Teach for America program helps build a diverse innovation ecosystem in Miami

Communities / Article

Corey White is the manager of alumni leadership development at Teach For America Miami-Dade. Below he writes about the Knight-supported Teach for America Startup Summer program, which provides young people with essential entrepreneurship skills.  

School is back in session here in Miami-Dade County, and many teachers are thinking about ways to expose their students to rigorous, enriching lessons that will ignite their inherent potential, while also equipping them with the practical skills and mindsets needed to thrive in our changing world. To help them on this path, a unique program created by Teach For America provided Miami educators with exposure and connections to Miami’s thriving startup scene that helped prepare them to deliver on these goals throughout the year.

Startup Summer completed its fourth season, in which 11 Miami-Dade teachers collectively contributed over 1,400 hours of service to eight local startup companies over their five-week internship. The program invites Miami-Dade teachers to spend their summer interning with local startups and receive entrepreneurial workshops and training throughout the year. It also provides them with a greater understanding of the opportunities in and outside classrooms, so they can help narrow opportunity gaps in underserved Miami neighborhoods.

Since the program was brought to life in 2014, Startup Summer has enlisted nearly 60 Teach For America educators who have contributed over 7,000 hours to startup companies throughout Miami.

Startup Summer provides a rich learning opportunity for these hungry, forward-thinking educators, giving them first-hand experience working with leaders and companies who are thinking differently about how we teach and learn; it also helps them build skills that directly translate to their classrooms and communities. “Being able to offer more resources that will expose [students] to a world of new things they can take advantage of could change their lives in ways I can’t even imagine”, says Bria Gay-Mitchell. Bria is a middle school math teacher at North County K-8 Center, and this summer she served as an intern with Wyncode, where she worked extensively with their Coding Camp. “This is something that I hope to take back with me as I prepare for the upcoming school year.”

Teach For America educators and their students aren’t the only parties who have benefited from this program. The mutual exchange of knowledge, perspective and skill sets has also assisted startup partners in driving towards their goals. “Startup Summer has significantly impacted the success of Wyncode,” says Bianca Monaco, campus director at Wyncode. “Having a summer intern that was able to take their transferable skills of organizational management and systematic planning from teaching makes these candidates exceptionally effective in a startup environment. So much so, that we have offered positions to second year Teach For America corps members. Some have chosen to stay in the classroom while others have been able to join our team and make a difference in the growth of Miami tech.”

The partnership between Teach For America and Knight Foundation underscores the long-term commitment that both organizations have made to create a more equitable, informed, inclusive and engaged Miami driven by a vibrant innovation ecosystem. Startup Summer has allowed both organizations to see that vision materialize in a real way. To learn more about Startup Summer, our interns and startup placement partners, visit: tfatostartupmiami.com.