Florida was well-represented this week at the announcement of the recipients of a prestigious national award to honor outstanding partnerships between philanthropy and the public sector. Three members of Florida Philanthropic Network—Florida Blue Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation and IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs—were among 10 recipients nationwide of the Secretaries’ Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships presented by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Council on Foundations. The awards were announced at the Council’s Fall Conference for Community Foundations in Cleveland.
The Florida Blue Foundation earned the national award for its Embrace a Healthy Florida initiative, which is designed to address the causes and prevention of childhood obesity. Embrace a Healthy Florida works by bringing together key community stakeholders from across all sectors to address a variety of factors that impact children’s health—health and recreation, education, transportation, community participation and sustainability. Six targeted communities—Hialeah and Opa-locka in Miami-Dade County; Jacksonville; Parramore in Orlando/Orange County; Sulphur Springs in Hillsborough County; and Tallahassee—are building coalitions and partnerships to make positive changes in healthy eating and active living in their communities.
The Secretaries’ Award recognized Gulf Coast Community Foundation for the collective impact of its partnership with All Faiths Food Bank, Sarasota County Schools and others to develop and launch the 2014 Campaign Against Summer Hunger. The 40-day campaign raised awareness, food and funds to expand and improve feeding programs for children and their families in Sarasota and DeSoto counties over the summer, when many seasonal residents head north and the food bank’s shelves typically empty, while also strengthening the regional hunger-relief system overall. Local government and law enforcement, charitable organizations, and over 150 businesses, faith congregations and civic groups joined 2,500 donors to raise nearly $1.2 million and 800,000 pounds of donated food.
IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs was honored for its Smarter Cities Challenge, which helps cities around the world address critical challenges that include economic development, transportation, social services, health care and education. The company puts teams on the ground for three weeks to work closely with city leaders and deliver recommendations on how to make the city smarter and more effective. Over the past three years, 100 cities have been selected to receive grants, including Jacksonville in Florida. The Smarter Cities Challenge is IBM’s largest philanthropic initiative, with contributions valued at over $50 million to date.
A key part of Florida Philanthropic Network’s work is to build and strengthen partnerships between the public and philanthropic sectors in our state, so we are particularly proud to have the national spotlight on three exemplary examples of such partnership among our membership. I am constantly bragging to everyone I meet across the country about the outstanding philanthropic work being done here in Florida, and these awards are a shining example. Congratulations to Florida Blue Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation and IBM, and to the many other foundations and grantmakers across Florida who are working all the time to strengthen partnerships with the public sector. It is through these efforts that we’ll be able to maximize the impact of our state’s philanthropic investments and ensure that Florida’s communities are strong, healthy and vibrant.
– David Biemesderfer, President & CEO, Florida Philanthropic Network