Our kids are the future of our city, and there’s a new cohort of local organizations, programs, businesses, and spaces on a collective mission to invest in stronger communities for Miami’s kids.
We’ve pulled together a few of our favorite programs that empower kids by fostering their skills and passions outside regular school hours. These are the afterschool programs you wish you had. (We know you were just playing Nintendo.) Today’s 10-year-olds are learning art, music, design thinking, how to code, and how to make stuff.
Guitars Over Guns
Guitars Over Guns delivers high impact arts-based mentoring programs to empower at-risk youth. By working collaboratively with schools and communities, we encourage young people to become independently productive members of society through individual expression, social interaction, and personal accountability.
01 is a Miami based education and research facility for teaching students coding, design, development, and virtual reality technology. We host coding camps, Minecraft workshops, and more.
Join a community of innovators mixing digital technologies with physical objects. Pioneers in IOT, design, art, engineering, and programming. Expect all the amenities of a coworking space, but with access to a range of advanced manufacturing equipment. Use the prototyping lab to create small runs of your products, engage the community to get feedback on your designs, and connect with experts that can help you prepare for manufacturing. Be on the forefront of industry and join the Maker Movement.
Overtown Youth Center
Overtown Youth Center's goal is to be an integral part of the community that promotes lifelong learning and success for our inner-city youth and citizens. We seek to help build children who are resilient that can live in an environment loaded with risk factors, yet still grow into competent and productive members of society.
Our mission is to increase the number of girls studying computer science by delighting and inspiring them with the creative possibilities of computer programming.
TALENT4CHANGE - Social Impact Initiatives, Community Development
Our Mission is to empower our kids, their families and in-turn our communities via social impact initiatives designed to help those involved become more confident, resourceful and self-sufficient; all while discovering their true passion and purpose.
Our Vision is a world of able people empowered with the knowledge, confidence, and compassion they need to contribute enough to their communities to make them self-sustaining.
(WSVN) - Can something as simple as a haircut change your life? One South Florida organization thinks so. 7’s Katrina Bush shows us how some local entrepreneurs are creating quite the “buzz” in tonight’s edition of “Hope and Healing.”
You’d never guess it from the smile on Michael’s face, but he has faced some tough times.
Michael Caraballo, founder of Talent 4 Change: “My parents were drug addicts. I was born in Puerto Rico. Coming to the U.S. was my introduction to hell, because the first community I moved into was the projects.”
He remembers being picked on in school because he couldn’t afford nice things.
Michael Caraballo: “People tend to frown and look down on you when you don’t look right, don’t look cleaned up.”
So he’s helping South Florida kids clean up, one haircut at a time.
Michael Caraballo: “Well we’ve had plenty of kids that would tell us how important a haircut is to them. Maybe they didn’t want to go to school because they’re embarrassed.”
But Michael doesn’t run a traditional barber shop. This is a mini mobile shop inside a shipping crate called Buzz Boxx. And it is creating quite the buzz!
Kids earn a free haircut by doing good in school or helping their community.
Tina Brown, Overtown Youth Center: “We will use this concept as another way to tie in incentives.”
This box is headed to the Overtown Youth Center, but the goal is to have a Buzz Boxx at organizations across South Florida.
And these kids aren’t just getting a haircut. The barbers double as mentors.
Ladon Quivette, Barber Love Barbershop: “I go from being a barber to Auntie to Mama, so those are the types of reactions I get because I give them that. I’m genuine.”
Felecia Hatcher, co-founder of Code Fever: “You never know, just a random conversation or a haircut can turn into so many things.”
Today is Clifton’s turn in the barber chair. The 15-year-old lost his dad when he was 2. He says it’s been hard not having a father figure in his life.
Clifton Ross, 15-years-old: “When I was younger, I didn’t have really good common sense because I always liked to play around, get in trouble.”
For him, sitting in this chair, talking to someone he trusts helps him see how much support he has around him. And Clifton and Michael believe, if you feel good, you do good, and they hope these boxes continue to create a positive buzz.
Clifton Ross: “Everybody in my community loves me and helps me out. I guess that’s what really motivates me, too.”
The Buzz Boxx team recently took first place in a Philanthropy Miami competition! Congrats to them! And Buzz Boxx is just one of the mentoring programs offered by the Talent4Change organization.
The “Sharks” had a tough choice among the four social ventures. Would they choose Master Honey that empowers low-income women to start their own micro-beekeeping businesses? Or perhaps prefer Miami is Kind’s concept to create jobs for young people on the autism spectrum baking cookies for schools? Would they pick Mind&Melody, which crafts music engagement experiences for Alzheimer’s patients? Or do they like the T4C BUZZitFORWARD initiative's BUZZ BOXX pop-up barbershops that dispense life advice with the haircut? All were competing for a $10,000 prize.
The Shark Tank, part of the Philanthropy Miami conference on Thursday, was much like the TV version — but with a do-good twist. Gil Bonwitt of Gazelles Social Initiatives, Teresa Valdes-Fauli Weintraub of Merrill Lynch, Seth Werner of Harbour Real Estate Investments and Mary Wong of Office Depot Foundation fired questions at the presenters about how each would use the funding, their marketing strategies and whether their revenue models were solid.
And the winner was ... BUZZ BOXX, presented by the Overtown Youth Center. The BUZZ BOXX team builds and runs barbershops made out of shipping containers. These pop-up shops empower youth in low-income neighborhoods with the increased self-esteem that comes with a great cut, served up with mentoring talks. The team has already tested the concept at community events.
The Shark Tank-style event concluded Philanthropy Miami, a daylong conference showcasing philanthropic and nonprofit trends. “Passion Meets Purpose” was the theme when more than 275 people gathered at Jungle Island to explore fundraising tools and strategies for increasing donations, expanding boards and growing volunteer bases.
The Shark Tank event has been held at the conference since 2014, but this year the $10,000 award was accompanied with a venture partner. A new group of venture philanthropy funders will take the winner under its wing, offering mentoring, strategy advice and connections, as well as the funding.
The organization, Social Venture Partners Miami (www.svpmiami.org), which launched on Thursday, is part of a global network of 3,500 venture philanthropists in 43 cities in nine countries who have collectively invested more than $63 million in about 840 social ventures since 1997. SVP partners are professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and community leaders; together they select social ventures in the community to back, and they contribute their time, talent, capital and connections to help the ventures grow, using a venture capitalist model to reap social returns.
The idea is that SVP will be an on-ramp, helping promising concepts that already have traction to grow and become “venture ready” for social impact funders, said Lauren Harper, founder of SVP Miami. Over time, SVP Miami will mentor and fund a number of ventures and for each venture it will be a multi-year commitment, she said.
Harper also co-founded the Center for Social Change, a Miami co-working and education center for nonprofit and for-profit social ventures.
“The center does an incredible job bringing people together ... but more is needed,” said Harper, who already has 11 founding partners. “The SVP model provides the right combination of resources and capital to support social ventures that can scale. And this is the right time to do this in Miami.”
Paul Shoemaker, the founder of the global Social Venture Partners and author of “Can’t Not Do,” told the conference crowd that becoming a successful changemaker requires three qualities: active listening, humility and connecting.
Attendees were also reminded of the nonprofit sector’s economic importance, thanks to a report released this week by the Florida Nonprofit Alliance. In the Sunshine State, 83,000 nonprofits employ more than 530,000 people — 6 percent of the state workforce. The state’s nonprofit sector provides an annual payroll of $26 billion, receives nearly $90 billion in annual revenue and holds assets of $205.7 billion.
In the southeast region that includes Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, more than 175,000 people work in nonprofits, accounting for an annual payroll of more than $9.3 billion. That involves a total of 27,039 nonprofits that produce nearly $28.2 billion in revenues, the report found.
“The contributions that the nonprofit sector makes are vital to the state economy,” the Alliance’s Executive Director Sabeen Perwaiz said when releasing the report. “The public and private sectors of the economy receive considerable attention, but this report demonstrates why the nonprofit sector cannot be overlooked.”
Jerald Dorsett, a barber from Georgia, flew into Florida to give children free haircuts at the Enrichment Festival through the Talent4Change BuzzItForward initiative.
Students generally spend their days off from school in front of a television or glued to their computer screens, but thanks to the Overtown Youth Center, families in the community got a day to become immersed in the arts instead.
The OYC hosted its first Enrichment Festival on Monday, Jan. 23 on its outside grounds. The free event was open to members of the community and started at 11 a.m.
“We are trying to provide additional art and music enrichment for our students while bringing together our local community by having individuals share their talents with our young people, so they can dream better about their aspirations,” OYC Executive Director Tina Brown said.
Local artists such as MusikForYou performed violin and keyboard renditions of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got you,” while students from Miami Arts Charter School performed an act from the Broadway show, “Dreamgirls.”
Members of the community were hands-on with the arts, participating in an art zone, face painting and crafts while learning more about cultural events that go on in their own backyard.
“I think it’s great because it allows everyone to come out and come together as a community, experience new things and introduce different programs,” said Chimney Purdy, wife to local community vendor, Jackson Bro’s ice cream, who was in attendance.
Other local food vendors making an appearance included Pineapple Express and Out of Town Wings, as well as a crowd favorite, a snow cone and cotton candy machine. When children were finished with their meals, they could either participate in the AET Kids Fit & Fun bus, check out a book from the City of Miami’s public library bookmobile, or make their way over to the Buzz Boxx and receive a free haircut on behalf of Talent4Change.
“We love to do this for the community,” Michael Caraballo, founder of Talent4Change, said. “When kids look better, they feel better.”
Receiving a bigger turn out than they expected, the OYC is going to try and continue hosting this enrichment event every year, in addition to its annual Broadway production put on by the students.
OVERTOWN MIAMI – Five days of art galleries, nightlife, networking, and charity work. Wait…didn’t you know Art Basel included charity work, separate from the “uniquely” priced creations featured throughout both Miami & Miami Beach? Well if you missed the kick off of #BuzzItForward you truly missed something very spectacular.
BuzzitForward is an initiative created through Talent4Change, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to inspiring, uniting, and empowering children in underserved communities. The DoBetterProject, created by Amir Youssef, owner of the Chop Shop Barbershop (Miami, FL.), and Program Director of the BUZZ IT FORWARD program for Talent4Change, “…empowers children, families, and communities. Through grooming services and mentoring, the program re-instills a sense of self-confidence and positive body image, encouraging children to better their community in order to be awarded a haircut voucher.” Every time a young male between the ages of 7 to 17 exemplifies improvement in impoverished areas of South Florida, they receive hair care services and mentorship through the program.
Description complete, you’re probably still wondering, why was this “BuzzItForward initiative” so spectacular. Well, it started with the inaugural presentation of the Buzz Boxx in Wynwood. The Buzz Box Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Wednesday November 30th was attended by many local patrons, inquisitive supporters and benefitting organizations.
Michael Caraballo, Founder of Talent4Change, spoke at the ceremony to introduce the organization. “The purpose of Buzz It Forward is to help kids LOOK BETTER so they can FEEL BETTER, in turn DO BETTER. It’s an incentive based reward system that we’ve created to encourage kids to keep doing better…whether that be doing better in school and/or participating in community service.” The Buzz Boxx would eventually work its way to the Overtown Youth Center, providing haircuts on-site for the youth of the area. It also provided for constant exposure of the initiative and continued support of funding. Donations were received in two ways; 1) patrons wanting a haircut could get one on site, paying a $20 donation fee for the service, which also funded one child’s haircut for a full year, and 2) supporters could go to buzzitforward.com to make a donation online.
Also in attendance that evening was Tina Brown, Executive Director of the Overtown Youth Center. When asked her view of the BuzzItForward initiative, “The buzz box is the coolest idea I've seen all year. The buzz boxx concept is truly an attractive and innovative concept for positive youth engagement. Self-confidence starts with the way individual’s look and feel about themselves; therefore I am confident that some lives will be saved by this creative, yet simple act of buzzing a haircut forward. Additionally, I am hopeful that buzz boxx will spark entrepreneurial energy within young people as this may be an opportunity for them to meaningfully engage in the process of learning how to run a business.”
Thursday & Friday night following the debut, the Buzz Boxx was active with supporters and those just curious as to what “the buzz” was all about. Several children were also the first benefactors of free cuts with the encouragement of doing well in their communities, in order to be rewarded again and again in the near future.
On Friday evening, Chop Shop Wynwood hosted a networker for serial entrepreneur, millennial thought leader and philanthropist Gerard Adams, aka The Millennial Mentor. All walks of life were represented at the function but the main guest of honor was Gerard himself. Gerard came to Chop Shop specifically because of its affiliation with the BuzzItForward initiative. Aside from starting the movement with its August 2016 BuzzAThon, Chop Shop has been the initial barber shop to provide volunteer barbers during the Art Basel festivities. “I love what [Amir’s] doing with BuzzItForward.” Gerard went on to say, “…there’s one message that I think that I resonate the most with Amir, [which] is that we all are human…we all need to start stepping up and coming together and empowering each other to do great things for our future.”
The MAVERICKS BARBERSHOP and RED CARPET BARBERSHOP have both partnered with the CHOP SHOP BARBERSHOP WYNWOOD (all representative of the South Florida market) to staff The BUZZ BOXX and facilitate the free haircuts to groups of deserving young men.
Andrew Ragnanan represents Red Carpet Barbershop out of Homestead. He was one of the first volunteers at the August 2016 Buzzathon. Andrew is no stranger to a concept of this kind, as he offers similar rewards on his own in the community near Homestead, FL. “There’s so much that focuses on punishment, and there aren’t many things that focus on incentivizing the behavior.
Part of the reason for me doing this also is I have a different life experience. Being in the military and living around the world and seeing different cultures, I would have never had been able to join the military if I had a criminal background or gotten in trouble, because those things disqualify you. Those are the types of conversation I have with kids. I don’t know what [their] potential is but I think it is my responsibility as a human being to help [them] to realize [their] potential. It’s an act of kindness that goes a long way to let someone know that ‘Hey we care about you and it’s not just about dollars and cents; you’re a person at the end of the day.’ Cutting hair for me is therapy. It’s mutually benefiting; it helps me, it’s good for my soul and also were doing something great for kids. It’s a win win.”
The morning of Saturday December 3rd, the Buzz Boxx was moved to Overtown, which would be the first installation of its nationwide effort, on the final day of the BuzzItForward inaugural campaign. 103.5 The Beat was the media and radio sponsor during Saturday’s BuzzAThon.
Patrons attending Art Africa nearby came with inquisitive minds and open pockets, donating on the spot. More youth from the area were presented with the opportunity of a cut from The Buzz Boxx.
The day’s event was yet another successful effort for the BuzzItForward official launch. Additionally, the week-long exhibition put on by Talent4Change, Chop Shop Wynwood, The Wynwood Art District and the Overtown community truly made BuzzItForward THE BEST show of the year!
MIAMI – Last week, the Talent4Change Foundation launched its ‘Buzz It Forward’ campaign by debuting its signature initiative, The Buzz Boxx, during Art Basel week.
The Buzz Boxx is a container-based barbershop designed to be placed at various locations that offers grooming and mentoring to young men ages 7-17 who live in poverty-stricken areas.
The mission of the foundation is to inspire, unite and empower children in underserved communities. Its founder, Michael Caraballo, introduced the initiative to the gathered crowd.
“The purpose of Buzz It Forward is to help kids look better so they can feel better (and) in turn do better,” Caraballo said. “It’s an incentive- based reward system that we’ve created to encourage kids to keep doing better, whether that be doing better in school and/or participating in community service.”
The launch included a ribbon cutting ceremony and an official presentation by special guests including Tina Brown, executive director of the Overtown Youth Center.
Brown shared her enthusiasm about the Buzz It Forward campaign’s potential to inspire youth to entrepreneurship.
“The Buzz Boxx concept is truly an attractive and innovative concept for positive youth engagement. Self-confidence starts with the way individuals look and feel about themselves,” Brown said. “I am hopeful that (the) Buzz Boxx will spark entrepreneurial energy within young people as this may be an opportunity for them to meaningfully engage in the process of learning how to run a business. It’s the coolest idea I’ve seen all year.”
‘Buzz it Forward’ is a component of the ‘Do Better Project’ created by Amir Youssef, program director for Talent4Change and owner of the Chop Shop Barbershop. The project is designed to encourage youth to do better at home, in school and in their communities.
“If you look good, you feel good. Buzz it Forward helps kids earn the right to choose whatever type of haircut they like. Whether it’s getting good grades, volunteering or helping others, we want them to do better,” Youssef said.
Youssef also heralded his belief that mentoring, instilling self-confidence and teaching youth to have a positive body image will encourage young men to be their best selves.
“The barber-client relationship has always been long-term and we want a specific barber to mentor, educate and service the kids for at least one year,” Youssef said. “There’s a need for grooming kids long-term. I believe in order to inspire them to do better, they need consistent role models.”
Currently located at 2250 NW 2 Avenue in Miami, near the grounds of Mana Wynwood, the inaugural Buzz Boxx is a uniquely customized 8’ by 20’ shipping container converted into a fully functional, portable barbershop complete with lighting and electricity.
The prototype will eventually be dropped off at the Overtown Youth Center, which has been provided vouchers to reward deserving young men with free haircuts. The Chop Shop, in conjunction with The Mavericks Barbershop and Red Carpet Barbershop will staff the Buzz Boxx and facilitate the first wave of free haircuts.
The long-term plan is to place a Buzz Boxx in underserved communities nationwide, where it will remain for one year at a time. Organizations, foundations, schools and community centers are encouraged to get involved with the campaign.
Free haircuts are funded through donations that can be made by visiting www.buzzitforward.com.
If you look better, you feel better and that may inspire you to do better. Roxanne Vargas gets the ' 'Buzz' on a new program that is helping kids look their best and motivating them to do their best in the community.