My Work With Breakthrough Miami 

For the last few days, I have been diligently working to get editorial coverage for Breakthrough Miami, an academic enrichment program for promising students from low-income homes in the Miami-Dade County communities. 

I thought I would share my activities with you because I am so proud of what Breakthough Miami has been doing in the world of tech.

The students are participating in a three week summer program, called Project Growlight, at FIU College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) Miami Beach Urban Studios (MBUS) on Lincoln Road, one of the largest art/design-oriented 3D printing centers in the United States. The students work with faculty and students from FIU’s Department of Architecture on design projects similar to those that first-year college students pursue.


David Rifkind, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Students, College of Communication, Architecture + the Arts Florida International University and the Coordinator for Project Growlight, said, “This program introduces the students to digital modeling and 3D printing. They use software applications that allow them to create items in 3D and print them in plastic. Using Makerbot 3D printers, the students made models of kiosks and benches, and full-size cups. They were taught to think creatively and develop critical problem solving skills.”

Project Growlight, was created by Elissa Vanaver, CEO, Breakthrough Miami and John Stuart, AIA, Associate Dean for Cultural and Community Engagement, FIU College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts and Executive Director, Miami Beach Urban Studios.

 Breakthrough Miami is 25 years old this year and nearly 1,300 middle and high-school students benefit from the school-year and summer programs the organization runs across the county. Saturday and summer programs operate year-round on the campuses of Ransom Everglades, Miami Country Day, Palmer Trinity, Carrollton and Gulliver and the University of Miami

The pilot for Project Growlight has been funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, with matching funds from Philanthropy Miami.

I will let you know my progress.

Breakthrough Miami

Eliot and I were invited earlier this week to visit and learn more about Breakthrough Miami, a six-week Summer Institute and Saturday school-year program. It is an eight-year program, starting with middle-grade students from economically disadvantage backgrounds. The main purpose is to promote a love of learning and commitment to the community.

The reason why Elissa Vanaver, CEO, of Breakthrough Miami, asked us to visit one of the many campuses where the program is being held (Ransom Everglades School) was to discuss the possibly of helping to promote the program in traditional publications and through social media. We both agree that direct campaigns via email is far more effective than social media, but that is another discussion.

I’m writing about this program today because I want to urge people in our age group to get involved in programs like this or any community opportunity where you can give back. Too many of my friends have narrowed their scope of the universe and basically focus on the same list of things to do each day. It bothers me that they are a lot smarter than I am yet they don’t explore new opportunities.

It’s as if someone had told us, as we entered our 60s, that we had done enough and to just spend the rest of our days on a golf course or in front of the TV. I am no different. I really have to push myself to take on a new challenges.

I am grateful to Alissa for inviting us to see what she is working on. I met her at our July 4th party. She is the wife of the photo editor at the Miami Herald.

I already told you how we met him. Alissa came to this event armed with brochures and business cards so that she could get the word out about Breakthrough Miami.

Alissa used to be managing editor of the Miami Herald and now is totally devoted to changing lives and creating leaders. Wow, what a wonderful second career.

Lauren Kellner, site director and CEO Alissa Vanaver.