Education

Education Fund's charity auction to honor successful Miami-Dade Schools alumni

Billy Corben hosts Comic Cure's "Make America Laugh Again," a roast of the presidential candidates, at the Flamingo Theater Bar in the Four Ambassadors Hotel in Brickell on Oct. 18, 2016.
Billy Corben hosts Comic Cure's "Make America Laugh Again," a roast of the presidential candidates, at the Flamingo Theater Bar in the Four Ambassadors Hotel in Brickell on Oct. 18, 2016. mocner@miamiherald.com

The Education Fund's "For the Love of Art" charity auction will be held Tuesday, June 26, to raise money for art programs in public schools, and to recognize 20 outstanding Miami-Dade public school graduates who have been successful in their respective fields.

The Education Fund, which strives to provide support for the Miami-Dade Public Schools system, was founded more than 30 years ago by the Ford Foundation. The auction and honoree celebration will be presented by Ocean Bank, which has a crucial connection to the fund's mission.

The Ocean Bank Center for Educational Materials in Medley allows teachers to shop for art supplies for free twice a year. Local businesses donate items, such as electrical wires and other obscure pieces, so that they can be used in art classes at public schools.

With programs such as the Ocean Bank Center, it is easier for teachers to collect art supplies. All the art in the auction was produced as a result of the Ocean Bank Center, by both students and teachers. The money made in the sale of the artwork goes back to the teachers so they can purchase more supplies, said Stacey de la Grana, vice president of programs at the Education Fund.

This year, the Education Fund will honor 20 school system grads for their work and philanthropy, including Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo Jr.; Zack Bush, co-owner of Ball and Chain bar in Little Havana; and filmmaker Billy Corben, co-founder of rakontur, a local creation company.

Corben, who attended New World School of the Arts, graduated in a class full of talent. "I saw at least three students that I graduated with and another one or two that I recognized as New World alums all on the same Tony broadcast," Corben said of the 2012 award show. "I was awestruck. ... What are the odds? A class of 104, and here's six alumni all on the same broadcast."

Corben is a proud Miami native. When he debuted his first documentary at Sundance in 2001, he constantly was asked the same question ― "Where are you going next?"

"It was obvious to us that we were going to come home and tell Miami-centric stories," he said. "It seemed to be a real untapped resource."

In regard to his experience with Miami-Dade public schools, Corben's stance is clear: "I learned just as much from my bad teachers as I did from my good teachers, but was lucky to have more good than bad. I am Facebook friends with some of my old teachers. ... That's why you call it home."

Bush, who recently released the children's book "Made for Me," was born and raised in Miami. A supporter of the Miami-Dade public school system, he said he first discovered his writing skills during his high school journalism class at Miami Palmetto Senior High School. "My writing skills from high school journalism came back to life," he said.

Bush's experience at Palmetto Senior High shaped the person he is today. "They did a great job allowing me to dabble with my interests, until you found something you really enjoyed."

The author and bar co-owner is extremely humbled by his forthcoming recognition at the Education Fund's auction. "It's truly an honor ― Miami is in my blood, I was born and raised here. It means a lot to me."

The Education Fund's "For the Love of Art" annual charity auction and honoree celebration will take place on Tuesday, June 26, at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. Tickets are $125 a person and are available at EducationFund.org and at the event.

2018 Education Fund Sapoznik Insurance Public School Alumni Achievement Award Honorees

Esteban L. Bovo, Jr., Zach Bush, Billy Corben, Jim Fried, Neisen Kasdin, Connie Laguna, Beatriz "Bibi" Lucki, Rohan Marley, Kristopher K. Martin, Sonless D. Martin Jr., Harry Rothwell, Nelly Rubio, H.T. Smith, Dr. Helena Solo-Gabriele, Marisol Terga, Monica Veiga, Macarena Arce, Surf Melendez, Sandra Peebles and Ana Veiga Milton.

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