The Education Fund's first program awarded small grants to support teachers' innovative, hands-on classroom projects. More than three decades and over 4,600 "best practice" projects later, our collective programs continue to make a difference in the lives of 354,000+ students/families and 18,000+ teachers throughout Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Our initiatives have contributed $8.7 million in free classroom supplies. We have engaged thousands of business professionals to become advocates for teaching quality. We are growing schoolyard eco labs at 51 elementary schools -- 20 are now Food Forests. More than 32,039 students' eating habits have improved as a result of this multi-dimensional outdoor lab initiative.
The objective of each Education Fund program is to work side-by-side with the private sector to support and promote quality public education for every child in Miami-Dade County Public Schools by providing teachers and students with resources they need to be successful.
Food Forests for Schools
In 2012, The Education Fund made history by installing the first Food Forest (FF) in a public elementary school in the United States. Today, 20 of our 51 elementary school gardens are perennial, edible landscapes, each occupying an impressive 3,500-10,000 square feet of school grounds. Food Forests are prolific and resilient food systems producing fresh, organic produce for students to take home weekly harvests, while still providing enough fruits and vegetables to incorporate in classroom nutrition lessons, as well as into the cafeteria lunch menu. Our program has been a catalyst in changing the districts’ policies of highly regulated cafeteria menus. As a result, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) district now allows all cafeterias to use produce from school Food Forests and gardens. To date, 73,276+ harvest bags have been sent home, school grown produce has been showcased in cafeteria lunches over 2,782 times, and 52% of the students improved their eating habits, and 84% of students have improved their science scores.