Karen Fryd is the Director of the South Florida Youth Foundation, Inc. It was fate that took Karen to inner-city schools that she never realized were so close to her home. She was astounded at the level of need of children, who while living parallel lives to her own lacked many of the basic necessities. The South Florida Youth Foundation was founded in 2001, to raise needed funds, and provide direct assistance to elementary-school aged children in Overtown and Liberty City.
Karen’s legacy of caring and volunteer service began 15 years ago when she served as a chief civilian volunteer for the City of Miami Beach Police Athletic League Christmas Toy Drive. In 1999, a chance encounter with Jonathan’s, her husband, former high school classmate would take her volunteerism to another level. This first grade teacher at Frederick Douglas Elementary School told Karen about the challenges of teaching the poorest of the poor. Karen called every school supply wholesale resource and bought enough school supplies not only for her friend’s class, but the entire school for that year and the following three years. Jonathan felt Karen’s work would benefit more if it was facilitated through a non-profit foundation. “My inspiration has always been the wonderful children, the dedicated teachers, and the police department with their dedicated work to better the lives of children with prevention programs,” stated Karen Fryd, In an acceptance speech where she was honored as one of Miami Beach’s Women worth Knowing she recognizes Richard Lehrman who encouraged her to go to professional meetings for non-profits. She also stated, I also had the support of very dear friends and family who truly understood my grass roots efforts and trusted me completely, thank you Jeffrey Miller.
Today, the South Florida Youth Foundation has provided 5,000 backpacks yearly with all the school supplies included; distributed more than 50,000 pieces of brand new clothing; bought and distributed more than 3,000 school uniforms; and provided summer camp scholarships for 114 abused children. For almost two years, she has coordinated a midnight basketball program in Overtown to give adolescent boys a safe place to play. Currently, Karen is sponsoring a new violin program for Santa Clara Elementary in Wynwood called “Violins against Violence.” Four more schools are expecting the program. However, Karen’s favorite project is at Booker T. Washington High School where she helped create the “Twister Café for the Mentally Trainable Handicapped Students”. Karen said, “It is humbling to be with such sweet children. This program makes almost $70 a day; most of these kids want to go into culinary careers.” Karen is also a member of the National Council of Jewish Women, The Urban League, Miami Beach P.A.L. City of Miami P.A.L. and the Initiative for Child Murder and Youth Violence Prevention Committee for the City of Miami.
Karen has also placed herself on the front line in the heart of struggling communities with at-risk children, primarily in Overtown, Liberty City and Brownsville working hand-in-hand with principals, police officers and school counselors.
Karen has lived in Miami Beach for 30 years. She was born in Baranquilla, Colombia. Karen attended high school in New York and college in Switzerland. She is married to Jonathan Fryd and they have three children, Alexander, Jeremy and Sabine.