Chamber Hopes To Bridge Two Counties With Higher Education Consortium
By John P. Hernandez
The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is seeking a $500,000 Knight Foundation grant to jump-start its Higher Education Consortium, the group’s first multi-county program.
"The funding we are seeking will be over three years, meaning that by the fourth year, the consortium will have to be self-sufficient," said William O. Cullom, chamber president and CEO. "The entire program will need about $900,000 in funding, of which the remaining $400,000 will come from other funding sources like membership fees for example."
The chamber will know by June 11 whether it will receive the grant, Mr. Cullom said.
The goals of the Higher Education Consortium tie in with One Community One Goal, the chamber’s targeted effort to grow key industries here. But the group also seeks to increase the percentage of Miami-Dade and Broward County residents who are college graduates to 25%, up from the current 18%.
Other consortium goals include supporting the international public services initiative at Florida International University and developing a database about programs offered by all post-secondary education institutions in Miami-Dade and Broward.
"There are 17 colleges and universities in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The goal of the consortium is to get them to work together on different initiatives that benefit all of South Florida," said Philip F. Blumberg, chamber chairman. "We are trying to copy a similar higher education consortium in Atlanta, which has been very successful."
The consortium is the chamber’s first regional expansion goal, Mr. Cullom said.
"If we do this well," he said, "we will have credibility to take on other regional issues such as high-speed rail and governmental issues."