At a press conference (held at Goulds Park, Miami FL), aimed at combating poverty, juvenile delinquency, and encouraging investment by local business, back in the community, The Children’s Trust (TCT) presented a substantial grant check of $1.8 million to the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade to enhance the existing, year-round Fit2Lead Youth Development and Internship program for at-risk youth. It is the largest grant award in the history of the Parks Foundation.

The TCT grant will allow the nationally-acclaimed Fit2Lead program of the Miami-Dade Parks department, to provide opportunities for high-need teens, grades 9-12, to be matched with employment opportunities via businesses in the Goulds, Perrine, and Richmond Heights-areas, who serve as community partner-mentors. It will also facilitate Fit2Lead’s year-long academic support, social-emotional learning, and skill-building in job coaching, the arts, sports, and college readiness.

The first-of-its-kind Fit2Lead program aims to foster positive youth trajectories that will reduce juvenile delinquency and arrests, improve attendance and conduct at school, and increase graduation rates; through effective, prevention case management, and utilization of community intervention and treatment opportunities. Since its inception in 2016, Fit2Lead has produced groundbreaking findings, including a 30% reduction in crime, where the program was provided.

“This new Children’s Trust grant enables us to take Fit2Lead to the next level and connect businesses right here in your own backyard with local teens, so that you can learn as skill or a trade…Where you explore your interests and perhaps be inspired to go to college or pursue a career,” said Raul Garcia, President, Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade.

Among the guest speakers were Miami-Dade Parks Director Maria I Nardi, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dennis C. Moss, representatives from The Children’s Trust, Together for Children, Accelerate South Dade. They were joined by Fit2Lead program participants, and several community and business partners.

Nardi, acknowledging Fit2Lead youth attendees, said: “By being here you are saying that you are willing to work to make your dreams come true, and I am so glad that Miami-Dade Parks and the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade can help you on your journey.”

Commissioner Moss, a staunch supporter of the Fit2Lead program, added: “I want to encourage you to make the right choices this new school year…Let the Youth Development and Internship program be the first decision you make before school starts…My door is always open…I wish each of you lots of success…You are the only one who can do the work…So do it…And be proud!”

Fit2Lead is a five-year job training and personal development program. Participants are referred by Miami-Dade County’s Juvenile Services Department, local school counselors and park staff within the community. Individuals receive a part-time job for the duration of the program. They will be hired and paid through the Parks Foundation and matched to a business, based on their expressed interest.  The grant requires that they work no more than 10 hours per week and no more than 265 hours in a calendar year.

For more information about Fit2Lead, visit the web page or email Eric Hansen at [email protected].

About Miami-Dade Parks:

Miami-Dade Parks is the third largest county park system in the United States, consisting of 270 parks and 13,573 acres of land. It is one of the most unique park and recreation systems in the world and focused on Placemaking, Health and Fitness, and Conservation and Stewardship. The non-profitParks Foundation of Miami-Dade supports Miami-Dade Parks’ efforts to further develop Miami-Dade County’s world-class parks system for residents and visitors.

Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces