We believe community members should be at the helm of public decision-making, particularly regarding issues that are central to their lives . That’s why we train individuals to become grassroots leaders and build high-impact coalitions to effect change. Our policy and advocacy work also enables us to conduct deep community engagement, as well as coordinate and develop community-led programs that increase civic participation and resilience. Through this collective approach, we believe we can better build power toward constituency-informed policy and system reforms.
Policy change is needed to ensure everyone's needs are met; distribute resources equitably; amend or enforce existing laws; and respond to new threats. For Catalyst Miami, the policy issues that take priority are those that are critical to the well-being of Miami-Dade’s low-wealth communities, as well as issues that the community emphasizes are important.
Additionally, we know that enacting change in Miami-Dade will not be possible without simultaneously addressing Miami's long history of racial injustice. South Florida has been built on the exploitation and marginalization of Black and Indigenous people. This has decimated wealth in these populations; for example, the median liquid asset value for Black Miamians is $11 as compared to $10,750 for Whites. It's a matter of life and death: children in Miami's Black communities live 15 fewer years than those in communities just a few miles away. For these reasons, we place racial justice front and center in every aspect of our policy platform.
Catalyst Miami’s neighborhood-based resilience initiative focuses on the following communities: Homestead/South Dade, Overtown, and North Miami. The goal of this initiative is to facilitate grassroots-led, neighborhood-level community organizing, so that residents can unite around transformative change that allows their community to better prepare for and recover from all of life’s storms.
Our actions include hosting community visioning workshops to assess community priorities and inform programming; distributing disaster preparedness kits; and creating teams of residents, called Community Champions, who meet regularly with our support to implement projects that build community resilience.
In addition, we take a lead role in the policy and advocacy efforts around disaster resilience. We participate in meetings to promote better coordination with government officials around disaster preparedness and response. In 2019, we successfully passed three pieces of legislation at the county level to help institute a local moratorium on evictions directly before, during, and directly after times of disaster.
Catalyst Miami supports new and existing networks with the goal of building capacity across sectors, issues, and communities. Two examples are the Miami Climate Alliance and the Miami-Dade Oral Health Network (MDOHN). By linking our leadership graduates to groups like these, we foster sustained, effective activism. Network-backed action plays a critical role in policy wins on the issues we care about.
The Miami Climate Alliance is made up of 80+ organizations, as well as local residents and nationwide experts. It is dedicated to building urgency, power, and cohesion around climate change and sea level rise by achieving significant policy wins and working to establish a model for just, equitable, and resilient communities.
MDOHN is a network of key organizations and leaders within the county who are connected to issues of oral health and community engagement. It is a community-centered initiative committed to developing a grassroots network that views oral health as a social justice and health equity issue; a shared understanding of the current oral health disparities in Miami-Dade County; and strategies that yield policy and systems change to address existing disparities and inequalities. In addition, MDOHN helps residents find affordable dental care and advocates for equitable policies.
Through our leadership development work, Catalyst Miami has helped hundreds of adults and youth find their voices through public policy training and practice. We’ve also created leadership pipelines, connecting community members with opportunities to speak out, whether at commission meetings or by serving on municipal boards.
We are committed to tailoring our civic leadership programming to community-identified priorities. Our goal is to inspire resident-informed, resident-led resilience strategies that include a grassroots, community-driven policy agenda.
The Enable Project is a Catalyst-led coalition that trains nonprofits about inclusion of people with disabilities in their organizations and movements. The goals of this collaborative project are three-fold:
Every year, we organize a three-day trip to Tallahassee, during which a delegation of community members, partners, and staff members meet with elected officials to discuss the issues of greatest concern to the communities we work with. Participants of Catalyst to the Capital (C2C) receive training, meet with legislators, and advocate for their communities.