Equip students with the skills of a lifetime


In Miami-Dade we strive to provide today’s students with the skills necessary to become tomorrow’s leaders, growing and sustaining a workforce that is competitive both locally and globally. Many of the best jobs, including those in fields such as science, health, technology and energy, will require specialized training and education beginning at a young age, and a growing percentage of these emerging jobs require preparation in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math).

While these opportunities present a bright future for the next generation, they come at a tough time for our educational system, which faces challenges with budget cuts year after year.

Teachers and schools need our community’s support. We need to work together on creative funding answers to provide students with hands-on learning opportunities. With the right materials and proper education, students can develop critical skills in problem solving, teamwork, time management, communication and leadership. Equipping students with these skills will help build a smart, adaptive workforce that can power economic growth.

Parents, other residents and businesses can support schools and students through fund-raising programs and donations. The Foundation for New Education Initiatives, Inc., for example, was created in 2008 by the MiamiDade County School Board to enhance student achievement and community engagement in support of the Parent Academy, Cultural Passport, and other educational initiatives of Miami-Dade County Public Schools not funded through traditional funding sources available to the school district. Those interested can learn more at giveourstudentstheworld.org. The school district is fortunate to have the support of many large organizations that bolster learning programs through services and direct donations, such as Target, Office Depot, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, among many others.

One example of an innovative approach to supporting local education was initiated by Chevron. Last year through its Fuel Your School program, a collaboration with DonorsChoose.org, $500,000 was generated to benefit more than 700 classroom project requests for materials and school supplies at more than 190 schools like Doral Academy, Rockway Elementary and Middle, and Richmond Heights Elementary among others, benefitting more than 76,500 students. The program is taking place again now.

Chevron will donate $1, up to $500,000, to help support K-12 public schools when consumers fuel up with eight or more gallons at participating Chevron and Texaco stations during October. DonorsChoose.org, an online organization that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need, allows anyone to contribute any amount, at any time, to a project that inspires them, which are posted online by public school teachers. This allows donors to connect directly with classrooms in need.

We will all need to work together — educators, parents and businesses — to help our students, our future. Teachers can post projects on DonorsChoose.org. Community members can donate to charities and volunteer. And corporations and businesses can contribute to local schools to help prepare students and ensure they are ready for college and the workforce.

Iraida R. Mendez-Cartaya is associate superintendent, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Grants Administration, at Miami-Dade County Public Schools.