Project Victory and Project Independence

In 2015, Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez (PD-11) established a partnership with Miami Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) to house a comprehensive career development program at the Public Defender’s office for students with disabilities. Directed by Faith Gomez, the on-site instructor, Project Victory (Vocational Instruction, Community Training Opportunities for Youth) provides student interns with on-the-job training in file management, retention and destruction in a classroom/workroom setting. 

PD-11’s initial class consisted of 16 students enrolled at Miami Beach, Booker T. Washington and Miami Senior High. In 2018, PD-11 expanded the program to add a full day training option through Project Independence and increased student enrollment to 3 full time and 7 part-time students.          

The programs are designed to provide work related experiences for students with disabilities by developing social, emotional, and employability skills essential for employment and success in the workplace. Project Victory and Project Independence students are assigned to the Central Intake Unit, a critical component of our office, where they train alongside our clerical staff and assist with maintaining our digital files. The goal is for them to acquire the skills that lead to gainful employment in the workforce. Two graduates of the program were hired as full-time employees with the office in November 2018. 

PD-11 also established “Gabby’s Room,” a state-of-the-art instructional workroom with the latest in technology. This room is named after Gabby, the very special daughter of a current and former employee. Gabby was born with congenital challenges that affected her mobility, vision, and communication skills. While things were often harder for Gabby, with acceptance, patience, and a supportive environment, she was able to achieve and excel in many different areas. “Gabby’s Room” provides a warm, welcoming and supportive space for Project Victory and Project Independence students and is emblematic of the limitless accomplishments students can achieve with guidance and support.

To date, we have maintained steady enrollment of students participating in both programs. Each school year we welcome new students to our vocational training programs to provide more career opportunities for MDCPS students.