Certainly one of the headlines of the past year was the busy and powerful hurricane season.
- In total, our United Way received and distributed more than $6 million in relief and recovery grants in Miami-Dade, the Keys, the Caribbean and other affected areas – for everything from immediate relief like food, medicine and rent and mortgage assistance, to long-term recovery like roofing and building supplies.
- For the first time, we made grants available to micro businesses to help them recoup financial losses caused by Irma.
- Hundreds of volunteers answered our call for help – lending a hand to clear debris, man shelters, distribute ice and water, serve food – clocking more than 972 hours of service.
We continued to fight for the education, financial stability and health of our neighbors.
- With a second federal grant to expand our Early Head Start program, we opened classrooms at three additional Miami-Dade County Public School sites as well as at the new Lotus Village. As a result, we are now serving 520 children at 20 sites in our most underserved neighborhoods.
- We successfully competed for a $500,000 Community Progress Makers grant from Citi Foundation, which will enable us to implement our first employer-based financial wellness program at Jackson Health System. We are honored to be one of five South Florida organizations chosen for this distinction.
- In partnership with the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Florida International University, and others, we are investing in an innovative telemedicine program, MAVEN, to provide the underserved and uninsured with timely access to specialists.
We also scored a big policy victory in early education. Our United Way, along with our partners at the Children’s Movement of Florida, The Children’s Trust, the Early Learning Coalition and others, were part of a broad coalition of advocates that successfully championed a new bill requiring all early learning programs to meet quality standards in order to receive state funding. This increased accountability will go a long way in leveling the playing field – ensuring that children who are at greatest risk of failure in school will receive the quality of education that they need and deserve.
We continued in our role as conveners of key thought leaders around significant community issues.
- During our second Stand Up for Older Adults forum we released the findings of a new poll indicating voter support for older adult issues that lead to a more age-friendly community.
- We welcomed the Chancellor of the Florida College System, Madeline Pumariega, along with 50 community leaders for a panel discussion on strategies to increase the percentage of students who successfully complete a postsecondary degree or industry certification, ensuring we remain competitive and our workforce aligns with industry needs.
- As a participant in the Miami Herald’s Florida Influencer Series, which launched last month and will run through the November elections, we are adding our voice, along with 50 other leaders, on key issues facing voters this election season and continuing our long tradition of civic leadership.
We closed out the year with an exciting new initiative designed to identify emerging innovators and further engage millennials. Called Inspire305, we invited newer non-profits addressing community needs in a unique and creative way to compete for one of two cash prizes and engaged the community in selecting the winners. CodeArt received our Grand Innovator Award of $25,000 and Mind and Melody our Trailblazer award of $10,000. And, thanks to an inspired anonymous donor who attended the event, our two winners each received an additional $5,000 as did the each of the other five finalists.
We received Charity Navigator’s 4-star ranking, its highest, which speaks to the financial health and governance of our United Way.
I am honored to serve as United Way president and CEO as we continue to take our work, and our impact, to even greater heights. We invite you to join us . . . to fight for the education, financial stability and health for every person in our community. It takes all of us working together to build a stronger Miami. Thank you.
Maria C. Alonso
President and CEO