Greater Miamians have long-been pegged as civically disengaged and apathetic about their community. But we’ve seen that when you meet residents where they are (convenient mail-in ballots, easy online giving), then all of a sudden, Miami-Dade can flex serious some serious civic muscle. It’s an energy that when wielded effectively, can focus resources on whatever and whoever residents want to empower. The key is to bring residents to the table, meaningfully connect them and make it easier to take action.
Over the summer, we sat down with scores of activists, locals, neighborhood heroes and nonprofit, government and business leaders connected to and working in Opa-locka, Liberty City and Florida City. We talked about what’s working in Miami-Dade’s Black and brown communities, what’s holding them back and where the Foundation can be most helpful. You can read headlines and reports, but the personal stories I heard got at the root of how residents lead the change they want to see in their neighborhood.
For example, a Liberty City resident had two boys break her window to access her home. Rather than call the police, she spoke with their mother and they agreed to have the boys work off the cost of the damage by cutting her grass for several months. That same resident ended up cooking and looking out for the boys in the years that followed. That approach, which only grows out of personal relationships with neighbors on your block, can be the difference between continuing the cycle of Black boys in the criminal justice system, versus embracing them with an “It take a village” mindset and keeping them on track.
Supporting this kind of care for fellow residents, and encouraging others to do the same, can make the broader work around these issues – like increasing community safety – more effective. But there must be MORE residents helping each other, raising their voices together, giving their dollars, and acting as one to change how social challenges are addressed and solved. As we saw our communities mobilize against the disgusting and inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants at the Mexican border, there is an organic ecosystem in Black and brown communities that stands up for its own well-being. We are ready to invest in that system.
The Foundation will have a grant opportunity that helps accomplish this in the coming weeks. Join our mailing list to stay in the know.
Vice President and COO