HEAT Academy End of the Year Celebration

The Miami HEAT hosted an end-of-year celebration for 352 HEAT Academy students at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The afternoon was a carnival-style event filled with food, fun, and excitement. During the festivities, Carnival Corporation & plc and Carnival Foundation presented a check in the amount of $168,000 to the Florida Prepaid College Foundation for scholarships benefiting HEAT Academy students. Fifteen fifth-grade HEAT Academy students who go on to participate in the Carnival Scholarship and Mentoring program will become eligible for a scholarship, which matures in 2024, the fifth-grade class’ expected graduating year. This marks the 15th consecutive year that Carnival has funded the scholarships, and during this time the company has purchased 225 scholarships with a total value of more than $2.7 million.

HEAT Players Rodney McGruder and Willie Reed, along with HEAT Legends Alonzo Mourning and Glen Rice were in attendance. Scheduled activities included performances by the HEAT Dancers, Burnie, and Uptown Dale. Lunch was provided by Papa John’s, Pepsi and Gatorade. The AmericanAirlines Arena bowl was also transformed into a HEAT Fun Zone with inflatables, games, face painting, popcorn, cotton candy and more.

The Carnival Scholarships, developed in collaboration with the Florida Prepaid College Foundation, enable 15 students who are currently enrolled in HEAT Academy and go on to participate in the Carnival Scholarship and Mentoring Program to be eligible for a four-year tuition scholarship to an accredited Florida college or university of their choice upon graduating high school. Florida Prepaid College Foundation provides a matching donation to fund these scholarships. In March, the eighth HEAT Academy / Carnival Scholarship and Mentoring Program graduating class was awarded 17 Carnival Scholarships. Carnival has presented 123 students with scholarships over the past eight years.

The following executives whom also attend the event included:

  *   Michael McCullough, The HEAT Group, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

  *   Linda Coll, Carnival Corporation, Executive Director of Carnival Foundation

  *   Senator Ron Silver, Florida Prepaid College Foundation

  *   Martha de la Peña Rojas, Florida Blue, Senior Manager Market Development and Community  

       Relations, South Florida

  *   Stanley Tate, Founder, Florida Prepaid College Foundation

  *   Brennan Waldorf, Bank Of Ozarks, AVP Commercial Lending

  *   Linda Amica-Roberts, Administrative Director, Miami-Dade Public Schools


HEAT Television Host and Courtside Reporter, Jason Jackson, served as the emcee.

HEAT Academy, an after school program that provides elementary school students with extra exposure to academics, particularly math, reading, writing, and science, is the flagship community initiative of the Miami HEAT. Celebrating its 18th year of existence, HEAT Academy, presented by Carnival Foundation, has been implemented at three local inner city schools: Paul Laurence Dunbar K-8 Center, Jesse J. McCrary Jr. Elementary and Riverside Elementary. In addition to a curriculum geared for success on the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) exam, students receive assistance with homework, have a safe place to be when their parents are not available, and learn from positive role models who inspire kids to excel. HEAT staffers volunteer their time throughout the year to assist HEAT Academy students. Additional sponsors of HEAT Academy include Florida Blue, Bank of Ozarks and the Florida Prepaid College Board.