Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy birthday ReServe!

Written by Kaan Ocbe, ReServe Cultivation Coordinator

This October marks the one year anniversary of ReServe Miami, a program connects continuing professionals age 55+ with nonprofits across the city to help them reinvest a career’s worth of skills into building capacity within our community. 

It has been an exhilarating first year. ReServe Miami, hosted by Catalyst Miami, has been successful in placing over 50 continuing professionals with local organizations, more than doubling the one-year goal of 25 placements. Some of the partner organizations include March of Dimes, Florida International University and the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce.

The first ReServe program began in New York in 2005 and has since spread to many other cities across the U.S. ReServists have a wealth of experience that can be put to use by the nonprofits in our communities, yet many times professionals over 55 are not hired simply because of their age. ReServe provides nonprofits with highly skilled, older individuals at a subsidized rate so that they can help serve their community by working with organizations that are in many cases stretched very thin. In this way, ReServe helps to serve the dual purpose of providing opportunities to its ReServists and helping to build capacity within our community organizations.

ReServists end up becoming central actors in the operations of their partner organization and their very presence fosters the development of a vibrant, multi-generational work environment.

The coming year is set to be just as exciting as the last. Currently the ReServe team is preparing for its "Latin Launch," which will begin ReServe Miami’s entrance into the Spanish speaking nonprofit community, opening up new opportunities for ReServists who speak Spanish as their primary language.

If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a ReServist, please be sure to sign up for a First Impressions meeting by visiting

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Avoiding the 'fiscal cliff'

Catalyst Miami is one of over 1,900 groups that signed the SAVE for All letter that was resently sent to every Senator and Representative in Congress, asking them to avoid what could be devastating cuts to jobs and services. 

The impetus for the letter is the looming "sequestration cuts," sometimes known as the "fiscal cliff." This refers to the deadline Congress set for itself last year to reach an agreement on tackling the budget deficit. Unless some kind of bipartisan compromise can be reached by the end of this year, $1.2 trillion worth of cuts to jobs and services will automatically go into effect. These cuts have been referred to be Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) as a “Satan sandwich” because of the potential impact the cuts could have on the poor. 

As the SAVE for All letter outlines, hundreds of thousands of households could lose services such as rental assistance, heating and cooling aid, nutrition aid and job training if a deal is not reached. According to the Congressional Budget Office, if the cuts take effect, unemployment will rise to 9.1% by the end of next year. That is why we, along with many other organizations, are calling on Congress to let the tax cuts for the richest 2% expire to avoid these harsh austerity measures. 

Learn more from the Coalition on Human Needs.

Switchboard event honors brightest stars of Miami-Dade

On November 9, Switchboard Miami will celebrate Miami-Dade’s All Stars, the hardworking nonprofits and unsung heroes who make a critical difference in the lives of others every single day. 

You are invited to join this important celebration and get to know the true stars in our community.

Saving lives and helping others goes on 24/7 in Miami. Tens of thousands of your neighbors make their living making a difference in our community. Now is your opportunity to meet them and celebrate the important work they do.

Some of them work and volunteer at Switchboard, one of Miami’s oldest and most enduring non-profit organizations. Since 1968, Switchboard has been answering the call for help and connecting all people in need with community resources 24/7. Last year, Switchboard answered 178,271 calls from youth, adults and families seeking help.

Switchboard manages Miami-Dade County’s only comprehensive HELPpages – over 5,000 programs and services. It is their mission to connect the community to the organizations in the HELPpages. Last year, Switchboard made 170,434 referrals to help individuals connect to local organizations.

“Because we connect people and services, we have the opportunity to know and work with Miami-Dade County’s many agencies. It’s an honor to host this First Annual All Star Non-Profit Awards Luncheon and shine the spot light on some of the great work going on here in Miami,” says Switchboard’s Chief Executive Director Catherine Penrod. “It’s important to recognize and celebrate good people and organizations, because without them, we could not do our job helping callers.”

Reserve your seat. Secure your table. Become a sponsor. And celebrate the true “All Stars”. Call Amy Crismond at Switchboard today at (305) 358-1640x127or visit

Press release provided by Switchboard of Miami, Inc.

Early Voting with Operation Lemonade

Although we have fewer early voting days this year, Pastor Victor Tyrone Curry is determined to motivate people to vote early.

In other words, Curry is making lemons into lemonade. His congregation, New Birth Baptist Church, has launched “OperationLemonade,” which includes “Souls to the Polls” weekends with rallies at voting locations throughout the county. This weekend, October 27 and 28, there will be rallies at the Stephen P. Clark Center, the South Dade Regional Library, Lauderhill Mall and E. Pat Larking Community Center. 

If you don't want to go to the polls in person, you can still vote absentee. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is October 31 and it must be returned by November 6 at 7 p.m. Last but not least don’t vote unprepared. If you're still unsure of how to vote, check out the Florida Election Voter Guide.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Movers and shakers take the time to eat and talk

When the Breakfast Roundtable started nearly two years ago, Christopher Norwood imagined bringing change-makers and visionaries together with no set agenda in mind. The idea was to break bread and share wisdom about the issues that mattered most to those gathered around the table. What developed was an informal gathering welcoming the insight of community leaders who could share their thoughts and answer questions pertaining to non-partisan public policy, business and community change opportunities.

“It all started with me and a couple of civic leaders,” Norwood explains. “We often sat around and talked about the lack of opportunity for information sharing around issues affecting our community. We decided there was a need to provide that information in an informal setting.” 

The informal gathering now takes place once a month at the Jackson Soul Food Restaurant in Overtown. It is an opportunity for community members to bridge the gap and gain insight into the personal perspective of Miami's nonprofit and community leaders.

Since its inception, The Breakfast Roundtable has hosted the Director of the Port of Miami, the CEO of Business and Tourism Bureau, the CEO of the Children’s Trust, the Superintendent of Schools, the Director of the Port of Miami, City Commissioner and many others. 

Just last week, Catalyst Miami's President Daniella Levine made an appearance at the Roundtable. She shared her personal leadership journey—walking each one of us through the challenges she’s faced, the victories she’s experienced and the lessons she’s learned while working to create justice and equality for families and children in Miami-Dade County. Levine explored the ups and downs of leadership, describing the importance of having integrity and building trust.

“I learned a very powerful story about what gave her the edge and the personal motivation to start an organization like Human Services Coalition [now, Catalyst Miami],” Norwood said.

The Breakfast Roundtable is a unique sum of all its parts. The speaker, the attendees and organizer all play a unique role in allowing the discussion to flow organically. The idea that we cannot work together if we do not come together is tried and true and something the Breakfast Roundtable keeps at the forefront of each gathering.

As Norwood said, “Receiving information empowers people in the community to make more informed decisions…[The Roundtable] is an opportunity to cut through the filter, break bread, and have a conversation.”
For more information on past and future round table discussions, visit The Breakfast Roundtable on Facebook.


AmeriCorps alums are still serving Miami

Written by Kevin R. Bulger, AmeriCorps Alums Miami Chapter Treasurer
My passion for service and civic engagement predominantly stems from my experience as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with the Collins Center for Public Policy in 2007. You may know AmeriCorps as the “domestic version of Peace Corps,” where individuals enlist for one year--for not a lot of money--to help empower and improve the conditions for the under-served and disadvantaged in our own backyard. In Miami-Dade County, over 700 people serve every year. My experience not only taught me a lot about the needs of Miami’s communities, but also taught me a great deal of life lessons too long and personal to get into here.
I left AmeriCorps after one term and found employment with a few non-profit organizations, but the work I have found most rewarding is volunteering with the Miami AmeriCorps Alums
I’m proud to say that the Miami AmeriCorps Alums organization is a signature, best-practice chapter. Our objective is to provide pathways for leadership through service projects so that the lessons of AmeriCorps (taking action, finding common ground and persevering) are carried throughout our lifetimes. 

We host weekly volunteer projects at the Regis House, weekly socials and project planning sessions, and monthly leadership meetings designed to engage and inspire AmeriCorps alums to build upon their careers in public service. Some of our achievements have been members  becoming elected officials, 800+ volunteer hours donated each year and many special events and forums specifically designed by Miami AmeriCorps Alums.
Miami is blessed to have a wide range of AmeriCorps programs focusing on issues related to disaster response, education, environmental sustainability, poverty relief, community service and civic engagement. However, with this diversity of interests comes the challenge of establishing common ground. It is our hope to better unite national service programs to get things done in Miami.

One way you can help us is to attend or donate to our fundraiser on Saturday, October 27 in Brickell so that we can build better bridges between our spectacular local AmeriCorps programs. A donation of $25 will help us a great deal in achieving our mission of building community through a lifetime of service.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Some advice on becoming a civic leader

Written by Santarvis Brown, Vice President of Civic Leadership
Leadership is a topic that many have speculated and pontificated on. Today however, I would like to reflect upon a more specified tenet within the ongoing dialogue about leadership, and that is the concept of "civic leadership." 
Santarvis Brown
Civic leadership plainly described is the leadership that you exhibit in regards or response to the issues that face your community. As we have seen in recent years, there is a major push in regards to civic engagement and civic leadership.
It is vital that everyone understand that they have a civic voice that they must actively use to impact and affect change. The question that you may be asking is, how do I become civically involved? The answer is by seeking out a cause or issue that you are passionate about and working for the betterment of it. Once you have identified an issue or cause that you want to work for, roll up your sleeves and get to work. 

A piece of advice that I would like to offer is “Don’t get hung up on the task.” What I mean by this is, sometimes we get discouraged or weary in the work we're doing because we don’t think that the impact we have is enough. Always remember that any task that you do for the cause is appreciated and useful.

I can remember the story of a preacher who was nearing retirement and had only saved one soul in his fifty-year career. As a gift, his church gave him a pre-retirement paid vacation to the location of his choice. He decided that he would go and visit the church of a young pastor who was saving hundreds of souls monthly. He visited the church and after a powerful sermon that 50 people attended that Sunday, the older pastor went to talk to the young pastor. 

The older pastor said, “Reverend, I heard so much about you and I wanted to meet you. In my fifty year career, I have only saved one person, and I need to know where I went wrong.” 

The young pastor smiled, and said, "Reverend, you said you only saved one soul, correct?" 

The old pastor said, "Yes, and I feel that I have failed." 

The young pastor said to the older pastor as he embraced him, "Don’t feel that you have failed because I am the one person that you saved, and because you saved me, hundreds get saved monthly."

The moral of the story is that every job working for a cause is important, even if your work is only putting together application packets for people to register to vote…. Do it well and with a smile. I say with a smile because one of those packets may lead to a registration that may be that deciding vote for an election.

So get up, find your cause, and get to work.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Young Professionals Network of Miami Hosts 2nd Annual Business of Politics workshop

Press Release | by the Young Professionals Network (YPN) of Miami

It’s an occasion that comes around once every four years. Not only is it a race for the presidency, but a business opportunity. South Florida’s Young Professional Network (YPN) of Miami, an Initiative of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, the Urban League of Broward County Young Professionals Network (YPN Broward) and partners will hold the 2nd Annual Business of Politics workshop. This one will not only motivate, but also educate our young professionals about the political process, the candidates, and the campaign issues, particularly as they relate to their own lives.

Last year’s Business of Politics workshop was hosted at Cozen O'Connor and included panelists: Cedric McMinn, Bradley Gerber, Todd Michaels, Crystal Connor, and moderator Christopher Norwood. The goal this year, is to develop a better understanding of the culture, policy formulation and public attitudes of nationally and globally important issues in the United States.

The workshop will be held at Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton 2525 Ponce de Leon, 9th Floor Miami, Florida 33134; on Thursday, October 25th, 2012 from 6:30-9:00pm and will be delivered in two parts to include an education forum on the electoral process and voting education. The discussion topics will feature the Electoral Process and Voting Rights, Foreign Policy, Jobs & the Economy: Putting America Back to Work and Urban Policy. Facilitated by Marlon A. Hill, Attorney at Law of delancyhill, P.A and Cedric McMinn, Executive Director of Miami-Dade Democratic Party, the workshop will feature a dynamic group of political and business leaders who will motivate and deliver programming to young professionals of South Florida.

Panelists of the Workshop include:

  • Mikki Canton, Esq., International lawyer, Civic engagement advocate 
  • Luis Andre Gazitua, Government Affairs Lawyer, Maverick PAC, Miami Regional Chair 
  • Jorge Arrizurieta, Foreign Policy/International Trade Consultant 
  • Daniella Levine, Director, Catalyst Miami, Civic engagement Advocate 
  • Bill Diggs, President , Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce 
  • Obama Voter Protection Department Representative 
Under the Professional Development Committee, YPN Miami has built a series of continuing education workshops and trainings this year that have increased the membership leading the members to become the future leaders in South Florida.

The year started in February with the Tax Education workshop in conjunction with The Accounting & Tax Company and co-sponsor Fellowes Inc. and the Identity Theft Resource Center. The Dimensions of Diversity workshop followed in March with Barbara Cheives of Converge & Associates Consulting. Right after, YPN Miami along with Author Gerald Grant Jr. and the FIU Black Alumni Chapter hosted the Credit and Wealth Management workshop in April. Then, our own Executive Board member, C. Payne of Regal Spri Creative Group, presented an energetic Social Media seminar in May. The best was yet to come, in July, when YPN Miami made history with the Entrepreneurship series, with 100 plus attendees for Part I and concluding with a Shark Tank style at Part II. Lastly, we are continuing with the 2nd Annual Business of Politics and the year-end Annual Holiday Gala hosted by the Chamber. Additionally, there have been a number of community service projects and the development of the Mentoring Program throughout the year.

About Young Professionals Network (YPN) of Miami:

The Young Professionals Network of Miami (YPN), an Initiative of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce was created in late 2007 as a fledging addition to the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce (MDCC) to address an ever present problem here in South Florida- the retention of young black professionals. While the MDC is targeted to business owners and mid to senior level executives, the YPN was created to mentor and develop South Florida’s diverse young professionals between the ages of 25-40. Our membership base is comprised of a variety of professionals from entrepreneurs to corporate executives, educators/scholars, artists, attorneys, engineers, and doctors between the ages of 25-40 years old from all over the South Florida region.

About Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce:

The Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1974 by a group of Black businessmen out of a need for a strong organization that could objectively advocate the needs of a growing Black business community. Our mission is to provide a world of business opportunities and bring the business community together to exchange goods and services and to promote interaction and communication mutually beneficial to all businesses involved. In its thirty-plus years, the Chamber has been led by three presidents. Inaugural president David Fincher served from 1974 to 1984 followed by Dorothy Baker, who presided for twenty years, from 1984 through 2004. Current Chief Executive Bill Diggs took the helm in 2005 and already has increased Chamber membership to over 400 members. Each day, Diggs and his staff work diligently to plan strategic marketing and effective business developments for the 21st century.

For further information about this educational workshop and RSVP, email

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

From the Prosperity Desk: Some Math On Being Poor

Written by Kamalah Fletcher, Community Prosperity Director
The Prosperity Campaign helps people
meet their basic needs.
A single person making $40,000 a year may think of herself as “poor” because she ran over budget this month or cannot buy the things she wants. According to federal poverty guidelines, what poverty actually looks like these days is a family of 3 making about $19,000 a year or less

Let me break it down even further: $19,000 gross gives you about $15,200 take home, which gives you $1,266 take home monthly. Based on the standard measure of "affordable housing," which dictates a household should spend around 30% or less of their income on housing, you'll want to budget just $380 a month for rent. Think about where you live and the availability of safe, quality housing. Is this enough? Add two more mouths to feed, clothe, transport and entertain. Can you make it on such a budget? In 2011, there were 46.2 million people figuring out how to get by while living in poverty.

To give you some perspective, $19,000 was my yearly salary when I was working full-time as a preschool teacher in college. I was only taking care of myself and still finding it hard to pay rent, go to school, buy heating oil and get around. When I was young and idealistic, I made the decision to sacrifice personal luxury so I could always do work that was meaningful to me. However, this is not a choice for the average person living at the poverty line. Their income is hard earned, and sometimes the fruit of two people’s labor!

Every day in the Prosperity Campaign, we help people whose lives mirror this story. Do you hear about these things when you listen to the public debate on cutting programs that help the poor?  Instead of simply demanding that the “poor” pick themselves up out of poverty, let's tell stories about how policy impacts real people’s lives!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Join the global conversation about cities

You're invited to a global happening!

Catalyst Miami will be one of the many sites around the world hosting a screening of the documentary On Cities, a film premiere by Sanjeev Chatterjee, on October 22

In addition to watching the film together, we will discuss the future of life in cities with people across the globe through Skype. 

This will also be the launch of a multilingual film contest that encourages filmmakers to tell stories about life in cities and ways to create collective change. 

October 22 | 3 p.m.
Catalyst Miami, 1900 Biscayne Blvd, Suite 200 

Click here for more information.

Generating Margin to Grow The Mission of Nonprofits in Miami-Dade

What do nonprofits need more than ever? Did you answer "unrestricted revenue"? If so, you are not alone. 

We are all struggling in a more competitive funding environment to find the dollars to pay for our back offices and to expand our work toward our missions beyond specific service programs.

What is a smart nonprofit to do? Did you answer "sell products and services"? If so, you are an innovative nonprofit leader, one that sees the potential and necessity of developing earned income streams to supplement grants and donations.

Thanks to visionary support from Allegany Franciscan Ministries and The Children's Trust you will soon have a chance to learn how to become more entrepreneurial. On October 30, the social business mavens from No Margin, No Mission will offer a workshop at Temple Israel to help nonprofits determine their potential revenue streams and begin to plan for a more secure and sustainable future.

Registration is free to Catalyst Miami partner organizations and $10 for others. Lunch is provided. Opportunities for technical assistance are also available to two organizations who apply through our online survey.
Click here to register by October 19. Space is limited.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Questions to ask at home on debate night

Who's planning to watch the Vice Presidential debate tomorrow? Are you dreading it or looking forward to a heated discussion? This close to the election it might feel like everything there is to say has already been said. But I've actually been thinking that a lot of the most essential questions aren't being asked. I'm not alone. 

The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation just put together a debate tool to help viewers at home center their conversations with family, friends and coworkers around what it takes to move the country forward.

Check out some of the questions they propose we ask ourselves: 

1) Do the candidates talk about the role of community and our obligation to one another, or talk just about the role and size of government?

2) Do the candidates talk about how Americans must come together and get things done in our communities, or talk only about what they will do to solve problems for us?

3) Do the candidates talk about the hard steps required to get the country moving on a new path forward, or do they promise quick fixes and instant gratification?

4) Do the candidates help us restore our belief in ourselves, or do they contribute to more noise, acrimony and division? 

What do you think? What are some of the questions you're asking yourself this election season?

The question of diversity in education once again before SCOTUS

Fifty-eight years ago, the Brown v. Board of Education decision officially desegregated schools in the United States. This week, the nation will hear arguments in what is sure to be another landmark case that could challenge what Brown v. Board of Education sought to achieve half a century ago. This time the case deals with higher education admission policies and the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision, which ruled that race could, in fact, play a role in the college admissions process.

What's the case? Fisher v. University of Texas. The Supreme Court will soon hear opening arguments is this case, which challenges the UT's affirmative action policies that consider a student’s ethnic and racial background in addition to their academic achievement, leadership potential, extra-curricular activities and talents.

As the Supreme Court considers this case, it is impossible to ignore the huge impact diversity has on college campuses, work places and day-to-day interactions among people. In "10 Reasons Why We Need Diversity on College Campuses," author Sophia Kerby argues that diversity on college campuses is crucial:

"Learning with people from a variety of backgrounds encourages collaboration and fosters innovation, thereby benefiting all students. Research shows that the overall academic and social effects of increased racial diversity on campus are likely to be positive, ranging from higher levels of academic achievement to the improvement of near- and long-term intergroup relations."

The constitutional question going before the Supreme Court today poses a major threat to diversity in higher education. Instead of taking modest steps forward to ensure that diversity is maintained and improved at the college and university level, the overruling of Grutter v. Bollinger would take our nation's colleges and universities a few steps backwards.

As we follow this case, these are some of the essential questions we're asking: What can be done to ensure fair access to higher education? How can we make steps in the right direction to ensure diversity is reflected in our schools and places of work? What are you wondering?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Boost your organization's development capacity

How equipped is your organization to recruit and retain leaders for fund development? What can a nonprofit do to ensure sustainability in their development department and organization as a whole?

Explore this topic with the The Chronicle of Philanthropy during its Keys to a Development Director's Success: How to Recruit and Retain High Quality Fund Development Staff webinar on October 18, 2012 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. EST.

Join to learn:
·  Strategies for recruiting the right development director for your organization.
·  How to create a working environment that keeps your development director challenged and satisfied.
·  How to assess development staffing needs based on the size of an organization, its mission and budget.
· The factors that contribute to a development director’s effectiveness.

This Chronicle of Philanthropy webinar is designed especially for:
· Executive directors, chief executives and senior nonprofit managers
· Executive directors, chief executives and senior program staff at grant-making or funding organizations
· Private philanthropists
· Nonprofit board members

Click here to download the registration form for the webinar.

The official meetup location in Miami-Dade for the October 18th webinar is Catalyst Miami: 1900 Biscayne Blvd. #200 Miami, FL 33132.
Other host sites include the Greater Ft Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce and Palm Beach Rehabilitation.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Now More Than Ever, Miami Thrives

Written by Felix Acuna, Americorps VISTA

In a city that appears more divided than unified, the possibility of a collective movement among organizations working to improve the lives of people is now tangible. This possibility is the Miami Thrives Network, an initiative of Catalyst Miami that  brings service providers and advocacy organizations together in face-to-face dialogues as part of an effort to tackle the root causes of poverty.

Although there are many differences within the nonprofit world, most of us could agree that there’s a fundamental concern driving all of our efforts. It is enough to look at our organizations’ visions to intuit that, as Norman Riviera from the Alliance for Early Care and Education put it during one of the dialogues, “we’re all looking for the same thing.” And while our goals and deliverables are different, our vulnerability to financial hardships is shared. Even more importantly, we share the motivation and resources to change things locally in order to make Miami-Dade a more supportive and thriving county.

This may seem like an overly idealistic goal, but there are three things that excite us and give us hope. First, there have been no initiatives of this magnitude undertaken before. Second, the possibility of service providers acting as social change agents is already being discussed by nonprofit leaders. Three, these leaders are pumped! To get a better idea of the potential of this network, consider that the average service provider sees about 5,000 clients a year. This means that even if we only mobilize a small portion of our constituents in the actions we’ll take on collectively, the consequences and magnitude of such actions will be of a kind that has never been seen before in our city.

That said, it’s not surprising that those who have participated in the dialogues have left eager to stay involved. There’s a lot of work to do and we’re now seeing that we can best, and perhaps only, accomplish it together.

If you are a direct service provider and are interested in learning more about Miami Thrives, email Jacob Coker-Dukowitz at

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Nonprofits Get Out the Vote

The nonprofit sector has an important role to play in getting out the vote this November, but how do we lead a nonpartisan voter engagement campaign? That is the subject of Nonprofit VOTE's upcoming webinar, which will take place Thursday, October 11 at 2 p.m. EST. The webinar will feature Michael Weekes, President/CEO of Providers' Council of Massachusetts; Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO/President of Voto Latino; Zachary Markovits, Manager of Election Initiatives at the Pew Center on the States; and others.  Click here to learn more or to register for the webinar.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Building Bridges Isn't Easy... But It's Getting Easier

A study released from the Columbia Business School last month found that mindfulness about our own cultural assumptions may be a key driver towards creatively collaborating with individuals from other cultures. According to the researchers, the trust normally experienced in working relationships is 'cognitive trust,' trust from the head--otherwise known as trusting somebody about as far as you can throw them. When we are habitually aware of our own cultural frameworks we are more likely to establish 'affective trust' with our colleagues—trust from the heart, akin to rapport. The study found that affective trust is key in creative partnerships, because the best and newest ideas tend to only be shared and expanded upon when that deeper trust is present.

Collaboration is one of our core values here at Catalyst. It isn't always easy—in fact sometimes it's downright frustrating—but the fruit born from effective collaborations are just too sweet to pass up. There certainly seems to be something sweet in the air this autumn! Maybe it has something to do with the wave of collaborative workspaces opening up in Miami. Whatever the case, we are happy to see more collaboration springing up in our hometown!

The Greater the Nonprofit Density, The Lesser the Unemployment Rate

The latest report from the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) reveals that metropolitan areas, states and communities with better civic health fare better during times of economic recession.

These findings have major implications for those living, working and engaging in Florida—a state with the third highest rate of unemployment and the highest foreclosure rate.
The discussion surrounding civic engagement has recently permeated the nonprofit sector, so we have to ask what role engagement plays in building healthier, stronger, and more prosperous communities.

Not only do nonprofits assist individuals and families by tending to immediate needs, but they also pave unique avenues for employment. Groups that provide services, hold regular meetings and convene people for decision-making are likely to contribute to social fabric that bolsters employment both locally and nationally, according to the NCoC study.

In Miami-Dade, nonprofits have provided thousands of jobs with fair pay and employee benefits, all while offering direct services at projected growth each year. In 2010, a survey of 42 organizations in Miami-Dade revealed new employment opportunities for over 2,000 individuals that provided direct services to over 200,000 clients. 66% of the organizations surveyed offered competitive salaries and benefits and employed 37% of their personnel full-time.

Thanks to organized efforts of the Penny Wise Campaign, which has curtailed budget cuts and preserved programs and services offered by nonprofits throughout Miami-Dade, the idea that “short-term cuts could have long-term consequences” took hold in 2010.

The same rigor is needed to preserve our nonprofits today. Even in light of an economic recession, it is important to consider the role nonprofits play in strengthening civic health and lessening unemployment rates in our communities.

Connecting people to jobs through the nonprofit sector strengthens local employment and bolsters civic engagement. Nonprofit organizations play a key role in creating avenues for social cohesion, increasing networks, and providing training opportunities for employees and constituents alike. 

Zambrano Foundation Champions Democracy

Written by Daniella Levine, Catalyst Miami President/CEO
The Zambrano Foundation is passionate about democracy, in the US and beyond. The wonderful leaders of the Foundation believe that the US is at the forefront of civic engagement, but they know that even here our democracy needs to be nurtured. Real public education and engagement is critical to a robust democracy. If we don't use it we will lose it. Immigrant populations and the many transplants from Central and South America need extra support to link to US civic life. The foundation exists to serve as a bridge for these communities' civic involvement and to develop the leadership needed to sustain democracies at home and abroad.

It is a real honor to have been recognized by the Zambrano Foundation as a partner in promoting democracy. Catalyst Miami received a donation to support our work with voter registration and education, using the TurboVote tool. Our ceremonial check presentation is recorded in this photo taken on Monday, October 2 at the foundation's Aventura offices.

Check out the wonderful work of this new organization and come to their conference on Democracy in the Americas to take place November 15-16 at University of Miami. I am confident that you will find the Zambrano Foundation's values and programs inspiring and uplifting.

Monday, October 1, 2012

One Year Since the Start of Occupy, Much Work Still Needs to Be Done

Written by Daniella Levine, Catalyst Miami President/CEO

One year anniversaries are momentous occasions. A first birthday party or a first wedding anniversary hopefully bring joy and happy reflection. So why does the one year anniversary of Occupy Miami seem like a distant dream? 

Image by Brian Tatosky
The Occupy Movement was born in New York City from a deep rumble of dismay and discontent. What was wrong with America? How could those with wealth be doing so well while the heralded middle class was no longer in the middle? The steady but gradual shift away from opportunity and equity in America was going largely unnoticed. Until the occupations began, first in New York, then in cities across the country. The 99% called out the 1%, and America stood up and listened.

Occupy made it safe to acknowledge the obvious: we were increasingly becoming two Americas, the rich and the poor. The American Dream was becoming all too distant for too many. 

What has happened in this past year and how has Occupy influenced the course of events? We are locked down in a death rattle election, in which once again we are pitted against each other in America: the 53% who "produce" versus the 47% who "mooch." Yet we have also been once again awakened to a stark but formerly hidden reality: inequitable tax policy in America. The wealthiest in fact get the biggest handout from government, while those in the "middle" pay the highest effective tax rates. And Congress has stalled on deciding who will get to continue with lower tax rates: just the rich or everyone? 

With a skyrocketing deficit and our nation in hock to China, can we afford to let the rich continue to get richer? What do we get for our unequal policies? An abysmal record on child well-being. High incarceration rates. Little social mobility. All of this is driven by that very inequality which fuels discontent among all people.

Oh Occupy, we cry for thee. It seemed for a few brief months that America would listen and learn. But we are once again harshly divided, with those most affected by our gaping wounds oblivious to their own self- and shared-interests. No birthday candles for you, Occupy. Your brief but illuminating flame was obliterated by the power of partisan politics and increasing manipulation of public opinion by the champions of polarization who benefit from our many divides.