Miami Dade College to expand emerging tech programs with $15M investment from Knight Foundation, Miami-Dade County, City of Miami and Downtown Development Authority  – Knight Foundation

Miami Dade College to expand emerging tech programs with $15M investment from Knight Foundation, Miami-Dade County, City of Miami and Downtown Development Authority 

Knight Foundation and local partners are matching County and City ARPA funds to strengthen Miami Dade College’s technology programs, boost Miami’s talent pipeline and meet growing community demand for careers in tech.

Miami, Feb. 23, 2022 – As Miami continues positioning itself as a major international technology hub, Miami Dade College (MDC) will expand its educational offerings with a total of $15 million combined investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Miami-Dade County, City of Miami and Downtown Development Authority (DDA). The funds will support innovative programs in applied artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and related emerging technologies.

The $15 million investment consists of $5 million from Miami-Dade County and $2 million from the City of Miami in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, a $7 million match from Knight, and $1 million from Miami DDA. This joint commitment will enable MDC to: 

  • Launch a new undergraduate degree in applied AI for computer science students
  • Develop a college credit certificate in applied AI
  • Implement a fundamentals of applied AI course for all MDC students, becoming the first college in the nation to require all students regardless of degree track to take at least one course in applied AI
  • Hire 15 new faculty in AI and emerging tech disciplines in the School of Engineering and Tech (EnTec) 

“Miami Dade College is a cornerstone institution in Miami, offering high-quality, accessible education for our talented community,” said Raul Moas, senior director of Knight’s Miami program. “By working with local partners to leverage ARPA funding, we are able to more quickly increase Miami Dade College’s ability to meet growing community demand for careers in tech.”

“MDC has been the higher education leader in the South Florida community for 62 years, helping to build and elevate our city from within,” said MDC President and Alumna Madeline Pumariega. “With these historic investments and support from key partners, we are continuing that mission, preparing students for top jobs in emerging and growing technology careers, helping residents upskill to attain economic mobility, and driving the growth of businesses in South Florida.”

This groundbreaking gift comes at a time when enrollment in tech programs reaches all time highs and will allow MDC to increase by over 20-percent its School of Engineering and Tech (EnTec) faculty with a focus in AI and emerging tech disciplines, as well as develop new courses and professional development programs in these fields. MDC will also build an AI Center to foster experiential learning and collaboration between industry and academia, which will join existing MDC technology centers focused on animation and gaming, cloud computing and cybersecurity.

The expansion of MDC’s artificial intelligence and emerging technology programs is part of  MDC Tech, the College’s gateway to connect students, community members and employers with tech offerings at MDC. Through MDC Tech, current and prospective students will have access to all MDC Tech courses, programs and professional development opportunities, as well as scholarships. Tech companies and other local employers seeking local tech talent will also find a direct platform to reach MDC students with the most sought-after tech skills. 

“We are an extremely talented community with a vibrant entrepreneurial spirit that could take the current tech boom to the next level if given an opportunity to do so,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “It is an honor for Miami-Dade County to partner with our local college community to invest in our residents and open new doors in the tech industry for local talent. Together, we are giving the tech industry local roots so it can grow even stronger and our community can thrive.

“Time and time again, Miami Dade College has proven itself to be an invaluable partner in Miami’s development as the Capital of Capital—and during a time where human capital is just as, if not more, valuable as financial capital, this $2 million from the City of Miami to invest in a talent pipeline is $2 million well spent, with immeasurable returns,” said City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.  

“Downtown Miami has become a fertile ground for innovation and a high-tech cluster is taking shape before our eyes. Like Miami Dade College, the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has been on the front lines in growing our economy and grooming talent,” said City of Miami Commissioner and Chairman of the Miami Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Manolo Reyes. “Recognizing that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already playing a critical role in our daily lives and that its impact will grow with time, the Miami DDA is making a $1 million investment to help put Downtown Miami on the global map as one of the top places to learn and develop the science behind AI.”

MDC is Florida’s largest public college with over 100,000 students, of which 90% reside in Miami-Dade County. Additionally, 91% of MDC students are Hispanic or Black and more than 50% are first-generation college students. Over the past five years, MDC’s EnTec has created new degree and certificate programs in cybersecurity, cloud computing and data analytics in partnership with companies like Microsoft, Google, IBM and Amazon. Today, EnTec serves more than 5,000 students each year across more than 30 degrees. 

Since 2012, Knight has invested more than $60 million in nurturing Miami’s tech and startup ecosystem by connecting entrepreneurs, attracting investments and growing the city’s talent base. This latest investment builds on Knight’s support of Miami Tech, including a $15 million commitment in Florida International University (FIU), the University of Miami (UM) and Baptist Health South Florida announced in February 2021. In September 2021, Knight announced $510,000 in investments to four local organizations and entities that help boost a sense of community among tech practitioners in the city, and in November 2021 announced a $2.25 million investment in CodePath to expand and launch programming at FIU, Florida Memorial University and MDC to connect students to tech careers.


About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation 

As social investors, Knight Foundation, supports democracy in America by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of American cities and towns where John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Learn more at and follow @knightfdn on social media.

About Miami Dade College 

Miami Dade College is the most diverse institution in the nation. There are 167 nations and 63 languages represented in its student body. The college’s eight campuses and outreach centers offer more than 300 distinct degree pathways including associate and baccalaureate degrees, career certificates and apprenticeships. Baccalaureate degree offerings include biological sciences, engineering, data analytics, information systems technology, education, public safety, supervision and management, nursing, physician assistant studies, film and others.  MDC is the recipient of many top national awards including the Aspen Prize. As Democracy’s College, MDC changes lives through accessible, high quality-teaching and learning experiences.  It is the home of the Miami Culinary Institute, the Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex, the Miami Fashion Institute, the Eig-Watson School of Aviation, The Idea Center, the Cybersecurity Center of the Americas, the Cloud Computing Center, the Center for Learning, Innovation and Simulation, the School for Advanced Studies, and the New World School of the Arts, to name a few of its most innovative programs.  MDC has been named among the nation’s “Great Colleges to Work For” since the program’s inception.  The College embraces its responsibility to serve as an economic, cultural, and civic leader for the advancement of our diverse global community. Its alumni and employees contribute more than $3 billion annually to the local economy, and MDC graduates occupy top leadership positions in every major industry. MDC is renowned for its rich cultural programming. It is the home of the Miami Book Fair, Miami Film Festival, the National Historic Landmark Miami Freedom Tower, the Tower Theater, Dyer Building, Koubek Center Mansion and Gardens, Live Arts Miami at MDC, the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives, the Museum of Art and Design, a sculpture park and a large campus art gallery and theater system.  MDC has admitted more than 2.5 million students and counting, since it opened its doors in 1960. Approximately 120,000 students are currently enrolled. For more information, visit