May K.O.C. updates

There were some big changes for K.O.C. in the final month of the school year! From jumpstarting our K.O.C. Ambassadors program to resume building and mock interview sessions, we capped off the year with some serious professional development for our students. With the summer upon us we’re already working on improving and developing K.O.C. for its second year at Booker T. Washington, but for now let’s look back at how the last month shaped the organization.

As we move into K.O.C.’s sophomore year, we’re getting ready to implement the K.O.C. Ambassadors program, the second phase in K.O.C.’s four-year plan. Our most dedicated students from the last year will be working alongside staff to organize presentations, mentor younger students, and continue to expand their and our professional networks. K.O.C. Ambassadors are will be taught to take ownership over not only their own development, but the development of their younger peers, and will have access to K.O.C. resources to support them. Under staff supervision, these students will be thrust in management roles, and will sharpen their leadership and professional collaboration skills in the best way possible—by using them every day. We are very excited to see how the students bloom in the Ambassadors program, and we can’t wait to see what the year ahead has in store for them! Our K.O.C. Ambassadors truly are professionals in progress!

As our freshman year curriculum came to a close, we held sessions for our students on resume building and mock interview sessions. With assistance from the University of Miami’s Public Health masters program, we held a class session in which all students, not only those enrolled in the K.O.C. program, were invited to go over the basics of building an effective and impressive resume, which was followed by one-on-one tutelage during which each student created a resume of their own. From page structure to detailed academic lists, the students each constructed resumes that would be impressive to any employer!

After the resumes were finished, the students continued to a lecture on interview etiquette and technique, followed by individualized mock interviews. Each student was interviewed by a K.O.C. staff member or a UM masters student, who asked them questions relevant to their professional aspirations that would be asked in a professional interview. Students were corrected on answers and behavior during the session, and given the chance to improve upon and change their responses, and quickly became comfortable in the interview setting, providing unique and explanatory responses to questions provided. Some of the students even told us about summer work they’ve been pursuing, and we can’t wait to see them all again in August to learn how their interviews and jobs went!

Finally, over the past year K.O.C. has been strengthening our connections and relationship with the neighborhoods around us, especially local businesses and restaurants. After having recent events at The Vagabond Hotel, Boxelder bottleshop, and Libertine Miami, as well as receiving sponsored raffle prizes from locations such as Wynwood Brewery and Kush restaurant, we only want to develop these relationships more, so expect to have more opportunities this summer to meet and create connections with young and established local professionals. We’d like to give such a huge thank you to everyone who donated and supported us this year, and we invite you to like our Facebook page to stay up-to-date with all our upcoming events and opportunities this summer!

May Educational Updates

A recent Brooking Institute paper looks at the societally harmful and individually tragic effects of “disconnection”—a situation in which young people are neither employed nor in school. The findings reaffirm the importance of connecting young people to reliable and inspiring support networks at an early age, the crux of our work here at KOC.

Nationally, an estimated 3 million young people aged 16-24 (7.6%) are deemed “disconnected”, cut off from the avenues of self-improvement that school and work provide. In Miami Dade County alone, over 50,000 of our young adults are neither in school nor working, representing a staggering waste of human potential. Disconnection from satisfying work and important schooling is a problem particularly acute among African Americans, a group with “…consistently lower employment rates and higher unemployment rates than other groups.”

In a stirring piece in The Atlantic, Debby Bielak and Jim Shelton point out the consequences of “disconnection” becoming concentrated among low-income Americans: group-based economic and intellectual stagnation.

They cite Pew Research reports that have documented that “Nearly 70 percent of children born to parents in the bottom 40 percent of incomes remain in the economy’s basement—regardless of whether they ‘work hard and play by the rules,’ as so many have been taught.” Our nation’s claim to be a land of opportunity, where anyone with an innovative mind and strong work ethic can become successful, appears to ring hollow for too many. Entrenched cycles of disconnection among low income Americans amounts to a failure of our society to effectively connect opportunities to those seeking them—without an understanding of the types of jobs and schooling opportunities that exist, how can young people begin to pursue them? Real social mobility requires that social and professional networks cut across class lines—otherwise, we are left with a type of segregation that is as accidental as it is destructive and unjust.

Luckily, we are now beginning to understand the problem well enough to effectively address it. The Atlantic piece goes on to cite the Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit philanthropic advisory firm’s recommendation to connect “major funders, as well as public resources, with ongoing interventions.” Organizations that are already using “on-the- ground innovations” to produce results, “but at too small a scale, can pave the way for social mobility for millions of Americans.” The go on to say that the highest yield investments will most likely go to programs that help low income Americans: “(1) build skills that will propel them to the middle class, (2) remove obstacles that hold them back, and (3) provide opportunities to transform high-poverty communities.” As the kind reader may have already noted, all three of those goals are at the core of KOC’s mission.

Further, Bridgespan’s calculations also indicate that “in addition to creating a high probability of increasing people’s lifetime earnings, these programs and tools potentially yield aggregate returns of at least $3, and as much as $15, for every $1 invested. A worthy return on investment.”

These are encouraging findings for our young organization. They affirm independently what we have suspected from our founding: that integrating social and professional spheres is the key to unlocking the too-often squandered potential of nation’s youth.

May Presentation Updates

With the school year coming to a close we did our best to give our students some really exciting and informational presentations before parting ways for the summer. According to our students, we didn’t disappoint! Since we set apart some time for mock interviews and resume building courses before the kids hit the books for finals, we kept it to two presentations this month, but they packed a serious punch! Former Marine Staff Sergeant Brandon Garland gave an impressive presentation on his time in the military, as well as his current position in finance for University of Miami. Not to be outdone, Mona Ragheb and Special Agent Shane Watts both explained their roles within the Department of Homeland Security and how each of their responsibilities is dependent upon the other. We finished strong in K.O.C.’s first year, and we’re looking forward to all the presentations we have lined up in the year to come!

No one knows more about the benefits of diligence than a man like Brandon Garland, and as such this was the focus of his presentation. Covering his time as a Marine Staff Sergeant, he explained to our class how determination and self-assurance motivated him through his military career. The class had the opportunity to learn about the strict requirements of becoming a Marine, both physical and mental, as well as the importance of your high school experience when becoming one. Garland explained how his grades, activities, and awards were weighed just as heavily as any disciplinary history he had when applying, and showed the students the importance of maintaining an upstanding moral character. After leaving the Marines, Garland received his MBA from the University of Wisconsin, and now works in the financial department of University of Miami. Tying together both of his worlds, his activity tested the students’ physical capabilities in a mock Marine training session, as well as their capacity for quick decision making in a mock stock trade scenario.

To close out the year we had professional duo Mona Ragheb and Special Agent Shane Watts from the Department of Homeland Security. As an attorney for the department, Mona represents the nation when prosecuting immigrants who have attempted to immigrate into the country after having committed serious crimes in their home country, as well as when prosecuting immigrants who have committed crimes here and are to be deported or extradited. Mona detailed to the class the type and level of criminals that require her intervention, and the processes she follows to research their past, build a case, and prosecute. She works closely with Shane Watts, who acts as a Special Agent for the department, who explained how his responsibilities lie in investigating suspects and making arrests. By doing so he captures the suspects that Mona prosecutes. The two expressed that how by working together, they form a team that keeps dangerous criminals out of the United States. To illustrate this, the class was broken up into multiple teams for their activity, representing Special Agents, prosecutors, and defense attorneys, with Watts acting as a former warlord attempting to enter the country. The class argued their respective sides of the case, after researching presented facts, and a ruling was reached to bar Watts’ entry.

Thank you to all of our presenters this month! You really did a great job of entertaining and educating our kids. If you’re interested in becoming a presenter during K.O.C.’s sophomore year, click here now!

April Educational Updates

Beyond the scope of K.O.C.’s presence in south Florida, research on educational trends worldwide continue to shape and alter the manner in which we teach our children today. Since our last newsletter came out, two important studies have been released that underscore the importance of our work—one study highlighting the importance of courses that focus on career readiness, the other pointing to the crucial role of “soft skills” in academic and professional success.
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute for Advancing Educational Excellence has always been committed to improving the lives of children in America by focusing on what happens in the classroom and researching how it can be changed. One of their most recent pieces, by University of Connecticut’s Shaun Dougherty, shows that Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses have long-standing effects on a child’s lifetime professional outcomes when taught in high school. CTE courses focus on practical uses of typical classes like math, english, and science, and attempt to show students how the things learned in these classes can be applied to real-life scenarios. Too often compared to vocational education, Dougherty showed that CTE courses do not have a negative effect on how many students attend 4-year universities, but rather students who enter CTE courses are just as likely to attend these colleges. Additionally, he showed that students who took CTE courses in high school were more likely to graduate high school, enter a 2-year university, find a job, and be better paid for their work when compared to those offered no CTE curriculum. It would be difficult to find a more ringing endorsement of our work here at K.O.C.
While the Fordham Institute’s report is admirable for its rigor and specificity in demonstrating the importance of our mission, The Brookings Institute’s paper, “Hard Thinking on Soft Skills”, points to the importance of future study in how to develop the “soft skills” necessary for academic and professional success. While it is well known and empirically proven that character traits and interpersonal skills such as resilience, grit, ability to collaborate, self-awareness, and empathy are incredibly important for success of all kinds, few schools or programs have managed to create a process for developing these skills in a systematic, measurable way. Cultivating such skills in our students is a fundamental part of the K.O.C. mission, reflected by the exercises in self-reflection and empathy infused throughout our curriculum. As we focus on crafting assessments and refining lessons, we will do so with this research void in mind—we hope that our efforts will advance this underdeveloped but crucial field.

You can read each of these articles by following the links below



April K.O.C. Updates

Knowledge of Careers, Inc. Elysee Event by Slidely Slideshow

We had an exciting month of development here at K.O.C.! While our classes continued with amazing and education presentations to the students, we were engaging and entertaining the community around us, holding multiple events to bring in other nonprofit leaders and neighborhood activists, as well as developing corporate and governmental partnerships. Our main event was our silent auction fundraiser graciously held at the Elysee sales gallery. The turnout was fantastic and we were able to raise over $1,000 from donations, all of which will go to developing and improving the experience for our students. Among our multiple auction items ranging from private brewery tours and luxury hotel stays, we had two local artists showcasing their work for the benefit of K.O.C. as well. A huge thank you to everyone who attended, we can’t wait to see you at our next event!

Speaking of which, we will be having a Nonprofit Networking event in early May! We will be hosting and featuring numerous young and experienced professionals in the nonprofit field of south Florida at a venue in Wynwood, where ideas and strategies on how to better our community will merge and develop. We at K.O.C. will be discussing our plans for the future of the organization as we head into our third semester at Booker T. Washington Senior High School, and how the students from the first academic year will be developing within the program as they graduate into sophomores. We would love to see you there! If you’re involved in the nonprofit field, or are interested in it, please attend! Email [email protected] for more information as well as to RSVP.

Lastly, within the classroom, we will be holding a mock interview educational course and practice session for our students as opposed to the typical presentation. Some of our students will become K.O.C. Ambassadors as they move into their second year of high school. This title comes with increased opportunities to connect with our presenters, and as such will impact their long term professional development throughout high school. This means more responsibility on their shoulders as well, which we will be assisting them with by offering them proactive preparation courses, such as our mock interview session. We are looking forward to how it goes and what the students think of it, expect to hear more about it in next month’s newsletter!

April Presentation Updates

After a relaxing spring break, our students returned to the classroom for three amazing presentations this month. Elise Caldwell opened up the month with a discussion on what she does as an Athletic Trainer at a local high school. Elise spoke on how her passion for science and athletics shaped her professional aspirations, leading to the education she received and her current position. Elise spent over 1,200 hours working in various physical therapy clinics, high school medical departments, and her college football team’s athletic training department as well as for Washington D.C.’s professional soccer team before returning to South Florida as an Athletic trainer. After explaining her responsibilities for treating athletes on the field, Elise taught the class how to splint a broken or dislocated wrist as well as proper wound care during her activity.

Lani Ferro works as the Director of Governmental Affairs at our local Niklaus Children’s Hospital. Lani works as a representative of the hospital and, to a larger sense, the pediatric medical community of South Florida. As such she uses her influence to lobby local, state, and federal elected officials to draft and propose legislation that will benefit our children and the medical professionals who care for them. Lani not only helps officials draft legislation, but also acts to educate them on local issues and concerns, as well as strategize on how to best implement and write new legislation for the most effective results. During the activity, the students split into senators and two groups of lobbyists, with the lobbyists doing their best to represent their respective groups’ interests to the senators when it came to a bill that would allow for oil drilling on a nature preserve.

Constance Bates brought her storied personal history into the classroom when she shared how she developed into the professor she is today. Professor Bates highlighted how no there was little expectation for a girl to become a professor when she was a child, and how media at the time motivated her to overcome the obstacles that had been put in her path. Today she teaches at Florida International University and Florida Atlantic University, where she additionally works in research departments, having multiple published research articles under her name. After explaining to the students what would be expected of them as college attendees, she brought her research experience to the classroom, having the students break into groups and researching articles in the Wall Street Journal, identifying and applying published trends to modern business.

Recapping Last Night’s Event

A HUGE thank you to everyone who came out to network last night!!

We had our first official networking event last night at Vagabond Hotel Miami. Young professionals from all over Miami-Dade County came to meet each other and talk about their respective careers and professional goals. From an Editor-in-Chief of a local newspaper to a Luxury Real Estate Realtor to even a Marketing Representative for a diagnostic laboratory, our attendees shared their experiences and aspirations with each other, and made connections to better themselves personally and professionally for years to come.

All the proceeds raised last night went towards supporting our K.O.C. Ambassadors as they begin their Professional Development Curriculum this Fall! Read more about the K.O.C. Ambassadors program here!

And a big congratulations to our raffle winner from last night – Adam Gurewicz – Enjoy your gift certificate to Kush Wynwood!!

Thanks again to Vagabond Hotel Miami for co-hosting the event with us!

Keep an eye out for our next young professionals event in May 2016!

March Newsletter – Local News

A lot happened this month for education in Miami-Dade county! Early in the month our own Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was awarded the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education by McGraw Hill Education and Arizona State University. Founded in 1988, the award seeks to distinguish those who have shown immense dedication towards improving the educational opportunities for students before and during college. Mr. Carvalho has done more than that throughout his career, and deserves to stand in the same regard as prior honorees such as Salman Khan and Christopher Cerf.

Closer to home, Booker T. Washington Senior High School had the pleasure of experiencing a doubling down in scholarship money offered by the Dade County Federal Credit Union. The Credit Union has offered a $1,500 scholarship to a student in the school’s graduating class every year since 2003, but decided to double that offer this year, offering two scholarships to two separate students who showed exemplary commitment and love for their studies.

Finally, Miami-Dade County was recognized as a key player in the increasing high school graduation rates across Florida. Florida posted an impressive 77.8 statewide high school graduation rate, which is an increase of 7% over the last five years. However, Miami-Dade County, the fourth largest district in the United States, posted a high school graduation rate of 78.1%! Our students are doing better and better every year, and we can’t wait to see how the county, the state, and the nation continue to move forwards and give more of our kids the degrees they need to succeed later in life! To quote Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize winner Alberto Carvalho on this issue, “we are elated”!

March Newsletter – K.O.C. Updates

This month really put K.O.C. on the map! We started off strong with finalizing our 501(c)(3) tax exempt status and are now viewed as a tax exempt nonprofit. What does this mean for you? This way, you can be sure that any donation or gift you offer to us goes directly to tools and equipment to improve the experience of the students in the class, as well as funding the future projects of Knowledge of Careers, such as the K.O.C. ambassador program.

We also had the pleasure of being represented by our founder Michael Ragheb at Neighborhood Jam: Little Haiti/Little River in early February. Organized by New Tropic, a local media producer founded on the principle of educating Miami-Dade natives and residents on events and news within the county, the event was an open forum discussion about the future of the Little Haiti and Little River neighborhoods. Hosted at the Yeelen art gallery, we had the opportunity to teach the attendees about K.O.C., as well as learn ourselves about other Miami-based programs such as the MLK Community Mural Project.

The past few weeks have been monumental in our organization establishing itself as a major player in not only the classroom setting, but with event planning and hosting for young professionals as well. We have two large events planned in the next 3 weeks, with more on the way! On March 23rd, we will be hosting our first monthly young professional networking event at the Vagabond Hotel Miami with their generous support. Young professionals from all career fields are invited to attend, meet new people, and enjoy yourselves, as well as enter yourself into a raffle for a mystery prize! See more details on our facebook page, or contact [email protected] to be added as an official invitee. A few weeks later we are hosting a formal fundraiser and silent auction event at the Elysee Miami sales gallery. The event will be featuring pieces from Alexander Kiszynski and Guillermo Ley, as well as the silent auction items. The fundraiser will have craft cocktails and hors d’oeuvres available but requires you to RSVP, so get in quickly! Invitations will be going out soon, so if you don’t get one contact [email protected] to be added to the list. All proceeds from both the young professionals networking event and the Elysee fundraising event will go to Knowledge of Careers.

March Newsletter – Speakers Corner

We had a fantastic month of presentations in our class, engaging the students on career fields vastly diverse from one another. We kicked it off first with an exciting display from Felix Delgado, a Law Enforcement Officer with the Miami-Dade and Doral police departments for the past 34 years. Felix has been involved in crime suppression, street narcotics, and robbery task force units, as well as patrols and the Neighborhood Resource Officer program. The D.A.R.E. instructor and two-time Community Policing Officer of the Year winner gave the class a brief history of his time with the force and how his experiences on it changed as Miami evolved through the ’80s and ’90s. Officer Delgado caught the students’ attention with his detailed path towards success in a law enforcement career, as well as explaining his role in protecting President Obama during multiple visits to Miami-Dade County. Finally, he wrapped things up by having the students participate in an activity using the lessons Officer Delgado taught them about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (C.P.T.E.D.) to determine if certain public locations followed proper C.P.T.E.D. protocol.

The next week one of our own stepped into the classroom and gave a unique presentation. Aside from his work with K.O.C., Matthew Green works as a medical scribe in Memorial Hospital Pembroke’s Emergency Room, and used his experience there to talk to the students about the importance of having a “stepping stone job”. Matthew is a hopeful applicant to medical school, and used his current work as an example to show the students how many career paths require working in some less-than-glamorous positions between school and your ideal career. After breaking down his responsibilities of maintaining medical records in the ER, Matthew taught the class some basic medical knowledge about diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as how to read an EKG. In his activity the students became doctors themselves, and used what he had taught them to diagnose patients from four real encounters he had in the ER.

Next was Stuart Lilly and his experience as a harbor pilot. It was as much of a surprise to us as it was to the students to learn that ship captains aren’t allowed to pilot their craft within five miles of any Port! Instead, local harbor pilots navigate these waters with experience. An expert on the port and the waters around it, Stuart taught the class about how it is his responsibility to bring in and take out every large craft, from cruise ships to oil tankers, that make their way through the Port of Miami. Chronicling his time in marine college and being a ship’s mate, Stuart showed how his career developed as he grew, and gave the students insight on how theirs could follow the same path. After showing them how he uses his instinct and experience to pilot the ships as much as he uses charts and radar, he had the students plot a course for the port from five miles out using compasses, rulers, and oceanographic maps.

We ended the month with Claudia Sandino, better known as the #hashtagaddict. Claudia excited the students’ humorous sides with her discussion on her role as a social media marketer. The students really identified with her as she had them make targeted posts on their own instagram and twitter accounts (hey, don’t forget to follow us as well!) and expanded on how she studies trends and conversations to make sure her clients’ messages reach the right audiences. Claudia also educated the students on personal and professional fiscal responsibility as she explained the difficulties she faced in starting her own business. Finally, after distributing the selfie sticks and wooden hashtags, the class got together to take some instagram-ready pictures, duckface included.

A huge thank you to all of our presenters this month! Stay tuned next month to hear about what the next four we have in store have to offer!