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THE EDUCATION FUND AND OCEAN BANK, A RELATIONSHIP 30 YEARS STRONG

Written By Gina Perez
October 4, 2023 at 1:45 PM

The Art of Found Objects. Courtesy of Miami Dade College Hialeah Campus.

Thirty years ago, a bond was formed between The Education Fund and Ocean Bank, which to this day continues to grow. What strengthens their connection is the desire to help the community they serve — especially the children.

Ocean Bank Center for Educational Materials Courtesy of The Education Fund.

The 1992-93 school year was about to start and teachers were gathering the supplies they needed and preparing their classrooms — then came Hurricane Andrew. In the hurricane’s wake, many homes and businesses were destroyed, and it left many families struggling to make ends meet. All the supplies the teachers had gathered were lost.

Donations of school supplies for the students affected were pouring in from across the country and being stored in containers at the Port of Miami. Now the question was how to distribute the much-needed materials. At the November meeting of The Education Fund, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent asked Linda Lecht, President of The Education Fund, for help in distributing the supplies and she said yes.

Ocean Bank Center for Educational Materials Courtesy of The Education Fund.

Lecht’s first step was to get funding for the distribution program and knew exactly who to reach out to — Ocean Bank. They would need a warehouse and staff for the distribution process to be possible. “For the more than 30 years of this program, Ocean Bank Center for Educational Materials has been front and center in its commitment to education and to strengthening our community. Together, The Education Fund and Ocean Bank innovate to support the millions of students in the third-largest school district in the country, said Lecht.” Since its inception, The Ocean Bank Center has distributed over $23 million in supplies providing over 3.1 million students with the school supplies needed to succeed.

The Art of Found Objects. Courtesy of Miami Dade College Hialeah Campus.

The Ocean Bank Center is open to educators year round by appointment; art teachers have access to a special area with additional materials for art education. Art teachers agree to enter the works of their students in “The Art of Found Objects” annual exhibit. The students with materials from the Ocean Bank Center create the artwork submitted as well as their art teacher. A panel of artists and community members select the winning pieces. At The Education Fund’s Art of Found Objects Art Awards reception, the winners are celebrated, and the pieces sold at For the Love of Art auction. If an art teacher’s piece is purchased at the auction, 100% of the proceeds are given to the teacher for art materials for the classroom.

There is an urgent need to restock the warehouse. Just a few weeks into the school year and already 700 teachers have visited for much-needed supplies and the stock is running low. The inventory that is donated by the community is stored at the Ocean Bank Center and inventory is the lowest it has been years. Rising prices have triggered this increase in demand and the community’s help is needed. To see how you can help, visit their website. Before you donate, they suggest you reach out to Jocelyn Salazar, the curator of the Educational Materials, at jsalazar at educationfund.org to see what is needed.

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music and more. Don’t miss a story at www.artburstmiami.com.

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