Opportunity Miami
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Opportunity Miami

Talent Pathways: The Miami Model

By Erick Gavin, Executive Director of Venture Miami

In a time where the public holds less faith in the government’s ability to benefit the well-being of its citizen’s lives, what can be done to rebuild trust? How can the role of local government shift to regain public confidence?

The City of Miami Approach or the Miami Model

When Mayor Francis Suarez called for Miami to be the “Capital of Capital,” his vision was to open doors for every resident of our city so they become the next leaders of our growing tech ecosystem. The mayor has invested in expanding opportunities for all to become part of the new economy that is rapidly transitioning from one driven by the industrial era to one fueled by technology.

For these opportunities to truly flourish for all, it will require thoughtful collaboration amongst the public and private sectors. One fundamental piece of the puzzle is broadening access to higher education, especially to remove the entry barriers to getting a high-quality STEM education within one of our local universities. Building a city that empowers its residents to attain a STEM degree is crucial for the long-term viability of Miami as a global center of tech, innovation, and business.

Enter Venture Miami

Venture Miami is an office within the City of Miami whose vision is to make Miami the Capital of Capital by:

● Providing concierge support for founders and funders;
● Connecting talent to jobs;
● Meaningfully promoting diversity, equity & inclusion;
● Bridging connections between new to market entities and the existing innovation tech ecosystem; and,
● Supporting regional collaboration amongst other local governments, economic
development agencies & organizations.

Initial State

The recent launch of the Venture Miami Scholarship Fund (“Fund”) marks the beginning of a larger push to close the gaps that exist for students of all backgrounds to seize opportunities for greater economic mobility. The initial purpose of the fund is to remove financial barriers for all need-based students who live within the City of Miami that pursue a STEM degree within one of the four local universities (University of Miami, Florida International University, Miami Dade College, and Florida Memorial University).

The most impactful component of the fund is the guarantee that students will graduate from college debt-free so that they can embark on their career without another financial obstacle.

While this fund currently serves students living in the City of Miami accepted into local universities, the goal is to expand so it covers several other areas of their professional journey as they seek to obtain jobs in STEM career fields.

While the scholarship has the immediate goal of alleviating the financial needs of students, the long-term goal is to build generational prosperity for the students and their families. We know this is a tall order, but we believe there are existing pathways forward to support Miami students in their journey. We need to get them exposure and access to early-stage work experience, job placement in a high-wage, high-growth position, and involve them in the pre-existing network of talent within Miami.

Let us discuss some of the gaps this program hopes to cover.

Early-Stage STEM Exposure

As the Fund continues to grow and serve students at different stages, there needs to be thoughtful consideration of how to engage students at an early age (K-12), so they can acquire the skills they need to adapt to rapid technological advancements.

We need to foster environments where young students are given access to programming and other key technical skills. In order to have our citizens take advantage of this scholarship opportunity, they first need to understand what STEM is and where it can lead them in the future.

Venture Miami is working with local organizations that are hyper-focused on delivering STEM education to students at an early age. This approach will empower a younger generation to thrive within the endless possibilities they can achieve by choosing STEM as a pathway, thus exposing them to the power of obtaining such a degree.


Given the natural lag that exists between studying in college and getting a job, students who qualify for the Fund also need assistance in getting real-world opportunities. It is known that heavily relying on education no longer guarantees economic success, and a premium is being set for having true work experience while studying.

Miami students should have the ability to experience working not only so that they can get a leg up on getting into that entry-level position but also to be confident in their ability to do the work due to the skills they are learning in school.

The Fund does not require engagement from the community only through dollars but also through their ability to give time and experience to the students who are seeking these STEM careers. Venture Miami will be working together with the students to understand their needs and with employers to secure work experience that will prepare them to hit the ground running with many of these positions.

Job Placement

The amount of time for a student to find a position after they graduate could mean the difference between taking a position that is in line with their career prospects and taking one out of necessity to pay for their cost of living.

The key measure we look to determine success for the Fund is how many Miami scholars found an entry-level position that is high paying or directly leads to high-quality positions. Through Venture Miami’s growing network of startups and corporate companies that are flocking to Miami — and are being built from within our city — we can target these new jobs for our Venture Miami scholars and help them navigate the growing Miami market — and capitalize on it effectively.


As president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor Suarez’s goal is for the initiative to be used as a blueprint for other cities across the nation. Scholarship funds that target STEM fields have the potential to serve citizens through a more wholistic support during their entire journey.

Granted, each city would need to adapt our Fund to their own needs, but what we are implementing in the City of Miami can serve as a perfect foundation to set our youth up for success and build cities that embrace, prepare, and lead the way as we revolutionize the American workforce. The Venture Miami Scholarship Fund is the starting piece that hopes to bring everyone along for that journey.



Opportunity Miami is helping build an innovative, inclusive and resilient economic future for Greater Miami.

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