April 12, 2024
School program in Miami-Dade makes a breakthrough
Breakthrough Miami gives students from low-income families access to advanced educational opportunities.

Miami-Dade Roundup

School program in Miami-Dade makes a breakthrough

Areli Acevedo was only in fourth grade when she made an eight-year commitment to dedicate half of her Saturdays and every summer through high school to Breakthrough Miami’s free program to prepare her for college. At 14, she now earns top grades at Ponce de Leon Middle School and plans to become a neurosurgeon.

The teen is one of 1,200 students participating in Breakthrough Miami, a non-profit academic enrichment program that uses a peer-mentoring model to give students from low-income families access to advanced educational opportunities. Students at Miami-Dade County Public Schools can apply to the program in fourth grade and must have a B average, standardized test scores that are above grade level and teacher recommendations. The program continues through the end of high school.

A majority of Breakthrough Miami students speak English as a second language. During the past five years, 100% of seniors in the program graduated. And 76% entered four-year colleges, versus 22% of low-income students nationwide, says Galia Pennekamp, Breakthrough Miami’s associate director for development and community relations.

Started in 1991 as a summer program at a single school site, Breakthrough Miami now works year-round in Miami- Dade County at six private schools and the University of Miami. The schools make their facilities — and educational resources such as computers, tablets and labs — available for summer and weekend use.

Breakthrough Miami is the largest affiliate of San Francisco-based Breakthrough Collaborative. It has an annual budget of $3 million-plus, with nearly half of that coming from in-kind contributions, including space donated by the six school sites. The program has grown with $5 million in grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Children’s Trust.

“We’d like to expand in the state,” Pennekamp says. “We just need more people to know about it.” — Doreen Hemlock

Business Briefs

BAL HARBOUR — Whitman Family Development, which owns the Bal Harbour Shops, submitted a revised proposal to add 340,387 square feet to the shopping center, which is now 463,477 square feet. The new proposal attempts to address residents’ concerns about traffic by offering to pay for a new village hall and parking garage, donate 2 acres to the village, redevelop the village’s public works lot into a park and provide other benefits.

DORAL — Carnival will add Cuba to the itinerary of its flagship Carnival Cruise Line in June, with the Carnival Paradise adding stops in Havana to some of its itineraries from Port Tampa Bay.

HIALEAH — Telemundo’s actors and non-news/ journalism on-air staff voted to join the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. It is the first Spanish-language network where employees have unionized. The unionization vote was the first at a major network in 65 years.

MIAMI — Lafayette, La.-based IberiaBank agreed to pay $1.03 billion in stock and cash to buy Sabadell United Bank from Banco Sabadell. Wyncode Academy raised $1 million from Academic Work X Group, a Swedish consulting and education company. Okan Group, one of the largest companies in Turkey, plans a 1,000-foot, mixed-used tower downtown. The project will be the company’s first in Florida. North Dakota-based Sanford Health and Denny Sanford donated $7 million to the Nicklaus Children’s Personalized Medicine Initiative of Miami Children’s Health System. Nicklaus and Sanford will work to sequence the genes of nearly 1,000 people of Latino and Hispanic descent. Federal Realty Trust, Grass River Property and Comras plan a 730,000-sq.-ft. office building in Coconut Grove called One CocoWalk. Company co-builder Rokk3r Labs launched venture capital investment fund Rokk3r Fuel. North Miami Beach-based real estate developers DevStar Group and Plaza Group merged to form Plaza Equity Partners, which is based in Miami. MDM Group finalized its acquisition of the five-acre former Miami Arena site for $45 million; it plans to break ground on the site this year for the Marriott Marquis Miami Worldcenter Hotel & Expo Center, which will include 1,100 rooms and 600,000 square feet of meeting/exhibition space in its first phase.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY — Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute finished a $120-million project, adding 60,000 square feet of space and renovating 40,000 square feet of space to create the Center for Advanced Endovascular Therapies, the National Center for Aneurysm Therapy, a Center for Structural Heart Therapy and the Center for Critical Limb Ischemia. The institute is part of Baptist Health South Florida. DB Schenker Americas is moving its Americas region headquarters to a site near Miami International Airport, from Freeport, N.Y. It expects to have 88 employees within two years after the move. The logistics and freight forwarding company already has a 140-employee West Doral branch. Roman Catholic universities Barry University, based in Miami Shores, and St. Thomas University, based in Miami Gardens, are in talks to form an alliance, which may include a merger.

MONROE COUNTY — The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District will test the use of genetically modified, non-biting male mosquitoes to reduce the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which can carry Zika, dengue and chikungunya.

SOUTH FLORIDA — According to Democratic strategist Steve Schale’s analysis of 2015 U.S. Census numbers, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale media market has more Hispanics than any other media market and is now 50.3% Hispanic.

Breakthrough Miami gives students from low-income families access to advanced educational opportunities.

Dave Howard, left, and Michael Reininger


Florida East Coast Industries hired Dave Howard as CEO of Brightline, its Miami-to-Orlando train service. Howard, a sports industry executive who had been president of MSG Sports, replaced Michael Reininger, who became an executive director at FECI. The company also promoted Patrick Goddard to COO of Brightline.

Babson College’s WIN (Women Innovating Now) Lab Miami hired Carolina Pina as director. She had been an adviser to Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Innovation Going Organic

When her older sons were finishing college, Ginny Simon decided to build on her love of healthy living, study holistic nutrition and start a consulting practice. When she couldn’t find good cake mixes for clients wanting gluten-free options, she started making and selling her own, and founded Ginnybakes Organics in 2011. Today, Simon’s company employs 35, and sells in Whole Foods, Publix and other chains. American Airlines offers Simon’s products on some flights. Sales hit $3.5 million in 2016. To keep growing, Simon has cut prices and is adding flavors. Next up for the New York-born, Miami Beach-raised yoga practitioner: Seeking $2 million from investors to expand her sales team. — Doreen Hemlock

Tags: Miami-Dade

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