For Our Children in Urban Settings Program (FOCUS) was created in 1993 as part of a collaborative effort by Miami-Dade Community College, United Teachers of Dade County and Florida International University's College of Education (FIU). The program seeks to improve the retention and recruitment of teachers of color within Miami-Dade County. A concentrated recruitment effort was launched by FIU and its partners to recruit black, Bahamian-American, Jamaican-American, Haitian-American and other community members from the Miami area to serve Miami's inner-city urban schools as teachers. Initial funding came from the James L. Knight Foundation for scholarships and the professional development of FOCUS interns and school-based staff. FIU and Miami-Dade Community College provided faculty and staff for the program.
The FOCUS program and its community-based partners made a strong commitment to provide students with positive role models. The program offers a multi-disciplinary curriculum and provides student-teachers with seminars, workshops and conferences to enhance cross-cultural and cross-racial understanding. FOCUS students serve in a two-year internship in elementary and secondary public schools while taking a full schedule of classes at FIU's College of Education. FOCUS students have also participated in an international effort to support education abroad by giving needed school supplies to a school in Haiti. The effort is intended to provide student-teachers with an opportunity to learn about Haiti's culture and school system, and to encourage discourse between the two cultures to broaden the participants perspective.
Since 1993, FOCUS has placed 80 teaches of color in the Miami-Dade Public School System and the Broward County School System. The program currently has 40 student-teachers enrolled with an expected graduation date of April 1999. Student-teachers created a nutrition program that will be implemented in four urban elementary schools in the 1998-99 school-year.