SEED plants outreach efforts in Black enclaves

Boarding school taps into community to boost enrollment

Carla St.Louis | 3/27/2014, 9 a.m.

By 7 p.m. at least 30 seats remained empty in the community room, where an open house for the new SEED School of Miami, the first and only boarding school in Kendall.

At least 20 people including parents, children and SEED staffers mingled with Head of School Kara Locke, who spoke with each individual, answering their questions about South Florida’s alternative boarding school for at-risk youth located in the Miami Gardens Community Service Center on March 10.

SEED reaches kids through airwaves, home visits

For others, this would be alarming, considering SEED recruiters must move in 30 sixth-grade boys and 30 girls into the school’s renovated dorms by August for their grand-opening, but Locke says the perception that SEED is having difficulties with outreach is misleading, citing SEED’s comprehensive outreach plan that targets


Brian Person Compact Services Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters

Little Haiti, Overtown, Allapattah, Liberty City and Miami Gardens.

“These are the communities in which we’re holding events and scheduling events,” Locke says of SEED’s efforts. “The outreach visit you saw [at the open house] represents just one of the ways we connect with families. We have a diverse board and community partners who are spreading the message.”

For a school that has a 17-year successful track record in enrollment in other schools nationwide, Locke is optimistic SEED will fulfill its quota by August.

Another clear indicator that Locke’s outreach is working is SEED’s unexpected arrival on the budget proposal from the Florida House. The charter boarding school is slated to receive $775,000 from the State.

“But, by far the most effective way we reach families is through home visits,” she says. “To date, every single home visit our staff has made has resulted in a completed application.”

“The concept of a public, 24-hour, college-preparatory school is relatively new to most people,” Locke says. “What we are doing and have been doing is making face-to-face time with families our top priority.”

Part of SEED’s rollout plan includes working with faith-based organizations and radio stations to educate the community about SEED.

She says this month SEED will be tackling the Haitian airwaves as James Jean, an outreach coordinator for SEED will be on WSFR 1580 AM to get the word out to Miami-Dade County’s Haitian community.

Although Locke talks an impressive game, she says the quantitative data on SEED’s enrollment will not be available until next month.

NPO speaks: ‘SEED must target churches’

Brian Person, Compact Services Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami, believes SEED is hitting the mark on education.

Born and raised in Allapatttah, Person is the co-host of Brother to Brother on WMBM AM 1490, a talk show that focuses on issues, specifically such as education and youth, pertaining to the Black community.

“Quite often we don’t see a preparation for our youth to go to college, instead we more so expect them to succeed without a real path,” Person says. “For this to be an opportunity to actually experience college life like going away for a week from home but still knowing that they family is a support system is beneficial.”