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Foundation CEO demands answers from North Miami Mayor after recent police shooting
Friday, July 22, 2016


On Monday, Charles Kinsey was shot by a North Miami police officer. Our CEO sent this letter to North Miami Mayor Dr. Smith Joseph on behalf of all Miami-Dade County residents.     

Dear Mayor Joseph:

As the community foundation for Miami-Dade County, we have worked for almost 50 years to improve the quality of life for everyone who calls this place home.  The more than 1,000 generous philanthropists, families and organizations we’ve partnered with have enabled us to invest over $230 million into the programs and people meeting critical needs for our residents.

Included in the investments we’ve made in this community, we are privileged to have supported the important work of organizations like the UM Center for Autism & Related Disabilities and Miami Achievement Center for the Developmentally Disabled (MACtown), which provide nurturing care to Miamians with autism spectrum disorders.  These vital programs optimize the potential of residents with autism and help them weave into the fabric of our society.  The caretakers who have dedicated their lives to this cause should receive the utmost gratitude from ALL Greater Miami citizens – they daily show immense patience and love to a population that otherwise may not receive it.  This is among many reasons why Monday’s shooting of MACtown employee Charles Kinsey was so deeply disturbing to me.

Recent police-involved shootings have been flashpoints in communities across the nation.  We’ve seen outrage pour into city streets as residents demand answers from law enforcement.  While I understand that divulging important details regarding these incidents can compromise an ongoing investigation, police departments have a responsibility to maintain order in their community.  It has been proven time and time again that when department and government leaders are promptly responsive, open and transparent with the people they serve, even in distressing moments, the community remains united, more peaceful and understanding of the necessary role our law enforcement professionals play to preserve a just society.

Yesterday’s abbreviated press conference where city leaders would not take questions from the media does not reflect the transparency North Miami residents and Greater Miamians deserve.  As such, I join with all of Miami-Dade County in demanding to know details about how and why this shocking incident happened in our community.  Further, I would like to know what will be done to ensure a caretaker assisting someone with autism, or any disability, is not harmed in this manner by an officer in your police department again.


Javier Alberto Soto
President and CEO


Improving the lives of Miami-Dade’s aging LGBT community
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

America’s older population is growing, and a number of them are LGBT adults who are moving into their later years. More than 39 million people in the United States are 65 years and older, and an estimated 1.5 million of them identify as LGBT. Though it’s difficult to get exact figures, the number of LGBT seniors is expected to double, reaching more than 3 million by 2030.

LGBT elders face unique barriers that can affect quality of life, including public stigma, isolation, unequal treatment and limited access to health care and safe housing. They are also less likely to have partners, children or close family who can assist them with daily living tasks. Many are reluctant to seek mainstream services available to other seniors. These challenges are especially pronounced in Miami-Dade County, where there isn’t necessarily a central hub for the LGBT community like Wilton Manors.

Recognizing the need for more services to this growing population, organizations like Jewish Community Services of South Florida (JCS) have stepped in to fill the gap. JCS is a local nonprofit providing specialized LGBTQ services for adolescents, adults and families such as counseling, support groups and educational seminars regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. Last July, they launched an initiative specifically for LGBT seniors, with support from The Miami Foundation’s GLBT Community Projects Fund.

JCS turned to Joan Schaeffer, a longtime activist, to lead the endeavor. Joan personally knows the issues her fellow LGBT seniors face and is committed to ensuring improvements are made for those who, like her, “fought the good fight” for gay rights decades ago. Joan wants seniors to understand that they’re not alone and there are people they can reach out to. A major focus is hosting social events, like their quarterly Coffee & Conversations, to provide the human interaction many are missing.

She recalls a recent example that illustrates the power of such human connections. There was an older gentleman who for weeks had chosen to isolate himself; he was afraid he wouldn’t be accepted by others. The coffee gathering was the first time he’d had a real conversation with anyone in a long time. Seeing and interacting with so many supportive people was the life-changing experience he needed to rejoin society.

While JCS is still in the early stages of addressing these issues, they submitted an application last month to join the Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) national network of affiliates. Becoming a SAGE affiliate serving Miami-Dade would give JCS access to leading LGBT elder advocates across the country, ongoing coaching from SAGE staff and a community of peers with whom to exchange ideas and best practices.

JCS is just one of the many programs GLBT Community Projects Fund supports, in partnership with the National LGBTQ Task Force. Empower U serves minority transgender youth; Lotus House shelter for women’s Rainbow Lotus Program provides housing for LBTQ individuals and their children; and Thelma Gibson Health Initiative’s Pink Rose Garden Project offers support groups and counseling for young adults.

Applications for the 2016 GLBT Community Projects Fund are due Thursday, July 28 at 4 p.m.

Ana Mantica is Editorial Officer for The Miami Foundation


Miami youth collect thousands of handwritten notes for Orlando victims and loved ones
Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The country was rocked the morning of Sunday, June 12, when 49 lives were lost at the hands of Omar Mateen. The mass shooting that occurred at Pulse nightclub in Orlando is considered one of the deadliest in U.S. history. As the day unfolded, a host of organizations began mobilizing support for victims and their families. Fundraising campaigns were established. Calls for blood donations were made. Candlelight vigils were held.

When 17-year-old Brianna heard of the tragedy, she didn’t hesitate to step up and help.

“When I woke up the morning after the shooting, I immediately had to do something. I went to the blood banks but I wanted to do something bigger; I wanted to do something long-lasting.”

Brianna is vice president of National Voices for Equality, Education and Enlightenment’s (NVEEE) Youth Advisory Council, a group led by 14 to 18-year-olds across the country. Inspired by the handwritten notes students write to each other during NVEEE’s annual Peace Ambassadors Leadership Summit (PALS), she came up with the idea to do the same for the victims and their families. Within hours, Brianna got on a Skype call with fellow council members and shared her idea. Not able to put on their own vigil or donate money, the group decided that the handwritten notes would be the most heartfelt and impactful choice. When asked why letter-writing, Brianna described it as the best way they could use their powerful voices given their limited resources.  

“It sounds so simple but everyone loves it. They're so much more intimate than texts or emails, which is why I wanted the letters to Orlando to be handwritten. When you write out letters, you can't backspace or delete, which forces you to make every sentence count. Handwritten letters are something that you can fold up and put in your wallet or read time and time again; I wanted those affected by the tragedy to be able to read the letters whenever they needed to.”

The #LettersToOrlando movement spread virally on social media. By Monday evening, NVEEE’s inbox was flooded with emails from youth in Africa, the United Kingdom and South America, wanting to also send letters. Then they started coming in from other nonprofits and corporations as well. In just three weeks, the Miami/Fort Lauderdale-based bullying and suicide prevention nonprofit has received more than 1,800 handwritten letters from around the world.

NVEEE Executive Director Jowharah Sanders has been overwhelmed by the response to the campaign. Brianna and the council have also been taken aback by the outpouring of support.

“The Youth Advisory Council is a team but we are more than that. We are a family made up of LGBTQ members and allies. We are all so young and seeing how great this project has grown has been inspiring. We are the future and we are proud.”

This display of courage and leadership, even in the face of grief, is exactly what NVEEE aims to prepare youth to do through services such as their Peace Ambassador Program. With support from The Miami Foundation’s Community Grants program, students help co-lead community-wide bullying prevention workshops at K-12 classrooms throughout Miami-Dade County.

Brianna was so moved by what occurred at Pulse that she was recently compelled to come out to family and friends.

“Being a young person in the LGBTQ community and hearing about this makes you feel very scared and hesitant of every action, but I think that people like the shooter want us to feel like that. They want us to hide who we are so they can push us back into the closet and pretend we don't exist, but that can't happen. The main reason I started #LetterstoOrlando is so that people can stand in solidarity and show support to thousands of people who need it.”

We appreciate Brianna and fellow Youth Advisory Council members, for setting an example inspiring all of us with their tremendous courage and leadership.

The due date for letters has been extended to Friday, July 15. Learn more about the #LettersToOrlando campaign at

Ana Mantica is Editorial Officer for The Miami Foundation

Making Miami a hub for social changemakers
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Radical Partners
and AkermanIN just kicked off applications for the third cohort of Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, and I’m taken aback thinking about how many people are committed to building a stronger Miami. When I tell people who we’re searching for (founders of high-potential ventures that improve our city), they always ask me whether I think we’ll get enough applicants. Lucky for Miami, the answer has been a resounding YES.  This town is overflowing with impressive changemakers. And it’s the greatest fun in the world to find those people and help them grow.  

When I moved to Miami eight years ago, I thought it was going to be a short stay. We were losing young talent to cities with better job opportunities, educational offerings and young professional scenes. We were constantly at the wrong end of the spectrum on those “best and worst” cities list. Cost of living: high. Cultural offerings: low. Commute times: high. Professional prospects: low. It wasn’t looking good. 

And then, I fell in love.

I wasn’t looking for love; it found me. And it found me while taking a tour of the Port of Miami on a mini-bus. I was there with a group of diverse, passionate rising leaders as part of The Miami Foundation’s Miami Fellows leadership program. Truth? I didn’t think that tour was going to “do anything” for me; the port wasn’t my thing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

It was a seriously humbling experience. I had no idea how critical our port was to the sustainability of our community. How our economy depends on it, how millions of families rely on it, and how small changes translate into billions of dollars for Greater Miami’s future.

It was the first of many trips outside my comfort zone during the Miami Fellows program, including in-depth exploration of the port, our parks and our transit system. I came to understand the interconnectedness of our city – our diversity of needs and serious infrastructural challenges, then the generations of leaders who had taken responsibility for shaping us into who we are. I gained deeper respect for the ground I was walking on, and I was inspired to engage and give back.

Miami has a lot of needs, and it’s going to take a massive community of changemakers to address different pieces of the puzzle, then support one another as they do it. The generation of leaders before us gave so much of themselves. Now, it’s our turn. Together, we need to learn about our community’s needs and take it upon ourselves, issue by issue, to build a sustainable Greater Miami where everyone can thrive.

That’s much of what inspired our bootcamp for social entrepreneurs. Through the program, we bring together a cohort of organization founders and leaders who are committed to building a stronger, more resilient Greater Miami. We shower them with resources, coaching and a network of collaborators. Together, we tackle how to pitch an idea, fundraising, team growth, executive management skills and more through dynamic group workshops and personalized coaching sessions.

Leaders in every neighborhood and across every sector need support. They need resources, a community of friends and partners, and nourishment to sustain and scale their impact. We have a family of changemakers ready and waiting to help do just that. (Check out our inspiring alumni who are doing amazing work.)  

I can’t wait to see who applies to Bootcamp Cohort 3, and dive in with another group of emerging leaders to continue building an even greater Miami together … and to fall in love all over again with our beautiful city. 

Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp applications are now open. The bootcamp is co-hosted by  Radical Partners and  AkermanINand scholarships are available with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Center For Social Change, Stephanie Ansin and Spencer Stewart, Dan Lewis, Leslie Miller Saiontz, and the social impact network of alumni from Bootcamp’s first and second cohorts. Learn more here

Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, founder of Radical Partners, is a Miami Fellows Class VI alumnus.


How Community Grants expand access to opportunity
Friday, June 10, 2016

Students at CARE Elementary School, one of the 2016 Community Grants recipients.

One of the more inspiring proposals we received for our 2015 Community Grants Program was from CARE Elementary School, a free, private nonprofit Christian academy recently launched in Overtown. With an intense focus on literacy education, our grant helped to purchase their literacy curriculum software. When the school opened last August, only five percent of their third graders were working at grade level, according to their Lexia Core5 results. After just one year, more than 90 percent of that class is now working at grade level. This impressive impact was just one reason why CARE received renewed support in 2016. CARE will use their 2016 grant to enhance the teachers’ aide program so that students can receive extra academic support. The right resources at the right time in a child’s life can be just the opportunity a student needs to excel. 

The Miami Foundation’s Community Grants Program is made possible by more than 100 generous philanthropists who entrusted their resources with us to address Greater Miami’s most pressing issues forever. We annually invest over $1 million in valuable programs like CARE Elementary that expand access to the opportunities local residents need. We connect our donors’ philanthropic legacies with the 2014 Our Miami Report to ensure their resources impact the issues currently affecting our community’s quality of life.

On Tuesday, we celebrated the 70 local nonprofits receiving Community Grants during a reception in their honor. It’s our annual opportunity to highlight the great work that these nonprofit organizations do for thousands of residents. Day-in and day-out, they relentlessly work on the ground to make Greater Miami a better place to live.

The cost of living in Miami-Dade County is among the highest in the country. Last month, a report by The Metropolitan Center at Florida International University highlighted the significant affordability challenges in our community and opportunities to address them. Organizations like New Hope C.O.R.P.S., Jewish Community Services of South Florida (JCS) and Legal Services of Greater Miami are dedicated to addressing local economic inequality and housing instability. With their grant, New Hope will purchase a much-needed van to transport homeless individuals to substance abuse and mental health services. JCS is expanding their comprehensive employment program and Legal Services of Greater Miami is helping prevent veteran homelessness.

Photo courtesy of Nova Southeastern University, 2016 Community Grants recipient.

Other Community Grants recipients like Nova Southeastern University and Florida International University Foundation help local residents gain access to better health care, providing a bridge for Miami-Dade's growing health care gaps. In turn, this improves well-being across the entire community. NSU College of Dental Medicine’s Smiles Across Miami program visits Miami-Dade Public County Schools in the North Miami Beach area to provide uninsured students dental care. FIU’s Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences is launching the CO-REACH health initiative at Miami Northwestern Senior High School in Liberty City to offer preventive care services to students and residents of the area. 

At the Community Grants reception, CARE Elementary School Principal Christopher Simmond spoke with great passion about his belief in his students. "When students see you support them, they grab onto it and move forward," he shared. This sentiment rings true for all of our grantees; their work changes lives and drives social change in our community. They're committed to improving life in Miami, and in turn, we are committed to working together with them to make a greater impact than any one of us could make alone.

Click here to see a list of all 2016 Community Grants recipients.

Victoria Fear is programs officer for The Miami Foundation


Creating access to education opportunities: The Ortega Family Foundation
Friday, May 27, 2016

As Miami-Dade high school seniors prepare for graduation, many will consider how to manage the cost of going to college. They’re not alone. Families across the country are grappling with ever-increasing tuition, books and related higher-education expenses. Adjusted for inflation, the average annual tuition and fees at a private, four-year institution has nearly doubled over the past 25 years. Four-year public institutions are no different, with the average cost growing from about $3,500 to over $9,000. More than ever, Greater Miami students depend on scholarships and generous donors to make their college aspirations a reality.

Jose “Pepe” Antonio Ortega Bonet, founder of Sazón Goya Company, was a firm believer in givingacademically accomplished students access to quality education. He began The Ortega Foundation to provide scholarships to children of Sazón Goya and Goya Foods employees.

Jose "Pepe" Antonio Ortega Bonet

Today, his daughter María Elena Wollberg manages the Foundation. She and her family established The Ortega Foundation Scholarship Program at The Miami Foundation to invest in Miami-Dade County’s high-achieving, college-bound seniors. The program supports students like Michele Wu.


A senior at Miami Lakes Educational Center in the Cambridge Engineering program, Michele is involved in the Technology Student Association and student government. She participated in a summer tech immersion program, which inspired her to co-found a Girls Who Code club at her school. This fall, Michele plans to attend the University of Florida and pursue a degree in computer science engineering.

María Elena and her family recently awarded Michele and 18 academically accomplished students like her four-year, $7,000 renewable scholarships, totaling $133,000. Last year, 17 deserving students were also awarded over $100,000 in scholarships thanks to the Ortega family’s generosity. The program ensures that Mr. Ortega Bonet’s legacy of giving will indeed continue to impact the lives of students like Michele, and hundreds of other Greater Miami youth for years to come.

(Left to right): Javier Alberto Soto, president and CEO; Julie Bindbeutel, director of professional advisor engagement; Maria Elena Wollberg and her daughter, Patty Wollberg, at the Donor Next Door Luncheon held May 12th at Jungle Island.

In honor of the Ortega family’s outstanding philanthropic efforts and dedication to our community, The Miami Foundation celebrated María Elena and The Ortega Foundation as our 2016 honoree at the 19th Annual Donor Next Door Luncheon this month. The event celebrated the philanthropy of more than 35 individuals, families, foundations and corporations that donate time and money to support the work of nonprofits in the arts, education and social services.

Learn more about the Ortega Foundation Scholarship and other scholarship programs at The Miami Foundation >>

Ana Mantica is the Editorial Officer of The Miami Foundation.

A ‘New Power’ emerges in Greater Miami
Thursday, May 05, 2016

The members of Miami Fellows Class IX. Meet them here.

We’re living in an increasingly democratized society. Where once small, elite groups of people controlled resources and made decisions, there is now a bottom-up, crowd-sourced power that can set a community’s agenda. As we announce Class IX of our Miami Fellows this week, their collective energy and leadership style is illustrative of what Henry Timms calls the “new power” model of leadership. The executive director of the 92nd Street Y in New York City and co-creator of #GivingTuesday, Henry recently wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review, Understanding 'New Power',” that lays out how we are moving from old power models to new power models and the implications of that for communities, organizations and leaders. 

The old power model is top-down. It consists of small groups of people controlling resources and making decisions for everyone else. Miami was very much an old power place – a city where leadership was defined by the company or organization you ran and how big it was. Decision-makers encompassed mostly CEOs. Miami’s traditional power elite, known as the “Non-Group,” operated this way for several decades until disbanding around 15 years ago. This group of civic leaders made numerous positive contributions to Miami. But the world changed. And Miami changed even more. With that change also came a call for a new approach to civic leadership. As a result, Miami was ahead of the curve in getting to a new power model.

New power models are bottom/up. They are exceedingly democratic and meant to be hard to control. They are made possible by the ease and breadth of new media and communication tools. Greater Miami is becoming a new power place: grassroots movements here can put anyone at the head of the table. With an idea and the passion to make it happen, leaders can emerge from anywhere and have real impact. The Miami Foundation’s recent work across our three pillars – civic leadership, community investment and philanthropy – actively drives this new construct.

Foundation President and CEO Javier Soto, Charisse Grant, senior vice president for programs, and alumni of the Miami Fellows program stand with Vance Aloupis as he receives an award at Florida International University. 

Evolving local leadership: corporate to democratized
Take our Miami Fellows for example. Class IX, comprised of 17 remarkable individuals who are inspired by our community’s potential, have demonstrated ethical leadership and are driven to do more. Since 1999, close to 140 emerging leaders from diverse professional and personal backgrounds have completed the program. Notable alumni like Vance Aloupis (Class VI), newly appointed CEO of The Children’s Movement of Florida and 2016 Ruth Shack Leadership Award honoree, is working to ensure a brighter future for Florida’s children. David Lawrence, Jr., who founded the Movement in 2010, has entrusted Vance to carry the vision forward. At just 32, this exemplary leader now heads one of the state’s most influential child advocacy organizations. Vance has helped build The Children's Movement by using new media and decentralizing power, key characteristics of new power thinking.

Similarly, we created the Public Space Challenge so that anyone with an idea can get the money and help they need to create or improve a park, plaza or open space in their neighborhood. The 2016 Challenge set a new record with more than 400 ideas submitted to activate local gathering places – underscoring Greater Miami residents' continued call for such opportunities. Along with Health Foundation of South Florida and the Office of Miami-Dade Commissioner Juan C. Zapata, we’ll invest $305,000 in the winning ideas, allowing residents to develop the kinds of neighborhoods they want to call home. Give Miami Day lets anyone be a philanthropist with small, $25 donations that create a multi-million dollar movement. This year, we gave Give Miami Day a permanent place on the local calendar. Starting November 17th, the Thursday before Thanksgiving will forever-be the official date for what has become one of the biggest annual giving events in the United States. In a new power world, all you need is an idea and a few people willing to go along with you, and you can create the opportunity needed to make something amazing happen.

Felicia Hatcher of Code Fever Miami works with students.

Greater Miami has established institutions willing to invest in emerging efforts
These new leadership dynamics have not been lost on some of our established institutions. Rather than work within outdated constructs, forward-thinking organizations provide the platform and resources to promising leaders for them to bring about change however they see fit. More and more organizations see no need for control over efforts to shape this city. Look at what our friends have done over at Knight Foundation. Our past Ruth Shack Leadership Award winner Felecia Hatcher has used Knight support to bring Miami’s explosive tech start-up growth into communities of color through Code Fever and Black Tech Week. Miami’s established leaders, such as David Lawrence, Jr. and Knight Foundation President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen, have embraced this new model of leadership, empowering effective young leaders like Vance and Felecia who embody new power thinking.

Position emerging leaders to tackle big issues
So, what's next? We have an emerging crop of young leaders in this town; we have increasing numbers of organizations and people investing in their ideas for change; we have forward-thinking leaders empowering them. It’s time to think how we can position emerging leaders to tackle the broader issues facing Miami-Dade County. The slim affordable housing options and widespread need for transportation solutions make it hard for young talent to establish roots here. The growing number of young lives being cut short on our streets shakes the very foundation of our community. And of course, perhaps the most existential threat we have ever faced, sea-level rise continues to slowly, but surely, creep onto our doorstep. Let’s continue to identify, equip and propel new leaders to disrupt the old power models and build a resilient city. That’s how #ourmiami gets things done.

Javier Alberto Soto is president and CEO of The Miami Foundation.

What we learned at the 2016 State of Black Philanthropy
Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Miami Foundation will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2017, a significant landmark for any organization in such a rapidly growing and changing city.  Part of commemorating this milestone will be telling stories of the people who shaped Greater Miami’s past and will drive it into the future. Since Bahamian migrants helped found the city of Miami 100+ years ago, our black population has grown in civic participation, economic strength and cultural diversity.   Still, Miami-Dade County’s half a million-plus black residents are disproportionately affected by a number of socio-economic factors, including the safety of our neighborhoods, wages, access to affordable housing, availability of health care and quality education

In an effort to connect charitable giving to solutions addressing these issues, The Miami Foundation hosted a critical State of Black Philanthropy conversation at the Little Haiti Cultural Center on February 25th.  Over 150 persons, including donors, professional advisors and civic leaders, attended to spark dialogue on how philanthropy can be used to affect the community change we all wanted to see.  I was privileged to moderate a panel discussion including Jaret Davis, co-managing shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, P.A.; Bill Diggs, president, Mourning Family Foundation; Ghislain Gouraige, Jr., senior vice president, wealth management, UBS Financial Services; Charisse Grant, senior vice president for programs, The Miami Foundation; and Teri Williams, president and chief operating officer, OneUnited Bank.


They began by sharing that the state of black philanthropy was “strong, but subtle,” “under-appreciated,” and “emerging.” The conversation then sought to further define philanthropy in the black community.  It can take on various forms not traditionally identified as charitable giving, including tithing at church, sending money back to family in the Caribbean or Latin America, or supporting your fraternity or sorority’s scholarship fundraiser. 

We reached several key conclusions like the need for collaboration and making more strategic giving investments.  Many organizations serving black communities have similar missions but operate in silos. This duplication of effort can be addressed by funding work that encourages nonprofits and groups to cooperate where possible. Donors should also support endowments for these organizations to ensure and preserve their long-term financial health.

Though many in the black community may not have the benefit of generational wealth from inheritance or equity ownership in major corporations, we maintain a strong middle to upper-middle class population who actually has an unmatched generosity.  When they pool their charitable resources and invest them purposefully, they can be just as impactful – if not more. 

Using this community conversation as a launching pad, we can begin to better understand how wealth is perceived in the black community and the vehicles through which it’s used to solve issues impacting Greater Miami.  It’s time we redefine philanthropy to focus beyond the amounts we give, to how we give and the chartable investments, skills and other resources we bring to the table to advance causes benefitting black residents.

From here, we intend to work with the panelists, broader community stakeholders and Foundation staff to translate the conversation’s takeaways into actionable next steps.  We need your input – please comment with a suggestion below.  In the spirit of the recommendations from W.K. Kellogg Foundation CEO La June Montgomery Tabron, The Miami Foundation welcomes your voice on this journey to ensure that “we align our programs and policies to better support the financial strength and security of black families, while keeping sight of the long-term benefits for all in creating a truly inclusive (Greater Miami) economy.”

Marlon A. Hill, Esq., partner and corporate attorney with Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel, LLP, is a former trustee of The Miami Foundation and a Miami Fellows Class I alumnus.

Three things every nonprofit needs to know about Give Miami Day 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Matthew Beatty, director of communications, leads a Give Miami Day training session in September.

As The Miami Foundation gears up for Give Miami Day 2015we want every nonprofit equipped with the tools for success. Last year, more than 13,000 donors supported 520 nonprofit organizations, raising $5.2 million in the biggest annual giving event in South Florida history. We’re anticipating an even more exciting event this year, so here are the three essential things your organization should know for a successful Give Miami Day campaign:

1. W
e have a new registration platform:

This year, the Foundation launched a new platform called Nonprofit Central, a year-round resource to easily learn more information about organizations doing important work in Miami-Dade County.

Creating a profile on Nonprofit Central also serves as your registration for Give Miami Day. To register, visit the Give Miami Day Nonprofit Toolkit. All returning participants must re-register for this year’s event through Nonprofit Central.

2. We provide resources to help you:

Have you attended a Give Miami Day training session? These are opportunities to learn best practices and useful strategies from other nonprofits. To RSVP for our upcoming sessions, visit the Give Miami Day Nonprofit Toolkit.

The Nonprofit Toolkit also includes additional resources, such as a planning timeline, logos, graphics and webinar versions of the training sessions.

The Foundation is here to support you throughout the planning process. To reach us, call our main line at 305.371.2711 or email

3. There are perks for nonprofits that register early:
In order to participate in Give Miami Day, your organization's profile must be approved by Thursday, October 29 at 4 p.m. We highly encourage you to get started on your registration today: if your profile is approved by October 15, your nonprofit could be selected for a table at our Community Block Party.

That's right -- join us on Give Miami Day, 5 p.m. at Marlins Park. We’ll have food trucks, games, live performances and raffle prizes for the entire community to enjoy; you won’t want to miss it. This event is free and open to everyone, so come celebrate another historic Miami Moment.

Miami Rescue Mission at the 2014 Give Miami Day Community Block Party.

Give Miami Day is a local effort that spans the city, nation and globe. Thank you for your dedication to South Florida's largest annual giving event. We know that this year’s Give Miami Day will be one to remember, and we can’t wait to see Miami-Dade nonprofits make history again.

Victoria Fear is the programs associate of The Miami Foundation.

Community Grants recipients increase access to opportunities
Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Russell Life Skills and Reading Foundation

Historically, our role has been to advance the charitable passions of local philanthropists.  That remains at the core of what we do. Over the past 48 years, more than 100 donors have created permanently endowed Funds with The Miami Foundation to support the civic issues that mattered to them, forever.  Their generosity enables us to invest $1.2 million annually in more than 70 selected nonprofit organizations through our signature Community Grants program. 

We now have a firm grasp on what the most pressing local issues are thanks to the deep insights provided through the 2014 Our Miami Report.  The biennial snapshot looks at eight key issues impacting local quality of life and provides data, goals and a roadmap for addressing them.  Community Grants merges those findings with our donors’ original intent to create a powerful, sharply focused community investment program that champions measurable civic change.

The report highlighted what Miami is doing right.  It also shed light on opportunities to expand the pockets of success to lift everyone who lives here. This year, we are privileged to help bridge the gap between all Miamians and access to the resources they need to thrive.

These organizations give voice to the voiceless and provide access to opportunity for thousands of local residents.  They set an example for each of us on the importance of building a community that serves everyone who lives within it.

The foresight of our Community Grants Fundholders continues to guide our work today.  The dollars generated from these donor Funds now drive our efforts to build a better community to call home. It’s what we always talk about at The Miami Foundation: the power of the collective.  When we step up and join our resources with other visionary changemakers, we bring about definitive social change.

Javier Alberto Soto is president and CEO of The Miami Foundation.

Learn more about all the 2015 Community Grants program recipients.

More than 160 formerly homeless individuals graduated from Miami Rescue Mission this year

Farm Share food assistance and distribution program.

How sustainable investing protects Miami’s future
Thursday, June 18, 2015

Photo courtesy of South Florida National Parks Trust

The health of our surrounding environment depends on every Miamian doing their part.

The 2014 Our Miami Report made that clear, showing how our investment in transportation solutions, public spaces and natural resources, among many other areas, affects our quality of life and the well-being of the urban landscape around us.

Our goal here at The Miami Foundation is to build a greater Miami that is vibrant and thrives long into the future.  To do that, we examine how our actions affect the sustainability of our city and broader society. We constantly seek new ways to proactively step up and contribute to Miami’s phenomenal growth.

While The Miami Foundation’s community investment and civic leadership work are at the center of our impact agenda, when it comes to sustainability, the way we use all of our philanthropic assets matters.

Our endowment and the resources entrusted to us by our generous Fundholders collectively fuel our ability to meet a multitude of challenges and holistically build a better place to call home.  They are also carefully invested to ensure their long-term availability and growth.  We believe this creates an opportunity to do even more good with the resources under our stewardship.

For the first time in our history, we’re giving our Fundholders the opportunity to invest in an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) driven investment pool.  It allows like-minded philanthropists to come together and support firms whose work is bringing about positive societal and environmental outcomes in areas such as climate change mitigation, waste reduction, clean energy usage and who also employ responsible labor and governance practices. Mutual funds, money managers and institutional investors have created structured screening processes and scorecards on many of these issues to identify firms that have a positive impact on communities.

Because I am personally passionate about local as well as global sustainability, I have chosen to invest my family Fund in the ESG investment pool and urge others to consider investing in this socially conscious way.

Environmentally focused investing is gaining momentum with foundations and financial institutions across the globe; as more organizations choose this method to invest their assets, we hope companies will be motivated to incorporate sustainable practices into their operations. In this way, individual decisions contribute to global change.

There will be additional updates soon about how the Foundation will take a more direct role in championing a sustainable Greater Miami.  We believe that to address issues critical to our community’s future, its residents’ participation is essential. Our work will require more public input, collaboration and action than ever before. We invite our Fundholders and every Miamian to have a role in the effort.

At its core, sustainability means working in a way today that ushers in a healthy tomorrow. I’m confident that if we pool our resources and passion to facilitate good growth in Greater Miami, we will continue on this arc toward a prosperous city that cares for the global community.

Javier Alberto Soto is president and CEO of The Miami Foundation.  For more information on moving your philanthropic Fund into the pool, email Janell Kaplan.

With your ideas and $305K, we’re fueling a livelier Miami
Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The Public Space Challenge turns three this year.  Over the last month of events leading to today’s launch, I’ve watched the mounting community-wide excitement.  It’s a testament to how Greater Miami took this idea and ran with it. 

In 2013, we set out to create a unique platform for funding new and enhanced public spaces.  Both the 2012 and 2014 Our Miami Reports highlighted the importance of parks and public spaces for our residents’ physical well-being and facilitating connections to our city and each other.  Miamians have taken that concept, and coupled with the hard work of numerous local organizations leading this cause year-round, ignited a countywide movement, championing the expansion and protection of these important spaces that belong to all of us.

The annual contest will again seek ideas to connect Miami-Dade residents by creating, improving and activating public gathering places like parks, libraries, plazas, community gardens and playgrounds.  Anyone – individuals, groups, agencies, nonprofits or companies – can submit ideas at through the April 1st submission deadline.  We encourage the community to weigh in on the ideas by liking, sharing and commenting on them.  The Challenge offers a way for everyone to help advance the cause by putting solutions in the hands of residents who have a passion for this place; your voice and input is critical for this platform to work.

In an effort to invest in bigger ideas, mobilize more people and see greater results, The Miami Foundation and our partners have upped the total prize amount to a fitting $305,000.  Our Challenge sponsors Health Foundation of South Florida, who is entering their third year of supporting the contest, and Baptist Health South Florida, who is partnering with us for the first time, have each committed funds to the total. Because of their generosity, the Challenge will support ideas encouraging healthy lifestyles and exercise activities in the community.  We are privileged to help advance their work of building a stronger, more energetic Miami.

Last year, the Public Space Challenge garnered 410 ideas, up from 263 ideas in 2013. Individuals can get expert advice for crafting their ideas by attending training seminars around Miami-Dade County throughout this month.  Following the submission period, community experts and “placemakers” will evaluate all of the ideas and select finalists, who will develop full proposals for the final selection round.

Tonight, we will host the Public Space Challenge kickoff at Ball & Chain: 1513 SW 8th Street in Little Havana. The free event will feature past winners and opportunities to learn more about the Challenge and submit your ideas.  We’re thankful for the entire Ball & Chain team, who has completely reinvigorated that iconic landmark, honoring its noted past and infusing the energy and flavor of Little Havana today. They’re leading a resurgence in the historic Calle Ocho corridor that we think is worth highlighting, so we hope you will join us.

With more community partners, more prize dollars and more local changemakers like YOU, this is shaping up to be to the most galvanizing Public Space Challenge ever.  Remember, the power to shape the vibrant city you want to call home is in YOUR hands.  We look forward to seeing all your dynamic ideas for connecting Miamians through unique and engaging public spaces.

Javier Alberto Soto is president and CEO of The Miami Foundation.

We're moving where Miami is going
Thursday, February 05, 2015

Miami is a forward-thinking town.

We’re always focused on what’s next: how our explosive tech scene will make us an entrepreneurship hub, how investing millions in the arts sector today will accelerate tomorrow’s cultural renaissance, and how connecting college students with local companies keeps young talent in our city.  It is our collective drive to invest in our future that propels The Miami Foundation to this pivotal point in our history.

For the first time in 30 years, we have a new address to call home.  The Miami Foundation has moved its offices to the Courthouse Center at 40 Northwest 3rd Street in Downtown Miami.

We made this change for a number of reasons. The Foundation has grown in recent years; the past two in particular have been record-setting for us as our donors gave more than ever to build a better Miami.  The size of our team has followed suit as we bring on more talented, creative professionals to serve our Fundholders and Greater Miami more efficiently. In short, we need room to grow. Our new office provides us with this additional space at a significant cost savings, allowing us greater leverage to invest in Miami.

The move also allows us to open our doors to the community. Historically, we’ve partnered with other civic organizations in town to convene and train local leaders around addressing civic issues. With a new, upgraded meeting space on site, we can host these gatherings more easily and often, allowing us to be more effective community stewards. 

Above all, we are moving where Miami is going. Our new downtown neighborhood is on the verge of a powerful resurgence.  All Aboard Florida is building their high-speed rail station across the street, ushering in a much-needed urban mobility solution for Miami-Dade and beyond.  Just a few blocks away, Miami Worldcenter will be breaking ground soon to anchor downtown’s rapid expansion into Park West.  The Overtown Gateway development will bring commerce and world-class amenities into the heart of that community – just a Metrorail stop away – and solidify this corner of downtown as a burgeoning energy center for our city.

It’s the constant evolution of Miami that keeps this place interesting.  Skylines change, neighborhoods change and our people change. The one constant is our desire to understand that change, get out in front of it and guide it toward the engaged, encouraging and dynamic global city Miami is meant to be.  We hope this move positions us to do that.

We look forward to welcoming Miami’s changemakers into our new space.

Javier Alberto Soto is president and CEO of The Miami Foundation.

Changing of the guard after a decade of service to Miami's LGBT community
Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Just over 10 years ago, I remember being told that the Dade Human Rights Foundation (DHRF) was considering bankruptcy.  My immediate thought was, “What will happen to the Winter Party and Recognition Dinner?”   These two DHRF signature events generated considerable revenue for the local LGBT community, funds they had come to rely upon and desperately needed. 

True to its mission of supporting grassroots organizations, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force – now the National LGBTQ Task Force – recognized the importance of these events to Greater Miami.  I helped broker a groundbreaking agreement by which the Task Force acquired the rights to produce the two events.  A significant portion of the net revenue would come back to Miami-Dade County to provide local support for organizations serving the LGBT community.  Under Ruth Shack’s visionary leadership, The Miami Foundation – then known as the Dade Community Foundation – had already demonstrated its extraordinary proficiency in this area, so it was a natural home to establish the GLBT Community Projects Fund.

Over the past 10 years, that partnership has generated more than $1.7 million in grants to almost 60 organizations.  Grants have targeted a spectrum of community issues, with most benefitting organizations addressing LGBT youth needs. 

Two such grants are great examples of the power and potential of this Fund.  Pridelines is the oldest nonprofit in Miami-Dade County supporting the needs of LGBT youth.  The committee’s first grant recommendation was for emergency assistance outside the normal funding cycle to keep Pridelines’ doors open.  Over the years, they continued to receive generous funding, as well as advice and guidance.  Today, the organization is strong, well-managed and continues to provide essential services to the community.

The Alliance for GLBTQ Youth has a particular focus on LGBT youth homelessness.  The Miami Foundation, together with Aqua Foundation for Women and Our Fund, collectively agreed to provide seed funding for a multi-year effort addressing the issue.  Project SAFE, now in its second year, has already made progress.  This type of collective action enhances the impact any one of these funding organizations can make alone.  

I’ve had the privilege to chair the GLBT Community Projects Fund Advisory Committee since its inception.  But this, like all good things, must come to an end.  Over the next year, I will serve as co-chair with Don Hayden, an attorney with Berger Singerman, and Don will be the sole chair thereafter.  I’m proud of the Fund’s accomplishments thus far, but both Don and I think there’s an even greater potential for impact.  

Given the recent human rights developments in Florida and same sex marriage becoming a reality, it’s hard to believe how different things were 10 years ago.  By connecting the Foundation’s expertise and the committee’s experience, we’ve helped champion this kind of important change. I’m confident that under Don’s leadership, we will continue to expand partnerships with other funders and strengthen local programs to meet Miami’s LGBT community needs for decades to come.

Jerry Chasen is the director of legacy planning at SAGE - Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders - and co-chair of the GLBT Community Projects Fund. 

How Miami got its #philanthropyswagger
Monday, December 15, 2014

Give Miami Day 2014

There is much for Miami to be confident about: our vibrant culture, strength in diversity, an expanding, globally focused economy. It’s time we added philanthropy to that list. Give Miami Day 2014 raised $5.2 million for 520 local nonprofits in the most active day of giving in Southeast U.S. history. But it did something else for our community – in just 24 hours, it proved what we at The Miami Foundation have always believed … Miami is an exceptionally generous place. That’s why throughout the 24-hour giving frenzy on November 20th, there was one hashtag repeated over and over again on Twitter: #philanthropyswagger.

As I shared before Give Miami Day, we have always been a community ready to assist our friends and neighbors in times of need.  November 20th displayed that Miamians are increasingly turning that generosity outward to the organizations working on our community’s behalf every day.  And it’s not just residents; with almost 20,000 donations pouring in not only from the 305, but dozens of states and more than 30 countries, our city of global citizens is inspiring friends and family abroad to invest in our progress.

None of it would have been possible without the work of our 520 nonprofit partners, who used everything from creative memes on social media to dance parties, pledge cards and mascots to rally supporters. They stepped up in ways that were inspiring and fun to watch throughout the day.

The Miami Marlins staff, for example, took to the streets, approaching residents across the county to support their annual Marlins Ayudan Day of Service and Community Engagement nonprofit partners.  They also raised a significant amount of money – $157,000 – on Give Miami Day to support a number of causes they care deeply about. 

Local arts organizations came together to drive donations beyond a particular nonprofit to support the entire sector. Their Miami Arts Brigade, spearheaded by Sonia Hendler and James Echols, supercharged nonprofits’ promotions with a galvanizing online campaign. As a result, arts groups received the second highest number of gifts, just behind education-focused nonprofits, with a total raised of $777,881.

In addition to the millions raised from midnight November 20 to midnight November 21, Knight Foundation, The Miami Foundation and our Board of Trustees, Marlins Foundation, Health Foundation of South Florida and additional donors contributed to a bonus pool of $429,725. The pool maximized the community’s generosity by making a 9 percent bonus gift for every donation between $25 and $10,000 a nonprofit received on Give Miami Day.

This was also the first year The Miami Foundation set a public goal for the 24 hour fundraising drive – a $5 million target that was over 50 percent higher than the $3.2 million we raised in 2013. It was ambitious, but Miami was built by people with big ambitions and the ability to achieve the biggest of goals. It is what gives us our identity, our vibe, our swagger. We now have 5.2 million reasons to add philanthropy to the things we can take pride in that make Miami one of the most exceptional cities on the planet.

So, where do we go from here? Simply put, Don’t Stop, Miami! Don’t stop with donating on Give Miami Day; those historic 24 hours should be a catalyst to spark a year-round, community-wide enhanced commitment to our local nonprofits.  It’s time to step it up. If you made a gift to an organization you care about, follow up with them: ask how they’re using your donation to advance a cause; plug in and help by volunteering; become a champion for their work and rally others to action.

We know that one day doesn’t solve all of our civic challenges. The Our Miami Report details them in full. But Give Miami Day shows how one day, one moment, one community can flip the narrative and tell the story of The New Miami, a more generous, giving and bighearted place than ever before.

It’s time to strut our #philanthropyswagger.

Javier Alberto Soto is president and CEO of The Miami Foundation

Our goal: a $5 million Miami Moment
Friday, November 14, 2014

Miami Skyline


One of the advantages of being a young community is the opportunity it presents to build the kind of place we all aspire to call home. In Miami, anyone who is passionate about this city can help to shape its destiny. That is the essence of The New Miami.

We’ve seen it time and again what philanthropy can ignite in our city: world-class arts venues, thriving incubators for entrepreneurs, activated parks and public spaces … and yet, like many things in our ever-changing city, Miami has room for growth.

Our recently released 2014 Our Miami Report gave a snapshot of life in our community.  The findings showed progress in many areas thanks to changemakers driving a bigger, better Miami. However, we still face challenges, most notably with regards to civic participation. Miamians volunteer less – 15.3 percent of residents volunteer compared to 18.3 percent of New Yorkers – and we donate fewer funds to local nonprofits – 1.7 percent of our residents’ adjusted gross income versus 2.1 percent of Chicagoans’ – than people in other major cities.

On November 20, we want to help close that gap with the third annual Give Miami Day.

For the past two years, Give Miami Day has made history as the most active 24 hours of giving in South Florida.  Each day created an extraordinary Miami Moment that has shown the selfless nature of our people and fueled pride in our hometown. Year one produced a $1.2 million Miami Moment; year two produced a $3.2 million Miami Moment.  In year three, we are aiming to create a $5 million Miami Moment that sets a new record for philanthropy in Florida and signals to the world that our generosity is on a par with communities characterized by much longer philanthropic histories than ours.

Taking part in Give Miami Day is easy – with a $25 gift to a participating charity, anyone can join a movement that will help improve the lives of thousands of Miamians.  Just go to from midnight November 20 to midnight November 21, search your favorite nonprofits by name or cause and make a gift online.  Knight Foundation, The Miami Foundation Board of Trustees, Marlins Foundation, Health Foundation of South Florida, Stearns Weaver Miller and our partners will maximize the community’s generosity by making a bonus gift for every donation between $25 and $10,000.

A new addition to Give Miami Day 2014 will be the Community Block Party, an opportunity to capture the tangible energy that Give Miami Day generates by bringing people together to connect, engage and celebrate with local charities.  Marlins Park will host the event from 6 to 9 p.m. on Give Miami Day – everyone is invited to bring your friends and family to join in the festivities. 

We know that statistics alone do not tell the whole story about how generous our community is. There are countless daily examples of individual gestures that demonstrate Miami's generosity and make our community stronger, whether it’s supporting a friend, relative or our neighbors in the hemisphere facing hardship. On November 20, we are asking you to take those individual displays of generosity a step further to build a greater Miami together.

Our vision for Miami is of a city that is generous, engaged and committed to investing in its future. We believe this will define The New Miami. Let Give Miami Day help you make your place in it.

Javier Alberto Soto is president and CEO of The Miami Foundation.



In 24 hours, we can change a city
Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pictured: Miami's iconic Freedom Tower lit up in purple on 11.20.13 in celebration of Give Miami Day. 

The New Miami is defined by the impassioned efforts of its residents. It is an emerging culture where philanthropy is accessible to all … every engaged Miamian gets to be a part of our growth.

This is the vision from which Give Miami Day emerged.

Before December 12, 2012, the “24 hours of giving” concept was untested in South Florida. Though we knew the generous spirit of our community, we did not know if Miamians would show up. Give Miami Day provided a simple platform to support nonprofits serving Miami-Dade County. With a minimum gift of $25, all Miamians could donate to the work that was shaping our city.

That inaugural Give Miami Day closed with nearly 5,000 gifts and $1.2 million raised to benefit 300 organizations across the county. When provided with the proper channel, the people of Miami revealed their unparalleled generosity.

That collective display of goodwill sparked a movement that has changed the way we think about philanthropy. For Give Miami Day 2013, Miamians rallied around a single goal: to make history – again – as the most active day of charitable giving in South Florida history. During the 24-hour period, more than $3.2 million were donated by 10,000+ individuals to 400 nonprofits. Only a year after the inaugural day, Miami had more than doubled its results, proving this was a city filled with people invested in its progress.

Miami-Dade County’s unity of purpose is its strength.  Give Miami Day has made it possible for anybody to become a changemaker, regardless of the size of their donation, and rally with their neighbors to address a cause. By pooling our funds, we have helped nonprofits motivate under-resourced youth, teach future artists and encourage civic excellence.

This year, Give Miami Day will take place in the 24 hours between midnight November 20th and midnight November 21st. will again allow donors to review online profiles of more than 400 nonprofits actively building a better Miami.  If you are passionate about empowering young leaders, creating safer neighborhoods or championing equality, you will find a nonprofit making an impact on that cause.  Your gift will go even further after The Miami Foundation, along with our partners, increases each donation between $25 and $10,000 with an additional gift from our bonus pool.

Together, we can invest into the dynamic future of our community. Give Miami Day is only another expression of what we all have come to understand: Miami is vibrant, engaged and more generous than we can imagine.  It’s time to join the movement.

To register your nonprofit and learn more about sponsorship opportunities, visit

Matthew Beatty is the director of communications at The Miami Foundation.

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, allowing existing and potential donors to see the mission, work and impact of each organization.  Every donation between $25 and $10,000 received through 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. 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  Please visit our frequently asked questions page for more information, or contact Marianne Maduro, senior program officer, at

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'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, the nonprofit that hosted the summit. 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

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 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.