The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Students from Broward College whose proposed project "My College Guide" was one of five to win funding
Five projects that will support South Florida’s community college students as they finish school will receive funding after winning a competition that engages young people in providing solutions to educational challenges.
The award competition marked the culmination of Mobilize.org’s three-day Target 2020 summit, which brought together close to 100 students to discuss the challenges they face in completing school, and helped them work collaboratively to propose solutions.
The summit focused on boosting community college completion rates and increasing civic engagement - Miami’s Millennials are the least civically engaged in the country, a new report finds. And according to Complete College America, only 12 out of every 100 Florida community college students will graduate with a post-secondary credential within four years, which is problematic since it's estimated that by 2020, 63 percent of jobs will require a certification or college degree.
Knight Foundation supported the summit as a way to promote Millennial-led engagement in South Florida and four other communities.
Kicking off the summit award competition on Sunday morning, Knight’s Damian Thorman encouraged students to think about finding innovative ways to solve problems on issues they care most passionately about. Thorman said by doing so, students will become leaders with the ability to shape their communities’ futures. “Ultimately it’s people like you, in this room, who have the skills, the energy and the passion to solve the problems you’re facing. You’re going to be the ones to change this community,” Thorman, Knight’s national program director, said.
The winning projects listed below, which were voted on by the students using interactive keypads, will receive a share of $25,000 and a year of staff and other networking support. The project’s leaders will also participate in a year-long Mobilize.org leadership program.
Projects were judged on four criteria: potential social impact, creativity and innovation, sustainability and the use of new and social media. The five below were selected from a group of 13.
The Miami Herald covered the summit and one of the student proposed projects - the High School Community Outreach project described above - in an article “A project to help immigrant students looks for a boost.” WPBT2, a local Miami television station, also interviewed Mobilize.org CEO Maya Enista Smith about the weekend summit and the organization’s strategy to engage millennials in making their communities stronger.
Knight Foundation’s Miami Program Director Matt Haggman addressed the students, focusing on the importance of millennials in developing solutions to college completion and civic engagement: "You are the innovators, the entrepreneurs and the developing leaders that are going to shape Miami," Haggman said. He also focused on one of the city’s unique assets, its diversity, noting that other communities can learn from Miami as they are also becoming more diverse. “The rest of the America is becoming more like us,” he said.
During the summit, Sen. Bob Graham and other local leaders released the Miami Millennial Civic Health Report, which found that the city’s millennials are among the least civically engaged in the country. A panel discussion focused on how to best boost civic engagement efforts, including putting more emphasis on early childhood education. The discussion was led by Sen. Graham and featured Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Dr. Lenore Rodicio, the executive director of the Miami Dade College Student Success and Completion Initiatives.
In addition to South Florida, Knight is supporting summits in Detroit, San Jose, Charlotte and Philadelphia. For the upcoming Charlotte gathering, civically active millennials from several states are invited to submit their ideas to increase civic engagement and post them online. The semi-finalists who receive the most votes will be invited to participate in the Millennial Civic Engagement Summit in Charlotte at the end of August, where they’ll work with their peers to further develop sustainable, community-based solutions.
Related: Millennial-led engagement helps students address educational challenges