January 2019 Newsletter

This Christmas, we gave each student at our Walker Elementary Center their own stuffed animal donated by Barry University students and a Christmas book donated by the Local 10 Big Book Drive!

In the area surrounding Walker Elementary, there is a greater percentage of children living in poverty than is found in 97% of all U.S. neighborhoods.

We wanted to give the students a memorable Christmas by going beyond meeting their academic needs and blessing them with a special gift they could enjoy.

 We also partnered with Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital who donated Christmas stockings filled with presents to our Crystal Lake Middle School students.

The students loved the gifts and were grateful for their generosity!

Mentor Training

Our goal is to prepare our AmeriCoprs Firewall Mentors to succeed not only as they serve their students, but also as they reach towards their own futures!

So this month, our Mentors received training from the Florida Institute of CPAs (FICPA)!

Brian, Kathyrn, and Mallarie taught our mentors how to build good credit, breakdown their budget, and more!

Thank you for your continued support and stay tuned for more updates!


Firewall Centers

December 2018 Newsletter

Firewall was presented with a check from Church United for $28,073 to help fund our new Center this year, Walker Elementary!

Several churches in West Broward County came together to fund Walker Elementary

‘We decided that one of the most important things we could do to serve our community was to invest in the education of the next generation. It then became a natural fit to partner together with Firewall Centers because of the incredible work they are doing and their reputation in the community,’ said Jon Elswick, Crossway Church Pastor.

We are so grateful for their generosity and the Love South Florida Initiative that has allowed us to serve more students!

Firewall Centers Student

Rashod is a fourth grader at our Walker Elementary Center. Last week he came into Firewall and showed us he’s now on A/B honor roll!

At the beginning of the year, he would get into fights and didn’t want to do his work. Roshod’s Firewall Mentor would help tutor him in reading and math. Now he cares about academic time and excels at it!

He is a completely different person because he saw that Firewall believed in him.‘ – Caitlin Mantooth, Curriculum Specialist

We are excited to impact more lives with your help!

Remember that every dollar you give will be doubled from now until December 31st!

November 2018 Newsletter

One of our Firewall Mentors, Malkia, cried when she was told she’d be packing a present for Operation Christmas Child with her Firewall students. She was reminded of her first and only Christmas present as a child, a shoebox from Operation Christmas Child filled with gifts. Malkia grew up in Jamaica, the second poorest country in the Carribbean.

I remember going to Primary school and everyone got gifts! We were so surprised. My brother and I each had our own,” said Malkia.

Malkia shared this story with the Firewall students and they got to see first-hand the impact they can have when they give back to those in need.

Firewall Mentor Malkia and some of her students with their Operation Christmas Child shoebox

This was our 3rd year completing Operation Christmas Child! Together our students and their Firewall Mentors packed 86 boxes to be sent to children around the world who are affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine, and disease. Each shoebox is filled with small toys, hygiene items, school supplies, handmade cards, and pictures of the students with their Firewall Mentor.

We are so excited for each girl and boy to receive these gifts!

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” –H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thank you, Firewall volunteers! 

Our volunteers have completed 300+ hours so far this school year! We would like to thank our volunteers for their heart to serve and for giving of their time to help our students by tutoring and reading with them.

If you’re interested in getting involved, please visit firewallcenters.org/volunteer or contact Taylor@firewallcenters.org

From all of us at Firewall, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

October 2018 Newsletter

On Tuesday, October 9th we held our Student-to-Leader Luncheon!

Abner Molina, a Firewall graduate, shared his story and talked about some of the difficulties he overcame, like growing up in a rough neighborhood in which a lot of his peers ended up in jail, experimented with drugs, or worse, were shot.

But Abner’s story turned out different! This December, he will graduate with his Bachelor’s in Marketing from Florida International University.

He is also taking classes with Google that will lead to internship opportunities and even got to study for a semester in Italy!

“If it wasn’t for Firewall, I would’ve been one of those students easily. Around the peer pressure that is in the culture today, not many come out. I would love to see more “me’s” come out of the neighborhood. All kids like me really need is a mentor; a mentor to believe in them, to believe that they are worth it and to believe they can go beyond what they currently believe they can. It’s all mentality,” said Abner.

You can watch all of Abner’s story on YouTube here!

We also heard from one of our school partners, Tariq Qaiyim, the Assistant Principal at Lauderhill 6-12.

Firewall’s Program Director, Janeth Fernandez, and Lauderhill 6-12 Assistant Principal, Tariq Qaiyim

“I truly believe in Firewall. I know this is a good program for our students. Firewall is a great representation of what should be going on in education and how a partnership should work. To Andy, Janeth, and the staff and I really appreciate what you do,” said Qaiyim.

You can view more photos from the Student-to-Leader Luncheon on our Facebook here!

As always, thank you for your support in impacting the lives of 500+ students that Firewall serves.

Walker Elementary Opens- An Interview with Firewall’s Curriculum Specialist

Meet Caitlin, Firewall’s Curriculum Specialist! She recently completed her Master’s in Elementary Education at Nova Southeastern University. There she learned different teaching styles and approaches that prepared her for her role at Firewall Centers. Caitlin created the lessons for Walker Elementary and also oversees their implementation. So grab a seat and join the conversation about Firewall’s new Center at Walker!

1. What was the first week with the kids like?
The kids were all excited to be in Firewall! They were very respectful, listened to instruction, and responded to the structure…which isn’t normal for Elementary school students but the school has high expectations for these students and they rise to meet them.

During the first week, the students wrote all about themselves in an “All About Me” worksheet. Then they swapped papers with a classmate they didn’t know and presented what they had learned about them! This taught them to summarize a text which is a Florida Standard.

They also wrote letters to their future selves that they will open at the end of the year. The letters included academic, character, and personal goals they want to achieve. The letters are wrapped in a piece of yarn that measured their height so at the end of the year they will see how much they grew!

2. What work went into preparing for Firewall’s opening at Walker?
The biggest thing we did to prepare was to meet with the school staff to understand the school’s culture and values. Then we created a curriculum that aligns with the school’s instructional calendar and teaches all the mandated standards while making it fun for them to learn.

3. What is the ultimate goal of Firewall being at Walker Elementary?
All of the students we will be working with at Walker Elementary are reading below grade level. So our goal is to work on their reading skills so that by the end of the year, they are reading on grade level and testing proficient. 

4. What role do Firewall Mentors play?
They teach the daily lessons to their small group of students, they implement activities, and then communicate to me how the students are learning and where they may be struggling. From there, we create interventions to help the students improve their skills.

5. What are the lessons and how do you create them?

The lessons were created to mirror what the teachers at Walker Elementary are teaching throughout the day. We met with the classroom teachers and obtained their Standards calendar. Thus, allowing Firewall to function as an extension of the day, reinforcing the concepts taught in the classrooms and improves learning outcomes.

All of the lessons teach the Florida State Standards through cross-curricular lessons. In other words, our lessons integrate at least two content areas. The overarching theme for the year is culture. Over the course of the year, students will ‘travel’ to many different countries. As they are exposed to different cultures, they will gain and understanding for others and learn to celebrate their differences. Our students will see people from all backgrounds, which helps them connect with the curriculum.

The goal is to make learning fun, while teaching the Florida State Standards in an effective way. Some topics include building and testing boats, writing an autobiography, and reading the Cinderella story from three different countries.

We will also have career days with the students to talk with them about how important school is now and get them excited about their future! Different businessman and businesswoman will come to share with the students about their careers. It’s really about getting the students interested and to create goals that will propel them through their education.

6. Why do you enjoy working with the students so much?

I know my calling in life is to educate students. The Firewall students come from difficult backgrounds. While some may see this as a hindrance, I see the opportunity. Firewall believes in all children and wants to empower all students to succeed. I have been blessed to see how students grow in our program, both academically and personally. Our students receive a rigorous education in a small group setting. As we pour love into these students lives and build relationships with them, we are able to propel them forward.

Our students are also given responsibilities in the classroom and encouraged for completing tasks. As a result, they come to intrinsically value helping others. We see our students transform into servant leaders. One parent told us that her students come home excited to tell her about the lessons they learned and to teach her what they’re learning at Firewall.

I love working with the students because I see God at work in their lives. He enables our staff and works through them for His glory. It’s a blessing to be a part of.


You can learn more about Firewall Centers here or give today to support the tutoring and mentoring of low-income students. 






September 2018 Newsletter

Welcome our newest Firewall Center…Walker Elementary!

The neighborhood surrounding Walker Elementary has a higher rate of childhood poverty than almost 97% of all U.S. neighborhoods.

We are in this school to make a difference and we are excited to partner with Principal Bullock and his great team of teachers at Walker Elementary!

In preparation to open at Walker Elementary, Firewall’s Curriculum Specialist, Caitlin Mantooth, created lessons that align with the school’s instructional calendar and the Florida State Standards.

You can read more about Walker from Caitlin here!

We are excited to be working with the students of Walker Elementary and we thank you for your support!


Firewall Centers

Firewall Centers receives $2,500 grant from the TD Charitable Foundation

Davie, Fla. (Aug. 2nd, 2018) The TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank America’s Most Convenient Bank™, provided Firewall Centers with a generous $2,500 grant to help provide 500 at-risk youth with daily tutoring and mentoring services across 9 Broward County Public Schools.

Firewall Centers’ T.H.I.N.K. Leadership Program is a school-based program that provides students from 3rd through 12th grades with daily tutoring and mentoring, a point-based incentive system, an integrated curriculum that includes a financial education component, and community service opportunities. Program participants are low-income and come from minority families.

“The Firewall program helps students see that with the right help and support system together with their own hard work, they can break the cycle of poverty and reach their greatest potential,” said Janeth Fernandez, Firewall Centers’ Chief Program Director, “and we are grateful for this new partnership with the TD Charitable Foundation to make this happen for more youth across Broward County.”

“TD enthusiastically supports the work of Firewall Centers in helping to break the cycle of poverty for young people,” said Pablo J. Pino, TD Market President for South Florida. This contribution supports TD’s longstanding commitment to community enrichment through its newly launched Ready Commitment, a multi-year platform that actively promotes inclusivity, economic vitality, environmental wellbeing and health, enabling people of all backgrounds to succeed in a rapidly changing world.

For its middle and high school students (6th through 12th graders), Firewall partners with local bankers who visit each of Firewall’s schools various times during the school year to provide financial education classes that cover important topics such as saving, banking, and budgeting.

In addition, a point-based incentive system is used daily. This system not only motivates students to attend the program, behave well, and complete their homework, but it serves in providing financial education as students receive a “paycheck” each week that is deposited into their “checking account.” They can either spend this paycheck on special treats or delay gratification and save for bigger prizes. They can choose to put their paycheck into a “CD,” which at the end of the school year, can be used for gift cards. Once Firewall students enter high school, points allow them to accumulate up to $125 per high school year towards a Firewall-funded college or vocational school scholarship.


-Firewall Centers-

About Firewall Centers 

Firewall was established in 2003 in response to the death of a thirteen year old girl who overdosed on drugs while left unsupervised during after-school hours. Ever since, the agency has been operating daily after-school tutoring and mentoring centers for at-risk students that instill character values and promote academic success, supporting them as they strive toward their greatest potential. For the 2018//2019 school year, Firewall’s T.H.I.N.K. Leadership program has nine Centers and is serving 500 Broward county students. The program’s overarching objective is to improve performance outcomes among at-risk students as related to their school attendance, behavior, and course performance, thus helping them to ultimately achieve self-sufficiency as they pursue their life goals. You can learn more about Firewall Centers and how you can get involved at www.firewallcenters.org or follow them at www.facebook.com/firewallcenters


-TD Charitable Foundation-

About the TD Charitable Foundation

The TD Charitable Foundation is the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, one of the 10 largest commercial banking organizations in the United States. Since its inception in 2002, the Foundation has distributed more than $193.8 million and more than 19,000 grants in charitable donations from Maine to Florida. The Foundation’s mission aligns with The Ready Commitment, a new multi-year program that TD launched in March 2018 to help individuals and communities prosper. As part of The Ready Commitment, TD targets CDN $1 billion (US $775 million) in total by 2030 towards community giving in four areas critical to opening doors for an inclusive tomorrow – Financial Security, a more Vibrant Planet, Connected Communities and Better Health. Through The Ready Commitment, TD’s aspiration is to link business, products, services, and community giving to help people feel more confident – not just about their finances, but about their future and their ability to achieve their personal goals in a changing world. For further information, visit TD.com/thereadycommitment. More information on the TD Charitable Foundation, including the online grant application, is available at TDBank.com.

August 2018 Newsletter

Our AmeriCorps Firewall Mentors and Lead Mentors attended our training to prepare for the school year!

“I joined Firewall…because I wanted to be a mentor to kids and teach them things I never got taught,” said Stacy, Firewall Lead Mentor.

The majority of the students we serve are below grade level in Language Arts and Math. The Mentors are excited to help them improve and make a difference!

Our staff also received leadership training from a PeopleTek Executive Coach, Pat Pinera. They learned more about situational leadership and their unique personality DISC profiles.

Our desire is to see each Mentor flourish both professionally and personally!

The First Week of School Was a Success!

Our 9 Centers are open for the school year and serving over 500 students daily!

Volunteers Wanted!

Are you looking to get involved in your community? Tutor and/or read with students on a weekly/bi-weekly basis!

When:  after-school, time varies, for 1 hour
Where: at one of the following Firewall locations:
Walker Elementary, Bair Middle, Crystal Lake Middle, Lauderhill 6-12, or Pompano Beach Middle

Remember to Vote Daily for Andy & Arnold until Friday!

Andy, Firewall’s Founder and Executive Director, and Arnold, one of our Western High Firewall students, are finalists for Channel 10’s ‘My Future, My Choice’ Education Award!



Firewall Centers

July 2018 Newsletter

We hope you’re having an amazing summer so far!

We want to share an incredible story with you about Zack who started attending Firewall in 7th grade.

During High School, he began to struggle in his classes and received D’s and F’s. His Firewall mentor, Taylor, was there to tutor him and keep him focused on his work.

At the end of his 10th grade year, he ran into Firewall to show Taylor he had brought up his grades to A’s and B’s!

‘I remember getting tears in my eyes because we genuinely connected and I was so proud of him. We had worked so hard,’ said Taylor.

Zack will be a senior this upcoming school year and we are excited to see him continue to excel!

Firewall students Nathaly, Ishana, Zack, Arnold, Firewall Mentor Taylor, Firewall student Samantha (left to right)

Recruiting Firewall Mentors
We are looking for AmeriCorps Firewall Mentors to continue to make a difference in the lives of our 500+ students!

  • August-June 2019
  • Monday-Thursday, around 3:00-6:00 p.m.
  • Receive a bi-weekly living allowance, education award to help pay for college/stuent loans
  • Apply online at firewallcenters.org/apply

*Must be a high school graduate and able to commit for the full school year*

 Firewall Centers’ Headquarters Gets a Facelift

In preparation for the school year, volunteers dedicated their time to replace lights, paint walls, build donated desks, and more!

Thank you Greenhouse, Calvary Plantation, and Vertical Church for all your help!

Upcoming Events

Join us for our Student-to-Leader Luncheon and learn how you can help support at-risk youth in our community! This event will take place on
October 9th, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

To register, visit firewallcenters.org/lunch.

We hope to see you there!