“Whenever anybody graduates from these programs, they automatically have a job before they graduate,” Dattolo said. “If you look at the top industries in Palm Beach County, you’ll see that construction and trades are in the top five.”

Palm Beach State offers various certificate and degree programs that lead to good-paying jobs in the local construction industry, filling the need for HVAC technicians, electricians, low voltage technicians and construction managers. With the funding from the Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grant and the Lowe’s Foundation, the College looks to grow its program offerings to include plumbing and carpentry, along with developing the new Construction Trades Center for Workforce Innovation on the Lake Worth campus, an interdisciplinary training space that will simulate construction job site conditionsproviding real-world experiences for students. The center will incorporate both residential and commercial construction sites—an innovative smart house and an office suite facility—and be equipped with all the tools and equipment needed to design, build and renovate.

Overall, this funding will support a total of 41 colleges, including 16 lead institutions and an additional 25 consortia members. These colleges will work in multiple sectors, including advanced manufacturing, healthcare, IT, and infrastructure-related sectors like construction, transportation, broadband expansion, and renewable energy.  Across the four rounds of grants to date, 170 colleges, including leads and consortia members, are addressing major workforce priorities for employers and workers in their 31 states and local communities.

Grantees announced this round will receive approximately $55 million in funding now. Following a feasibility study, a subset of grantees will be identified to participate in an evaluation study. Those grantees will share the remaining $10 million in funding, to be awarded this fall.

By Nikki Cabus

FPL helps two Florida classrooms transform into Innovative STEM labs

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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

Broward College iSTEM Center Opens its Doors to Faculty at Professional Development Day

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Earlier this month Broward College introduced faculty and staff to the brand new iSTEM Center during their annual Professional Development Day.

A cutting-edge mobile technology center equipped with state-of-the-art software, hardware, and tools, the iSTEM Mobile’s debut marks a significant milestone in Broward College’s commitment to advancing STEM education. Designed to ignite students’ interest in careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the iSTEM Center provides an immersive, hands-on experience in robotics, coding, autonomous vehicles, and more.

Broward College’s “Accelerating College Completion by Engaging Students in STEM” (ACCESS) Project Grant through Title III addresses the academic and support services needs of Hispanics and underrepresented population and the growing need of employers in the region and needs of the students to improve completion and transfer rates in the Information Technology field of study.

The five-year, $5 Million grant was funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Title III Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) STEM and Articulation program. The goal of this grant is to increase enrollment of full-time Hispanic and low-income degree-seeking students in STEM fields; expand integrated student academic and support services for Hispanics & low-income students in IT Career Pathways; increase success and completion of Hispanics and other low-income students in IT Career Pathway programs, and strengthen and develop articulation agreements and activities in IT Career Pathways.

This Spring the iSTEM Center will visit select Broward County public high schools, where students can explore tools that will be available to them in classes offered at Broward College. The mobile unit that will offer experiential learning experiences within Broward UP (Unlimited Potential) communities which have the high rates of unemployment in Broward County.

During the unveiling, faculty members had an exclusive opportunity to discover the mobile bus’s incredible capabilities. Engaging in virtual reality simulations, interacting with robots, and operating autonomous vehicles were just a glimpse of the exciting experiences. The mobile center encourages faculty to explore integrating these technologies into their course designs.

“I’m thrilled to present iSTEM Center to our faculty, as it serves the powerful purpose of enhancing our hands-on learning experiences and providing community members and students with an opportunity to delve into computer science and IT,” said Senior Project Director, Robert Diaz.

“These careers are in high demand, and our continuous aim is to equip students with opportunities, tools, and pathways for successful careers in these industries.”

Funding for the iSTEM Center comes from the U.S. Department of Education HSI STEM & Articulation Program, with additional support from the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) Community Project. Key personnel include Senior Director Robert Diaz, iSTEM Director Dr. Mitzi Fulwood, Apprenticeship Director Dr. Rehana Seepersad, Student Success Coordinator Arthur Rose, and part-time student assistants.

Learn more about Broward College’s STEM programs here.

By Nikki Cabus

Gary Vaynerchuk is coming to West Palm Beach as keynote for PBSC Foundation STEAM luncheon

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One of the leading global minds on innovation and technology, Gary Vaynerchuk will be coming to West Palm Beach in April!

Gary Vaynerchuk or “GaryVee” as he is known will be the keynote speaker at Palm Beach State College Foundation’s Yvonne S. Boice STEAM Luncheon on Tuesday, April 16th from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm. He will share his insights on how to bring your brand to the forefront with people and technology.

Presented by Bank of America, the event will be held at the beautiful Kravis Center for Performing Arts Cohen Pavilion in West Palm Beach. Other sponsors of the event include South Florida Tech Hub and the Palm Beach Post.

The mission of the Foundation at Palm Beach State College is to seek philanthropic gifts and partnerships to further initiatives and opportunities that transform students’ lives and impact the economic and cultural prosperity of the community.

Today’s Foundation for Palm Beach State is defined by relationships – the ones that bring partners, friends and donors committed to the students they serve and the community we share. The Foundation provides value to the College by expanding awareness of and engagement in Palm Beach State while accepting, stewarding and distributing philanthropic gifts in accordance with donors’ wishes.

After a three-year hiatus from 2021-23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the signature event aims to increase scholarships, business partnerships and internship opportunities to support students pursuing science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics fields.

“GaryVee is a globally respected and admired leader and one of the most forward thinkers in business,” said PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D.

“His participation in our STEAM Luncheon will help amplify our initiatives to educate our students in critical STEAM fields and support the STEAM employers in our area.”

Keynote speaker, Gary Vaynerchuk is a serial entrepreneur, prolific angel investor, international social media influencer, and is considered one of the leading global minds on what’s next in culture, relevance and the internet. He is described as one of the most forward thinkers in business – he acutely recognizes trends and patterns early to help others understand how these shifts impact consumer behavior. Whether it’s emerging artists, esports, NFT investing, or digital communications, Gary understands how to bring brand relevance to the forefront.

GaryVee is the Chairman of VaynerX, the CEO of VaynerMedia, and the Creator & CEO of VeeFriends. Through VaynerMedia, a full-service advertising agency, he helps Fortune 1000 brands leverage consumer attention. VaynerMedia is part of the VaynerX holding company, including Eva Nosidam Productions, Vayner3, Gallery Media Group, The Sasha Group, VaynerSpeakers, and VaynerCommerce.

GaryVee is also prolific angel investor with early investments in companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, Venmo, Snapchat, Coinbvase, and Uber. He is also the co-founder of VaynerSports, Resy and Empathy Wines. He guided both Resy and Empathy to successful exits – which were sold respectively to American Express and Constellation Brands. He is also a board member at Candy Digital, co-founder of VCR Group, co-founder of ArtOfficial, and co-founder of VaynerWATT.

GaryVee also documents his life daily as a CEO through his social media channels, which have more than 44 million followers and garnish over 173 million monthly impressions/views across all platforms. In addition, Vee was recently named to the Fortune list of the Top 50 Influential people in the NFT industry.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mr. Vaynerchuk as his expertise with today’s cutting-edge technologies and passion for entrepreneurship complements Palm Beach State’s advancements in these areas,” said David Rutherford, vice president of Institutional Advancement and CEO of the Foundation for PBSC.

“As the College has become a leader in innovation and educational technology, it is very fitting to have a pioneer of his magnitude to reignite Palm Beach State’s signature event.”

The annual luncheon will honor the philanthropic legacy of the College’s late friend, STEAM chair and respected pillar in the community Yvonne S. Boice, who passed away last year. According to an article on the National Trust for Humanities website, “Boice’s years of service and dedication to her numerous arts, cultural and humanities endeavors was recognized across academia and the U.S. government.”

“Boice led national and local fundraising efforts—chairing initiatives ranging from the Trust to Palm Beach State College’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) efforts and community space improvements. Boice served as Chair of the Palm Beach International Film Festival, Vice-Chair of the Centre for the Arts at Mizner Park, Chair of the board of overseers of Lynn University and was a long-time supporter of Palm Beach Community College. She also served as a board member of the YMCA of Boca Raton and South Palm Beach County. In recognition of her work, she was honored with many prestigious awards and two honorary doctorate degrees.”

In 2013, Palm Beach State College launched a major initiative to impact a projected shortage of skilled professionals in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) related fields. STEAM scholarships position students for high-paying, high-demand jobs that further their economic mobility and the local workforce.Now named for our dearly departed friend, inspiration and STEAM chairperson, The Yvonne S. Boice STEAM Luncheon honors her memory and welcomes Mr. Gary Vaynerchuk.

If you would like to be a part of the Tech Hub table at the event, please email team@techhubsouthflorida.org

To purchase individual tickets please visit, www.palmbeachstate.edu/foundation/steam.

By Nikki Cabus

Palm Beach State College receives $8M from Related Companies towards student scholarships

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The Stephen M. Ross Emerging Scholars Program at Palm Beach State College, created by Related Companies, was announced last month during a ceremony at Gaines Park in West Palm Beach. The $8 million gift will support West Palm Beach students in grades 7-12 and follow them through their postsecondary education with full scholarships at Palm Beach State.

“This gift is going to accelerate opportunities for West Palm Beach residents and businesses by helping remove the leading barrier to economic growth, and that’s the knowledge gap,” said PBSC President Ava. L. Parker, J.D. “What’s so amazing about working with Stephen and his vision is that he understands that it’s not enough just to say to 12th-graders it’s time to go to college and here’s a scholarship. He understands the communication and the partnership must start so much earlier in the lives of these students.”

The $8 million gift, the first contribution of the Related Together grantmaking foundation, will ensure that every future graduate of Palm Beach Lakes and Forest Hill High Schools will receive a full scholarship to Palm Beach State College. The Related Together contribution will also be used to fund college readiness programs for students in grades 7-12 to help prepare them for pathways to a postsecondary education and career credentials that will bolster Palm Beach County’s future workforce.

“I’m thrilled to be here,” said Ross during the ceremony. “You want to live to have an impact and do things that can really benefit people. West Palm Beach and Related Together are really in a position to do that and become the model city for this country.”

Additionally, an Early College Academy will be developed at the two West Palm Beach high schools, which will include paid academic advisors and peer-to-peer student mentors. These student mentors will receive a stipend. The program will also focus on preparing students for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

The program was developed in partnership with the Foundation for Palm Beach State College led by Vice President of Institutional Advancement and CEO of the Foundation David Rutherford, who attended the ceremony.

Attending the ceremony with Parker and Rutherford were Chairman of Related Companies and philanthropist Stephen Ross; Related Together Board Chair Gopal Rajegowda; Mayor of West Palm Beach Keith James; West Palm Beach Commissioners Christina Lambert, Christy Fox and Cathleen Ward; President of the Quantum Foundation Eric Kelly; PBSC former District Board of Trustees Chair Carolyn Williams; PBSC Foundation and Quantum Foundation board members; and others.

“This partnership will help accomplish my administration’s goal and that is to make West Palm Beach a community of opportunity for all,” said Mayor James during the event.

Each year, Related Together will contribute funds to implement projects and programs focused on six pillars, including education, housing, income and employment opportunities, health care access, arts and culture engagement, and digital accessibility. The success of each program will be defined by attracting scalable philanthropic investments and proactive grantmaking to launch new programs with the goal to reverse the cycle of poverty and support a cycle of growth.

“Related Together’s model is to have businesses that are coming here invest into the community through this program and work with local leaders to bring accelerated and immediate changes that will shape generations of people,” said Rajegowda at the celebration.

In partnership with Related Companies, Related Together was built through the expertise of local leaders, such as Kelly who is recognized for transformative change in underserved communities.

“These neighborhoods have been resilient, and they have resolved to succeed,” said Kelly. “I’m grateful for the leadership of our mayor, Stephen, Gopal, and in particular Ava Parker to acknowledge that these communities have been ready, they certainly are ready and now they have the opportunity to strive and make life better.”

Three pillars of the Stephen M. Ross Emerging Scholars initiative will help equip students and schools with resources to ensure postsecondary attendance, retention, and completion, leading to career readiness and personal success. The pillars include having Palm Beach State advisors embedded into the high schools to work closely with school counselors to guide students through the dual enrollment selection and registration process.

In addition, the Stephen M. Ross Early College Academy gives access to health sciences, STEM and other high-demand career pathways that empower the individual and impact the community.

Related Together’s organizational structure is comprised of key executive representatives, including Ross, Jeff Brodsky, Ken Himmel, Bruce Warwick, a Board of Directors including Rajegowda, Treasurer Katie Block, and Secretary Jordan Rathlev and supported through local partners and stakeholders, such as the Quantum Foundation, and others to be announced.

For more information and how to support, please visit www.relatedtogether.org.

By Nikki Cabus

FPL’s Classroom Makeover Grant Program helps underserved classroom access STEM education across Florida

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Florida Power & Light‘s Classroom Makeover Grant Program has transformed another five classroom across the state of Florida. 

As part of a $1 million, 4-year commitment from its charitable arm, the NextEra Energy Foundation, works to advance STEM curriculum, increase the exposure of Black students to STEM education and jumpstart students’ interest in STEM careers. Each year through 2024, five schools are selected in FPL’s service area to receive the $50,000 grant.

The grants are intended to provide transformational learning opportunities for Black students in classroom settings, as all recipient schools are comprised of at least 25% Black students. The Classroom Makeover Grant program and funds are available to directly addresses needs in infrastructure, technology or resources (i.e., software, equipment, books, training of teachers, tutors, paraprofessionals).

“Our STEM Classroom Makeover Grant allows us to invest in our next generation to help provide transformational learning opportunities for Black students in a STEM classroom setting,” said Pamela Rauch, Vice President of External Affairs & Economic Development for FPL, in a previous interview.

“We are excited that these projects will be one of the first, as we complete our inaugural year of implementing this grant, which allows us to support both educators and students, our next generation of leaders.”

Congratulations to this year’s 2022-2023 winning classrooms in Florida:

FPL’s five classroom makeover grant recipients in Florida for the 2022 inaugural year were:

Cypress Run Education Center School, an alternative school in Broward County, invested in a multimedia technology lab, web design programs, TV production arrangements, coding software, robotics education and Microsoft certifications. South Florida Tech Hub had the honor of being invited to their most recent student Hackathon hosted by STEM teacher, Ms. Osas Guis-Obaseki and Principal Harrigan.

Ms. Osas has spearheaded a STEM Club that meets biweekly to expose students to programming and the computer science field. She has given students the opportunity to to build computers, learn coding and programming, and gain skills using digital tools. Ms. O hosts quarterly Hackathons where students demonstrate their coding skills and compete with other students.

Under her leadership, students have complete the Microsoft certifications in HTML and CSS Programming, Website Design, and MS Office. She has also been able to collaborate with additional industry partners such as CloudHesive, Oracle, ReGenerate Tech, and many more.

Ms. Osas got in touch with South Florida Tech Hub in 2022 as a volunteer at the annual TECHpalooza in Broward County where she also brought students to educate them on the importance of networking, giving back and getting exposure to tech professionals in South Florida.

Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School in Riviera Beach was also one of five schools in Florida to be awarded a Classroom Makeover Grant from FPL last year to advance STEM curriculum, increase the exposure of Black students to STEM education and jumpstart students’ interest in STEM careers. The $50,000 grant that the school received supported a variety of professional education resources, including computers, robot lab packs, aerodynamics sets, and renewable energy education kits. See the full WPTV update here.

“As a Title 1 school with a 98% Black population, we are committed to providing children of color with vast learning opportunities and exposure to STEM education and careers,” Katrina W. Granger, the principal at Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School, said.

“We are so appreciative of FPL’s commitment to diversity in STEM, which has made the vision of hardworking and inspiring STEM educator with big dreams, Tracy Howard, come to fruition. This grant will support both Mrs. Howard and her scholars achieve their greatest dream.”

This grant is open to all public, private and charter schools and all grade levels in FPL’s service area in Florida. Grants are also available to schools in areas served by FPL’s sister company NextEra Energy Resources. As with all foundation grants, no customer dollars are involved.

Schools can apply now for the next grant cycle. Applications are now open and will close October 15, 2023! 

  Read more

By Nikki Cabus

IMLS invests more than $31 Million in grants to museums across America including Ft. Lauderdale’s MODS

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Just this month, The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced the Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS) in Fort Lauderdale as one of eight recipients of the 2023 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities.

IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. IMLS envisions a nation where individuals and communities have access to museums and libraries to learn from and be inspired by the trusted information, ideas, and stories they contain about our diverse natural and cultural heritage.

Over the past 29 years, the award has celebrated institutions that are making a difference for individuals, families and communities. This year’s grant awards total over a whopping $31 million for museums across the nation to improve services to their communities.

Through the agency’s largest competitive grant program, Museums for America, and its special initiatives, Museums Empowered and Inspire! Grants for Small Museums, a total of 218 projects were selected from 568 applications requesting $73,685,100. Institutions receiving awards are matching them with $46,546,077 in non-federal funds.

“It is a delight to announce the Museums for America grants for 2023 to an extraordinary group of Museums, Gardens, Zoos, and Aquariums. These funds will in turn put the riches of our cultural institutions in reach of so many of our communities,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper.

“The Museum welcomes individuals from all walks of life to visit, experience, connect, and discover inspiring science. MODS’ inclusivity and accessibility programs have a direct impact on the south Florida community, especially children.”

Crosby Kemper is the sixth director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. He was commissioned by the White House on January 24, 2020, following his confirmation by the United States Senate. IMLS, an independent government agency, is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s museums and libraries.

Founded in 1976 as the Discovery Center, today the Museum of Discovery & Science, or “MODS,” is at the forefront of science education, innovation and exploration. The mission of MODS is Connecting People to Inspiring Science. Through our mission, MODS elevates the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in our lives, impacting more than 450,000 visitors annually.

The Museum embraces six enduring values: DISCOVERY through inquiry-based learning experiences; INCLUSIVITY in which equity and access are vital to success; COLLABORATION in pursuit of mission-based public and private partnerships; CREATIVITY where inspiration and innovation take flight; EDUCATION as an inspirational force for informal science; and VISITOR FOCUSED, fostering a warm and welcoming atmosphere with layers of learning. National recognition from IMLS is meaningful as it signifies the important role MODS has played not only in our region, but as a national leader in the museum field and a model for community engagement and social impact.

Selected from 30 national finalists, the 2023 National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners represent institutions that provide dynamic programming and services that exceed expected levels of service. Through their community outreach, these institutions bring about change that touches the lives of individuals and helps communities thrive.

“To be singled out by IMLS from among the many thousands of museums in the United States is a tribute to our dedicated leadership, outstanding staff, devoted volunteers, generous supporters, and visionary founders who all give of themselves to fulfill our mission. We are grateful to IMLS and this honor will inspire us to do more,” said Joseph P. Cox, president and CEO of MODS.

“MODS is committed to a mission of connecting people to inspiring science for children and adults of all ages and abilities. The Museum is a changemaker, a dynamic hub for STEM learning that builds connections of trust and belonging. Museums are more necessary than ever before as institutions of learning. Together, we foster understanding and change that leads to a more just and healthy future.”

The IMLS award was presented at a ceremony this summer in Washington, DC. The 2023 National Medal for Museum and Library Service Medal Winners are:

Libraries:

  • Kuskokwim Consortium Library (Bethel, AK)
  • LA County Library (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Long Branch Free Public Library (Long Branch, NJ)
  • Toledo Lucas County Public Library (Toledo, OH)

Museums:

  • Center of Science and Industry (COSI) (Columbus, OH)
  • Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum (Buffalo, WY)
  • Museum of Discovery and Science (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
  • Riverside Art Museum (Riverside, CA)

Additional programs funded by IMLS are Museums for AmericaMuseums Empowered, and Inspire! Grants for Small Museums.

MODS, was also recently awarded funds via the Museums for America grant for $240,500. This grant supports projects that strengthen the ability of individual museums to benefit the public by providing high-quality, inclusive learning experiences, maximizing resources to address community needs through partnerships and collaborations, and by preserving and providing access to the collections entrusted to their care. 122 projects were funded through this year’s Museums for America program.

The Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, Florida will expand its STEMobile program, a mobile maker space program for early learners ages three to five and their caregivers and teachers. The program will serve 123 early learning centers in the 10 lowest-income zip codes in Broward County that are also the most affected by intergenerational poverty, economic immobility, and lowest educational attainment levels. The project will provide interactive STEM experiences for young children aligned with Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards; a Family Science Night that reinforces the caregiver’s role as their child’s first teacher; and professional development resources that empower teachers to feel more confident about teaching STEM. The project will help reduce disparities in education for vulnerable young learners and help them succeed.

To learn more about MODS, visit https://mods.org/

By Nikki Cabus

The City of Miami funds 5 tech nonprofits focused on youth initiatives

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The City of Miami recently announced that it’s awarding $250,000 to Miami-based nonprofits focused on science and technology programs for youth.

The nonprofits will each receive $50,000 in funding. The nonprofits chosen are Breakthrough Miami, DoGood41, NFTE, Dibia Dream and South Florida Tech Hub member, CodeArt.

The funding is in an effort to support nonprofits that focus on diversifying the tech industry such as Code/Art that aims to get more girls involved in technology through the introduction of coding using art programming.

“Venture Miami has identified several avenues to provide access to high-quality, high-paying jobs, upskilling and retraining, small business support and digital transformation with the focus on expanding diversity and inclusion within the tech industry,” Suarez told the Miami Herald in a recent article.

The City’s initiative, Venture Miami, led by Executive Director Erick Gavin has also raised $4 million dollars, including $500,000 from the City, to help fund scholarships for Miami students accepted into science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs at higher education institutions such as University of Miami, Florida Memorial University, Florida International University, and Miami Dade College.

“This funding from Venture Miami will allow us to provide more girls with the opportunity to learn about computer science and technology in a fun & supportive environment,” Code Art posted on social media.

Code/Art is on a mission to increase the number of girls in computer science by delighting and inspiring them with the creative possibilities of computer programming. They strive to put young women, particularly young women from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, on track for future tech careers by providing welcoming early coding programs that focus on art, creativity and social good.

Code/Art does this through programing such as their upcoming Code Art Fest which is an annual coding conference for girls,
educators & tech enthusiasts. The 2023 conference will be held at the Idea Center at Miami Dade College on Saturday, March 11th.

For more information, visit www.code-art.com/codeartfest/

 

By Nikki Cabus

Cox Science Center announces they are increasing their campaign goal after receiving multimillions in donations

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Cox Science Center and Aquarium (CSCA) leadership announced they are nearly doubling their campaign goal to $85 million.

According to CSCA board and capital campaign chairman Lew Crampton, a recent $8 million gift from Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin, coupled with a $10 million award from the State of Florida this summer, gave campaign leadership the confidence to nearly double their original goal announced last year.

In November 2021 Cox Science Center and Aquarium announced a $40 million capital campaign and $5 million endowment initiative and changed its name to reflect a transformational $20 million lead gift from Palm Beach residents Wendy and Howard Cox.

“Just 1 year ago we launched a hugely significant campaign for the Science Center,” said Lew Crampton, Board Member & former Director of the Cox Science Center & Aquarium, “and thanks to tremendous support, we are confident in expanding our original plans with a new goal of $85 million.

We’ve raised $60 million to date, which is 70% of our total goal, in the silent phase alone. Ken Griffin’s momentous commitment to prepare the next generation with STEM education – mastering data science, cloud computing, engineering and more – will make America competitive in a global market and is reflective of our board and other supporters’ vision for the Cox Science Center. We know Palm Beach County deserves a new, cutting-edge science center and our supporters agree.”

The expansion will include renovated spaces, a new three-story science pavilion visible from I-95, new outdoor exhibition spaces and one of Florida’s largest indoor aquariums.

Kate Arrizza, President and CEO for the Cox Science Center and Aquarium said, “Our strategic planning process has considered the projected growth of Palm Beach and surrounding counties – among the fastest in the nation.

Ken Griffin’s move of Citadel to South Florida and his investments in STEM Education is indicative of the influx of new residents in our market and the need for the community to have a state-of-the-art science center has increased exponentially. The expanded campaign goal will allow us to grow our attendance capabilities to serve nearly 1 million guests annually.”

Known for his catalytic giving across a range of areas including education and STEM initiatives, Griffin’s funding is earmarked for the expanded aquarium, with capacity of 200,000 gallons to take visitors through the Everglades, Florida’s inland rivers and Gulf Stream waters. With a focus on sharing the South Florida native’s love of the ocean, Griffin’s funding will also improve interactive educational experiences in Florida’s fifth largest aquarium setting. This will impact nearly 500,000 students annually, 70% of whom are Title 1.

“When students engage with the natural world, they develop an excitement about science that will drive progress for decades to come,” said Ken Griffin. “I hope the expanded aquarium will increase appreciation for our region’s dynamic ecosystem and the work required to preserve and protect it for future generations.”

New additions to the Cox Science Center and Aquarium’s expanded plans include:

  • An interactive extended reality experience, which will be an immersive space featuring 40-foot-tall projections on all four walls, displaying signature programs from rocket launches to deep sea exploration. Visitors will be able to directly interact with the projections using touch screens.
  • An expanded traveling exhibit designed to host more megahit exhibitions.
  • A Digital Arts Studio, which will expand to provide more skill set training such as software programming that aligns with high-demand jobs. An outreach program in partnership with Florida Atlantic University will digitize and nationally distribute the Center’s current video programs.
  • An indoor/outdoor exhibit area designed for early learners ages 6 and under.
  • Expanded programming in the Dekelboum Planetarium and Observatory.
  • An immersive learning lab that will serve as home base for FIRST LEGO League Teams and competitions.
  • An expanded biology lab that consolidates the Center’s preferred provider status to all medical magnet schools in Palm Beach County. Currently, the Center provides 30,000 frog/squid/shark/pig dissections annually, which could be doubled in the new space.
  • Expansion of the existing STEM Education Center that houses a state-of-the-art 3D printing program, coding instruction, and the Palm Beach Florida Chess Club.
  • The Center’s educational partnership with the Palm Beach County School District (the 10th largest district in the nation) will grow, doubling schools served to over 200, including 70 percent of Title I schools to serve English and Spanish speaking students.
  • GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science) program and other distance learning programs will be expanded.

Naming and support opportunities are available for the expanded offerings. A groundbreaking is expected in late spring 2023 with a new targeted completion set for early 2026.

The Cox Science Center and Aquarium is located at 4801 Dreher Trail North in West Palm Beach, FL and its current indoor/outdoor venue features more than 100 hands-on educational exhibits, a 10,000-gallon fresh and saltwater aquarium, digital planetarium, Pre-K focused “Discovery Center,” 18-hole conservation-themed Mini-Golf Course and quarter mile-long outdoor science trail. The Cox Amphitheater hosts daily live science shows, seasonal laser shows and special event programming. One of its celebrated displays includes “Journey Through the Human Brain,” a permanent exhibit that features the most advanced neuroscience research in the world.

As of 2022, Cox Science Center and Aquarium earned the highest Candid Platinum Seal of Transparency rating on GuideStar in tandem with its perfect Charity Navigator score. The Platinum Seal of Transparency indicates that the Center shares clear and important information with the public about its goals, strategies, capabilities, achievements and progress indicators that highlight how it’s advancing its mission.

To learn more about the Cox Science Center’s capital campaign, visit www.CoxScienceCenter.org/Support-us.

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PBC STEM Ecosystem Meeting
U.S. Department of Labor awards Palm Beach State College a $1.75 million grant to expand skilled trades training
FPL helps two Florida classrooms transform into Innovative STEM labs
Broward College iSTEM Center Opens its Doors to Faculty at Professional Development Day
Gary Vaynerchuk is coming to West Palm Beach as keynote for PBSC Foundation STEAM luncheon
Palm Beach State College receives $8M from Related Companies towards student scholarships
FPL’s Classroom Makeover Grant Program helps underserved classroom access STEM education across Florida
IMLS invests more than $31 Million in grants to museums across America including Ft. Lauderdale’s MODS
The City of Miami funds 5 tech nonprofits focused on youth initiatives
Cox Science Center announces they are increasing their campaign goal after receiving multimillions in donations