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Making our new history, together: 2014 Philanthropy Evening
Friday, May 16, 2014

Panama City Skyline

Pictured left to right: Ruth Shack, Jorge Luis Lopez, Marile Lopez and Javier Alberto Soto

In celebration of Miami’s growing philanthropic community, we gathered our generous Fundholders and supporters for our 2014 Philanthropy Evening.  The event was presented by Bank of America and generously supported by National YoungArts Foundation and Bacardi.  In YoungArts’ remarkable space overlooking Biscayne Bay, we recognized members of our Ruth and Richard Shack Society and the extensive network of donors who have shaped The Miami Foundation and help us make Miami’s new history.

In the past, Miami’s philanthropic architects were a handful of philanthropists in town. Now, we have the power of the collective.  Every individual, couple and family can make a philanthropic impact on Miami, but working with The Miami Foundation pools their power with other like-minded changemakers to have a greater impact than any one of us could make alone.

Philanthropy is broadening in Miami. Now, with a $25 gift, anyone can join the multimillion-dollar movement that is Give Miami Day.  More than 12,000 people joined the effort in 2013 … many of them will be the million-dollar endowment builders of tomorrow.

Our signature Community Grants program is supported by generous Miamians who cared about a pressing issue and wanted to support efforts to address it, forever.  Their united resources empower us to invest more than $1 million a year to help those in need, fuel our cultural renaissance and enable local residents to improve their lives. 

The new Miami is collaborative.  Museum Park, the championship HEAT, an expanded port, Wynwood Art Walk, Critical Mass, Brickell City Centre … if we can connect all these dots and fill in the gaps with our philanthropic investment, we create a solid foundation for future Miami to stand on.

We each have the capacity to effect monumental change but that impact grows exponentially when we unite around a common goal.  We invite the community to join our quest to make Miami’s new history, together.

Samantha Bratter is vice president for development at The Miami Foundation.

Arva Moore Parks, Denis A. Russ and Maria Alonso

Javier Alberto Soto, Marlon Hill, Charisse Grant and Matt Haggman

Dennis Edwards, Mark Steinberg, Edward Heidel, Colgate Darden, Jerry Chasen and Richard Milstein

Javier Alberto Soto, Joe Fernandez and John Kozyak

Click here to view more photos from the event. 

Panama City: it’s so Miami
Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Panama City Skyline

Miami Fellows Class VII recently returned from their international seminar in Panama. Here, Charisse Grant explores how their local leaders’ vision for Panama City’s future mirrors our own here at home.

It all seemed so Miami.

The Miami Fellows and I are in the downtown Banesco building meeting with local business leaders. The head of the chamber of commerce is touting the city as the “Business Gateway of the Americas.” The regional president for GE shares why the company moved its Latin American/Caribbean headquarters here: strategic location, connectivity and fresh talent. The young professionals share what works and what doesn’t in their booming city – a vibrant, diverse urban core on one hand and the rising cost of living on the other.

Only, we’re not in Miami. We’re in Panama City.

Miami Fellows Class VII spent February 27th to March 4th exploring the Central American capital. The trip represents a unique element of our 15-month program to develop a new generation of leaders for Greater Miami. Leadership here requires understanding our region’s countries, people and issues. Each Fellows class selects a destination to examine connections and commonalities. Class VII was the first to pick Panama. 

Panama City proved an ideal vantage point to view issues that parallel those Class VII has studied in Greater Miami: economy, community development, public transit, education and culture.

Looking across Panama Bay is like gazing in a mirror. The arced shore is lined with a sprawling, soaring canyon of shiny new high-rises. A bayfront park offers a lively, linear green-space between the water and the bustling Cinta Costera boulevard. Traffic crawls through the congested city streets.  It’s so Miami.

Beyond the sights, what made the experience rich was access to leaders.  In a private session, Minister of the Presidency Roberto Henríquez explained how the current administration has managed to grow the economy while tackling poverty, income disparity, community development and infrastructure challenges.

Seeing the new $1.5 billion rapid transit system and rail stations around the city was impressive. But better still was our up-close tour with the chief engineer, who recounted what it took to design, build and open a metro line from concept to launch in just five years.

Watching massive cargo ships pass through the 100-year-old Panama Canal was awe-inspiring. Even more awesome was a private presentation by a lead engineer to show the astonishing scale of earth moved, concrete poured and gates built for the canal’s expansion.  Soon, the yet-bigger Panamax ships will dock in a deepened PortMiami, making our new tunnel a critical addition for the port’s increased need for efficiency.

We share with Panama City the drive to feed our economies and the challenges that come with managing progress versus preservation. It was charming to see the Spanish and French colonial-style buildings with intricate murals – strikingly like those in Wynwood – in the historic city square. It was chilling to hear our Panamanian guide talk about the growing challenge of displacement as ritzy condos replace decaying buildings – and the residents who lived in them. 

Our day-trip to the indigenous Embera Drua village further told the story. Outside the small, cinderblock schoolhouse, village leader Mateo Mecha spoke passionately about his most-pressing leadership challenge. The school ends at 8th grade and then children must move to the city, relying on family and the village for costly living expenses. He wants that opportunity for them, so he’s trying to muster financial and logistical support to buy a house in Panama City.  Groups of children can then live affordably and further their education – even though most will not return to the village.

We saw only snapshots of Panama’s complex issues, but we also saw a key element of leadership: vision. Leaders with vision for building a Business Gateway to the Americas, a metro, a waterway to move the world’s cargo and better education options for children in need.

It all seemed so Miami.

Charisse Grant is the senior vice president for programs at The Miami Foundation.

We are deeply grateful to Susan Amat, founder of Venture Hive in Miami, who is working with the Panamanian government to help create an entrepreneurial ecosystem.  She graciously used her relationships to arrange several high-level meetings.


Fellows with Minister of the Presidency Roberto Henríquez

Panama City metro trains being prepared to enter service

The Panama Canal, now being expanded to accommodate super-Panamax cargo ships.

Murals in the histroic city square

Make Your Place! The 2014 Public Space Challenge launches March 3
Thursday, February 13, 2014

South Pointe Park

It’s pretty simple, really: an open, green space, cool shade from lush trees, a pick-up soccer game and a great view. Most importantly, it has people – good friends, of course, but also interesting folks from all walks of life, enjoying and connecting with each other.

That’s my perfect public space – I found it in Miami Beach’s South Pointe Park. There are others like it around Greater Miami, but plenty of opportunities to improve existing and create new public spaces.
That is why The Miami Foundation will launch the second Our Miami Public Space Challenge. From March 3 to April 8, you may submit your idea – big or small – to improve, activate or create a public space in Greater Miami.
Public spaces are parks, libraries, public buildings, markets, plazas, playgrounds or any free, open place where people can convene and connect.

These places belong to all of us. We pay for them with our tax dollars and we have a say in what they look like. Your voice, your ideas can make a difference.

Eric Katz, 2013 Public Space Challenge winner, is a great example. Eric lives in Kendall and recognized the need for green space near Dadeland Mall. He saw the vacant land under the Dadeland South Metrorail station as an opportunity for a public park. He posted his vision as an idea for the Public Space Challenge and won a grant to make it a reality.

He is starting small with a pop-up park in that location. The pop up is temporary, but Eric has pulled together a big team of volunteers that believe in the project. He is gaining momentum for the permanent park by demonstrating what is possible.

Last year’s ideas ranged from farmers’ markets to bus stop libraries. The 2013 winners are building out walkways shaded by hundreds of colorful umbrellas, community gardens in vacant lots and neighborhood festivals.
We want your ideas – whether practical or pie in the sky. It can be a project you want to implement or a suggestion for local government or others to take up. Help us fuel the conversation – The Miami Foundation created this challenge to engage our community and increase demand for better public spaces across Miami-Dade County.

We will have several community information sessions to learn more, where we’ll answer questions about the challenge and provide tips for developing and implementing public space projects.

Join the discussion online using the #ourmiami hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. We’ll post the latest updates throughout the challenge. Click here for more information.

We hope you’ll join our effort and can’t wait to see your fantastic ideas.

Stuart Kennedy is The Miami Foundation’s senior programs officer leading the Our Miami project.

Young, talented and engaged: Miami’s new philanthropist
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

There are many Miamians who, when presented with the right platform, are eager to be philanthropists.  Our city is full of young, diverse, talented people, looking for new ways to get involved and improve our community. This group challenges us to develop fresh approaches to engaging them.

We wrapped up the Our Miami Public Space Challenge last month with 15 locally generated ideas dividing $130,000 in grant funding.  Health Foundation of South Florida matched our initial $100,000 commitment with $30,000 to improve public spaces promoting healthy lifestyles.  The energy yielding 250+ submitted ideas proved we struck a nerve with residents.  Miamians have a vested interest in building a more attractive city – they actively seek opportunities to participate and have their voices heard.

Also, the buzz is at a fever pitch for Give Miami Day 2013.  More than 400 nonprofits are mobilizing to carry the event’s 2012 success to a new level of achievement.  With a minimum gift of $25, everyone can participate on November 20 and join the effort to build a greater Miami.

A new approach to philanthropy is taking hold in our city – one that democratizes impact and puts it in the hands of anyone who has a passion for this community.  We strongly believe that the Give Miami Day donors of today are the endowment builders of tomorrow.  Their enthusiasm is proof of Miami’s tremendous generosity that exists in every age and economic group.

Javier Alberto Soto, president and CEO

Data-driven Philanthropy: 2013 Fall Conference for Community Foundations Recap
Wednesday, September 25, 2013

COF conference blog recap Miami Toronto

Our president and CEO, Javier Alberto Soto, teamed up with Rahul K. Bhardwaj, president & CEO of Toronto Community Foundation, to present a session at COF's 2013 conference. Their brief post below shares the importance of data in driving grantmaking strategies.

The “A Tale of Two Cities” session at the Council on Foundations' 2013 Fall Conference for Community Foundations examined our approaches to data-driven philanthropy. The Toronto Community Foundation’s Vital Signs Report provides an annual snapshot of the city’s quality of life and identifies opportunities to provide long-term solutions.  Using Vital Signs as a model, The Miami Foundation launched Our Miami: Soul of the City to provide greater focus for the Foundation’s work and build a Miami that attracts and retains young, talented people.  Conducting in-depth research has guided programming at both of our foundations, making us more thoughtful about how and why we tackle particular issues.

Community foundations become strategic knowledge centers for philanthropy when they use research and data to uncover a community’s needs.  Our international collaboration developed as parallel journeys building community awareness, doing diagnostic analysis, launching innovative communications campaigns and, ultimately, creating new programmatic frameworks.

One of the most pressing topics for community foundations is the reinvention of their position as catalysts for change.  Foundations are increasingly taking on new, proactive roles within their communities, capitalizing on their ability to lead and advocate.  They are independent and unencumbered by political affiliation or private interests.  They are uniquely positioned to take the long view on communities’ growth and progress.

As community foundations delve into these new roles, it is important that we take stock of where we are and use data and community input as the base on which to drive forward innovation within our organizations.

Join the discussion on Twitter and Facebook: #philanthrodata

From dream to reality: making an impact with your public space
Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The SoundScape at the New World Symphony is one of Miami’s greatest recent public space projects. Here, New World Symphony President and CEO Howard Herring offers insights from that project for Challenge applicants.

Here at New World Symphony, we are more than enthusiastic about the Public Space Challenge.  This grant program holds great promise for our city.  We encourage everyone to take time to dream about a public space that is ripe for improvement.

We also want to offer a few reflections on our Miami Beach SoundScape experience. Let’s start at the beginning.  The cave was cold, the sun was warm.  One of our ancient ancestors walked outside, sat on a rock, and created a park.  On some levels, it is still that simple.  See the opportunity and follow your imagination.

At New World Symphony, it was about sharing and creating a new relationship between music and listeners, our musicians and the audience, our institution and the public.  We wanted to experiment with classical music in nature, Miami style.  We wanted to expand our audience by giving people the chance to encounter live music accidentally and casually, but intensely presented at the highest levels of sight and sound.  We wanted those people to be from our community and, thanks to our proximity to the beach, from around the world.  So far, so good.  
Thanks to the design, architecture and programming, we have become automatic ambassadors for our art form and for our city. The park programming, including visual art and film, is a tangible community asset.

So, as you consider your own public space plan, we humbly offer a few suggestions. Imagine your prospective users.  Talk to them.  Articulate your program.  When, and only when, the program is set - move to design.  Don't take no for an answer.  We would be happy to offer advice to any and all Miami dreamers.  Best of luck to everyone.  We know this program is going to change Miami for the better.  

Howard Herring is the President and CEO of New World Symphony

Small investment, big impact: Insights from Miami public space projects
Thursday, September 12, 2013

 

We’ve spent the past three weeks meeting with Miamians interested in transforming our parks, playgrounds and more as part of the Foundation’s Public Space Challenge. Some have big ideas to address our seemingly intractable problems. Others have smaller projects that they hope will have an outsized impact.

Each though is looking for  insights and advice on how to bring their project to fruition.

To help, The Miami Foundation has organized a series of workshops with our partners at ioby, and now we have two videos to share:

  • The first video features a panel on how a small investment in public spaces can have a big impact. Speakers include Marta Viciedo and Irvans Augustin from Urban Impact Lab and Adam Schachner from Emerge MiamiYou can check it out here.

  • The second, shorter video, encapsulates what The Miami Foundation is trying to accomplish with the challenge.

We hope you can learn from these videos as you think about your submission to the Public Space Challenge, which is offering  a share of $120,000 to projects and closes next week.

We’d love to see you too at our final workshop, Activating Space: Markets and More, at 6 p.m. Sept. 18 at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus Room 2106.

Stuart Kennedy is the programs officer coordinating the Foundation's Our Miami initiative. 

A Recipe for Successful Crowdfunding (hint, it’s in the people)
Monday, September 09, 2013

As part of The Miami Foundation Public Space Challenge, the crowdfunding site ioby is offering Miamians tips on how to raise funds online for their civic projects, via its signature FastCash training series. Below, Erin Barnes, ioby’s co-founder and executive director offers secrets to success.

By Erin Barnes, ioby Co-Founder & Executive Director

At ioby, when we look across all of our crowdfunding projects, the ingredients for success quickly become apparent.

The first, and arguably most important, is having a strong and diverse team.

ioby projects with two or more leaders are funded six times faster than those led by just one person. This data is consistent with what most investors will tell you: enterprises led by a solo founder are more likely to fail.

So, how do you build a strong and diverse team?

If you’re reading this, you’re likely the visionary of your public space project and its primary leader. Although you probably have many important priorities competing for your time, you should absolutely be involved in your ioby fundraising campaign.

Your vision will attract donors and supporters to your cause. But you can’t do it alone.

Diversity on your team means that you’ll be able to tap a broader network of supporters. Bring on people with different social and professional networks. The most obvious thing to do is to pick individuals with influence in relevant sectors; bring on someone with connections to media, another person with connections in local government, a thought leader in your field.

A more nuanced approach to teambuilding is to tap people with unique, but overlapping social networks. Think about your Facebook news feed when two or more of your friends share the same news article. You feel like everyone you know and care about thinks this article is important, and you’re more likely to read it. Think about having the same subtle persistence in your ioby campaign. Make sure people you’ve identified as supporters and likely donors will hear about your ioby campaign from two or more people. It will make it seem as though everyone is giving to your ioby project, and they’ll feel more peer pressure to do so.

Remember: you’re running an online campaign. Be sure you have someone, ideally a digital native, who is extremely comfortable using a digital organizing platform to do and share your work.

About 40% of ioby projects are led by nonprofit organizations with five or fewer people on staff. In this scenario, it can be very helpful to tap a board member, an advisor, a top donor or exemplary volunteer to help your ioby team expand its base of supporters. Remember, people who already support your organization can be great ambassadors for your cause to their own networks.

You’re running a crowdfunding campaign for a reason. About 30% of your donors will be new to you and your cause. Build your team with people who are connected to networks of people who you want to  be a part of your base.

Finally, don’t forget to use the team you’ve built. In your human resources is a truckload of creative capital. Let it guide your campaign and build something that’s authentic to your mission that resonates with your base.

For more Habits of Highly Effective ioby Leaders, join us for a workshop at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, Room 3208-09.

Submitting an idea for the Public Space Challenge? Join us for training sessions.
Tuesday, September 03, 2013

As the Sept. 19 deadline for the Public Space Challenge approaches, we want to help folks submit the best ideas possible. To help, we have planned a series of training sessions with our partners at ioby, each with different insights into creating and improving public spaces.

Our first session, which took place on August 28, led to a great discussion on project design. (Check out our quick brainstorm for Simpson Park, above.)  In the past few weeks, we took on a variety of topics - from how to work with local governments on a project to ways to use small projects to spark large scale change.

At each, ioby will provide tips on how to use its platform to start fundraising for your project launch, whether or not you share in the challenge’s $120,000 in prize funds.

Each session will take place at Miami Dade College's Wolfson Campus, easily accessible by public transit. The schedule and descriptions are below.

We hope you can join us. The more people are working on these issues, the more success we will have in building a Greater Miami.

Did I mention too that we’ll be serving free pizza?

See you there, and don’t forget to submit your idea by Sept. 19.

Stuart Kennedy is the programs officer coordinating the Foundation's Our Miami initiative.

Activating Space: Markets and More
6-8 p.m. Sept. 18
Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus Room 2106
A great public place is more than just the physical space - programming brings it to life. One of the simplest ways to begin to activate and anchor public space is with markets and mobile vendors. Join ioby’s Miami Project Recruiting Manager Karja Hansen and Miami leaders in activating space for an intensive evening about activating space. You’ll also learn how to use the ioby platform to raise the money, resources and volunteers you need to make it happen.

How Give Miami Day created a special Miami Moment
Friday, December 14, 2012

A thriving community is one that is engaged, connected and working together toward a shared vision. Give Miami Day is a shining example of how achieving this unity of purpose creates a special Miami Moment that we can all be proud of.

In a single day, Miami ignited a movement that had never been tested in our community before. The result was more than $1.2 million raised for 300 nonprofit organizations that tirelessly ensure our community’s needs are met.  Almost 5,000 donors spanning the city, nation and globe joined the effort and dollar by dollar, selflessly gave into our shared vision for a better place to live.  Those organizations are now empowered to serve a community that proved how highly we regard their work.

This is how great communities are built: with the dedication, sacrifice and vision demonstrated by the entire city on Give Miami Day.  What we achieved together opens a new chapter for Miami. The generosity of spirit that Miamians displayed should instill pride in everyone who calls this place home and make others take note of the character and values this community holds dear.

We should take a moment to reflect on what we accomplished.  Along with our partners Knight Foundation and Marlins Foundation, we know this is a community where generosity and compassion are built into our DNA. Whether it’s assistance to family, neighbors, church or victims of a natural disaster in our region, Miamians are always there to lend a helping hand.

America has a long-standing tradition of philanthropy and it is alive and well in Miami.  As one of the many organizations charged with being a steward in this community, The Miami Foundation considers it our privilege to create opportunities for altruistic giving.  Meeting our community’s challenges and shaping an ever-brighter future for Miami requires civic awareness, engagement and pride.

The Miami Moment created by Give Miami Day contributed to this effort. What will the next Miami Moment be?

Javier Alberto Soto, president and CEO

The Foundation prepares to ignite the city for Give Miami Day!
Friday, November 30, 2012

Miami is abuzz as we get closer and closer to 12/12/12!  From Facebook to Twitter, residents and organizations are spreading the word about the inaugural Give Miami Day, a unique, online giving event that allows individuals in the community an opportunity to build a greater Miami through philanthropy.  For 24 hours on December 12, 2012, The Miami Foundation will excite Miami to support more than 300 nonprofits making a difference in our community.

Nonprofit organizations across Miami-Dade County have created searchable profiles for viewing on GiveMiamiDay.org, allowing existing and potential donors to see the mission, work and impact of each organization.  Every donation between $25 and $10,000 received through GiveMiamiDay.org on that day will have a percentage of it matched by The Miami Foundation.  Nonprofits hope to connect with donors looking to support the important work they do in the community.

You can make your charitable gifts to local nonprofits beginning at 12 midnight on December 12 and ending at 12 midnight on December 13.

“Give Miami Day will help us stimulate and grow philanthropy throughout the community,” shared our president and CEO, Javier Alberto Soto. “Through the Give Miami site, donors can find and give to organizations doing the work they believe is best for Miami-Dade.  It’s an easy way to support the causes most important to them.”

The Give Miami Day website provides in-depth information about hundreds of local nonprofits.  Organizations featured on the site are able to tell their story – giving people in the community a better understanding of their results and the need for their services. The website connects visitors with like-minded donors who share similar passions. GiveMiamiDay.org provides the transparency donors need to make the kinds of decisions that turn a simple act of giving into a wise investment.

Fostering beneficial relationships in greater Miami through the work of nonprofit organizations brings the community closer together for all the right reasons. We look forward to the community getting behind Give Miami Day, because it is one day when their gifts will truly give more.

Click here to find an organization you want to support, and remember to donate on December 12 at GiveMiamiDay.org.  Please visit our frequently asked questions page for more information, or contact Marianne Maduro, senior program officer, at mmaduro@miamifoundation.org.

New Study Finds Opportunity for More Civic Engagement Among Miami's Millennials
Tuesday, August 14, 2012

According to the recently published Miami Millennial Civic Health Index Report, Miami’s residents ages 18-29 - also known as "Millennials" - ranked lower than their counterparts across the state and nation on indicators like volunteering and voting. Young adults without any college experience were particularly cut off from civic life, the report found.

The National Conference on Citizenship and The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, founded by Senator Bob Graham and Congressman Lou Frey, produced the report, which was released at Mobilize.org's Target 2020 Florida Summit earlier this summer. The event brought together almost 100 South Florida community college students in Miami, FL, to discuss ways to boost community college completion rates and increase the participation of Miami’s Millennial generation in civic life.

“The results of the Miami Millennial Civic Health Report underscore how critical it is for Millennials in Miami to get involved in addressing the unique challenges that face our generation,” said Maya Smith, CEO of Mobilize.org, the nonprofit that hosted the summit. Mobilize.org empowers and invests in Millennials to create and implement solutions to social problems. “There are some steep hills to climb, but the creativity and energy of the students is palpable."

The report suggests that opportunities for experiential civic education that allow students to actually practice the skills of engaged citizenship should be expanded and strengthened in both high schools and colleges—particularly those serving non-traditional and low income students. Additionally, the report recommends expanding civic engagement opportunities for non-college bound youth, as an estimated one-third of Miami's Millennials do not have any college experience. Programs like YouthBuild, which encourages young people to work towards their degrees or GEDs while learning leadership and job skills, should be expanded, the report recommends.

Race affected electoral engagement, but in unexpected ways, according to the report. African-Americans and Cuban Millennials were the groups most likely to register and vote, while Whites were more likely to have engaged on other indicators, such as volunteering or attending a public meeting. Non-Cuban Latinos were generally the least engaged group of Miami Millennials. The small numbers of Millennials engaged in these activities, however, muted the overall effects of race.

Senator Graham joined Under Secretary of U.S. Dept of Education Dr. Martha J. Kanter and other local leaders at the Target 2020 Florida Summit as students discussed solutions to low graduation and civic participation rates.

"The report that we are releasing today is an indication that we are not doing enough in South Florida," said Sen. Graham. "As public and private leaders, we have an obligation to join together to build a sustainable framework that insures that all of our young people have opportunities to experience civic life and to build the skills of responsible, effective and honorable citizenship. Successful completion of that task requires young people who care about community issues and local institutions that can provide them with opportunities to learn about civic work by doing it."

Amber Goodwin is Director of Network Initiatives at Mobilize.org.

Where hope lives
Tuesday, July 31, 2012

As the sun set over the ocean in Cartagena, Colombia, I really felt like I was looking in a mirror at Greater Miami. The beautiful beaches and palm trees. The skyline of soaring seaside high-rise condos and hotels. The silhouettes of port gantry cranes in the distance. I was in Cartagena with our 17 Miami Fellows from July 15 to 19 to explore issues in the hemisphere that parallel those Fellows have been examining at home and leadership challenges to creating change.

Like Miami, this oceanfront scene stood in sharp contrast to so many other things we had seen and heard. We met with government and business leaders outlining goals and plans to grow key industries and create projects to reduce the 35+ percent poverty rate. We saw our massive sister seaport - and likely the very containers that U.S.-Colombia trade ties would soon bring to Miami's Watson Island. We spent time in the charming walled Spanish colonial old city - the centerpiece of their tourism industry. Each reflected elements of our common assets and potential avenues for prosperity.

But we also ventured to areas beyond and saw the view of economic disparity - a challenge we know well in Greater Miami. It was most poignant for me when our travels gave us a glimpse of what Colombia's official neighborhood/housing rating scale of 6 to 0 looks like in real life. We went from the higher-end 5 to 6 level of our tourist hotel and condo area, through streets of tidy middle-class level 3 to 4 homes, and down a road that passed a new school that Colombian pop music star Shakira's philanthropy helped build in a neighborhood rated level 2 to 1. Looking at the precariously leaning, make-shift, wood-walled homes amid dirt streets and toxic water canals left us asking: So what on earth are the living conditions at 0?

And in the stories of everyday people we met everywhere we heard the echo of struggle – and also aspirations for and commitment to building a better life and community. We heard it from the women in the micro-enterprise program who needed a home-business option to earn a living while staying home to raise their children in the urban areas where skills are low and jobs are few. We heard it from the Afro-Colombians living on the stunning Rosario Islands an hour by boat off the coast. In 1977 Rosario Island was designation as a coral reef national park which lead to restrictions on commercial fishing - and with it the centuries' old livelihood of residents like the 500 people on Isla Grande.

The starkness of disparity and the distance to the lofty goals would make it easy to lose hope.

But I also saw where hope lives. I saw it on the beach when I met the young woman offering me an ocean-side massage, who turned out to be a student in the nation's expansive training service program working to create income-generation strategies in growing industries – like catering and tourism. We saw it in the faces of the children who greeted us with flowers and songs at the Actuar por Bolivar nonprofit where they go to day care and adult residents go to learn how to start their own business or get training in trades related to plastics manufacturing, computers, jewelry making and culinary fields. We saw it at the tiny street shop - in one of those high-poverty level 2-1 neighborhoods - that a mother of three started with a micro-loan. She now sells children's clothes and household goods for the community and is able to provide for

her family, add a second floor to her house, save toward putting a college education within reach for her children – and be a role model and local leader.

The challenges are huge and complex and the solutions imperfect. But leaders and families everywhere share simple common aspirations to build a better future. And while the starkness of the poverty makes the challenges looks different in Cartagena versus our "developed" city, the challenges themselves are so much the same. And when we can connect at a person-to-person level anywhere, we find that hope does live in every city, neighborhood and street within the people who don't give up despite the odds.

So as leaders back home in Greater Miami, neither can we.

Charisse Grant is the Senior Vice President for Programs at The Miami Foundation.

The Beacon Opens in Historic Overtown
Thursday, July 19, 2012

Last week my colleagues and I attended the grand opening of The Beacon, a beautiful 13-story affordable housing development in Miami’s historic Overtown neighborhood.  It is the first affordable housing development built in Overtown in more than 10 years.  The building, which consists of 90 LEED-certified, transit-oriented homes was developed by Carlisle Development Group. Carlisle has been named the #3 Affordable Housing Developer in the nation for the past two years. These units were developed for people making between 28 and 60 percent of the average median income, affording them the opportunity to live in a safe and secure environment.
 
A 3,000 square foot community space on the ground level was generously donated by Carlisle to local non-profit, Urgent, Inc. This organization was recognized by the Department of Juvenile Justice as the Shining Star Winner for Prevention Programs in Miami-Dade County.  In addition to the services the organization provides to neighborhoods throughout the county, including Liberty City, Little Haiti and Goulds, Urgent, Inc. is providing Overtown residents after school educational programs in its new home.

 

Pictured above: Emily Gresham, Vice President of Development, Michelle Spence Jones, City of Miami Commissioner and a Fundholder at the Foundation, Matthew Greer, CEO at Carlisle Development Group and Fundholder at the Foundation, Brian McDonough of Stearns Weaver and Fundholder at the Foundation, Audrey Edmonson, Miami-Dade County Commissioner and Janell Benzaquen.


Marianne Maduro is Senior Program Officer at The Miami Foundation.

36 Hours with Colleagues
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Javier Soto, our CEO, and I just spent a day and a half with leaders from community foundations across Florida. We were asked by the Florida Philanthropic Network to present about the process that we went through when we changed our name from Dade Community Foundation to The Miami Foundation.

There are a number of Florida community foundations that have either just completed this process, are in the process or are considering it. As community foundations approach their centennial and as the market is rapidly changing around us, we think it is an important exercise to analyze brand and our value proposition.

It’s an exercise that we went through at the Foundation just over a year and a half ago. Our goal was to share what we learned: all of it, the good and the bad. We touched on the discovery done with key constituents, other community foundations and competitors in Miami.  We covered the process of identifying a logo and how we built our brand from that.

You may have noticed the dots in the “I”s in our logo are each a different color. These represent the three pillars of our brand: leadership, community and philanthropy. These three powerful words frame all of the work that we do at the Foundation.

We heard from Gulf Coast Community Foundation and from the Community Foundation for Sarasota County. They both have just completed a brand refresh. It was interesting to see the different approaches and different places we have landed graphically – and yet we’re all community foundations.

On Tuesday, we were treated to Don Macke who is completing a transfer of wealth study for Florida. This important data will help Florida philanthropy plan for the future. A key takeaway for Miami was the finding that the probability of a person who works in one of the Creative Classes, as defined by Richard Florida, to create a million dollar estate is much higher. This is good news for us as 25% of Miamians are working in the creative classes, according to a new study we are about to release that was completed by FIU.

The ability to get out of our office and share our experiences and learn from others keeps us on top of trends in our field and ultimately allows us to serve our donors and our community better. We appreciate our membership in Florida Philanthropic Network and feel that we get great value out of our membership through meetings like these and more.

Nancy Jones is Vice President for Public Affairs and Commuications at The Miami Foundation.

Our new look
Friday, June 15, 2012

For the past six months or so we have been laboring over the visuals and words that you are discovering on this, our new website.

This site though is more than instructive words about how to start your foundation with us and more than gorgeous pictures of our grants in action. This new version of our site gives our donors access to their Foundation Fund 24/7.

This is a benefit that we are proud to launch for our donors. From their portal called givemiami, they can add to their Fund, make a grant, check on investment performance and more. Later this summer we will add a new feature called connectmiami.

We think about this cool platform like amazon.com. A donor will see featured nonprofits based on their previous granting history. For example, if I have given to the Miami City Ballet in the past, I may see the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet on my welcome page. From there, I’ll be able to read about Thomas Armour, look at their board of directors list, see their most recent financials and look at pictures of their programs.

connectmiami will be so robust that I will also be able to research 100s of nonprofits in Miami that are doing great work in all kinds of areas: AIDS prevention, alzheimers research, art and culture, animals and aging – and those are just the As. Our hope is that with the launch of givemiami and connectmiami, philanthropy will increase.

Take three minutes and explore this new site. You can see all of the different grant programs we offer; meet our Board of Trustees and learn about the incredible power of endowment.

Drop me an email and let me know what you think. And check this space often for new blog posts from our staff and partners.

Nancy Jones is the Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications at The Miami Foundation.