By Derek Joy


OneUnited Bank and Miami Children’s Initiative unveiled a creative partnership in conjunction with Liberty City Renaissance.

The event was a presentation of the OneUnited Mural Project.

The Project is a public arts work, youth development, community development and beautification program providing arts enrichment through Science, Technology, and Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) education.

“They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  This picture today says more.  When you’re at home you feel the connection.  I feel the connection,” said OneUnited Bank President and CEO Teri Williams, who grew up in government projects in Indiantown, Fla., and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Brown University and the Harvard University School of Business, respectively.

“This project combines some of the best of our community.  Artist/muralist Addonis Parker, Miami Children’s Initiative, Liberty City Renaissance and others.  But most importantly, our teens,” added Williams.

The project will feature 20 teens selected from Booker T. Washington, Miami Edison, Miami Jackson and Miami Northwestern High Schools under the supervision of Parker, a locally acclaimed artist/muralist, who is a native of Ohio.

The Miami Children’s Initiative was created in the image of the Harlem Children’s Zone (Harlem, N.Y.), where Miami-Dade Public Schools Board Member Dr. Dorothy Bendross Mindingall, Miami- Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson (Dist. 3) and 13 others visited seven years ago.

The Liberty City Renaissance is a celebration of African-American culture that promotes Liberty City artists.  A $75,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for this project aims to further that goal.

“I’m glad to be a part of this project as so much effort comes to fruition.  We tried to replicate the Harlem Children’s Zone.  I’m just so excited,” said Edmonson, while noting the progress and national recognition received by Miami-Dade County’s effort to transform communities one block at a time.

“President Obama was here for that recognition and to announce the $1.3-million Promise Grant.  The recognition was for the tremendous progress made in such a short period of time.”

Getting youth involved is a key component of this project.  The aspiring artists, under the guidance of Parker will research, design and create a public work of art on the front of OneUnited Bank, located at 3275 N.W. 79th Street, in Miami.

These kids will also get to open a bank account and participate in a “Day-at-the-Bank,” where they will learn financial literacy skills.  The mural is scheduled for completion in June 2015.

“I think this is a great endeavor,” said Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Jean Monestine (Dist.2), who earned an undergraduate degree in finance.  “This shows that this organization is a good corporate citizen.

“It is an investment in children, money matters and education.  Everybody can’t be a college graduate.  But everybody can invest in the community.  Everybody can own a business.”

Williams has demonstrated that fact and more.   OneUnited Bank started in Boston, then acquired what was then Peoples Bank of Commerce, the first African-American own Bank in Miami-Dade County, and subsequently acquired a bank in Los Angeles, Calif.

“That’s why we have the name OneUnited Bank,” Williams said.  “We’re the largest Black owned bank in America.  We are the first Black internet bank.  Our focus is on serving low income communities.”

Said Bendross Mindigall:  “I’m here to ensure that any child from the Miami- Dade Public Schools will know why they’re here, will know their work will be here for eternity.

“This is reminiscent of our gifts.  I will be here daily to ensure that our children are used and not abused.”