Cocoplum philanthropists helping Coral Gables High students hone their skills

Excellence in school leads to excellence in the workplace.

More than 3,200 students are enrolled at Coral Gables Senior High School, and about 90 percent are Hispanics, blacks or other ethnic and racial groups. (Of the 90 percent, about three-fourths qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.)

About 2,200 of the students take AP courses, 800 are enrolled in the IB program, 87 percent of the senior class graduates each year, and 94 percent of the graduates attend a two- or four-year college.

Matt Martinez, Islands of Cocoplum president and the chair of its philanthropy committee, said his group has started an initiative to further develop the students. The committee teamed with the high school and the Coral Gables Community Foundation to help fund the program.

The goal is to help local, high-performing students attend college and gain experience in their chosen field of study, Martinez said.

“Our philanthropy committee created a unique offering that couples financial scholarships along with summer internships so students are able to attend the university of their choice while gaining valuable work experience with business leaders who reside in Islands of Cocoplum,” he said.

“There are numerous business leaders who call Islands of Cocoplum home, and we are proactively connecting our community leaders to these young people so they may gain valuable vocational experience at some of the most prestigious businesses throughout South Florida.”

The internships, he said, could potentially lead to full-time employment.

“I am confident that we have established a philanthropic model that could be replicated by any neighborhood or homeowners association that wants to give back to their local community in a meaningful way,” Martinez said.

The goal is to raise $100,000. All board members of the committee have contributed and the community is holding a series of events and tennis tournaments to raise scholarship funds.

Anyone can contribute and everyone is invited to help. You can make a PayPal donation, and learn more from Coral Gables High students in a video, at

Help Preserve History

March 18 is the deadline to nominate a candidate for Dade Heritage Trust’s 2019 Preservation Awards.

The group will announce 2019’s Most Endangered Sites list and recognize this year’s Preservation Awards winners at the historic Scottish Rite Temple in Downtown Miami’s Lummus Park Historic District on April 11.

“Protecting Miami-Dade County’s historic venues is not an easy task,” said Christine Rupp, executive director of DHT. “But despite the challenges, organizations and individuals go above and beyond year-after-year to preserve these historic places that makes Miami such a thriving community. These awards are our way of honoring those who honor the past.”

The awards are open to any individual, organization, business or agency involved in historic preservation in Miami-Dade County. There is no limit on the number of nominations that one applicant can submit. Nominations may also be made without the knowledge of the nominee. Self-nominations are accepted. Owners of properties, if not the applicant, must provide written consent. To learn more, visit

Book Sale

Enthusiastic volunteer bibliophiles, who have as their motto, “old books for new,” have spent the year collecting donations and organizing for this popular annual book sale set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 17, at the Publix on SW 146th Street and U.S. 1.

More than 2,000 books have been sorted by category. You’ll find cookbooks, children’s books, art books, books about American and world history, travel, and science, as well as current and classic fiction. The South Miami-Dade Chapter of the Brandeis National Committee hosts the event. Proceeds support Brandeis University Libraries.

Calling innovative nonprofits

Inspire305, powered by United Way of Miami-Dade, is inviting local up-and-coming nonprofits involved with innovative work in Miami to apply and compete for two grants to further their missions. The grants — a $25,000 Grand Innovator Award and a $10,000 Trailblazer Award — will be presented to two nonprofits.

The community is invited to join the movement through panel discussions, volunteerism and voting for their favorite nonprofits digitally and in-person until 11:59 p.m. March 29.

Nonprofits that received their 501(c)(3) certifications between 2011 and 2018, offer services locally, and meet all other eligibility requirements can apply and learn more at The finalists will be announced in May.

Apply for band camp

“305” Community Band Spring Camp 2019 registration is now open for 100 high school students with recommendations from their band director. The camp’s artistic director is Richard Beckford III of Miami Carol City High School.

Camp will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., March 25-29, at Betty T. Ferguson Recreational Complex, 3000 NW 199 St., in Miami Gardens. The program will conclude with two performances that are free and open to the public. Call Miami Gardens Parks and Recreation at 786-279-1222 or Ren’ee Rentmeester at 305-200-9104.