HEAT Academy: History


The first HEAT Academy site was established at Paul L. Dunbar Elementary in the historic Overtown district of Miami.


Our second HEAT Academy site was unveiled at Little River Elementary (now called Jesse J. McCrary, Jr. Elementary School) which resides in the Little Haiti area of Miami.


Our third HEAT Academy site to date opened its doors at Riverside Elementary & Community School in the Little Havana area of Miami. The grand opening was attended by then Commissioner of Education and current Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist.


Carnival Cruise Lines, in an event attended by Kendrick Meek, member of the United States House of Representatives, announces the kickoff of their Carnival Scholarships to benefit HEAT Academy students. The scholarship program provides fifteen (15) fully paid college scholarships annually to deserving HEAT Academy students upon graduation. The annual scholarship monies are donated by Carnival Cruise Lines with a match from the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.


The Miami HEAT is named the 2004-05 winner of the Florida Education Commissioner's Business Recognition Award for HEAT Academy. Each year the Commissioner of Education recognizes worthy business partners for their commitment to improving the academic performance of Florida school students and for their outstanding public service. The Business Recognition Awards program verifies the interest and dedication of businesses that want to make a difference in education. Specifically, the program honors those organizations that work with their local school districts to increase high student achievement, promote greater government efficiency, and strive for a safe learning environment -- three goals of the Florida Department of Education.


Riverside Elementary becomes the first HEAT Academy site to achieve an "“A”" status on their FCAT School Grade. Riverside Elementary made gradual, but steady gains over the years since the inception of HEAT Academy improving from a “"D"” in 2001 to a "“C"” in 2002 and then a "“B"” in 2005 before eventually achieving "“A"” status in 2006.


The Miami HEAT receives the John I. Smith Award for its HEAT Academy after school educational initiatives by the Miami-Dade Coalition for Community Education at the 2008 School House Awards ceremony. The John I. Smith Award, which was named after a founding coalition member, is given to the person or organization that exemplifies support of “community education through overwhelming generosity, outstanding resources, visionary educational solutions to social challenges and unwavering commitment to the welfare of students and families. The School House Awards are held yearly to recognize educational and community advocates who demonstrate exemplary support of community education.


As part of the 2011 NBA Finals, the Miami HEAT unveiled a new Learn & Play Center at Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School on Wednesday, June 1, 2011, which provides students with a safe place to play and state-of-the-art technology to help them explore their educational interests. The Center was renovated as part of the NBA Cares Community Caravan.

HEAT players were on hand to help the boys and girls cut the ribbon on their transformed space, which showcased a reading area stocked with new books, a play space featuring gaming equipment, and a technology area outfitted with brand-new PCs and printers. The Center also features new flooring, tables, cabinets, desks, chairs, and bookcases.


The Miami HEAT hosted its ninth annual Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration at Riverside Elementary School in Little Havana on October 13, 2014. Presented by Pepsi and supported by Florida Blue and FOX Sports Sun, the celebration got HEAT fans at Riverside Elementary fired up for the 2014-15 season with the raising of the first HEAT Nation flag. Riverside Elementary, a predominantly Hispanic school, is one of three HEAT Academy school sites and also commemorated its 100-year anniversary as part of the event. Members of the 2014-15 HEAT team interacted with over 800 students in a series of fun activities, including basketball drills, kickball, boxball and field day games. In addition to raising the inaugural HEAT National flag, the players joined the students in painting a unique HEAT Nation mural.


The Miami HEAT kicked off the 2017-18 school year in Miami-Dade County by welcoming back the students and teachers at Jesse J. McCrary, Jr. Elementary School on Monday, August 21st, 2017. HEAT players distributed school supplies and served breakfast to students as they entered the school cafeteria. The HEAT Experience then hosted a pep rally courtesy of Alert Today Alive Tomorrow, a program of the Florida Department of Transportation. Over the course of two years, the students at Jesse J. McCrary, Jr. Elementary School increased their proficiency in reading, math, and science on the FSA and FCAT, earning its first ever B grade during the 2016-2017 school year.


The Miami HEAT welcomed back teachers and students to the 2018-2019 school year at Paul Laurence Dunbar K-8 Center on Monday, August 20, 2018, to recognize the 20 years of the HEAT Academy program, with this school serving as the first site in 1999. To commemorate the event, HEAT players helped distribute school supplies and the HEAT Experience hosted a pep rally for these students.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter