For the Love of Learning Gala
Benefiting the Foundation for New Education Initiatives
Nearly 400 of Miami’s most influential business and philanthropic leaders stepped up to the plate once again to help Miami’s underprivileged students transcend homelessness, attend college, bridge the technology gap, and attend cultural events at the second annual For the Love of Learning Gala, benefitting the Foundation for New Education Initiatives.
The Gala’s generous donors and sponsors were greeted by Co-Chairs Maria & Alberto M. Carvalho, and Trish & Dan Bell. Their successful venture raises money annually to provide the “extras” that round out the educational experience for the school district’s 350,000 students, many of whom live at or below the poverty line. Gala funds help support the Cultural Passport, students’ ticket to the opera, the theater, art museums, concerts and other cultural experiences they may not otherwise be able to access. Some of Miami-Dade’s most deserving public school students receive laptop computers and other technological devices that help them get a leg up on their school work and shine in the eyes of college recruiters, who just might be offering them a scholarship for their higher learning. Or, those lucky students might qualify for one of the Foundation’s scholarships that the Gala also funds.
The evening kicked off with a cocktail reception where guests were serenaded by the Hialeah Gardens Senior High School Jazz Combo. Later, WSVN’s Belkys Nerey welcomed guests and introduced Joanna Martinez, a student at Miami Arts Studio, who sang the Star-Spangled Banner. Afterwards guests were treated to a beautiful ballet performed by the Coral Reef Senior High School Dance Ensemble. The Rev. Dr. Laurinda Hafner, Senior Pastor at Coral Gables United Church of Christ then led the blessing before the meal.
Belkys invited guests to join in paying tribute to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Alumni Hall of Fame Class of 2016:
Arts & Entertainment: Nilo Cruz, Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright
Business: Alina Falcon, Executive Vice President, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, Former President of News, Univision Communications
Public Service: Michael Spring, Director, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs
Science, Technology, Engineering & Math: Ivan Yaeger, Inventor/Entrepreneur/Philanthropist, CEO, The Yaeger Companies
Singular Achievement: Arva Moore Parks, Miami Historian & Garth Reeves, Sr., Newspaper Publisher (The Miami Times)
Sports: Larry Little, Pro Football Hall of Fame Member, Miami Dolphins, 1969-80, San Diego Chargers, 1967-68
As guests enjoyed dinner, gala co-hosts and Silver Sponsors Trish and Dan Bell were welcomed to the stage with a warm round of applause. Trish introduced co-host and Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho, who thanked the elegant crowd for attending. He touched on the needs within the District, the ways in which the Foundation (FNEI) is helping to fill them, and how M-DCPS and FNEI cannot do it alone. Rather, he said, it requires the caring and support of the likes of the community and business leaders in attendance.
Belkys returned to the stage and called the crowd to action to match the generous donation made by Dan Lewis. His request was greeted with enthusiasm, generous individuals texted and donated, and the thermometers on the video screens rose. Champagne toasts were made, Belkys thanked everyone and beckoned them to dance and enjoy themselves, and they did, whirling merrily into the night to “Uptown Funk” and other popular band tunes.