Friday, January 25, 2013

Miami Thrives Network: Why Service Providers?

Written by Felix Acuña, New Media Coordinator

You may have read our recent post about the Miami Thrives Network (MTN), a network of Miami-area service providers committed to ending poverty. Or maybe you've heard about our dialogue series that brings nonprofit leaders together to discuss our common challenges and opportunities. So you might have wondered, since many people are interested in ending poverty, why focus on service providers? 

In one word: reach. If we are to create a network of nonprofits that can exert political pressure, we need the people-power of all of of our constituents. Each service provider in South Florida served an average of 5,070 people in the year 2010, with one organization reaching 43,000 people.* Looking beyond the numbers, we find something of a higher value: connections with people of low-income and other marginalized communities.

As members of nonprofit organizations, we are driven by the mission to care. With the Miami Thrives Network, we're going further and extending that care to take down some of the pillars that sustain structural inequality. It is a big goal, but despite our oftentimes frantic search for funds just to stay afloat, we are already connected and able to mobilize our constituents. As Catalyst Advocacy Director Jake Coker-Dukowitz says, “Even if we can mobilize 1% of those people, that's 50 people!” Multiply that by 30, approximately the number of organizations that have participated in MTN dialogues, and you get 1,500 people at a town hall meeting. And even as these numbers may vary widely by organization, an effort to invite our constituents to participate in the actions that affect them is likely to amplify our voice in way that hasn't been seen before in South Florida. 

*"For the Safety and Security of our Community," a study by the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy

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