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(Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) – Broward Education Foundation (BEF) President and CEO Thomas Severino announced today that the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations (CFEF) awarded matching grants totaling $385,278.41 to support innovative education initiatives in Broward County Public Schools. An organization of education foundations located across Florida, CFEF creates partnerships with businesses and foundations to support member education foundations, which collectively raise more than $45 million each year to increase student achievement.

According to Severino, these funds will support a wide variety of achievement-based programs. For example, the grants will help with the incorporation of scholastic chess into Broward Public Schools, promote debate and speech initiatives, teach professional life skills, enhance school garden programs, supplement teacher grants to support creative classroom learning projects, and provide much-needed school supplies for school students who attend Title I schools.

“Not only will these grants support innovative teaching and help increase student achievement, they allow all donations to the Foundation for these programs to be matched dollar for dollar,” said Severino. “These state grant funds will directly support efforts across the district to increase student achievement. When donors give to improve student outcomes in our public schools, we have the funds to double those contributions for the benefit of our students.”

BEF received the state’s second largest total in grants. Miami-Dade County’s foundation received the most, with more than $500,000.

According to the CFEF website, members “invest in programs not funded through tax dollars, including student scholarships, mentoring and other drop-out prevention strategies, teacher quality and recognition programs, classroom grants, literacy improvement strategies, technical/career education initiatives, and targeted support for low-performing students and schools.”

Among the BEF programs supported by the CFEF grants, include :

Tools for Schools Broward

This Center, located in Pompano Beach, provides free school supplies, ranging from backpacks and pencils to art supplies, to teachers who work in Title I schools in the most economically depressed neighborhoods in Broward County. Nearly $500,000 in supplies is distributed each year to teachers throughout Broward County for the benefit of their students.

No Debate About It

Through this initiative, debate and speech students learn such skills as research, logic, and organization of ideas, manipulation of language, assessment of audience, self-esteem and engagement in world events. As a result, these debaters were more likely to achieve the college-readiness benchmarks on the ACT reading and English tests. Students participating in the debate programs increase literacy scores by 25 percent and GPAs by 10 percent. In addition, 98 percent of students taking debate in school graduate from high school and 95 percent attend a four-year college.

Linking Education and Employment Outcomes (LEEO) Project

LEEO prepares students with professional employment skills and the workplace certifications necessary to gain employment within Broward County’s local industries or pursue post-secondary education for new careers in the 21st century. Partnerships have been established with businesses to identify significant gaps in both technical and employability skills. The program helps students develop such fundamental workplace skills as collaboration, self-motivation, leadership, creative and critical thinking, as well as advanced technical abilities. To date, 2,540 students from 13 schools have participated in hands-on training and work experience projects.

Next Move:

This scholastic chess program involves the Broward Education Foundation working with the National Scholastic Chess Foundation to present a series of training workshops for teachers. These workshops deliver scholastic chess instruction to enable schools to maximize the educational benefits in other grades and in community chess competitions. Teachers will also be able to use chess to reinforce concepts in core curriculum across a wide array of subject areas, including reading, math, sciences and social studies from elementary through high school.

Garden Delights:

The “Team Up for Healthy Choices” program teaches students nutrition and botanical science through a student-centered “Seed to Table” curriculum to provide students with the knowledge, skills and environment to change the way they eat for life. Students plant, maintain and harvest “edible” gardens and families become engaged in the project by receiving healthy recipes and produce from the gardens to incorporate in their cooking. Master gardeners in local neighborhoods are tapped to assist with the gardening. Pre- and post-testing of the program showed a 64 percent increase in student nutritional knowledge and a 16 percent improvement in eating behavior.

Innovative Teaching Grants

Each year, BEF awards hundreds of teachers with grants for innovative teaching, ranging from $500 to $1,200, to increase student achievement. Funding priority is given to programs that educate students in financial literacy; incorporate alternative learning strategies; promote interdisciplinary learning; involve parents, businesses, community organizations and social service agencies; bridge culture or ethnic barriers; and involve a group of teachers collaborating to improve students learning at their schools.

About the Broward Education Foundation:

Established in 1983, the nonprofit Broward Education Foundation (BEF) aligns with Broward County Public Schools by providing support for innovative teaching to advance Pre K-12 achievement; critically needed educational materials for Title I school teachers and students, and scholarships for qualified high school seniors. Each year, the Foundation contributes more than $2 million to Broward County schools, serving as the catalyst for educational excellence.

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