The experience ultimately produced an important realization that ended with one of Miami’s more unique fairs: PhilanthroFest. “I’d get invites from 15 different groups, but they were all doing the same thing. They’d have a cocktail hour or a networking event, but it wasn’t really hands on,” she said.
In April, Sibila and some friends staged the first PhilanthroFest in Midtown. Ninety nonprofits showed up to promote their causes at a fair that included music, an art show, dance performances and even a fashion show. The group is already organizing next year’s festival, which will include 200 nonprofits, Sibila said.
“As cheesy as it sounds, it’s really about an informed and engaged community,” she said. “We have amazing resources, located in a place that’s always going to be desirable. So now we have to make this an amazing community.”
Background: Director of business development and residential sales at Reliant Real Estate Group, director of the board of governors of the MIAMI Association of Realtors, former staffer for George W. Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign and a member of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez’ communications team. Jimenez also founded his own record label, Whisper Music, in 2007.
Current position: Co-founder and chairman of Roots of Hope and founding member of the Miami chapter of the Awesome Foundation.
Tip: “Maybe this generation is more sophisticated in the way they’re donating time and money. We’re learning from past experiences and using technology to our advantage.”
Growing up in Miami, Tony Jimenez and his friends had been immersed in Cuban culture. But then they left for college. Jimenez headed to Gainesville, while friends went to Georgetown, Harvard and Princeton. Suddenly, Jimenez said, the group experienced an identity crisis.
“We had grown up in a Cuban community, but we realized we weren’t as American as we thought we were,” he said.
So in 2003, he and his friends founded Roots of Hope and began organizing conferences on campuses to bring Cuban students together. That led to talk about their counterparts in Cuba and the need for increasing communication. Before long, they were collecting old cellphones, trading them in and providing new ones on the island.
“People might look at it and say, ‘What’s the big deal about sending cellphones down there?’ But the thing is, communication on the island is almost nonexistent. So to be able to give handsets that we purchase for $40 and there they’re selling for $100 to $120, that significantly lowers the cost and increases their access.”
The success of the effort led Jimenez, who eventually wound up in Washington, D.C. working with George W. Bush’s senior campaign staff in the 2004 election, followed by a job on U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez’s communications team, to realize that small efforts can yield big change. So when a friend in the organization introduced him to the Awesome Foundation, he jumped at the chance to open a chapter in Miami. The program is run by a board of “micro trustees,” who then hand out $1,000 grants pooled from their own money.
“The beauty is it’s decentralized and it’s up to each [chapter] to create its own rubric. There’s no strings attached to the grants, so you take your own risks, putting in your own money,” he said. “The whole point is to motivate and offer a platform that’s never before been offered.”
RICHARD J. UNWIN
AND GREGORY D. MOORE
Background: Husbands Unwin, a musician, and Moore, a retired insurance executive who works as a guardian ad litem in Broward County, decided to create a legacy fund through the Community Foundation of Broward to address the needs of children. While the majority of the fund will come from their estate after they die, they have already contributed seed money that has supported the SOS Children’s Village for foster children in Coconut Creek and Equality Florida, to support civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens in Florida.
Current position: Creators of the Unwin Moore Children’s Voice Fund at the Community Foundation of Broward.
Tip: “A good community foundation can really open the community’s eyes and get people excited about the different aspects of the needs,” Moore said. “And in this whole, ‘I got mine, the heck with you’ culture, that’s a good thing.”
Richard Unwin didn’t want much for his 70th birthday. Just a foundation.
Unwin was somewhat ruefully preparing for the milestone, recalls his husband Gregory Moore, when he announced his intentions. “He said, ‘You know, I want to make sure we do something for kids in Broward County on an ongoing basis.’ So I said, ‘Great, let’s see what we need to do.’ And what I found out is it’s not so easy to do.”
Unwin, a musician, and Moore, a retired insurance executive, had been drawn to investing in children largely through Moore’s work as a guardian ad litem in Fort Lauderdale for the past six years.
“We were fortunate enough to have wonderful parents who had their faults like we all do, but who gave us a great upbringing that informed our values,” Moore said. “So it was important to us that children have a family whatever it looks like.”
While the pair had money to do good, they weren’t hugely wealthy and found that independent foundations, between tax and accounting requirements, were expensive to set up. So when they discovered the Community Foundation of Broward, they found their perfect solution.
The foundation allowed them to establish a legacy fund, leaving all their assets to the fund after they die. While they have laid out the general terms of the fund, their niece will serve as advisor to guide the specifics of giving after they die.
They also have deposited seed money in the fund, which has allowed them to make smaller grants to organizations including the SOS Children’s Village, a collection of foster homes in Coconut Creek, and Equality Florida, the civil rights organization devoted to securing equal rights for Florida’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens.
“What we would like to see ideally,” Moore said, “is every child in Broward County have a loving home in which they can grow up.”