###Local organizations launch effort to provide direct services and to increase civic engagement in Miami-Dade County neighborhoods
*The effort, funded by Allegany Franciscan Ministries, aims to provide residents with direct services while engaging them in a dialogue about policy issues impacting their communities and how they can become involved in creating change*
MIAMI, Florida --- On September 14, 2015, Catalyst Miami, a nonprofit organization helping families become prosperous and civically engaged, officially kicked off --"Prosperity Miami, -- an initiative to offer direct services and to increase civic engagement in Miami-Dade County. Catalyst Miami has partnered with South Florida Voices for Working Families and New Florida Majority Education Fund to canvass ten neighborhoods and to engage 8,000 families. The goal is two-fold: to provide families with essential services and to connect them with opportunities to become civically active. The civic engagement opportunities include voter registration, U.S. citizenship application, participation in leadership development programs, participation in community organizing trainings, and more.
For many low-income families, accessing direct services is a challenge. The family caretaker has to worry about making an appointment, getting permission to miss work, accessing transportation, figuring out childcare, and, most importantly, losing income. These challenges make it hard for families to access social services that can improve their quality of life. It 's also a challenge to engage in civic activities when there are so many other pressing issues of concern.
To mitigate these challenges, Catalyst Miami will offer on-the-spot enrollment services at weekly Prosperity Miami neighborhood fairs, as well as community health fairs, churches, job sites, school open houses, and back-to-school events in ten neighborhoods, including Coconut Grove, Downtown, Florida City, Hialeah, Homestead, Liberty City, Little Haiti, Little Havana, Overtown, and Sweetwater. According to U.S. Census data, these ten neighborhoods have the highest numbers of uninsured and underinsured children and families, families at risk of becoming uninsured, families medically underserved due to low-income/asset-limited status, and individuals and families impacted by the five-year ban on permanent residents.
--"Catalyst Miami is eager to begin this pilot and reboot our Prosperity Campaign. We are ready to bring our services to our clients, meeting them as close to home as possible. We are also grateful for our partners in this endeavor. New Florida Majority Education Fund and South Florida Voices for Working Families bring community connections and civic engagement opportunities to Prosperity Miami, helping us fulfill our mission, -- said Gretchen Beesing, Chief Executive Officer of Catalyst Miami.
Prosperity Miami kicked off in Overtown at the YWCA of Greater Miami, located on 351 NW 5th Street, on Monday, September 14th. Dozens of canvassers knocked on doors from 3:00-5:00pm to inform families about the services and opportunities being offered.
***Catalyst Miami** is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting families and community organizations by improving health, education, and economic outcomes in South Florida.*
***New Florida Majority Education Fund** is a statewide organization working to increase the voting power and influence of African Americans, Latinos, new immigrants, and working families towards a more inclusive, equitable Florida.*
***South Florida Voices for Working Families** is a coalition of community, union and faith-based organizations working together to win improvements in the quality of life for working people in the South Florida area.*