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Miami Heat, Partners Celebrate New Reading Center

Courtesy of The Miami Herald

Brian Grant and Heat Dancers
read to 3rd graders.

Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School, in Miami's Overtown community, has a new reading and learning center thanks to the Miami Heat basketball organization. The center marks another step in the Heat's Read To Achieve and Heat Academy programs. The academy, which is supported by Carnival Cruise Lines, is an after-school instructional program that is sponsored by Citibank, Lucent Technologies, JPMorgan Chase and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida.

It provides instruction by certified teachers through a curriculum designed to help students improve in reading and math, with emphasis on preparation for the annual FCAT exam. Heat President Pat Riley, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, Miami Beach Mayor David Dermer and Heat Center Brian Grant and Forward Lamar Odom were among guests at the opening ceremony, January 26.

The center was to immediately be put to use, with Grant and Odom conducting a Read To Achieve ''Reading Timeout'' with youngsters. Guests toured the center and got a preview of the Heat Academy classroom area. Riley announced the Heat's recently developed partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida.

Also, the Heat presented its first All-Star Reading Team, comprising officials such as Mercedes Toural, Miami-Dade County public schools chief education officer and deputy superintendent of schools; Michael M. Krop, chairman of the Miami-Dade County School Board; and Marta Pérez, School Board member.

LeapFrog SchoolHouse, which publishes curriculum and assessment content specifically designed for the classroom, distributed giveaways to the children, as did Humana, which supported several Heat outreach events. Pizza Hut supplied food.

A Heat statement announcing the opening of the center said Dunbar Elementary is one of three sites where the Heat Academy program is housed, the others being Little River Elementary, 2450 NW 84th St., and Riverside Elementary, 1190 SW Second Ave. in Little Havana.

To create a special environment for learning, the working partnership among the Heat Group, the NBA, Home Depot and Dell Inc. will provide students with Dell computers and servers, printers, educational software, books, resource guides and reference materials, the Heat statement said.

For more information on Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary, visit