UF receives $1 million to boost skills of Florida’s early learning educators

GINESVILLE, Fla. — The Jim Moran Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to the University of Florida College of Education to provide access to the latest teaching tools for the state’s 55,000 early learning educators.

The funding will boost the college’s transformational Early Learning Florida program, a first-of-its-kind online professional development system.

“We’re thrilled and grateful,” said Don Pemberton, director of the UF Lastinger Center for Learning, the college’s innovation incubator that is implementing the program. “We’ll use this money to improve learning and development for hundreds of thousands of young children by providing new tools and resources to build the skills of early learning professionals.”

Built through community support, Early Learning Florida offers online and face-to-face instruction and continuing education with the latest course content, plus new certification programs for technical assistance coaches. State-funded stipends for early learning providers who successfully complete the course also are made available.

“By partnering with the Lastinger Center on this innovative initiative, we are helping create a standard for early learning that equips classroom teachers with the knowledge and know-how to provide all our children with a solid foundation for future academic success,” said Jan Moran, chairman and president of The Jim Moran Foundation, based in Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Early Learning Florida dovetails with one of UF’s priority research initiatives to “optimize” early childhood learning and development. Early childhood studies are a vital component of UF’s preeminence push — backed by the Florida Legislature — to become one of the nation’s top 10 public research universities.

Pemberton said The Jim Moran Foundation grant – which will be dispersed in equal payments over the next three years – also serves as an endorsement of the foundation’s belief in the importance of early learning.

“We are humbled to receive such a generous investment in our work from a foundation that honors the memory and extends the legacy of one of Florida’s greatest entrepreneurs and humanitarians,” he said.

The Jim Moran Foundation is one of four major philanthropic organizations that, together, have donated more than $3 million over multiple years to support Early Learning Florida.

The other three contributors are the Helios Education Foundation ($900,000), which supports education reform in Florida and Arizona; the Florida-based Lastinger Family Foundation ($500,000); and $600,000 from an Ohio-based foundation that has asked to remain anonymous.

About The Jim Moran Foundation

Founded by automotive pioneer Jim Moran, the mission of The Jim Moran Foundation is to improve the quality of life for the youth and families of Florida through the support of innovative programs and opportunities that meet the ever-changing needs of the community. The Foundation has invested more than $50 million in education, elder care, family strengthening, and youth transitional living initiatives since its inception in 2000 — with efforts currently focused in Broward, Palm Beach and Duval counties. Through a long-term grant agreement, The Foundation’s significant funders are JM Family Enterprises, Inc., and its subsidiaries, including Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC. It is located at 100 Jim Moran Blvd., Deerfield Beach, Fla. 33442. To learn more, visit www.jimmoranfoundation.org or call (954) 429-2122.

About the UF Lastinger Center for Learning

Part of the University of Florida, the Lastinger Center is the College of Education’s educational innovation incubator. It harnesses the university’s intellectual resources to design, build, field-test and scale models that advance teaching, learning and healthy child development. The center continuously evaluates and refines its work, widely disseminates its findings and roots its initiatives in a growing network of partner sites around the state and country.

Writer: Stephen Kindland, staff writer, UF College of Education; skindland@coe.ufl.edu

Military Veterans Work Out Business Skills at UF Business Boot Camp

Authored by: MAJ Gen David E. Kratzer United States Army (Retired), Vice President of Student Affairs University of Florida

Florida is well known for its veteran and military friendly climate. With 20 active military bases and three combatant command centers working to protect our nation and create stronger communities, Florida must do more for the next stage of a veteran’s life. One of the best ways honor our veterans is to provide them with access to programs that will fill gaps in employer needs.

That’s where the University of Florida (UF) comes in. Our Veterans Entrepreneurship Program recently held a crash course in business, hosting 32 vets from across the nation for one week. The program included lectures from professors and guest entrepreneurs and covered every topic new entrepreneurs need to know to jump-start their own small business ventures.

We have a great opportunity in Florida to welcome those with specialized skills and talents. Recent legislation signed into law by Governor Rick Scott, the Florida GI Bill, makes higher education more accessible for all veterans wishing to advance their education and career in Florida.

As Florida continues to move in the right direction and groups like the Florida Chamber of Commerce continue to focus on the fight ahead, programs like those at UF will only further economic growth. We are reminded daily of the sacrifice Florida’s many veterans have made for our communities. And at UF and the Florida Chamber, we believe we can give a little back.


Get Involved:

Join us in our mission to support military and veteran initiatives by registering for the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Military, Defense & Veterans Opportunities Summit, on August 13, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, International Airport.