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26 Feb THE MIAMI FOUNDATION’S 2015 PUBLIC SPACE CHALLENGE TO OPEN MARCH 4TH, $305K INVESTED IN WINNING IDEAS

The Miami Foundation’s 2015 Public Space Challenge will accept idea submissions from March 4th to April 1st. Now in its third year, the contest seeks ideas to connect Miami-Dade residents by creating, improving and activating public gathering places like parks, libraries, plazas and playgrounds.  Anyone – individuals, groups, agencies, nonprofits or companies – can submit ideas at ourmiami.org/challenge.  The Miami Foundation increased the prize amount from previous years, with a total of $305,000 in grants to be awarded for 2015’s winning ideas, up from $130,000 last year.  Health Foundation of South Florida will contribute towards ideas promoting healthy exercise activities and access to fresh food. Baptist Health South Florida joins the Challenge partners this year, helping to foster ideas that encourage healthy lifestyles in the community.

“We upped our commitment this year because we have seen Miamians’ increasing demand for better public spaces.  Our community understands how vital open spaces are to improving our quality of life and making Miami a vibrant and engaging place to live,” said Javier Alberto Soto, president and CEO of The Miami Foundation. “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.  More dollars mean we can invest in bigger ideas, mobilize more people and see greater results in the form of exciting public spaces.”

Past Challenge winners (18 ideas were selected in 2014) are providing new ways to enjoy Miami’s public spaces leading up to the March 4th launch. Earlier this month, to demonstrate the power of lighting to create and define a public space, Friends of the Underline lit up Vizcaya Metrorail Station a different color nightly from February 14th to 21st. The installation brought attention to their Underline Project, a planned transformation of the 10-mile M-Path beneath the Metrorail from the Miami River to Dadeland South into a linear park that will enhance connectivity, mobility and biking safety for thousands of Miami-Dade residents.

Events in the last week include Bay Skate Miami, which turned the Mildred and Claude Pepper Fountain at Bayfront Park into a skating rink for one, free night on Feb. 26, and the Wynwood Green & Art Market, Bakehouse Art Complex’s March 1st launch of their community market showcasing local produce and crafts.

“The 2014 Our Miami Report highlighted the importance of parks and public spaces for our residents’ physical well-being and facilitating connections to our city and each other,” said Stuart Kennedy, senior programs officer at The Miami Foundation. “We’re lagging behind our peers like New York and Chicago in funding and expanding these spaces. The Challenge addresses that by putting the power in Miamians’ hands to shape lively, attractive gathering places across this community.”

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 in March. 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.

The Miami Foundation will host the Public Space Challenge kickoff on March 4th 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. RSVP at miamifoundation.org/rsvp. For more information and inspiration from our blog, visit ourmiami.org/challenge. To schedule interviews or discuss the Challenge with The Miami Foundation, please contact Meieli Sawyer at 305-668-0070 or msawyer@weinbachgroup.com.

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