Edible Garden Initiative (EGI)
The Edible Garden Initiative (formerly CNI, now EGI) uses edible gardens and food forests as outdoor learning laboratories in Miami-Dade County's public elementary schools to instill in children the desire to eat nutritious food while learning to care for the environment. Over the course of the program, children's eating attitude and habits have improved 50% annually. Students learn curriculum through hands-on projects in gardens or our food forests. Meanwhile, families and other community members work in the gardens and attend healthy cooking and gardening workshops.
From a pilot in five schools, EGI grown to involve more than 31,000 students from 51 Miami-Dade County Public Schools with diverse populations from mostly lower-income families. This is almost 25% of all elementary schools in the district.
More than 500 teachers, cafeteria managers, and administrators attend after-school and Saturday workshops to learn and share how to plant and maintain edible gardens, integrate them into the curriculum and cafeteria, reach out to the community, collect data to evaluate the program, and advocate for nutritional and environmental literacy.
The ultimate objective of the Edible Garden Initiative is to significantly improve eating patterns in children and their families while also improving students' academic achievement. Through EGI, students develop a deeper understanding of the connection between health and their environment.
Ocean Bank Center for Educational Materials
When it comes to creative teaching aids, teachers have come to depend on the Ocean Bank Center for Educational Materials to provide them with not only that unique tool to motivate their students, but also the everyday staples they need. Sponsored by Ocean Bank, this warehouse and distribution program accepts donations of usable excess inventory, remnants, leftovers, surplus supplies and more from companies -- as well as traditional classroom supplies -- which we then make available free of charge to Miami-Dade County Public Schools' teachers for their classrooms. Miami-Dade County students benefit by having the materials necessary for their lessons and businesses benefit through an up to 200-percent tax deduction on the goods.
Teachers may shop for free twice each year, or on more occasions if they volunteer their time at the warehouse.
As a source of free materials for public school classrooms, the Ocean Bank Center has logged over 26,025 educator visits since opening in 1993, reaching nearly 2 million M-DCPS students.
If your business has excess inventory or outdated equipment and supplies, you can donate them to The Education Fund, which provides classroom teachers with desperately needed supplies, while a company may be eligible for a tax deduction of up to 200 percent.
The Education Fund's Teach-A-Thon -- a "thon" with a twist -- increases public awareness about the critical role that teachers play in student achievement. Business professionals from across the county learn about the challenges of teaching, gather support pledges from colleagues, and then experience firsthand the difficulties and rewards of a day in the classroom. Participants gain a deeper understanding for teachers, teaching quality, and its impact on student success.
SmartPath to College and Career
SmartPath To College focuses on embedding a 'college-going' culture in high schools so that students not only make college a goal, but also learn the financial and life skills needed to apply to and succeed in college or other postsecondary programs. During the 2015-16 school year, SmartPath provides direct services to 3,000 'young adults' in grades 9-12 attending eight high-need senior high schools: Booker T. Washington, Hialeah-Miami Lakes, Homestead, MAST@ Homestead, Miami Beach, Miami Jackson, Miami Southridge, and Westland Hialeah. By focusing on school staff professional development, student readiness to perform at the college level, college clubs and college tours to educate students on careers, entrepreneurialism and college options, and workshops to educate families on financial aid.