Little Haiti youth interested in exploring all-things technology over the summer received backing from the City of Miami. The City Commission approved a $27,180 grant to fund the iTech Magnet High School’s summer STEM program, which seeks to immerse both middle and high school students into the growing field of technology. The initiative was sponsored by Mayor Francis Suarez, who used his share of the city’s anti-poverty initiative dollars to fund the summer program.
The funding of iTech’s summer STEM program is a collaboration between the city and Miami-Dade County Public Schools to develop a pipeline of talent, particularly minority talent, in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, widely abbreviated as STEM.
The program began on July 8 and runs until Aug. 2.
This marks the first time iTech Magnet High School has received a grant for its summer program, said Principal Lashinda Moore.
The grant will help 50 Little Haiti students nurture their interest in STEM-based careers and develop those interests from an early age. The month-long tech camp will poise students to think of an issue in society that is meaningful to them and create a business model aimed at creating solutions for the different problems they see around them, Moore said. Students will create a fully functional website detailing their proposed business model for the societal problem of their choice.
The students will get a taste of the different aspects within the STEM spectrum.
The program will expose students to the field of robotics, programming, iOS application development, drone development, 3D printing, virtual reality, as well as financial literacy, physical fitness and art-based activities.
Every Friday, students will go on different STEM-oriented field trips. Breakfast, lunch and a snack are served to the students daily.
The overall goal of the program is to motivate Little Haiti students to think about a career future in the various fields of technology, said School Board Member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall.
“Some of the brightest children you will ever find in the world are Haitian-American,” she said "These children just need a lift and assistance.”
With technology companies like Amazon moving to South Florida, students stand to benefit greatly from iTech’s STEM program, Bendross-Mindingall said. Amazon's fulfillment center is stationed in nearby Opa-locka and actively recruits employees for various technology-based roles.
“It is going to pay dividends for them,” she said.
The funding is part of the mayor’s Pathways to Prosperity Initiative, which seeks to bridge the economic divide that exists in Miami by providing job opportunities, greater access to education and professional development resources.
The grant will harness the power of technology and education, two invaluable ingredients to the pathway to prosperity process, Suarez said.
“Introducing these vitals resources at an early age plays a pivotal role in determining what path our youth will ultimately take. We are giving them a clear choice and a pathway to prosperity where their goals can become a reality.”