Donors Partner with FIU to Help Students Survive and Thrive

The Education Effect— a groundbreaking partnership between private donors, Florida International University and Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) aimed at student achievement – is in its sixth year and continuing to bear fruit.
Initially introduced in 2011 at Miami Northwestern Senior High School in Liberty City, with a $1 million gift from JPMorgan Chase, the program has grown and expanded to two additional schools and communities. In 2013, the Lennar Foundation made a $1 million gift to bring The Education Effect to Booker T. Washington Senior High School in Overtown and Rose Ellen Greene, a longtime school volunteer at Jesse J. McCrary, Jr. Elementary in Little Haiti, donated $2 million to implement The Education Effect at the elementary school.
All three schools are in neighborhoods that face many challenges, putting students – and their futures – at risk. Four years ago, high school student Aaron Willis was shot in the back while riding his bike home, and he is now partially paralyzed and largely wheelchair bound. With a strong will and the help of The Education Effect, Aaron proudly walked across the stage and received his high school diploma this past Spring. Morgan Benoit graduated high school and started classes at FIU this Fall. She credits The Education Effect with helping broaden her horizon. Mitchell Caldwell never thought about college and did not have the grades to get there until he started working with The Education Effect at Booker T. Washington Senior High School this year. His efforts were rewarded and he became a “Golden Scholar,” graduating with a 3.6 grade point average, ready to meet the challenges of college. At FIU this fall, he has been accepted into the Honors College and is adjusting well.
Focused on improving teaching and learning, and creating a college-bound culture, The Education Effect takes a holistic approach. Working with students from elementary school through high school, the program trains teachers, offers academic enrichment in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) subjects, and works to increase parent and community engagement with the schools.

Program director, Donnie R. Hale, Jr. says, “Students want better futures; they just need to be able to visualize what ‘better’ looks like. We told students, ‘If you want to go to college, we can help you get there.’”

At Miami Northwestern, the graduation rate has increased more than 18 percent since the partnership began. In addition to the improved graduation rate at Miami Northwestern, The Education Effect has also helped lead to an improved school grade at Booker T. Washington, increased college readiness test scores and a college acceptance rate of 48% by its 2016 graduates, with students enrolling at colleges and universities across the country.
These results are what donors JPMorgan Chase, the Lennar Foundation, and Rose Ellen Greene had in mind when they partnered with FIU to close the “opportunity gap” that exists for at-risk students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds in Miami. The enriched, supportive, and highly engaged learning environment fostered by The Education Effect has helped students thrive in school and achieve their dreams of going to college.

“The Education Effect motivated me to go for what I wanted and not give up, even though there were many obstacles in my path” said Deandre Lundy, a 2016 Booker T. Washington graduate who started college at FIU this Fall.

Thanks to the generosity of JPMorgan Chase, the Lennar Foundation, and Rose Ellen Greene, working in partnership with FIU, more students like Aaron Willis, Morgan Benoit, Mitchell Caldwell, and Deandre Lundy will move forward to brighter futures.