Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Miami change makers are teaming up to tackle poverty

Written by Felix Acuña, New Media Coordinator

As I think about the astrological projections that I heard on Telemundo right before the ball dropped on New Year's Eve, I'm relieved I have a backup plan for optimism for the year to come. At the risk of sounding too cheesy, I must admit that this past year I was reminded that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can overcome the system of structural inequality we live in. One such group of people, which will be growing this January, is the Miami Thrives Network (MTN).

For those of you who might not be familiar with the initiative, MTN is a network-in-development of nonprofits in Miami-Dade County. MTN aims to address the root causes of poverty, and ultimately we envision the group conducting policy campaigns. At the moment, we are in the process of developing the network and holding discussions for interested participants.

At a series of informal meetings, or dialogues, held this past year, a handful of MTN members had lively discussions on topics ranging from competition among nonprofits to the incredible people power that these groups have. Dialogues were held at organizations such as MUJERBelafonte Talcocy Center and Catalyst MiamiThe issue that was brought up the most was the need for education and workforce pipelines for youth living in poverty. It was agreed that this network belongs to all of us and therefore responsibilities and authority must be shared across groups. 

I'm excited that several participants in Catalyst Miami's nonprofit advocacy training, Harvest Democracy, will be joining the movement this year. I refer to the network as a movement because I sense among the participants a conviction that we can use collective action to change society and a commitment to doing so. It's hard to say what will come out of this network in the long run, but to use a truthful cliche, it's not only about the destination--the journey is just as important.

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