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

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