January 2009, Volume 13, Number 1


Institute is a beacon of hope for some residents

Man holding a clipboard

A nonprofit institute founded earlier this year to train displaced workers in Miami’s inner city is now part of the School of Business at Miami Dade College.

The Hospitality Institute was established with the dual purpose of helping people turn their lives around while supplying Miami-area businesses with a trained labor pool. MDC will expand the program and ensure its continued growth.

“It is a superb addition to MDC’s job training programs,” said Ivan Figueroa, associate professor and chair of business at Kendall Campus.

The institute was established by community-based organizations, businesses in the hospitality industry and MDC’s School of Business. Housed in the Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church at Northwest Second Avenue and Eighth Street, it provides displaced workers, veterans and ex-offenders with instruction in hospitality operations, customer service, interviewing skills and tips for staying successfully employed.

The College will expand training to include technical skills and industry certification programs. Participants can also obtain their GED certificates and qualify for financial assistance through scholarships for careers in hospitality management. 

After they are trained, those who graduate from the institute are given the opportunity to meet with employers who have job openings.

“The institute helps to connect people who otherwise might not be able to secure work with a service specifically designed to get them on their feet again,”
Figueroa said.

A number of other outreach organizations are partners in the project. These include Community Partnership for the Homeless, Camillus House, Lotus House, Carrfour Supportive Housing, Abilities Inc. of Florida, Veterans Employment Transition Services, and South Florida Workforce. Numerous community organizations and local hotel employers also participate in the Institute.

“Our goal is offer help to those in need so that both our community and our people thrive and prosper,” said institute director Jeanne Westphal. “We work with people from the inner city, some of whom are on the economic margins within Miami, to train, mentor and support them so they achieve success in their lives.”

— Barbara Bickel

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Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Miami Dade College.
Miami Dade College is an equal access/equal opportunity institution which does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, marital status, age, religion, national origin,
disability, veteran’s status, ethnicity, pregnancy, sexual orientation or genetic information. Additional information may be obtained by contacting the
Office of Equal Opportunity Programs/ADA Coordinator/Title IX Coordinator, at 305.237.2577.