Firewall Centers receives $5,000 grant from the Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation

POMPANO, Fla. (Dec. 14th, 2015) The Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation provided Firewall Centers with a generous $5,000 grant to expand its Pompano Beach Middle School program. These funds will help increase the center capacity from 50 at-risk students to 60 and provide them with top-quality mentors and school essentials.

“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 Andy Fernandez, Firewall Centers’ Executive Director, “and we are grateful for our new partnership with The Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation to make this happen for more kids at Pompano Beach Middle School (PBMS).

PBMS is a Title I, low-income classified school, as 90% of its students currently receive free or reduced lunch and come from minority families (Broward County Schools). Firewall began a partnership with PBMS by obtaining support from the school principal, Sonja Braziel. School staff refers students to the program, and once enrolled, daily communication with parents, teachers, and school staff begins to support student success.

“Another program came to me and said they wanted to help Pompano Middle, but asked me for our best A/B students. Andy from Firewall came and said, ‘we want them all,’” said Braziel, PBMS principal.

The program is operated inside the school cafeteria, which provides ideal program access to students, parents, and teachers. Firewall mentors work with their students each day after school with the goal of helping them improve their grades and overall school performance. Firewall also provides a custom curriculum that teaches students character values and leadership qualities.

Firewall Centers partners with Take Stock in Children to achieve one goal: changed lives.

DAVIE, Fla. (Nov. 12th, 2015) Nine Firewall students were awarded a two year Florida pre-paid scholarship from the Take Stock in Children (TSIC) program. All nominated students have been in the Firewall program for at least two years and are excelling in their character and academics. This new partnership with TSIC is another opportunity for Firewall students to reach their greatest potential.

According to Take Stock in Children, “The intent of obtaining the scholarship is a long-term goal that is achieved through years of hard work”. Awarded students must be eligible for free and/or reduced lunch at school, maintain a “C” or better in all classes, have no more than 3 unexcused absence per quarter, and remain crime and drug free, among other set standards.

That’s where Firewall Centers’ daily program steps in. Students attending the extended learning centers across Broward County are given the support needed to meet the expectations of this scholarship. Each student is assigned a Firewall mentor that tracks their homework assignments and communicates with them to follow through on their academic goals. Additionally, using Broward Schools’ online Pinnacle Gradebook viewer, Firewall mentors track student’s grades and overall keep the student’s parents in the know.

“It’s good knowing my education is secure and that I have a better chance succeeding later in life,” said Arnold Fuentes, 9th grade Firewall student.

Those participating in the Take Stock in Children program will be assigned a professional College Success Coach to help coach, teach, and provide resources on their road to college. In addition, the students will meet once a week with their TSIC adult community volunteer mentor.

With the help of both organizations, these students are receiving the support they need to not only excel now, but throughout college and career as they strive to achieve their educational goals. To read more about Take Stock in Children Broward County scholarships, visit




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About Take Stock in Children

Take Stock in Children, Inc. is a nonprofit organization, transforming Florida one student at a time. Working in every county throughout Florida, our mission is to break the cycle of poverty for low-income, academically qualified students by providing opportunities for a post-secondary education. We offer college scholarships to students, provide caring volunteer mentors, and instill hope for a better life. Our comprehensive services begin in middle school, continue through high school, and include students’ transition into college and career.


Firewall Centers Hosts Annual Student-to-Leader Luncheon

Firewall Centers hosted its annual Student-to-Leader Luncheon on Wednesday, October 28. The luncheon gave Firewall the opportunity to share its students’ success from the past year as well as its plans for the future.

Event attendees heard from Sonja Braziel, the principal of Pompano Beach Middle School. She discussed how Firewall has affected the lives of her students and Firewall’s willingness to accept students at all different levels of academic achievement, rather than only accepting students with already strong grades.

John Merlino, AT&T regional director, told attendees about why AT&T chose Firewall for its Aspire Grant. He elaborated on Firewall’s success at delivering measurable results for its students’ academic progress and the importance of focusing on children to build successful communities.

After hearing from the guest speakers, attendees listened to the personal testimonies of two middle school and two high school Firewall students.

Ricardo, a student at the Western High School center, shared his story about how Firewall has continued its relationship with him since he first joined the program in middle school. Firewall has stayed with him into his high school years, and he now serves as a student intern at the Indian Ridge Middle School Center.

Prominent members of the community attended the event including Mayor Judy Paul, principals from some of Firewall’s partner schools, and representatives from Firewall’s existing partners, including Regent Bank.

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Firewall students and staff members

Women of StrikeForce 421 Provide Generous Gift to Firewall Centers

DAVIE, Fla. – Firewall Centers was selected as the top finalist for StrikeForce 421’s annual Giving Circle fund. As a result, Firewall received a generous $53,000 grant to be used to fully fund its Lauderhill 6-12 STEM-MED center.

“StrikeForce 421 is a women’s giving circle where women pool their resources for the purpose of leveraged giving,” StrikeForce member JoAnne Daudt said, “When we band together, we can really impact a ministry.”

The grant allows Firewall to provide for all 40 students at the Lauderhill center for the 2015-2016 school year. Firewall’s THINK Leadership program will equip the Lauderhill students with the necessary skills to succeed in school and rise up in their communities through the principle of servant leadership.

StrikeForce selected Firewall as an award recipient because “Firewall has a proven track record of success in the public school system,” Daudt said.

The grant gives the women of StrikeForce the opportunity to help Firewall “change the lives of over 40 at-risk students in an already at-risk school in Broward county,” Daudt said.

Firewall will utilize the donation to provide skilled mentors to work with the Lauderhill students and customized technology that the mentors use to quickly and easily track their students’ grades and progress throughout the school year.

Firewall Executive Director Andy Fernandez said, “We are so grateful for the support of the StrikeForce women, and contributions like theirs are what really secure the future of our centers and allow us to continue providing for our students.”


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StrikeFore 421 Check Presentation

Firewall Centers receives $50,000 grant from The Jim Moran Foundation to expand its program at Crystal Lake Middle School

DAVIE, Fla. (September 29, 2015) – Firewall Centers was awarded a generous $50,000 grant from The Jim Moran Foundation to double the number of students served to 40 at Crystal Lake Middle School.

Firewall’s THINK Leadership program at Crystal Lake provides at-risk students with after-school mentoring, tutoring and leadership development. Daily, these students are given a safe and structured environment, practical academic help and mentors who instill positive values to guide their decision-making. As a result, they begin to take ownership over every area of their lives and gain confidence in their abilities to reach their goals.

“With the many challenges facing our youth today, it’s so important to reach out and provide them with positive role models and engaging educational experiences,” Jan Moran, chairman and president of The Jim Moran Foundation, said. “We are happy to partner with Firewall Centers to help prepare these students for success in school and life.”

“As we work with parents and schools to impact underserved students, we believe that Firewall’s approach of walking through life with students ultimately helps them see that with the right help and their own hard work, they can break the cycle of poverty and reach their greatest potential,” Executive Director Andy Fernandez said, “And this new partnership with The Jim Moran Foundation will allow us to significantly grow our impact in Broward County, as we provide these essential services to so many more students.”

Through this grant as well as additional support from like-minded donors, Firewall will be able to transform the lives of more than 400 students at eight locations during the 2015-2016 school year.


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 nearly $60 million in education, elder care, family strengthening, after school 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, or call (954) 429-2122.



Walmart supports expansion of Firewall Centers programs with $10,000 grant

DAVIE, Fla. (Sept. 16th, 2015) – The local Walmart Stores in Broward County along with the Walmart Foundation granted Firewall Centers with $10,000 to support Firewall’s T.H.I.N.K. Leadership program, which equips low-income students with the educational means to rise and become leaders in their communities.

The grant was provided through a partnership of 14 Broward County Walmart stores that wanted to make an impact in the neighborhoods where they live and work. “At Walmart, we operate globally but give back locally.  We encourage our stores to partner with organizations like Firewall to provide support to the underserved in our communities,” said Walmart Market Manager, Evie Chitty.

The funds will be used to provide top-quality mentors who work with students each day after school to help them improve their grades and overall school performance. Firewall will also utilize the funds to provide its unique curriculum to students, which is designed to teach them leadership and service principles.

Additionally, Firewall will be able to provide the technology access and school supplies necessary for students to complete their homework assignments and projects as well as for mentors to track student progress.

With Walmart’s help, Firewall is able to continue changing the futures of at-risk South Florida students by providing them with the practical academic help, life skills, and positive role models they need to not only survive, but thrive.

To find out more about what the Walmart Foundation is doing to support our community, visit

Firewall Centers Receives Third Year of Funding for School is Cool Program at Bair and Plantation Middle Schools

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. (August 24, 2015) – Firewall Centers receives $50,000 from the Community Foundation of Broward (CFB) and $50,000 in matching support from the Children’s Services Council of Broward (CSC) to support its School is Cool programs at Bair Middle School and Plantation Middle School.

With approximately 1.2 million students dropping out of high school each year (7,000 a day), these funds will continue to make a huge impact. The Community Foundation of Broward recognizes that the middle school years are critical in academic, personal, and social development. Therefore, Firewall Centers is a key component of their “School is Cool” initiative, which is a community-wide effort to increase high school graduation rates to 90 percent in the coming years by focusing on middle school success.

“As we work with parents and schools to impact underserved students, we believe that walking through life with students starting in middle school ultimately helps them see that with the right help and their own hard work, they can break the cycle of poverty and reach their greatest potential,” said Executive Director Andy Fernandez. “And this continued partnership with the Community Foundation of Broward and the Children’s Services Council makes School is Cool a possibility for our kids and their families.”

The program equips low-income students with the educational means to rise and become leaders in their communities, and funds will be used to provide top-quality mentors who work with students each day after school to help them improve their attendance, behavior, and course performance (ABC’s), to provide its unique curriculum to students designed to teach them leadership and service principles, and to provide the technology access and school supplies necessary for students to complete their homework assignments and projects. For more information on School is Cool, click here.




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 2015/2016 school year, Firewall’s T.H.I.N.K. (Take charge, Have a plan, Involve the right people, Never quit, Keep giving back) Leadership program has eight Centers and will serve 450 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 or follow them at



Founded in 1984, the Community Foundation of Broward provides leadership on community solutions, and fosters philanthropy that connects people who care with causes that matter. With more than 450 charitable Funds representing $173 million, it has distributed $72 million during the past 30 years to create positive change. The Foundation convenes citizens around critical issues, and builds the capacity of our community. For Good. For Ever. For more information about the Community Foundation of Broward, visit or call 954.761.9503.



The Children’s Services Council of Broward is an independent taxing authority which was established by a public referendum on September 5, 2000, which, through Public Act, Chapter 2000-461 of the laws of Florida, authorized the Council to levy up to 0.5 mills of property taxes. The role of the Council is to provide the leadership, advocacy and resources necessary to enhance children’s lives and empower them to become responsible, productive adults through collaborative planning and funding of a continuum of quality care. Follow them on Twitter at @CSCBroward and on Facebook. For more information about the Children’s Services Council of Broward County, please visit


Firewall students at Bair Middle School

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Firewall student with his mentor at Plantation Middle School

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PNC Bank Continues Support of Firewall Centers with Grant

DAVIE, Fla. – In June of 2015, Firewall Centers was awarded a $10,000 grant by the PNC Foundation to impact the lives of low-income middle and high school students.

The funds will be used to continue Firewall’s after-school program that benefits the education and empowerment of at-risk youth in the South Florida community, a demographic that sees a graduation rate of only 68% in Broward County.

PNC first began its support of Firewall Centers during the 2014-2015 school year. In addition to financial support, PNC staff members will continue to volunteer their time to speak with Firewall students about personal finance development within the Centers.

This grant will support the T.H.I.N.K. Leadership Programs that Firewall offers at eight different middle and high schools in Broward County. The programs provide after-school mentoring and tutoring to at-risk and low-income students to help them better prepare for the future.

With PNC’s help, Firewall will be able to further its vision and the development of the students’ future academic success.


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About the PNC Foundation
PNC and the PNC Foundation have long histories of strengthening and enriching the lives of their neighbors in communities in which they live and work. For decades, they have provided resources to seed ideas, foster development initiatives and encourage leadership in nonprofit organizations where imagination and determination are at work enhancing people’s lives every day. The PNC Foundation supports a variety of nonprofit organizations with a special emphasis on those that work to achieve sustainability and touch a diverse population.

AT&T Grant Supports Firewall Centers – Help At-Risk Youth Succeed

DAVIE, Fla. (June 4th, 2015) – Firewall Centers was awarded a generous $25,000.00 grant from AT&T to expand its T.H.I.N.K. Leadership High School program, which provides low-income students with resources to improve their academic success and increase readiness for college and career.

In Broward County, only 68% of low-income students graduate. Firewall targets these youth, as its High School Centers are located in impoverished areas with high incarnation rates and need for revitalization. Through mentoring, tutoring, and “Success Plans” that individualize each student’s future track as they transition from middle school, into high school, and eventually college/career, the students in this program are provided with the support system they need to move out of poverty and on to a pathway towards self-sufficiency.

Upon admission, Firewall staff begins daily communication with parents and school staff to best support student success. To remain in the T.H.I.N.K. Leadership program, students commit to attend Monday through Thursday after-school and to participate in all program activities. In addition to mentoring, tutoring, and Success Plans, the program instills character values and leadership principles in students through an integrated curriculum, service responsibility requirements, and point-based incentive system. Students are even provided with in-house internship opportunities and scholarships, interactive job readiness classes, and college/career guidance.

In 2012, AT&T chose Firewall Centers as 1 out of only 47 recipients of its Aspire grant. The Aspire initiative supported organizations like Firewall who stood out from thousands of others across the nation when it came to equipping students with the skills they need to succeed as well as in their ability to use data to demonstrate the effectiveness and results of its program. Specifically, these results are measured through student improvement in the areas of school attendance, behavior, and course performance (ABC’s). This past year, 95% of Firewall students received at least 100 hours of program services over the course of the school year, 92% maintained and/or improved their GPA in core academic subjects, and 100% were promoted to the next grade level and/or graduated.

Through this $25,000.00 grant from AT&T  as well as additional support from like-minded donors, Firewall will be able to transform the lives of 450 at-risk students during the upcoming 2015/16 school year.

To find out more about what the AT&T Foundation is doing to support our community, visit

At-Risk Students Complete Service Projects for Others in Need

DAVIE, Fla. (May 3rd, 2015) On Saturday, May 2nd, over 315 Firewall students, their mentors, staff, and volunteers engaged in service projects throughout Broward County as a part of the Serve-A-Thon. This annual event is intended to show all students who attend the after-school program the importance of giving back to their community.

“I used to feel that you only serve others when someone asks for it. Now I think that you need to look for service opportunities rather than having it look for you. Serve because you can, not because you have to,” said Julia Edrnest, Bair Middle School Center student.

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Firewall students from Pompano Beach Middle, Blanche Ely High, and Crystal Lake Middle cleaned up the outside landscape, disinfected the playground, and were able to tour the facility at Broward’s Children Center where they service children with extreme and fragile physical conditions.  Firewall students from the Indian Ridge Middle Center served at ARC Broward’s Recycling Center. The students cleaned up used monitors, took apart and separated computer parts, and sorted through large bins of technology. At Hope South Florida’s God’s Little Lambs day care center, Plantation Middle and Bair Middle Centers planted trees and shrubs around the property and replaced old mulch in the playground area to be used for children of homeless families. Western High Center students served at Davie Pine Island Park, repainting the parking lots and landscaping around the office space.

“I will always remember seeing the smiling faces on the children that live at Broward Children’s Center. It made me want to serve others more to see them happy,” said Laila Richardson, Pompano Beach Middle School Center student.

Amongst the students were volunteers from Regent Bank, who for the past two years have been the headlining sponsor for Serve-A-Thon. Regent Bank not only met their fundraising goal in a one month period, but surpassed it. Their support was invaluable to the success of the Serve-A-Thon.

Firewall Centers was able to provide its students with the opportunity to serve because of the Leadership Broward Foundation, who organized and facilitated the entire Serve-A-Thon event and all related service projects.

Once the service projects were complete, all the students gathered at Davie Pine Island Park for lunch, games, and dance contests.