Pages tagged "News"
Univision | ¿Por qué existen tantas dificultadas para calificar en el programa de ayuda para la renta de Miami-Dade?
Bank of America Names Catalyst Miami and Casa Valentina, Inc. 2020 Neighborhood Builders®
Program Provides $400,000 in Flexible Funding and Leadership Skills Development Training to Advance Economic Mobility in Miami-Dade County
MIAMI – Catalyst Miami and Casa Valentina, Inc. have been named as the 2020 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders® awardees for Miami-Dade County. The nonprofits were selected for their work in the Miami-Dade community addressing issues fundamental to economic mobility, specifically affordable housing and long-term community development wellness.
As an awardee, each organization receives a $200,000 grant, a year of leadership training for the executive director and an emerging leader, a network of peer organizations across the U.S., and the opportunity to access capital to expand their impact. Since 2004, Bank of America has invested over $260 million in 50 communities through Neighborhood Builders®, partnering with more than 1,300 nonprofits and helping more than 2,600 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills.
“Our nonprofits have delivered immeasurable support to vulnerable communities throughout Miami-Dade County,” said Gene Schaefer, Miami market president for Bank of America. “Our Neighborhood Builders® program can’t come at a better time for these organizations as they try to meet the evolving needs of those they serve. This investment allows us to empower local nonprofits to double down on their efforts in addressing economic mobility and social progress issues in the regions they serve.”
Catalyst Miami’s mission is to identify and collectively solve issues adversely affecting low-wealth communities throughout Miami-Dade County. They help ensure that families’ basic needs are met, provide coaching and tools to establish long-term wellness, and create effective coalitions of change-makers. The organization will use the Bank of America funds to hire and train new staff members who will provide technical assistance for small businesses. Catalyst Miami selected Ahmed Mori, senior director of community economic development, to become its emerging leader.
“We’re thrilled and thankful to have been selected for the Neighborhood Builders award. Catalyst Miami has been creating paths to economic mobility for 25 years and we are excited to have expanded our services to support workers and small businesses, which are key to a thriving South Florida economy,” said Gretchen A. Beesing, CEO for Catalyst Miami.
Casa Valentina, Inc.’s mission is to provide at-risk and former foster care youth with safe, affordable housing, life skills and continued support so that they can achieve and maintain self-sufficiency. The organization will utilize the funds to fortify existing programs, provide resident support and hire a development consultant to help create a customer relationship management system, processes, and infrastructure to help them move to the next level. Casa Valentina has selected Alexis Adams, program director, as its emerging leader.
“Since becoming Casa Valentina’s Executive Director last year, I have been actively at work to make sure the legacy of the past 14 years remains a strong foundation to build upon as we continue to grow and seek to move to the next level. I am committed to elevating our presence and to continuing to improve our outcomes by working closely with our Board, staff, residents, volunteers, and donors to create a culture of excellence,” Janice M. Graham, executive director for Casa Valentina, Inc. “Thank you, Bank of America, for helping us realize our vision. As our youth would say, ‘Casa Valentina is a place we call home.’”
The Neighborhood Builders® program is an opportunity to provide relevant skills development and topics to help nonprofit leaders address current and future community challenges. Each year, Bank of America refines the Neighborhood Builders Leadership Program to include topics ranging from strategic storytelling to human capital management, and highlights themes that are critical to moving the nonprofit sector forward within broader societal and economic context.
Since 2004, through its Neighborhood Builders® program, Bank of America has partnered with 25 nonprofits in Miami-Dade County, investing $5 million to nonprofits that focus on workforce development and education, basic needs, and community development within the Miami-Dade County area. The invitation-only program is highly competitive, and leading members of the community participated in a collaborative selection process to identify this year’s awardees. Examples of the leadership training topics include human capital management, increasing financial sustainability, and storytelling. Neighborhood Builders® is just one example of how Bank of America deploys capital in communities, builds cross-sector partnerships, and promotes socioeconomic progress as part of its approach to responsible growth.
Medium | The Importance of Real-Time Small Business Data for Pandemic Recovery
Originally published on Medium on December 3, 2020.
by Fay Walker
Small businesses employ almost half of workers across the country, and many are the retail and service businesses most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. From February to April, the number of active small business owners dropped by 22 percent (PDF). Despite limited federal support through the CARES Act in March 2020, small businesses continue to struggle (PDF), and local elected officials and economic development organizations are grappling with how to best support them through the pandemic. To do this, local leaders need to collect real-time data about what specific challenges their small businesses are facing.
Because Black-, Latinx-, Native-, and Asian-owned businesses are seeing higher closure rates than white-owned ones, leaders also need to hear directly from these business owners to work toward an equitable economic recovery.
For most places, equitable recovery means collecting data directly from small businesses. Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and Small Business Administration are not disaggregated or recent enough to inform the real-time crisis facing the small business sector today. The limited sources and challenges of small-area business data are described in a recent guide from the Urban Institute on monitoring neighborhood change and displacement.
Two grantees of the Using Data to Inform Local Decisions on COVID-19 Response & Recovery grant program, Catalyst Miami and the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI), recognized this challenge and designed projects to collect data directly from small businesses to better understand the needs of their communities’ small businesses.
The LPHI is focusing on Jefferson Parish, which has been hard hit by COVID-19 and related unemployment. One in 20 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Jefferson Parish, and the unemployment rate is 9 percent, exceeding the rate for the rest of the state. The LPHI will survey employees about their employment status, workplace environments, and economic stability to better target support. The LPHI will also interview employers, to explore how COVID-19 is affecting small businesses, what resources are needed to reopen safely, and what worker training is needed.
Catalyst Miami is working with the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency to identify businesses that serve low-income communities and are owned by people of color with incomes below 80 percent of area median income. One in 12 people have tested positive in the surrounding county, and the North Miami unemployment rate in 2018 (latest available for cities) was 9 percent, 1.4 times the state level and likely to be higher since the pandemic. Catalyst and its partners are surveying business owners to learn what North Miami’s small businesses need and to determine useful benchmarks for small business resiliency.
Catalyst Miami intends to use their data to help businesses better access technical assistance and to direct relief funds. The LPHI will share their findings with the Jefferson Parish Council District 3 office to build a more effective response to the immediate and long-term needs stemming from the pandemic.
Localities can take action with policy tools, such as providing businesses with access to funding and reforming zoning and permitting, to benefit small businesses and the communities relying on them. However, firsthand accounts from small business owners remain important to understanding which policies will address the challenges specific to each place. Catalyst Miami and the LPHI have already learned from one another by sharing surveys and lessons on gathering data from small business owners. Other places can also draw inspiration from these projects on how data-informed business assistance and supportive policy can guide equitable economic response and recovery in their local contexts.
We thank Ahmed Mori of Catalyst Miami and Barrie Black from the Louisiana Public Health Institute for their contributions to this blog post. The two organizations are grantees of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Using Data to Inform Local Decisions on COVID-19 Response & Recovery program.
Miami Community Newspapers | Commission approves $500K investment in universal Children’s Savings Accounts
Originally published by Miami Community Newspapers
Miami-Dade County commissioners on Oct. 8 passed a resolution granting $500,000 for the expansion of Future Bound Miami, a universal Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program that will be implemented in phases throughout Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
The funds, which will come from the Community Disparities Subcommittee reserve, will provide CSAs with initial “seed” deposits to more kindergarten students in the district. The 10 commissioners in attendance voted unanimously in support of the item.
Future Bound Miami, launched in fall 2019, establishes a CSA for kindergarten students attending 30 elementary schools that feed into the five high schools within the City of Miami. This new investment from the county expands the program to include an additional 98 schools. The goal is to make CSAs available to all kindergarten students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools by 2023.
“By contributing additional seed funding to the Future Bound Miami program, and leveraging it with contributions from the private sector, we are helping to address economic disparities in our county, helping to make our community stronger and more economically resilient,” said Commissioner Eileen Higgins, who championed this legislation.
“Research has proven that these accounts have a positive impact on early childhood development and academic performance, increase future financial capability, and reduce the racial wealth gap. By investing in our children, we’re investing in the future of Miami-Dade,” she added.
Children’s savings accounts put postsecondary education within reach by allowing students and families to accumulate savings and increase educational expectations. Research shows that children with a college savings account of as little as one dollar are three times more likely to go to college and four times more likely to graduate.
“Today’s vote to invest in the future of our youth is a big step forward in reducing Miami-Dade’s wealth gap,” said Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava. “I am a long-time advocate of CSAs because we know they improve early childhood development and academic performance, raise the college expectations of children and parents, and improve the financial future of our children.”
Gretchen Beesing, CEO of Catalyst Miami, said, “Catalyst Miami has been working on this for over five years with a consortium of dedicated partners. We’re thrilled that the BCC has chosen to make this investment in our county’s children.”
To learn more about the program, visit www.futureboundmiami.org.
U.S. News & World Report | A Miami Nonprofit Promotes Disaster Savings Accounts in Hurricane Season
By Noreen Marcus, U.S. News & World Report Contributor
A man pushes a cart with plywood sheets in Miami in preparation for Hurricane Dorian, in 2019. A Miami nonprofit is aims to help residents prepare for hurricanes and other natural disasters by putting aside savings. EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
MIAMI — CHRISTOPHER Vasquez, 19, works in a nursing home during a pandemic and aspires to become a mechanical engineer. The education takes money at a time he's scrambling to pay his bills because his hours were cut.
But this ambitious young man from Homestead, in south Miami-Dade County, has a strategic advantage: He knows how to save.
Vasquez sharpened this skill a year ago through a matching-grant pilot program sponsored by banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co. The manager is Catalyst Miami, a nonprofit that promotes climate change resiliency and equitable resources for low-income communities.
Its Disaster Preparedness Matched Savings Program is restarting with a $300,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase's corporate responsibility team that also covers the costs of a hurricane preparation project, an ongoing effort involving supplies and training for preparation and recovery.
"This is happening right now because people need it," says Gretchen Beesing, CEO of Catalyst Miami. "We've started putting in the orders for hurricane kits. We've already had near misses and we're approaching the height of hurricane season."
The nonprofit's disaster savings program aims to help residents prepare for hurricanes and other natural disasters by putting aside something to fall back on. Pioneered by Catalyst Miami staffers, the initial concept was simple: Work with a financial coach, open a bank account or use an existing one to hold at least $100 in deposits, and, after two months, you get a $200 match.
For Vasquez, one of 65 who participated in the pilot last year, it worked then and it's working now. The Miami Dade College student is on track to get his associate's degree in May and then pursue a bachelor's degree in engineering at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
During hurricane season last year, the savings plan "gave me a sense that I was able to run out and get gas or buy water or food and not worry about my credit card being declined," Vasquez says. "It gave me a sense of ease, like calmness. Maybe the calm before the storm."
Beesing says the program's financial coaches counteract payday lenders who charge outrageously high interest but offer straightforward loan transactions. "We try to move people away from that and demystify banking so people feel more comfortable saving their money there."
The coaches recommend safe financial products with reasonable minimum balances and fees.
"We match people to the tools that are going to meet their needs," she says. "If they need a food bank, we're not gonna talk their heads off about saving money. It's not the right time."
Listening with empathy means the program is changing so that clients won't be required to set aside money they have no way of getting. "Folks are in such dire straits this time around, we felt like it would be tone deaf when so many are unemployed or underemployed," Beesing says.
Instead of saving their own money to qualify for the $200 match, they'll earn it by working with a financial coach, she says.
A year ago, just as the pilot ended, Hurricane Dorian veered away from the Florida coastline. After devastating the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas, the Category 5 storm had come perilously close to striking densely populated South Florida. Cue a collective sigh of relief.
Now a once-in-a-100-years pandemic highlights the need to constantly prepare for a less foreseeable disaster. Florida health officials reported 665,730 COVID-19 cases as of Monday; Miami-Dade County alone has suffered 2,894 deaths.
"The pandemic taught all of us that anything can happen. Nobody was prepared for this," Beesing says. "Nobody's prepared for Miami to be leveled by a hurricane, either, but we need to think about what could happen and do everything within reach to protect our families."
For Maribel Corona, 22, another graduate of the disaster savings program, it's always about family. A coordinator for the nonprofit Mexican American Council, she lives with her parents and two younger siblings in Florida City, just north of the Keys.
Corona serves as household translator for her Mexico-born parents and role model for her younger sister. When she opened a bank account, she had to navigate the confusing process on her own, but her mother stood by to sign permission papers.
A coach taught Vasquez to jot down every expenditure – every order of french fries, every cool T-shirt – "and by the end of the week the total I'd spent was incredible," he says. "We played with numbers to maximize our money." These days, even with work, school and a lot on his mind, he never skips noting a purchase on his phone.
Throughout the savings program, Corona was both student and instructor. "Whatever I learn, I come back home and teach my family," she says. "I've been able to educate my parents, like saying, 'do this and please don't do that,' because it messes up your credit score."
The money she saved came in handy recently when her father's plant nursery employer laid him off because of the pandemic. He was jobless for three weeks until he started working construction jobs.
"I was able to help him out with that account, so it's been very beneficial," Corona says. "It's not just for disaster preparation, it's for personal emergencies. I know I'll be OK for a certain amount of time, so that really does help mentally."
Corona enthusiastically describes another benefit of taking part in the 2019 pilot, the hurricane kit she received as a parting gift: portable radio; reusable water jug; solar-powered lantern; waterproof, zippered document bag; and first-aid kit.
"I still have it," she says.
This story was originally published in U.S. News & World Report.
Miami Herald | Miami-Dade County has a democracy problem
This op-ed was originally published in the Miami Herald on Sunday, September 6, 2020. Click here to read the September 6, 2020 e-edition.
By Zelalem Adefris, Catalyst Miami;
Meena Jagannath and Alana Greer, Community Justice Project
The Sept. 3 Miami-Dade County Commission’s budget hearing should have every resident, regardless of political views, deeply concerned about the state of democracy in our county. The meeting defied all conventional assumptions about civic engagement. The message was: If you turn out in numbers and organize around a collective vision, you are more likely to be belittled and ignored.
More than 200 people, including many youth, delivered three and half hours of public comments, imploring the commission to invest more in housing, health and environmental sustainability in these extraordinary times. Yet, their message and personal stories were summarily dismissed by Mayor Carlos Gimenez as “scripted,” unworthy of careful consideration by those on the dais who purport to know what’s best for us.
The mayor would have us believe that periodic voting by an unacceptably small percentage of the electorate is plenty democracy for us. A healthy democracy requires active engagement and accountability once leaders take office. The residents who take time off work to attend commission meetings, educate themselves on complex agendas and spend their evening waiting to speak, many for the first time, understand that. Our leaders must, too.
We often wonder why Miami-Dade is disengaged with what goes on in governmental halls. The answer lies in the consistent attempt to make those who speak out feel small and foolish. People shouldn’t have to subject themselves to censure to participate in democracy. People are exasperated by the state of governance in Miami-Dade, but speak we must. The future of Greater Miami’s democracy depends on it.