Sun Sentinel Doyle Award for Nonprofit Excellence

We are honored to announce that we are the recipients of the Doyle Award for Nonprofit Excellence, an award that spotlights 1 nonprofit per month and the the impact it is making in the community. Our Board of Directors put in hours of hard work to ensure the transformation of students’ lives in Broward County.

As seen in Sun Sentinel, Broward Society:

Firewall Centers’ mission is to instill character values, promote academic success and establishes long-term relationships with middle and high school students through afterschool programming.

Firewall serves 350 low-income middle and high school students at Broward County Public Schools. More than 90 percent of students receive free/reduced lunch at school and come from minority families, with many being supported by single parents.

Firewall’s low 10:1 student-to-staff ratio ensures that students receive the individual attention they need to succeed. Center staff consists of college students that tutor, mentor and coach children, connecting with them in ways that others cannot.

The centers are located within public schools, providing accountability to students by working together with their teachers, parents and counselors. Firewall is not just a program – it’s a family.
Board members are actively involved in building Firewall’s capacity, each bringing unique experiences, qualities and capabilities to the table. One-hundred percent of members financially support Firewall and attend board meetings at least six times annually. Board members also speak to Firewall students on a quarterly basis. Annually, the board evaluates its performance and composition, determining how to best strengthen Firewall as a whole.

“As we work with parents and schools to impact underserved students, we find that it’s not only important to give kids a safe place to hang out, but a place where they’re expected to perform to the best of their ability,” said Andy Fernandez, president and executive director. “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.”

For more information on Firewall Center, call 954-252-0838 or visit

Firewall Centers Plans to Raise $100,000 by Serving Others

DAVIE, Fla. (April 2nd, 2015)  On Saturday, May 2nd, Firewall Centers’ students, together with their mentors and volunteers will participate in service projects across the community. Through local business and individual sponsors, Firewall Centers plans to fundraise $100,000 during Serve-A-Thon to grow their reach to additional students in Broward County Public Schools.

“We are proud to host this event for a second year not only because it is a tool to provide much-needed funding for Firewall students and their mentoring and leadership development, but also because it is a hands-on opportunity for us to impact our community and intentionally give back to the places we call home,” said Andy Fernandez, founder of Firewall Centers.

The second-year headline sponsor, Regent Bank, raises money in their local branches by sharing Firewall’s vision and the difference that it makes on students’ lives to their customers throughout Broward and Palm Beach County. Their support is critical to the Serve-A-Thon success.

The Leadership Broward Foundation is assisting Firewall Centers in the overall organization and facilitation of the event to ensure that at-risk students in Broward County receive the help they need.

Serve-A-Thon will provide Firewall students, their mentors, staff, and volunteers the opportunity to give back to others at various service project locations including Broward Children’s Center, Hope South Florida, ARC Broward, and Davie Pine Island Park. Service activities will include landscaping, mulching, improving a butterfly garden, and helping to disinfect playground equipment for needy children.

Firewall Centers Receives Children’s Services Council ‘Collective Impact for Youth’ Award

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Feb. 13th, 2015) – Firewall Centers was awarded ‘Collective Impact for Youth’ at the Fifth Annual South Florida Community Care Network Non-Profit Academy Awards.

“We are growing and our goal is to set up Firewalls in the lives of all the at-risk kids here in Broward County, so we are just getting started,” said Andy Fernandez, Firewall Centers’ founder, at the Broward 2-1-1 Academy Awards.

Firewall Centers currently has seven locations across Broward County, two of which are funded by the Children’s Service Council (CSC) of Broward County and the Community Foundation of Broward (CFB). These Centers mentor and tutor students every day, most of which come from minority, low-income, and/or single-parent households. With the help received from these two organizations, Firewall Centers has been able to increase its impact on Broward County students.

“Anybody who knows the Children’s Services Council knows we’re all about collective impact on behalf of youth,” said Cindy Arenberg Seltzer, CSC President and CEO of Broward County.

A current initiative focused on Middle School student success in order to raise graduation rates was developed by CFB and is played out by the key services that Firewall Centers provides. The Community Foundation of Broward’s funding for the ‘School is Cool’ initiative has been matched by CSC for the past two school years and supports the Bair and Plantation Middle School Firewall Centers.

This collaborative effort has impacted the lives of over 120 students by focusing on improving their performance in the areas of school attendance, behavior, and course performance (ABC’s).

To find out more about the Community Foundation of Broward’s ‘School is Cool’ initiative, visit

Sun-Sentinel Children’s Fund Continued Partnership with Firewall Centers

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 2nd, 2015) – Firewall Centers was awarded $10,000 through the Sun Sentinel Children’s Fund, a McCormick Foundation fund, to expand its reach in the Pompano Beach area.

Firewall has operated a Center within Pompano Beach Middle since the 2011-2012 school year, and neighboring Crystal Lake Middle opening this past school year, where staff has worked closely with students beginning in their sixth grade year. The relationships built in these centers don’t end in eighth grade, but are carried over to the near-by newly opened Blanche Ely High School Firewall Center. This long-term approach has proven to be the key to empowering at-risk students towards the pathway to self-sufficiency and success.

Firewall has helped me in improve in all aspects; I have grown to learn more good studying habits and to be more social with others around me,” said 9thgrade Blanche Ely High student, Rhoven.

Last school year, the Sun-Sentinel Children’s Fund, a McCormick Foundation fund, supported the Pompano Beach Middle School Firewall Center as a part of their support of local nonprofits that deliver well-rounded education programs for kids with the support from the public and matching Foundation funds.

By reading more, practicing, doing problems, and working with others at Firewall, I’m able to earn better grades,” said Nitaisa, a sixth grader at Pompano Beach Middle.

With this funding and through other generous supporters, Firewall is able to mentor 400 at-risk students every day.  To find out more about the Sun Sentinel Children’s Fund visit

Firewall Centers Nominated Finalist for Broward 211 ‘Collective Impact for Youth Award’

OAKLAND PARK, Fla. (Jan. 21st, 2015) – academy awardsFirewall Centers was nominated as a finalist for the fifth annual South Florida Community Care Network Non-Profit Academy Awards for its collective work with others to overall positively and significantly impact youth in Broward County.

Winners will be announced at the Non-Profit Academy Awards on Friday, Feb. 13th at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino at 11:00 a.m. The recipient of this award is a shining example of the power that best practices, shared information, collective efforts, and accountability and transparency have in transforming the lives of youth.

Firewall Centers was chosen as one of three nominees for the Children’s Service Council Collective Impact for Youth Award because of its collaboration with the Community Foundation of Broward (CFB) as a part of its “School is Cool” initiative that focuses on middle school student success in order to raise graduation rates from 75.3% to 90% by 2020.

Firewall staff shared some of its program’s best practices with CFB and other key stakeholders to develop an outcome criteria now being used by nonprofit agencies to effectively demonstrate measurable and significant benefits for youth. Specifically, outcomes are focused on improving student performance in the areas of school attendance, behavior, and course performance (ABC’s).

At the 2014 Academy Awards, Firewall Centers was named Non-Profit Organization of the Year Rising Star by 2-1-1 Broward, displaying that although it is “young and small,” the organizations’ “potential for growth and impact is high.”

2-11 Borward is the first call for help for Broward County residents and the gateway to health and human services in our community. Last year, 2-11 Broward connected nearly 101,000 Broward County callers with over 4,000 different programs that were available to help them.

Broward College and Firewall Centers collaborate to improve local community on MLK Day of Service

DAVIE, Fla. (Jan. 20th, 2015) On Monday, Jan. 19th, Firewall Centers’ new modular was renovated thanks to the generous $3,377.04 awarded by Broward College in honor of MLK Day of Service.  This modular, donated by Bergeron Properties, will allow Firewall Centers to increase their capacity by 20 students in the surrounding Broward County community.

Around 30 volunteers from around the south Florida area came and gave of their time and talents. In attendance were numerous families, Town of Davie staff, Calvary Chapel Plantation attendees, Broward College and Nova Southeastern University students, and Firewall Centers’ students, staff, and Board members.

“I chose to volunteer for Firewall Centers because I can. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow and I might not be able to pick up a paintbrush or a shovel anymore, so I’ll do everything I can to help and serve today,” said Broward College student, Daniela Jahncke.

Volunteers arrived at 8:00 a.m. and soon after began working hard by painting the outside of the modular, the roof, four rooms, and surrounding decks. Other volunteers caulked the inside rooms, pulled weeds, put cabinets and counters in place, cleaned, and planted a garden around the stairwell entrance. The trees, shrubs, mulch, and other supplies for the garden were donated by the Town of Davie.

“When I heard about the opportunity to help Firewall on MLK weekend, I knew I had to be part of it. It feels so good to accomplish what we did for the Firewall students and staff. I can’t wait for the next one!” said Justin Taylor, local Davie resident and event volunteer.

Firewall Centers received funds for this community project based on the criteria that included recruiting a diverse cross-section of the community as volunteers, supporting the legacy of Dr. King, and providing opportunities for sustained service and ongoing community involvement. This inaugural “Day On” of service, not a “Day Off” for Firewall Centers allowed for the nonprofit to continue to deepen its impact in this undeserved Broward County community.



Gap Store Managers Serve Firewall Center Students


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September 30th, 2014

On Tuesday, Firewall’s Pompano Beach Middle School Center was pleased to host a group of Gap clothing stores’ District Managers. In town for a regional meeting, these managers took time out of their busy schedules to spend the afternoon inspiring our students. They brought blank t-shirts, paint, glitter, stencils, fabric markers, and more and encouraged our kids to create their own masterpieces! The kids had such a great time expressing themselves, as their artwork reflected their favorite school subjects, hobbies, and interests. We are grateful that the Gap came out to support us, and we are excited for a continued community partnership that helps give our kids a chance to succeed!










Firewall Founders Awarded “Broward Citizens of the Year 2014”

Congratulations to our faithful founders Andy and Janeth Fernandez who on behalf of Firewall Centers were recognized “for outstanding commitment to our families” by Broward County School Social Work Association as they were awarded “Broward Citizens of the Year.”

Below are two of the nominating letters they are both deeply encouraging and humbling.  Thank you Yolanda and Betsy, the nomination means so much as we all know your commitment and sacrifice to our kids is unmeasurable.

Yolanda Thrower, Broward County Social Worker 

 “I personally worked with Firewall Ministries when I was assigned Indian Ridge Middle School and I can attest that Andy and Janeth were a critical piece in many of our student’s success. The program not only provided a place for our students to go after school but also filled in the parent link when necessary. Janeth attended parent-teacher conferences with or without the parent; emails teacher and communicates to parents what needs to be done; assisted the school staff with the implementing of interventions at their site; they signed agendas for the students with uninvolved parents; they referred families to the SSW with complex problems and ensured that the family followed up with referral; they assisted with the harvest drive every year; they have provided transportation for some parents to get them into the school for a conference. They are truly safe haven for their students.”

Betsy Roberts, Broward County Social Worker

 “I am truly lucky to have met Andy and Janeth Fernandez. They are amazing individuals who really have created a fantastic program for our students and families. I believe in what they are doing, data and statistics show it is working. I am a strong advocate for the Firewall Program. Andy and Janeth are the real deal – they unconditionally give of themselves, to help not only the students but their families. They are very “present” in the lives of our youth and role model a healthy lifestyle. I would often get a text from Janeth in the evening, worried over the negative behavior of one of her high schoolers. Janeth has incredible insight and is able to gain the trust of not just the student but the parent as well. Together we would intervene to assure the safety of the kids and quickly take proper action. She would often tell the parent,” just go see Betsy”. They listen to her and come into Western the next day. Janeth had already laid the groundwork and I am then easily able to build a trusting relationship with the parent and assist with their issues. The Firewall staff and students are actively involved in the Western Harvest Drive. A majority of the high school students are recipients but Andy and Janeth believe in giving back. They believe in service to their community. They arrange for the kids to volunteer their time and assist in the organizing, heavy lifting and sorting of the food days before the event. The day of the event, Janeth and her staff pay it forward. They come out, volunteer and even transport food in their cars to families who could not make it. I strongly recommend Andy and Janeth for “Citizen of the Year 2014”. These two people give and give and give – and ask for nothing in return BUT to see their kids walk the stage and earn their high school diploma! Now – isn’t that the best form of recognition and success?”

Firewall Centers wins Nonprofit Rising Star 2014 Academy Award

Firewall Centers was awarded Nonprofit Rising Star at the 4th Annual PNC Bank Non-Profit Academy Awards hosted by Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and presented by 2-1-1 Broward.

non-profit academy awards


As seen in the Sun Sentinel:

Nonprofits in Broward honored at ‘Academy Awards’

By Doreen Hemlock, Sun Sentinel

7:43 PM EST, February 28, 2014

It was “Oscar” night early – to honor nonprofits in Broward County on Friday.

At a luncheon complete with a red carpet and live models painted gold like Academy Award statutes, more than 700 people turned out to recognize local nonprofits that often labor in obscurity. Businesses including PNC Bank, Publix and Consolidated Credit helped foot the bill.

Mission United, a year-old program that helps military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to adapt to civilian life, took home this year’s nonprofit award for innovation. The program offers services from legal aid to cash and job readiness, working with nonprofit United Way of Broward County and other groups.

“There are more than 5,800 nonprofits in Broward County, and the only way to succeed and build social impact is collaboration,” Jen Klaassens, director of programs of The Wasie Foundation, told the festive audience at the county’s fourth annual Nonprofit Academy Awards.

Also honored Friday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino were:

Nonprofit of the Year: Broward Partnership for the Homeless. Since opening 15 years ago, the group has served more than 20,000 homeless individuals and families, providing short term housing and other services to rebuild their lives. It has won best practices awards from the Florida Department of Children & Families and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.

Nonprofit Collaboration: Kids in Distress, which worked with Memorial Healthcare System and Legal Aid Service of Broward County to provide families in need with a continuum of services.

Nonprofit Rising Star: Firewall Centers, which began in 2003 after a teenager died from a drug overdose while left unsupervised after school. The centers offer after-school tutoring and mentoring for at-risk middle-school and high-school students.

Nonprofit Arts: ArtServe, incorporated in 1989 as one of the six original arts incubators in the United States and now billed as South Florida’s premier arts incubator. It develops events and programs to help artists turn art into business, while bringing arts to the community.

Collective Impact for Youth: HANDY (or Helping Abused Neglected Disavantaged Youth), which began in 1985 and has helped more than 50,000 Broward youth in foster care or other protective supervision.

Nonprofit Board Leader: Joe Rogers of ChildNet, which helps children find foster homes and become adopted. He’s a board member, financial supporter and father of three adopted children. He was formerly chief operating officer at Broward Health and now holds that post at Pediatrics Associates.

“What we need in this community is more foster homes,” Rogers told the luncheon. “Let’s try to make sure these children grow up in loving homes they deserve.”

Nonprofit Leader: Patricia Zeiler, who runs the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Transportation Management Association, known as Sun Trolley. She has turned around finances at the public transport program by securing grants, ads, corporate sponsorships and other funds.

Tijuana Flats Award: Rebuilding Together Broward County, which repairs and renovates homes for the disabled, military veterans, low-income and others, in an honor selected by restaurant chain’s Just in Queso Foundation.

Community Choice Award: The Girl Choir of South Florida, selected through online votes.

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