On January 25, Key Biscayne children from PreK to 5th grade will have the opportunity to engage in many different after school activities and classes thanks to the The Key Biscayne Children & Education Foundation (KBCEF).
The non-profit foundation is the brainchild of Oscar Sardiñas and two other KB parents, Ivette Fernandez-Chaustre and Pierre De Agostini. It is a parent volunteer organization whose main goal is to fund educational initiatives for an after-school enrichment program for students to learn, explore and develop new interests and skills outside of the classroom.
“I saw classrooms with so many students and only one teacher,” said Sardiñas. “A teacher's aide was not always available due to lack of funding, and I wanted to do something about that.”
Sardiñas, president of the foundation, said he shared this dream with another parent, Pierre De Agostini. The results were “serendipitous, almost too good to be true.”
“We were both thinking about the same school needs,” said Sardiñas. “Together we started planning how to get funds to the schools so they could hire additional paraprofessionals, lower the student to teacher ratio, and the children could have more opportunities for enrichment classes.”
De Agostini, whose 13-year-old son Pierre is a 7th grader at the K8 Center, was familiar with educational and fund-raising models. He was already involved with two organizations dedicated to raising funds for local schools: Friends of North Beach Elementary and Friends of South Point Education Foundation.
“I am very thankful for my son and his journey,” De Agostini said. “To be able to participate in the KBCEF is a way to show my appreciation and help provide to all children the opportunity to be all that they can be.”
Sardiñas and DeAgostini began gathering input from other parents and educators to design an after-school program. They also brought in Ivette Fernandez-Chaustre, who has two children at the K8 Center: Vince, 8, and Lia, 7.
Fernandez-Chaustre, who has lived in Key Biscayne for 15 years, is a Speech-Language Pathologist and owner of Key Therapy, which specializes in helping children with developmental disabilities reach their maximum potential.
“We also had the indispensable assistance and advice from Melissa White, the director of KB Community Foundation, when we were getting started,” Sardinas added.
“We began our program this school year, and within the first three weeks we were able to raise over $50,000 by achieving 80% enrollment in our after-school classes,” Sardiñas said. “The money follows the child. The school which the students attend regularly receives the funding from the tuition for the after-school classes.”
Asked if COVID has had an effect on the program, Sardinas said, “We started just before COVID so there have had to be some minor modifications, like smaller class sizes and following safety guidelines. But we have plans to expand offerings and the number of instructors working with the children as soon as possible.”
Sardiñas is a longtime Key Biscayne resident, having moved here at age 13 in 1986, with his parents, who were originally from Cuba and Bolivia. Sardinas attended Coral Gables High School and then the University of Florida, where he earned a degree in business administration.
After college, he started a consulting firm in New York City, then began traveling throughout Southeast Asia for a global leader in supply chain optimization. During those years of travel, he would return to the area to visit family. On one trip he met his future wife, Joanne.
In 2018, they bought a home in Key Biscayne, where they now live with their two daughters: Maya Olivia, 8, and four-year-old Sienna Marie.
Joanne handles branding and marketing for the KBCEF.
In addition to his work for the foundation, Sardinas is also VP of Sales and Marketing for D&B Tile Distributors of Miami. He has also been a member of the Educational Advisory Board and the Educational Excellence Advisory Committee at his daughter’s school, experiences that allowed him to gain “knowledge about the operational needs of the local schools.”
This, in turn, helped to foster the idea of starting the foundation’s after-school classes.
The after-school program offers a variety of activities and classes, many with the assistance of local businesses and athletic groups, including: art, chess with Capablanca Chess, flag football, yoga/mindfulness with Titan Conditioning, dance and hip hop with Dance Tech, clay modeling by Clay World, soccer with KB Soccer Club, volleyball with KB Island Volleyball, computer coding, and tutoring for all ages.
There are also language classes in Portuguese, Italian Spanish and French, which are provided by Jennifer Carmody of JC Lingoals.
These are just a sampling of the offerings. To see a complete list, and to register your child, visit their website - click here
“The island was such a great place to grow up, and I felt like I wanted to show my gratitude by doing something for the community,” said Sardiñas, adding that the hope is for the program to expand to neighboring schools in the Miami-Dade area. “We currently earmark 10 percent of funds with a plan to offer scholarship programs to the inner city schools to bring those children to our classes.”