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Catalyst Miami, Nationally Recognized for Leadership in Democracy


[email protected]; Sandy Rodriguez, 860-712-4047

[email protected]; Carolina Fernandez-Mazzoni, 786-414-1290

Catalyst Miami, Nationally Recognized for Leadership in Democracy 

Miami-Dade County, Florida Catalyst Miami was one of four finalists, out of 64 nominations nationwide, for the 2019 Paul and Joyce Aicher Leadership in Democracy Award, given by Everyday Democracy to individuals and organizations whose work in their community exemplifies voice for all, connection across difference, racial equity, and community change. Catalyst Miami was honored as a finalist because of its work to identify and collectively solve issues adversely affecting low-wealth Miami-Dade communities. Catalyst is dedicated to meeting the immediate needs of low-income residents, while simultaneously addressing the root causes of poverty and inequality, through grassroots organizing, leadership development, community engagement, and advocacy. Catalyst has empowered thousands of people to build financial security, lead through policy engagement, and catalyze multi-sector, cross-issue coalition efforts. 


Catalyst Miami’s vision is a just and equitable society in which all communities thrive. Its approach is holistic—rather than working in “silos.” Catalyst identifies intersections and builds organizational capacity among and within the corridors of community development, public health, social justice, and human services. The organization houses financial and health services, leadership development, and advocacy for policy change under one roof—with programs that address mobility, well-being, and resilience at the individual/family, organizational, community, and policy levels. Through its economic and social mobility efforts, Catalyst engages its clients in the poverty-solutions movement, re-thinks the traditional role of human services, informs action in the social services sector, and empowers families and communities to achieve policy victories together. 


Martha McCoy, Executive Director of Everyday Democracy, says of Catalyst Miami, “We honor Catalyst because it is an important model for service organizations across the country. It is powerful that an organization that serves such a large, diverse population is committed to building the civic capacity of those they serve and to creating spaces where the voices of those most affected by income inequality can be nurtured, heard and valued. We salute Catalyst for its unwavering commitment to service and empowerment to address the roots and impact of structural inequities.” 


Catalyst’s Prosperity programming connects low-income families to preventive healthcare options and basic needs services and provides financial services such as free tax preparation. The programs address overall poverty, lower the number of under- and un-banked residents, help people acquire medical insurance, increase access to public benefits, and more. Through its leadership and advocacy programming, Catalyst increases voter education and engagement, boosts community-led advocacy, and increases community participation in town halls, associations, committees, schools, and public meetings. 


With its commitment to long-term change, Catalyst also has the capacity to pivot its programming to meet immediate needs. For example, in 2017 and 2018, Catalyst acted nimbly in order to aid recovery efforts for low-wealth residents who faced dire challenges as a result of Hurricane Irma. By collaborating with the United Way, BAC Florida Bank, Citibank Foundation, and the Miami-Dade County Community Action and Human Services Department, Catalyst connected residents with short-term hotel stays and no-interest relief loans, provided individuals and families with funds for urgent short-term needs, and supported young adults impacted by Irma.


“We are proud to be considered for this award by an organization that values dialogue for collective action in addressing structural racism and other social inequalities,” said Gretchen Beesing, CEO of Catalyst Miami. “Our uniquely integrated, holistic approach is specifically designed to create a more level playing field for low-wealth individuals and families—communities that are often composed disproportionately of people of color, immigrant groups, and language minorities—and to remove obstacles to their ability to effectively advocate for the needs of their communities.”






The winner of the award was Happy Johnson and Arthur Johnson of New Orleans, La., who will be celebrated December 5th at a ceremony in Hartford, CT.  




About Everyday Democracy 

Everyday Democracy supports organizing across the country by bringing diverse groups of people together, helping them structure and facilitate community dialogue on pressing issues, and training them to use a racial equity lens to understand longstanding problems and possible solutions. Our function is unique and unparalleled in the community engagement field:  helping people create the spaces where they can build skills to bring difficult topics to light and address them effectively over the long term. Our work helps communities move conversation into action, and action into lasting positive change.


Everyday Democracy is the primary project of The Paul J. Aicher Foundation. The Paul and Joyce Aicher Leadership in Democracy Award was first awarded in 2017 to Generation Justice in Albuquerque, N.M., and last year was awarded to Beth Broadway of InterFaith Works of Central New York.


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