Making a difference in the lives of South Florida's children

Nov 01, 2011

Overcoming Roadblocks to Success in School

In Miami-Dade County, 22.9% of people under 18 are living below the poverty line. These kids are subject to broken neighborhoods where drugs and alcohol are easily accessible, making it even harder to break the cycle of poverty. Fortunately, there are places of refuge for these kids.

The Overtown Youth Center (OYC) is an after-school program that offers assistance with school homework and provides a variety of enrichment programs in the arts and sciences. Counselors at OYC get involved in the lives of the children by monitoring family situations and helping children overcome roadblocks to success in school.

Yet, in 2008, Overtown Youth Center began to feel the effects of the greatest economic recession since the 1930s. Many of local funders began to cut back, making it difficult to keep programs running. They began searching for other opportunities and applied for Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative grant program. Overtown won $200,000, which, among other things, enrolled OYC’s Executive Director, Tina Brown, in an emerging leaders training: three 4-day workshops on developing organizational management skills, managing strategic opportunities, forging alliances and building communities.

“I knew that I was destined to change the lives of children. That program really gave me the tools to do it in an effective manner,” said Tina Brown.

Overtown Youth Center is now in its 8th year of operation and continues to build on their multi-stakeholder approach in a carefully designed program that complements and builds upon the efforts of the public education system. What’s more, they are able to plan ahead with the support and advice from Bank of America.

“Our involvement really goes beyond writing a check,” said Maria Alonso, ESG Market Manager at Bank of America. “Bank of America is personally involved in fund-raising and looking at the long-term growth of this center and the model so that it really has a sustainable impact on the community.”

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