For every person who walked by her booth, Valerie Hansen had her pitch prepared.
“We help girls in less-developed countries get educational and leadership opportunities,” said 15-year-old Valerie. “We’re young, we want to make a difference for girls globally.”
Valerie is president of the South Florida chapter of Girl Up, a nonprofit for girls run by girls. Girl Up, started by the United Nations Foundation, was one of 150 local organizations that participated in the second annual Philanthrofest at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus on Saturday.
The free event provides a platform for small businesses, nonprofits and artists to showcase their brand to the community. Organizers bill Philanthrofest as a chance to match nonprofits with volunteers and financial sponsors in a family-friendly atmosphere.
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“We’re trying to increase civic engagement and create a spirit of philanthropy in South Florida,” said Estrella Sibila, co-founder and executive director of Philanthrofest.
Participants represented the cultural arts, social justice groups, municipalities, artists and business owners.
Jose Azze, chairman of Soy Hialeah, attended, hoping to woo sponsors to help pay for more library hours in Hialeah. Azze said recreation programs for the youth were cut back in recent years.
“We’re trying to get exposure. Maybe some big philanthropist will donate to our library so we can have more hours. That way the politicians don’t have to worry,” Azze said.
Most nonprofit groups were optimistic that they would land much-needed financial support at a time when grants are more difficult to come by.
“This is like a lot of things that are entrepreneurial, you never know unless you try. We hope for the best,” said Sam Van Leer, founder or Urban Paradise Guild, a group that promotes urban gardening.
For Lauren Arkin, owner of LA Boudoir Miami, a vintage boutique, it was a chance to meet members of the community and showcase her wares. “It’s nice that we can come together as a community and reach out to different audiences.”