Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Catalyst Miami Receives Basic Human Services Grant from Bank of America Charitable Foundation

For Immediate Release
December 31, 2014

Reporters May Contact:
Carla Moreira Strickland, 786-414-1292

Catalyst Miami Receives Basic Human Services Grant from Bank of America Charitable Foundation

Miami, FL – Catalyst Miami announced that it has been named a recipient of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation’s 2014 Basic Human Services Grant. The grant is part of a $461,500 collective investment the bank is making in South Florida to address issues related to basic human services. The grants will help individuals and families address financial stability issues facing low-income communities, provide emergency shelter and supportive short-term housing, as well as provide access to benefits and resources including food pantries, shelters and financial coaching.

For years, Bank of America has invested in basic human services grants throughout South Florida. This year alone, the grants will impact approximately 810,622 individuals in South Florida.
“It is crucial to assist in supporting basic human needs in Miami so we can build a healthy and successful community. Through the Basic Human Services Grant, Bank of America is making a lasting impact and we are honored to be a recipient,” said Gretchen Beesing, CEO. “Bank of America provides a great example of the potential of corporate social responsibility with this grant and a model for investing in nonprofits who are serving the critical needs of those in their local communities.”

Catalyst Miami
Founded in 1995 as a Miami-based nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, Catalyst Miami, formerly the Human Services Coalition (HSC), identifies and launches innovative strategies to help people and communities thrive and to create a more equitable and caring society. We work through a network of partner organizations, linking people with financial education, healthcare information, public benefits and educational and economic opportunities. Our programs promote economic self-sufficiency, participation in civic life, organizational strength, and respect across many divides. We inspire people to get involved and prepare them to step up to leadership roles that lead to long-term community transformation.  Learn more at and follow us on Twitter @CatalystMiami.

Bank of America Corporate Social Responsibility
Bank of America’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a strategic part of doing business globally. Our CSR efforts guide how we operate in a socially, economically, financially and environmentally responsible way around the world, to deliver for shareholders, customers, clients and employees. Our goal is to help create economically vibrant regions and communities through lending, investing and giving. By partnering with our stakeholders, we create value that empowers individuals and communities to thrive and contributes to the long-term success of our business. We have several core areas of focus for our CSR, including responsible business practices; environmental sustainability; strengthening local communities with a focus on housing, hunger and jobs; investing in global leadership development; and engaging through arts and culture. As part of these efforts, employee volunteers across the company contribute their time, passion and expertise to address issues in communities where they live and work. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter at @BofA_Community.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nearly 60% of Households in Miami-Dade County Are One Financial Emergency Away from Falling into Poverty

For Immediate Release
December 16, 2014

Kristin Lawton/Amy Saltzman, CFED: 202-207-0137/301-656-0348 
Carla Moreira Strickland, Catalyst Miami: 786-414-1292

Nearly 60% of Households in Miami-Dade County Are One Financial Emergency Away from Falling into Poverty
New Data Analysis also finds the number of households without a bank account in the city of Miami is more than three times the national average

Miami Nearly 60% of Miami-Dade County households (and 67% of Miami households) do not have enough savings to live at the poverty level for just three months if they lose a job, face a medical crisis or suffer another emergency that leaves them without a steady income, according to data released today by Family Assets Count, a project of the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), in partnership with Citi Community Development and Catalyst Miami.

These families live in a state of persistent financial insecurity – known as “liquid asset poverty.In Miami and Miami-Dade County, fully 54% of households with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 (well above the median household incomes in both places) are liquid asset poor. Communities of color fair even worse in both the city and county: 69% of African American households and 67% of Hispanic households are liquid asset poor in Miami-Dade County. This is compared to 79% and 74% for the respective communities in the city of Miami.

The full report including city and county data was presented today at the Imagine Miami conference at Temple Israel. The community effort, hosted by Catalyst Miami, connects individuals, organizations and businesses to improve quality of life in Miami-Dade County and build hope through the use of true stories of people making a difference.

This data redefines poverty for our community, underscoring the financial stress so many of our
families face,” said Gretchen Beesing, CEO of Catalyst Miami. “The inability to bounce back from financial pitfalls not only hurts Miami families, it stifles the region’s long-term economic growth.”

“We hope these data ring as a clarion call to action for policymakers who have an important role to play in improving financial security for families in Miami and region-wide,” said Solana Rice, Senior Program Manager at CFED.
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Additionally, the data points to a range of other challenges confronting the Miami area’s vulnerable families:
  •   Although the county has a 56% homeownership rate, one in three families are “asset poor,” meaning they lack sufficient net worth (what they own minus what they owe) to subsist at the poverty level for three months in the absence of income.
  •   28% of city residents are “unbanked” with no savings or checking account more than double the rate for Miami-Dade County (11%) and over three times the national rate (8.2%).
  •   17% of households in the county and 26% of those in the city are “underbanked,” which means they have a bank account, but still relied on alternative financial services such as costly check cashing or payday loans in the past year.
    The findings were compiled as part of the national Family Assets Count initiative, which uses cutting edge data, tools and resources to leverage the power of cities to improve financial stability for families and advance programs and policies that encourage and enable families to save and build assets.
    For more data on Miami families visit You can create reports of household wealth and financial access for cities and counties across Florida by clicking here.

    CFED empowers low- and moderate-income households to build and preserve assets by advancing policies and programs that help them achieve the American Dream, including buying a home, pursuing higher education, starting a business and saving for the future. As a leading source for data about household financial security and policy solutions, CFED understands what families need to succeed. We promote programs on the ground and invest in social enterprises that create pathways to financial security and opportunity for millions of people. Established in 1979 as the Corporation for Enterprise Development, CFED works nationally and internationally through its offices in Washington, D.C.; Durham, North Carolina, and San Francisco, California.

    Catalyst Miami Founded in 1995 as a Miami-based nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, Catalyst Miami, formerly the Human Services Coalition (HSC), identifies and launches innovative strategies to help people and communities thrive and to create a more equitable and caring society. We work through a network of partner organizations, linking people with financial education, healthcare information, public benefits and educational and economic opportunities. Our programs promote economic self-sufficiency, participation in civic life, organizational strength, and respect across many divides. We inspire people to get involved and prepare them to step up to leadership roles that lead to long-term community transformation.

    Citi Community Development (CCD) is leading Citi’s commitment to achieve economic empowerment and growth for underserved individuals, families and communities by expanding access to financial products and services, and building sustainable business solutions and innovative partnerships. Our focus areas include: commercial and philanthropic funding; innovative financial products and services; and collaborations with institutions that expand access to financial products and services for low-income and underserved communities. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Legislative Action Opportunities

Interested in engaging with a local campaign? There's a lot happening in our community, and they need your help. Find what you are passionate about and get involved. 

Hoping to tell your story, attend trainings, or advocate for local and state anti-poverty legislation? Fill out this form to get connected. Direct link:


Closing the Coverage Gap -- Contact: Athena Ford, FL CHAIN |
Earned Paid Sick Days and Paid Family Leave -- Contact: Deborah Dion, SFVWF |
Pesticides in Farms -- Contact: Elvira Carvajal, FWAF |
Women and Trauma -- Contact: Renita Holmes, WAAIVE |


Wage Theft -- Contact: Jeanette Smith, SFIWJ |
Raising the Minimum Wage -- 1Miami |
Predatory Lending --  Contact: Karen Landry, War on Poverty/RAISE FL |
Fight for 15 --  Contact: Ericka Ward, Fight for 15/SEIU |


Housing discrimination --  Contact: LaTonda James, NHSSF |
Resident displacement and housing --  Contact: Adrian Madriz, MWC |
Public transportation --  Contact: Marta Viciedo, Urban Impact Lab |
Unaccompanied minors and homelessness --  Contact: Jorge de la Paz, MCH |


Driver's License Campaign --  Contact: Francesca Menes, FLIC |
Voting rights --  Contact: Jacob Coker-Dukowitz, FNM |
State violence and School to Prison Pipeline --  Contact: Phillip Agnew, Dream Defenders |
Friends of Broward Detainees --  Contact: Christine Ho, Friends of Broward Detainees |

Rights Restoration --  Contact: Kevin Spring, Spring4ward |
Connecting returning citizens to employers --  Contact: Mariamee Rodriguez |

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Health Reform Frequently Asked Questions

Open Enrollment has officially begun. Until mid-spring, organizations across South Florida will be hosting fairs and events to educate the community about ACA and to offer ACA navigation services. Still, many residents and service providers have questions they would like answered.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has assembled an extremely detailed Health Reform FAQs page. There you will find simple, clear answers to all of your questions. To read more, go to Should you still have questions, call us at 305-576-5001 and we will direct you to the right place.

What is the health insurance Marketplace?
Health Insurance Marketplaces (also known as Exchanges) are new organizations that will be set up to create more organized and competitive markets for buying health insurance. They will offer a choice of different health plans, certifying plans that participate and providing information to help consumers better understand their options. Through the Marketplace, individuals and families will be able to shop for coverage if they need to buy health insurance on their own. Premium and cost sharing subsidies will be available through the Marketplace to reduce the cost of coverage for individuals and families, based on their income. Individuals and families with very low incomes will also be able to find out at the Marketplace if they are eligible for coverage through Medicaid and CHIP. Finally, small businesses can also buy coverage for their employees through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace.
There will be a health insurance Marketplace in every state for individuals and families and for small businesses. Some Marketplaces will be operated by the State and have a special state name (such as CoveredCalifornia or The Maryland Health Connection.) In other states where the federal government runs the Marketplace, it will be known called The Health Insurance Marketplace of [state name.]
What health plans are offered through the Marketplace?
All health plans offered through the Marketplace must meet the requirements of “qualified health plans.” This means they will cover essential health benefits, limit the amount of cost sharing (such as deductibles and co-pays) for covered benefits, and satisfy all other consumer protections required under the Affordable Care Act.
Health plans may vary somewhat in the benefits they cover. Health plans also will vary based on the level of cost sharing required. Plans will be labeled Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum to indicate the overall amount of cost sharing they require. Bronze plans will have the highest deductibles and other cost sharing, while Platinum plans will have the lowest. Health plans will also vary based on the networks of hospitals and other health care providers they offer. Some plans will require you to get all non-emergency care in-network, while others will provide some coverage when you receive out-of-network care.
Can I buy a plan in the Marketplace if I don’t have a green card?
If you are not a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, or an alien lawfully present in the U.S., you are not eligible to buy a plan on the health insurance Marketplace. However, you can shop for health insurance outside of the Marketplace in the non-group market. Insurers outside of the Marketplace are prohibited from turning you down based on your health status or your immigration status and must follow generally the same rules as plans in the Marketplace. To obtain coverage, contact a state-licensed health insurance company or a licensed agent or broker. Your state Department of Insurance can help you find one.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

ADVISORY: Half in Ten Campaign and Catalyst Miami Host South Florida Anti-Poverty Summit


For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                                  
November 6, 2014                                                                                                                           

ADVISORY: Half in Ten Campaign and Catalyst Miami Host South Florida Anti-Poverty Summit

Miami, Florida — On Saturday, November 8, 2014, the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Half in Ten campaign will join Catalyst Miami and South Florida Voices for Working Families to co-host South Florida’s first anti-poverty summit, titled “The Time is Now: Building a South Florida Movement to Cut Poverty and Create Opportunity,” in Miami. The event will bring together service providers, social justice advocates, policymakers, media, and local and national policy experts to learn from recent success, build new partnerships, discuss policy priorities, and develop a joint strategy to make poverty reduction a real and accountable priority in 2016.
Speakers will include State Sen. Dwight Bullard (D-39); State Reps. Cynthia Stafford (D-109) and Barbara Watson (D-107); Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez and Miami-Dade County Commissioner-elect Daniella Levine Cava; and Monica Russo, president of SEIU Florida State Council, Executive Vice President of 1199 SEIU, among others.

State Sen. Dwight Bullard (D-39) 
State Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D-109) 
State Rep. Barbara Watson (D-107) 
Mayor Cindy Lerner, Village of Pinecrest 
City of Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon, District 5 
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez, District 7 
Miami-Dade County Commissioner-elect Daniella Levine Cava, District 8 
Monica Russo, President of SEIU Florida State Council, Executive Vice President of 1199 SEIU 
Clarence Washington, President of Transport Workers Union Local 291, AFL-CIO 
Karen Woodall, Executive Director, Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy 
Nely Rodriguez, Senior Staff Member and Leader, Coalition of Immokalee Workers 
Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, Miami-Dade County Public Schools School Board Member, District 2 
Phillip Agnew, Executive Director, Dream Defenders

Saturday, November 8, 2014 
9:00 a.m. ET – 4:00 p.m. ET 
A complete agenda, including a rundown of panel sessions, can be 
viewed here.

University of Miami Life Science and Technology Park 
1951 NW 7th Avenue, 6th Floor 
Miami, Florida, 33136

Clickhere to RSVP. (required) Registration closes at 3:00PM on November 6th, 2014. 

For more information, contact Carla Strickland at or 786.414.1292 or Chelsea Kiene at or 202.478.5328.


The Center for American Progress Action Fundis the sister advocacy organization of the Center for American Progress. The Action Fund transforms progressive ideas into policy through rapid response communications, legislative action, grassroots organizing and advocacy, and partnerships with other progressive leaders throughout the country and the world. The Action Fund is also the home of the Progress Report.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Some say $10.10 would hurt business, but most business people disagree


US businesses are in. The American public is in. So what’s next on the minimum wage, Congress?
It has long been the argument from some voices in business—or at least their Washington lobbyists and the Members of Congress who listen to them—that raising the minimum wage would hurt business—and workers—by eliminating jobs.
However, the stark reality is that most business owners in America don’t agree with this idea. In fact, poll after poll shows that most business people think it’s well past time for an increase in the minimum wage.
Indeed, 61 percent of small business owners support a gradual increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, according to a recent poll by Business for a Fair Minimum Wage.  And a Harris survey released last week found that 62 percent of employers, including 58 percent of senior business leaders, think that the minimum wage should be raised from where it’s been stuck at $7.25 per hour for more than seven years.
These numbers are only slightly lower than the views of the American people. Recent polls have found that between 73 percent and 80 percent of Americans– including majorities among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents– support an increase.
Despite the overwhelming support of most US businesses, as well as the American public, the job-loss canard was again trotted out by the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association, and a handful of other industry associations earlier this year when they wrote to every Senator that increasing the federal minimum wage  “could truly be the difference between continuing to operate and going out of business. For the employees it attempts to help, it may be the difference between a job and unemployment.”
$10.10 is the minimum wage level proposed by President Obama and in legislation by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA.) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA). It’s a wage that would boost the incomes of more than 25 million US workers, one-third of whom have families; over 14 million children would see a boost to their family’s income.
As the minimum wage for 200,000 employees of federal contractors rose yesterday to $10.10, thanks to an executive order by the President, one contractor, Carmen Ortiz Larsen of AQUAS Inc. said:
From a business perspective, a higher minimum wage will reduce turnover and training costs, and lead to more productive workers who are focused on the work at hand, not on looking for another job that pays more.
If that’s not enough to dispel—or at least put a dent in—the tried-and-false argument against raising the minimum wage, a raft of academic studies have shown that increasing the minimum wage floor has little or no impact on employment—and may actually create up to 140,000 jobs by pumping money into the economy due to workers’ increased incomes.
In addition, there is evidence that job creation is faster in states that have raised their minimum wages. The Center for Economic and Policy Research found that in 13 of 14 states that raised their minimum wages in 2014, all but one (New Jersey) had higher job growth in the first five months after the wage increase than in the preceding five months. In nine of the states with faster growth, employment gains were above the national median.
So, just as the US Congress is not representing the American people in supporting a decent wage for tens of millions of workers, big Washington lobbyists for low-wage industries don’t reflect the views of most of the nation’s employers.
Read more:

Monday, September 22, 2014

Millennials and Social Services

By: Annabelle Gonzalez

Catalyst Miami connects people to economic opportunity through the Prosperity Campaign. The health component of this campaign focuses on securing access to basic needs services and healthcare for all age groups. There is an underrepresentation of  college students accessing these health services, even though they access other services and programs. Younger individuals who are currently enrolled in higher education institutions are not applying for services made readily available to them.

 Catalyst Miami's Prosperity Campaign assists community residents in applying for benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid. All of the services offered at Catalyst Miami are open to the public. However, it is important to engage the younger generation. Millennials account for a large portion of the population. Their size goes hand-in-hand with the limitations they are facing. They are the generation with, “higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income” than older generations (Pew). Millennials cannot afford to shy away from help.

           If you are interested in applying for SNAP or Medicaid or any of the other services we offer, contact Catalyst Miami and schedule an appointment at (305) 576-5001. These programs are not limited to individuals enrolled in college; they are open to all individuals and families that meet the designated criteria. We are also connected with many partners who also offer great services.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Special Transit Service fares will remain the same; Other services still face negative impact from proposed budget for 2014-15

By: James Gordon
As reported by the Miami Herald’s Patricia Mazzei, Mayor Carlos Gimenez recently announced that fares for Miami-Dade disabled transit services will remain at $3.50. The fares were originally expected to be raised to $4.00 for the next budget year. The new plan to maintain current fare prices for special transit services was made after the transit department’s revised 2014-15 ride projections revealed that fewer trips are expected to be made in the upcoming year, saving the county an estimated $4 million in operations costs. As a result, disabled Miamians will no longer have to worry about paying more for essential transit services.

While Mayor Gimenez’s announcement is certainly a victory, it is only a single battle won in the war to ensure sustainable funding in the upcoming budget year for an array of vital community services. While our disabled citizens are safe from higher transit fares, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) still face significant funding cuts for the coming budget year. These organizations, many of which provide essential and necessary services to the community, face significant cuts of up to 10%—cuts that could significantly impede their ability to provide the services needed and valued by our community. However, CBOs aren’t the only ones facing the detrimental effects of next years proposed county budget. Despite Miami-Dade county commissioners’ recent popular decision to oppose Mayor Gimenez’s proposal and increase library funding, they still voted to adopt the remainder of Gimenez’s budget proposal. The proposal calls for concessions from the county’s labor unions in order to avoid tax hikes. Unfortunately, without these concessions, the county can expect to see about 600 job layoffs with a large portion coming from the ranks of our police officers.

Nonetheless, the war is not yet over. The final vote on the county budget is not scheduled until September and so the remaining time must be used to take effective action. The remaining weeks until the final vote must be used to contact our commissioners and demand a sustainable budget. Mayor Gimenez and his administration have arranged a series of six town-style meetings to hear from residents about the proposed budget for 2014-15. The meetings will take place at 6p.m. at the following locations and dates:
Aug. 19: Florida City's Hall, 404 W. Palm Dr.
Aug. 21: Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Terr., Miami
Aug. 26: Palmetto Bay Council Chambers, 9705 E. Hibiscus St.
Aug. 28: West Dade Regional Library, 9445 Coral Way, Miami
Sept. 2: North Dade Regional Library, 2455 183rd St., Miami Gardens

While no one envies the difficult decisions that lie ahead for the Miami-Dade commissioners, it is imperative that we raise our voices, pick up the phones and ensure that the decisions made accurately and effectively address the diverse needs of our South Florida communities.