December 01, 2011 — University of Miami student Maggie Kenny spent her fall break in Palm Beach County, buy not visiting the Breakers Hotel or shopping on famed Worth Avenue. She spent the time with seven other UM students working with a local youth-at-risk organization, Urban Youth Impact. They helped kids with homework, worked on rehabbing houses that the group uses as “impact houses” (to anchor mentors in the neighborhoods), and played sports with local kids in a park that, if not for them, would be plagued with crime. Every fall UM Alternative Breaks send more than three dozen students out into the community to make a difference, in part thanks to a grant from the University of Miami Citizen’s Board (CB).
“Thanks to the involvement of the Citizen’s Board, hundreds of local residents are impacted each fall by the commitment to service by UM students,” said Kenny, a junior from Chicago majoring in biology. “And it isn’t just for the break. Each group continues its service throughout the year. Our group was targeting educational inequalities and poverty; and is continuing its work here in Miami mentoring at-risk youth as well as collecting toys for Urban Youth Impact's Christmas store.”
Since 1946, the UMCB has provided an avenue for community leaders and businesses to enrich UM’s educational mission through their philanthropy, unique insights and experiences. The hundreds of select members of CB share the University’s vision of academic excellence, civic engagement and community service, inviting like-minded leaders to become active, contributing members of the board. The CB has raised the board’s and the University’s profile through funding student projects of worth throughout the world. Since its inception, the CB has raised over $369 million in support to help meet UM’s greatest needs.
In 1997, the CB created the Select Projects Fund to endow, through annual dues and other direct support of CB members, targeted UM programs and projects. The Fund has awarded more than $930,000 in gifts ranging from $250 to $15,000 the past fourteen years to programs throughout the University’s twelve schools and colleges. The committee reviews each application to determine its potential to improve the educational experience of students in the classrooms, laboratory or other academic setting and looks for opportunities to increase positive interactions by members of the university with the community at large.
"We have students throughout the world attending UM," said Steven J. Brodie, Senior Partner at the law firm of Carlton Fields and the current CB President. "Part of our responsibility is to create a vibrant environment for them to flourish. The Special Projects, especially programs like Alternative Breaks, contribute to the community by improving the quality of life. They ultimately give back to UM in enriching the student experience and by connecting them to the larger South Florida community and beyond.”
The CB Select Projects Fund Allocation Committee reviews proposals on an annual basis and awarded $62,000 in 21 separate gifts in 2010-2011. The grants, many of them multi-year, support projects such as the Holocaust Survivor Student Internship Program and the Human Powered Vehicle Competition.
This year, the CB has launched a new initiative, CB Connects U, targeted at partnering the University of Miami and the South Florida corporate community in hopes of finding new ways to support one another. One of the byproducts of this initiative is to lure more of the best and brightest students to stay in south Florida after graduation, which will create businesses and add to the skilled workforce.
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