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Catalyst Miami launches pioneering climate resilience training in South Florida
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 9, 2016
Miami, Florida - On September 20th, 2016 Catalyst Miami will launch the inaugural session of CLEAR Miami (Community Leadership on the Environment, Advocacy, and Resilience). This training program was created in response to the challenges that Miami-Dade County’s 2.7 million residents are likely to face as a consequence of climate change and sea level rise. These challenges include an endangerment of 90% of South Florida’s drinking water, 7-foot storm surges occurring every five years instead of the current 76-year frequency, an increased number of King Tide flooding events and heat waves, as well as a threat to the County’s tourism and agricultural economies. The over 1.5 million Miami-Dade County residents that are financially vulnerable will face a disproportionate climate burden because these populations have the least resources to adapt and recover from these and other climate shocks.
"With the potentially catastrophic challenges ahead for Miami residents due to climate change, Catalyst Miami is excited to be launching this new program that will inform and empower community residents to play a part in local climate resilience strategies," said Gretchen Beesing, CEO of Catalyst Miami.
CLEAR Miami focuses on climate resilience leadership and provides graduates with a groundwork to become climate resilience educators, leaders, and innovators in their own communities and beyond. Participants will develop a deep understanding of climate science, local climate change threats, and solutions. The program is a 12-week commitment, with one 3-hour session occurring per week at Catalyst Miami's main office (3000 Biscayne Blvd, Suite 210, Miami, FL 33137). Translation will be offered in Spanish and Haitian Creole. There is no fee to participate. Dinner and childcare will be provided at no cost. Applications to this program are available at http://catalystmiami.org/
Catalyst Miami is an anti-poverty nonprofit organization with a mission to develop and support individual leaders and strong organizations that work together to improve health, economic opportunity, and civic engagement in our community. To learn more about Catalyst Miami, visit www.catalystmiami.org.
July 28, 2016
Catalyst Miami is committed to developing and supporting individual leaders and strong organizations that work together to improve health, education, and economic opportunity in all our communities. In order to achieve our goals, we provide our community residents with direct services and leadership development opportunities, as well as opportunities to become civically engaged through events and activities organized in coalition with our many partners. A very important aspect of our work is to support the empowerment of our community members as they add their voices to address structural injustice. Catalyst Miami stands in full support and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement as they raise their voice to condemn the structural racism that drives the shooting of unarmed Black men by law enforcement officers throughout our nation.
The Catalyst Miami family mourns all lives that are lost to gun violence, including the lives of law enforcement officers who have been recently targeted, and we remain wholeheartedly committed to finding peaceful solutions to the many social issues affecting our community. However, we also recognize the need to separate the recent violence against police officers from the consistent, institutional, and structural racial profiling and violence directed at the African American community and, in particular, against unarmed Black men. We recognize that the safety and well-being of all people should always be an immediate priority, and we assign no less urgency to the need to address the root cause of the disproportionate killing of Black and Brown people. We believe that we, as a community and as a nation, stand at a crossroads at which we must address the many injustices behind the discrimination and dis-empowerment of marginalized communities. We must deal with violence collectively and as a unified community, and set our sights not only on gun violence, but also on the violence of hunger, homelessness, and all the other ills of socio-economic and political destitution.
Finally, Catalyst Miami remains committed to the creation of democratic spaces and processes that allow our residents equal voice and vote in finding the appropriate solutions to police violence. We can no longer afford to follow the same punitive, violence-driven paths that lead to more injustice, hatred, and intolerance. We offer ourselves as partners in the effort to build a unified society, driven by love, tolerance, equal opportunity, and justice for all.
The Catalyst Miami family
Graduates learn to advocate for our children and communities
By Gina Ha, Family Leadership Director
90 hours, 23 days, 22 weeks, 6 months. What would you do with that amount of leisure time? Watch a television series? Read a couple of good books? Take some well deserved naps?
[caption id="attachment_2902" align="aligncenter" width="700"] The 2016 PLTI Graduates with program facilitators and Rep. Cynthia Stafford[/caption]
Well, a group of parent and child leaders chose to strengthen their civic skills through our Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI) and Children's Leadership Training Institute (CLTI) programs. The programs provide a safe space for families who would likely have never interacted outside of class, to overcome barriers together and find common ground about important issues that affect our children and communities. Sessions include "The Intentional Use of Language", "The Power of the Media", "How the State Works", and "Evaluation, Outcomes, and Accountability".
This year's graduation was held at Inhale Miami in Little Haiti and was a breath of fresh air. The ceremony began with a beautiful song, wonderful keynote speech and words of wisdom from State Representative Cynthia Stafford, and ended with some dancing and delicious food. The resonating message of the night was that it is not about what you do not have but what you do have, it takes a village but we need to contribute to this village of ours, "this land is mine" and we have every right to improve conditions for all.
[caption id="attachment_2903" align="aligncenter" width="700"] The 2016 CLTI Graduates with program facilitators and Rep. Cynthia Stafford[/caption]
New graduates of Public Allies Miami share inspirational stories of growth
By Adele Coble, Public Allies Director
Public Allies Miami graduated its ninth group of up-and-coming leaders on June 20 and 21, 2016. The year concluded with Presentations of Learning: an opportunity for Public Allies participants to prepare speeches and visual presentations that illustrate how they impacted the community and how they grew personally and professionally throughout the 10-month AmeriCorps service experience.
Through laughter, tears, and eye-opening stories, the Public Allies shared how 10 months of AmeriCorps service in a professional nonprofit organization changed their lives. Each Public Ally was introduced in a personal, heartfelt way by her or his supervisor and answered questions from the audience following their presentation.
Public Ally Kenya Cunningham was the first brave speaker. She spent her Public Allies term serving at Common Threads, which teaches healthy cooking and nutrition to youth and people who live or work with children. Alongside Kenya's supportive coworkers and Public Allies peers, her family took photos from the audience and her young niece even asked questions about the experience during the Q&A session. In reflecting on the event, Kenya shared, "[In the Presentation of Learning, we were] able to tell our stories and experiences in our own way which was really cool because it showed everyone's personality and how their presentation was a reflection of themselves. I am honored and proud to say that I graduated in the Public Allies year 2015-2016. What a wonderful experience!"
Kenya's supervisor, Rachel Biderman responded, "I am so proud of Kenya, not only for her hard work and dedication this past year, but for her growth since she started with Common Threads. I know public speaking was a fear she wanted to conquer, and watching her deliver her POL was so inspiring. She did a great job, and I am so excited to see what she does next!"
More photos available here.
Congratulations to the latest graduates of Public Allies Miami and their host nonprofit organizations:
Miami Children's Initiative
MDCPS Comprehensive Health Services and Catalyst Miami
Joseph Martinez II
Miami Children's Initiative
The Education Effect
The Education Effect
Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation
Center for Social Change
Children's Movement of Florida
University of Miami's Office of Civic and Community Engagement
Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade and Monroe
Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade and Monroe
Coconut Grove Collaborative Development Corporation
Public Allies' national mission is to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it. Public Allies Miami engages young adults, most of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, in rigorous training and service to become community leaders. Catalyst Miami is the local sponsor of the only Public Allies program in South Florida, with support from The Children's Trust. Learn more at catalystmiami.org or publicallies.org.
Step Up Miami graduates explore poverty in 12-week course
By Gina Ha, Family Leadership Director
Miami Workers Center (MWC) is a grassroots non-profit organization that organizes and develops conscious leadership within Miami’s working class communities for economic, gender and racial equality. Catalyst Miami recently had the opportunity to expand our partnership with MWC through our Step Up Miami program. Step Up Miami guides participants through an exploration of poverty in Miami-Dade county through systems analysis and identification of asset-based solutions. Throughout the 12-week duration of the program the participants, a diverse group of mono and bilingual members of MWC, were able to work effectively and grow as a stronger unit within the organization.
On June 14, 2016 we had the honor to graduate this cohort, our 9th class since 2014. We dedicated time to reflections from the graduates, MWC and Catalyst Miami staff. One reflection that resonated with us was “overcoming our differences to work together and improve our communities.” Moments like this truly speak to our process, in which the knowledge comes from within the class and we are all humble learners. We look forward to the impact the program’s graduates will have on the community and to opening our doors to future participants.
Our next cohort of Step Up Miami will start in September 2016 when we will host our first Step Up Miami class in Spanish. To learn more about this program or if you're interested in joining the next cohort, contact Gina Ha at [email protected] or (786) 414-1296.
Public Allies Miami Joins Miami Children’s Initiative at Fun Friday Service Day in Liberty City
Contact: Carla Moreira Strickland
WHO: Public Allies CEO Adren Wilson, Miami-Dade County Deputy Mayor Russell Benford, Public Allies Miami Class of 2016, Miami Children’s Initiative, Catalyst Miami
WHAT: Fun Friday Service Day
WHERE: Charles R. Drew K-8 Center, 1775 NW 60th Street, Miami, FL 33142
WHEN: Friday, March 4th from 4:00-6:00pm
MIAMI, Florida – On Friday, March 4th, Public Allies will put their leadership and mentorship skills to practice at Miami Children’s Initiative’s Fun Friday Service Day in Liberty City. This year’s cohort of Public Allies—along with alumni and partners—will volunteer as classroom assistants for children in Kindergarten through 5th grade, helping them with project-based learning and outdoor activities.
Adren Wilson, CEO of Public Allies, will visit Miami for the first time since taking over the national organization. In addition to Mr. Wilson, young adults participating in the day of service will get to work alongside another community leader, Miami-Dade County Deputy Mayor Russell Benford.
Public Allies are role models in their communities. They spend ten months learning how to build capacity in the nonprofit sector while growing as effective, strong leaders. During their paid AmeriCorps apprenticeships, Public Allies gain invaluable professional experience that equips them to succeed in their careers and education. The program is currently recruiting Public Allies and partners for the 2016-2017 cohort.
Catalyst Miami is a nonprofit organization with a mission to develop and support individual leadership and strong organizations that work together to improve health, education, and economic opportunity in our community.
Public Allies is a national nonprofit organization operating an AmeriCorps program dedicated to advancing young-adult leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits, and civic participation.
Miami Children’s Initiative is a nonprofit organization committed to transforming Liberty City in a prosperous community.
Summit to bring awareness to climate resilience and economic opportunity issues in greater Miami community
Contact: Carla Moreira Strickland
On January 30, Catalyst Miami and The Nature Conservancy will host the Anti-Poverty Summit, focusing on issues of climate change, climate resilience, and economic opportunity
MIAMI, Florida – On Saturday, January 30, Catalyst Miami, The Nature Conservancy, and several partner organizations will host the Anti-Poverty Summit: Building Climate Resilience and Social Equity in South Florida at Temple Israel, 137 NE 19thStreet.
The summit will convene over 150 residents to communicate how climate change impacts our communities, and to present concrete, on the ground initiatives and resources that can improve community resilience while expanding green jobs and economic security. Considering the imminent climate and environmental threats faced by our region, the summit aims to encourage action and engagement from low- to moderate-income communities across the county.
We will hear from researchers, community activists, and elected and appointed officials, including Miami-Dade County Chief Resilience Officer James Murley, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, and Village of Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner. Colette Pichon Battle, Executive Director of Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy in Louisiana, will keynote the summit. Colette has led breakthrough efforts to address the disaster that unfolded in New Orleans post-Katrina and to coordinate a regional coalition of Gulf South states.
“We aim to provide useful information to the public about the challenges that climate change poses to our communities, while also proposing concrete ways—including more investment in natural systems or hybrids of natural systems and traditional infrastructure—to help us mitigate the impacts of climate change and improve our well-being and resilience,” said Greg Guannel, Urban Conservation Director, The Nature Conservancy of Florida.
The summit will be held on Saturday, January 30 from 9:00am to 4:00pm at Temple Israel, 137 Ne 19th Street.
Catalyst Miami is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting families and community organizations by improving health, education, and economic outcomes in South Florida. You can view our website at www.catalystmiami.org.
The Nature Conservancy in Florida is a nonprofit organization committed to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. In Miami, we are committed to improve the livelihoods and quality of life of Southeast Florida’s urban communities by protecting, valuing and investing in nature. You can view our website at www.nature.org/Florida.
Credit is an Asset that Can Unlock Opportunity
By Arohi Pathak
There are an estimated 26 million people in the United States who are “credit invisible,” meaning they don’t have enough of a borrowing history to generate a credit report. Meanwhile, another 19 million adults have credit records that are considered “unscorable,” which means they have some credit history, but it is insufficient to assess their creditworthiness. In other words, 45 million people in the US are unable to borrow money from a mainstream lender to finance a business, buy a home, pay for college, cover medical expenses or even buy a car to get them to their job.
These problems are compounded by the fact that many Americans who have a scorable credit history lack a high enough credit score to qualify for loans with “prime” interest rates. As CFED’s 2016 Assets & Opportunity Scorecardrevealed yesterday, 51% of consumers don’t have prime credit, meaning if they can take out a loan, they are forced to do so at sometimes exorbitant rates.
Being unable to borrow from a mainstream lender can have devastating consequences on household family finances. One option is to not borrow at all, leaving these households disconnected from opportunities to get ahead. The other option is to turn to payday lenders and check-cashing services. Although families sometimes feel like these alternative financial services are their only option, relying on them means relying on a predatory industry that strips hard-earned money from millions of working families each year. Of course, individual consumers aren’t predatory lenders’ only prey—as we’ll discuss in tomorrow’s online briefing, owners of small businesses often get trapped in the cycle of debt perpetuated by unscrupulous lenders.
Unfortunately, we know there is a strong correlation between income and credit. Lower-income communities and communities of color are more likely to be credit invisible or unscorable. Almost 30% of consumers in low-income neighborhoods are credit invisible and an additional 16% have unscored credit histories. And, unsurprisingly, low-income communities and communities of color are much more reliant on predatory lenders, making their climb toward financial stability much steeper.
Given this correlation, we have a social obligation to help consumers build their credit scores. The good news is that there is a growing recognition of the importance of strong credit, and credit is increasingly being seen as an asset. A good credit score can be the key to unlocking opportunities that propel families up the economic ladder, such as stable employment and affordable homeownership. We see further good news in the many innovative products and services being offered to low-income individuals and communities that help individuals build their credit, and hence their long-term financial security. Financial coaching, small-dollar lending programs designed to help build credit, lending circles and other strategies have proven effective in tackling the credit challenges facing millions of American households.
Three examples demonstrate the range of opportunities before us:
- Lending circles, pioneered by Assets & Opportunity Network Leader Mission Asset Fund, enable friends, family members and neighbors to contribute small loans that, when paid back, help the borrower boost their credit scores.
- Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), such as the Native CDFI Network, provide access to financial supports—including credit building—for low-income individuals, rural communities and communities of color.
- Credit-building loans, such as those pioneered by National Allies like Credit Builders Alliance (CBA), not only help boost credit, but also help families take control of their finances and work toward improved economic outcomes.
Each of these examples proves that although the challenge before us is significant, the solutions are in sight. If you are interested in taking action to help families boost their credit and achieve long-term financial security, learn more during CBA’s Twitter Town Hall, taking place today from noon-3 pm EST, by using #CreditBuildingDay.
Public Allies Miami: We're Successful Because of our Partners
Public Allies Miami has been developing young leaders in our region since 2007. Public Allies is an AmeriCorps program that provides young adults with a 10-month paid apprenticeship in the nonprofit sector. The goal is to provide young adults with an opportunity that will both hone their leadership and professional skills and enable them to create change in their community. These young adults support nonprofits by increasing their capacity to fulfill their mission. In order for this program to be successful, we count on nonprofit partners that are committed to mentoring and supporting the Public Allies as much as they are to achieving their organizational mission.
Two organizations stand out as exemplary models for how nonprofits can make a huge difference in the lives of the Public Allies they host. The University of Miami’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement and The University of Miami’s Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership partnered up to host two Public Allies last year. Their goal was to have the Public Allies work to develop stronger ties and collaboration between their offices. Although the Public Allies were hired to support them with their capacity and program goals, they felt that it was equally important to help their Public Allies grow stronger as professionals and leaders.
Lauren and Sibo have wonderful things to say about their host site. We thank the CCE office and the Butler Center for their dedication, support, and extraordinary leadership.
“Over the time I spent in the Public Allies program, I had the pleasure of working at the University of Miami, gaining invaluable experience in the Office of Civic and Community Engagement and the Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership. As the Engagement Coordinator and Liaison between both offices, I gained many excellent professional skills under the leadership of both Robin and Andrew. Working specifically in the CCE office, I was able to develop my networking skills, practice organizing efficiently, and gain project management experience. From the intentional partnerships built through the office, to the staff's care and attention to each community project, to the consistent role modeling of how organizations engage in their community, the Office of Civic and Community Engagement truly inspired my passion to work and continue to be an active participant in my community. I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to work with Robin and her amazing staff, and I hope the CCE office continues to be a leading model for civic engagement in Miami and beyond.” - Lauren Bartlett: Public Ally Class of 2015
“After spending my Public Ally year working at the CCE office, I am forever grateful for the opportunity to polish my professional skills while experiencing an awesome organizational culture! My role as a program coordinator increased my proficiency in at least five computer software programs, including InDesign and Excel. Other skills that I took away from my experience were: professional email variance, thorough event planning, listening and synthesizing important information, and professional accountability. Still, the most important lesson I learned while working at CCE was that a successful non-profit does not have to mimic the atmosphere of a corporate office; in fact, it can feel like visiting family every day when you walk through the door.” - Sibo Charles: Public Ally Class of 2015
Bereatha Howard: A Catalyst for Change
I was born in Overtown and raised in Allapattah. I was fortunate to receive two degrees from Miami Dade College, which helped me readily start my career. But then the recession hit, and my workplace started to cut down my hours. I found myself needing to find employment in order to make ends meet. That’s when I got connected with a local nonprofit that helps individuals start their own business, and, while there, I learned about the services and programs Catalyst Miami offers.
I’ve lived here long enough to see a lot of changes take place in my community. I’ve driven through neighborhoods and have wanted to help, but I never knew how—it just overwhelmed me. I joined the Parent Leadership Training Institute because I wanted to know how I could make a difference in my community. Catalyst Miami equipped me with the foundation and the information I needed to become civically active.
I am now engaged in many initiatives across the community. I went to Tallahassee with Catalyst Miami to advocate for Medicaid expansion, an issue I care greatly about as an uninsured resident. I became a VITA volunteer to help individuals prepare their taxes at no cost. I became a volunteer navigator during the Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment period. I became a certified computer instructor to assist senior citizens. I organized a resource fair to help youth aging out of the foster care system learn and connect with the resources that are available to them in the community. I went from a shy, reserved person who did not know where to begin, to a confident, engaged person eager to do more for my community.
I’ve learned that one person can make a big difference, and that we should never underestimate the power of a small group of people who believe in the same goals. I plan to do my part, even if it’s a small part. I have a voice. I believe I am a Catalyst for Change.
You should support Catalyst Miami so that others can also access these opportunities, which will help them grow and make a difference in their community.