Promising Practices and Resources

Florida Nonprofits Stepping Up – Giving Back

Businesses, nonprofits, community leaders, and volunteers across Florida are supporting relief efforts to address the COVID-19 crisis. Shown below are a few of these leading organizations who are stepping up and giving back. Share how your company is giving back by emailing Michael Williams at
Also available is the Florida Chamber COVID-19 Resource Center providing daily updates on what other employers are doing to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, where the virus is spreading, and other relevant information. Please visit and feel free to share this with your office, your family, and your friends as we’ve made this available to everyone who is interested in the latest information and guidelines.

Gulf Coast, Barancik Foundation Launch COVID-19 Response Initiative

Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation have introduced a philanthropic initiative to fortify key health and safety organizations in the region amid the growing COVID-19 crisis. The foundations announced total commitments so far of $1.5 million to support the initiative and they positioned the funding as a challenge to Gulf Coast donors and other philanthropists in the community to match that amount.

Prosperity Initiative Promising Practices

Through the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Prosperity Initiative, we are highlighting organizations that are working on issues such as food deserts, homelessness, access to healthcare, and other poverty related problems. Across the state, businesses are sharing their stories of how they are creating, supporting, or participating in programs to help their communities, teaming up with private and public sectors to come up with solutions that work, and investing back into the communities that need it the most.

Do businesses or organizations you work with have a story to share? Is there a business in your community who has started or partnered on a program that is making a difference? Share your story with us – we’ll share it with Florida’s business community as a Promising Practice.

Below are examples of how businesses, non-profits, and other organizations are working in their communities to help fight poverty-related issues.


4Rivers – Feed the Need

The Florida Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program provides meals to students, but this program does not cover other hungry family members. 4Roots and 4Rivers come alongside meal program sites – over 60 in Orange and Seminole counties – to provide Family Meals to students’ family members, and others in need.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Orange and Seminole Counties


A Gift For Teaching

A Gift For Teaching has been providing classroom resources that empower teachers and inspire future leaders since 1998—with a vision that every student has the
tools and experiences to succeed. Through multi-platform “Free Teacher Supply Stores”, A Gift For Teaching has supplied Central Florida schools with nearly $135 million worth of learning materials.

With the understanding that art enrichment accelerates both academic and personal development, A Gift For Teaching launched A Gift For Music to provide tuition-free musical strings education to under-served urban youth in Orlando. School SmARTS was created to integrate curriculum and deliver supplies needed to bring an entirely unique arts education to students across the school district.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Central Florida


Achieve Escambia- Gulf Power, United Way of Escambia County

Born out of the business community with Gulf Power, Baptist Health Care and Navy Federal Credit Union leading the way, Achieve Escambia is a cradle to career collective impact effort focused on the complex system of education and workforce development. Achieve Escambia is an “all-in” partnership of Escambia County stakeholders from the education, non-nonprofit, business, faith, equity, economic development, military, law enforcement, judicial and philanthropic sectors committed to aligning community resources so everyone is empowered to achieve success.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Escambia County

Be Essential – Tallahassee Community College

When COVID-19 hit, the Tallahassee area unemployment skyrocketed and many workers were looking for ways to gain the skills they need to be marketable in record time. Fortunately, Tallahassee Community College offers more than 140 courses, certificates and degree programs that lead to in-demand jobs, and many of these programs can be completed in 90 days or less. In response to the pandemic, the College launched the TCC2Work Be Essential campaign in the summer 2020 to connect students to training and then to employers. The campaign highlighted how targeted workforce training can help students land a job in an essential role ranging from healthcare, information technology, public safety and many more in-demand careers. Financial and scholarships are available to ensure students are able to focus on their education. TCC is also looking at additional job-training marketing and awareness campaigns in the 32304 ZIP Code this spring, with an emphasis on fast-track job-training programs that include potential rapid credentialing scholarships. Click here to learn more.

Location: 32304

Increasing Awareness of College Opportunities

With its main campus in 32304, Florida’s poorest ZIP code, Tallahassee Community College understands how poverty can effect achieving one’s own potential. The College provides extensive wrap-around services and have increased investments to raise awareness of opportunities for residents in the area to earn a postsecondary degree or credential. The value of a college education, for the individual, their family, and their community, is well-documented. TCC’s open-access mission means it is ideally situated to provide a pathway for any student who would like to pursue their education and enter a high-demand career field. As a result, the College targeted a direct mail campaign to 15,500 households in 32304 which resulted in a 23% increase in enrollment from the prior spring. Click here to learn more.

Location: 32304

Believe Miami

In October 2019, AT&T launched Believe Miami, a local initiative focused on removing barriers that keep local youth and young adults from achieving their dreams. The AT&T Foundation has committed $300,000 to Dibia DREAM, His House Children’s Home, Miami Marlins Foundation, Pridelines, Breakthrough Miami, Miami Rescue Mission, and Florida International University to help provide youth and young adults with resources they need to succeed in school and life.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Miami

Biz Town – Junior Achievement

This engaging, hands-on program introduces 5th graders to economic concepts, workplace skills, and personal and business finances in a student-sized town built just for them. Students first take part in a series of classroom lessons where they learn about working in and being consumers in today’s world. They work together to create business plans, calculate operating costs, design a marketing campaign, apply for jobs, vote for city officials, and explore careers. Then, they put their skills to work by becoming citizens for a day in JA BizTown. During their time at JA BizTown, students operate a simulated economy and take on the challenge of running businesses, including getting hands-on experience as both employees and consumers, paying rent, taxes and utilities, purchasing insurance, depositing paychecks and buying other business’ products, handling customer service, and more. Click here to learn more.

Location: Tampa

Bosses for Babies – The Children’s Movement of Florida

Bosses for Babies is an initiative that brings together business leaders in Florida who are ready to take action in support of early childhood—understanding that this is an investment both in their bottom line and in community-level prosperity. The initiative highlights the many ways Florida businesses are taking action and enables more businesses to get involved. This initiative contributes to The Children’s Movement’s partnership with the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It allows businesses to support the goal of 100% K-readiness by 2030 and drives engagement with the Business Alliance for Early Learning, leading to more business-led advocacy for greater investment in early care and education.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Statewide

The Broward Business Council

The Broward Business Council on Homelessness is an initiative of United Way of Broward County and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance. A group of local business leaders has partnered to work with Broward County, the City of Fort Lauderdale and providers in the Broward Homeless Continuum of Care to create a comprehensive plan to end homelessness as we know it. Click here to learn more.

Location: Broward County

Broward Up

Broward County is one of the areas most affected by COVID-19. It is home to 33311, the zip code with the highest number of children in poverty in the state. These two factors make life even more difficult for those families in or near the poverty line. One of 33311’s greatest champions is Broward College, and their Broward UpTM movement providing educational opportunities, workforce training, and support services directly in neighborhoods throughout the county. While many of these resources are offered for free, COVID-19 has made their job harder.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Broward County

Building Readiness Among Infants Now (BRAIN) Program

A program of Helping People Succeed, the BRAIN is available to all parents of newborns in Martin and St. Lucie counties to help give children the best start possible.  Home visits include mother/baby physical assessment, immunization schedule, home safety information, information on brain development, information about community resources and the Ages and Stages Development Monitoring system. Click here to learn more.

Location: Martin and St. Lucie counties

Bullard Family Foundation Back to School Bash

The Bullard Family Foundation held a virtual Back-to-School Bash on August 1, with Thaddeus Bullard aka WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil broadcasting live from Amalie Arena. The Bash included celebrity appearances, raffles and giveaways, DJ’s and entertainment, magic shows and museum tours. The virtual event, powered by Microsoft, was sponsored by WWE, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and AdventHealth and provided information on health screenings and requirements.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Hillsborough County

Children’s Forum: Help Me Grow

Help Me Grow Florida promotes early identification of developmental, behavioral or educational concerns, then links children and families to community-based services and supports at no cost to parents and caregivers. Help Me Grow serves Florida families with young children birth to age eight.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Statewide


Children’s Forum: INCENTIVE$

Early Childhood Educator INCENTIVE$, an affiliate of Child Care WAGE$®, rewards early childhood educators with financial incentives based on their education and continuity of employment.  By retaining the early childhood workforce, INCENTIVE$ provides children with more stable relationships and better-educated teachers. INCENTIVE$ addresses individual professional development efforts and low wages, but does not affect budgets, regular wages or parent fees within the child care program.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Statewide


Circles USA

A Circles USA chapter gathers people who are motivated to move out of poverty and matches them with middle-income and high-income volunteers who can support and encourage them on their journey. Through mentoring, education and training, and the right resources, individuals and families are able to break out of poverty and become upwardly mobile.  Click here to learn more.

Location: National program.

Florida Circles located in Boynton Beach, Gainesville, Orlando and St. Petersburg


Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation

The Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation is a Florida-based private foundation focused on making grants to promote the arts, education and initiatives that utilize nature and the sciences. The Foundation utilizes the arts to inspire and raise educational outcomes for students, and enrich the overall quality of life in marginalized communities.  Click here to learn more.

Locations: Southeast and Northeast United States


Delivering Good

Now in its 35th year, Delivering Good has helped millions of people living in low-income families, as well as those affected by natural disasters. Their vision is to build a more equitable world, in which children, adults, and families facing economic, medical, social, and environmental challenges have the useful items that they need and value, in order to overcome adversity and reach their full potential. Delivering Good works with a network of local community-based nonprofit and government agencies, with 15 partners currently active in Florida.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Statewide



Eagle Academy

Eagle Academy provides free two-generation summertime learning opportunities. Eagle Academy is a free six week program for rising kindergarten thru rising third grade students. Monday – Thursday, enrolled students spend their mornings learning ELA and math while the afternoons are spent engaging in experimental learning and STEAM activities. On Thursday evenings, parents come to the school for dinner and then attend Parent University (PU) for an hour of learning. Feedback shows that SLA children are more prepared for school and less likely to experience summer learning loss.  In addition, both students & parents are more comfortable in the school environment and better equipped to navigate the school. Click here to learn more.

Location: Sarasota

Empowerment Plan

Founded in 2012, the Empowerment Plan produces durable and innovative coats that transform into sleeping bags and are distributed to those in need. The coats are distributed globally though the lasting impact lies in the company’s workforce development focus as they hire parents from homeless shelters across Detroit to manufacture the coats. Empowerment Plan is tearing down barriers to employment faced by low-income parents and providing meaningful programs intended to close the skills gap.   Click here to learn more.

Location: Based in Detroit, MI

Faith Health Network

Navigating the health care system can be difficult – finding the right doctor, understanding insurance coverage and the side effects of medications. To help reduce confusion, Baptist Health Care launched Faith Health Network linking the community with “navigators” who help guide people through the health care system. Currently, the program is focused on church congregations where people often congregate and have built in trust. However, the services the Faith
Health Network provides are available to  everyone, with the church and church volunteers serving to bridge the gap between those who need information and the entity that can provide it. Click here to learn more.

Location: Pensacola

Farmers Feeding Florida

Farmers Feeding Florida is Feeding Florida’s produce recovery initiative that works in partnership with farmers and packers throughout the state to rescue and distribute wholesome and cosmetically blemished produce that can help to ease this burden. The initiative offsets out-of-pocket costs for packing materials to enable them to scale up donations to multiple truckload quantities. Click here to learn more.

Location: Statewide

Feeding Florida

Feeding Florida, formerly Florida Association of Food Banks, is the state’s network of food banks working to solve hunger. The statewide network unites 12 member food banks to provide a healthy, adequate, and consistent food supply to every community every day. Feeding Florida member food banks support more than 2,200 local charitable agencies, which provide food directly to individuals and families in need to ensure a hunger-free Florida. Each year, the Feeding Florida network provides food to the 2.8 million Floridians facing hunger, including over 850,00 children.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Statewide

Finance Park – Junior Achievement

The mission of Finance Park is to provide students with opportunities to understand how to budget, save and invest; to become armed with the confidence and understanding to take control of their financial futures. At JA Finance Park students have the opportunity to experience their personal financial futures first-hand. Here, 8th grade students participate in an immersive simulation that enables them to develop skills to successfully navigate today’s complex economic environment and discover how decisions today can impact tomorrow.

Location: Tampa

Florida Power & Light RISE to the Occasion Back to School Bash at Manatee Lagoon

The Florida Power & Light Eco-Discovery Center® host the RISE to the Occasion Back to School Bash, a free family-fun day for kids to enjoy before the new school year starts. In partnership with RISE, a community-driven public-private organization established to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty in West Palm Beach’s historic north end neighborhoods, Florida Power & Light Company, Office Depot, PNC Bank, Rybovich Superyacht Marina, the Healthcare District of Palm Beach County and the Education Foundation, the Back to School Bash helps families get ready for the new school year.

Location: Palm Beach County

Florida Regional Student Success – Helios Education Foundation

In light of the widening academic achievement gaps between White students and their African-American and Latino peers, Helios Education Foundation has launched the Florida Regional Student Success Initiative, deploying four key strategies in three metropolitan regions of the state — Miami, Orlando and Tampa — which collectively represent the largest percentage of first-generation, low-income and minority student populations. This initiative is being deployed through four key strategies to ensure more underrepresented students are prepared to pursue and complete a postsecondary education and acquire the skills necessary to obtain high-demand, high-paying jobs. Those strategies are strategic investing, building and reforming systems, public and political will building, and collaborating and convening. These strategies are being implemented across the education continuum, starting with Early Grade Success, continuing through College and Career Readiness and on to Postsecondary Completion. Click here to learn more.

Location: Miami, Orlando, Tampa


Fresh Access Bucks

Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) is a USDA funded statewide nutrition incentive program that encourages SNAP recipients to redeem their benefits at farmers markets, produce stands, CSAs and mobile markets to purchase healthy produce directly from Florida farmers. At participating locations, FAB matches or discounts what a SNAP cardholder spends with FREE Fresh Access Bucks every day to spend on Florida- grown fruits & vegetables. Click here to learn more.

Location: Statewide

FutureMakers Coalition

A collective impact initiative working along the cradle-to-career pathway to create a skilled and sustainable workforce pipeline. The pathway begins with early childhood learning and ends with post-high school credential attainment and career connections. The coalition focuses on systems change to connect untapped workforce with the education and training to fill in-demand jobs by removing attainment barriers and creating a culture of career exploration and aspiration from an early age.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Southwest Florida

Grow Up Great- PNC Bank

An early learning initiative to help children succeed. A $350 million bilingual initiative founded in 2004 by The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., PNC Grow Up Great® helps prepare children from birth to age five for success in school and life.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Statewide


Growing Up Great
Growing Up Great is a new initiative which is designed to build a neighborhood focused educational pathway from birth to 5th grade. It is a collaboration that brings together families, preschools, elementary schools, out-of-school time providers and community partners to break down silos and think differently about the educational journey. Program objectives focus on understanding current educational pathways, increasing kindergarten readiness and advancing student and school achievement. Click here to learn more.

Location: Hillsborough County

Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County, FL, Inc.

Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 on the concept of ‘partnership housing,’ an approach that partners low- and moderate-income families in need of adequate shelter with volunteers to build decent, affordable housing. To ensure homes remained affordable, Habitat sold them with an affordable mortgage and returned monthly payments to a fund, which allowed the work to multiply. Today, Habitat operates globally, helping 30 million people find strength, stability and independence through safe, affordable shelter. Our goal is to empower families to break the cycle of poverty and build long-term financial security through homeownership. Household income for our homeowners falls between 30% and 80% of AMI. Successful candidates have steady employment and can make monthly payments, but cannot afford a traditional mortgage. Habitat’s affordable mortgage solution keeps new home payments affordable. Click here to learn more.

Location: Hillsborough County

Homeboy Industries

The largest gang reintigration program in the country, Homeboy Industries is a work first model provider who works with former gang members to provides case management, mental health, education and career pathways. They continue to bring people together to work toward social justice, to advocate for marginalized populations, to strive to break the recidivism cycle, and to address the collateral consequences of serving time in prison. Click here to learn more.

Location: Worldwide

Homelessness Collaborative

Combating homelessness is key to creating paths to prosperity. Broward County is taking a collaborative approach with the Homelessness Collaborative. The mission of the Collaborative is to help persons experiencing homelessness find a safe, stable and dignified path to permanent housing, to end homeless as we know it in our community.   Click here to learn more.

Location: Broward County

Hope Place

For Forough Hosseini of ICI Homes, investing in her community to tackle homelessness in school-aged children meant engaging all parts of the community. Hope Place, a shelter for families with school aged children and unaccompanied
youth, took an abandoned elementary school in Daytona Beach and created from it a safe, stable environment with the resources needed for families to quickly move on to their own permanent housing and self-sufficiency.

Click here to learn more or download the “A Community United” White Paper.

Location: Daytona Beach

“Some community issues are too massive for any single nonprofit to solve and yet too important for community leaders to ignore. Family and youth homelessness is one such issue for communities around the country. When homeless youth or homeless families are given the opportunity (and hope!), they almost always help themselves out of homelessness. Hope Place, a shelter for families and youth, brought together the whole ‘village’ – Volusia County’s government, the school board, six cities, a nonprofit and many community leaders who all stepped up to help this very important cause. The difference Hope Place has already made in the lives of our homeless children and families, after only one year since its opening in January 2018, is well worth everyone’s involvement including five years of my own persistence and perseverance.”

Forough B. Hosseini
Senior Vice President – Information Systems
ICI Homes

[Here4You]th – Charles & Margery Barancik and Gulf Coast Community Foundations

Public and private stakeholders across the Sarasota region are engaging in the hard work of turning data and research into a unified system of care. Barancik and Gulf Coast Community Foundations together with Behavioral Health Stakeholders’ Consortium and other nonprofits, will engage in the hard work of turning findings from a research scan of mental health services in Sarasota County into an action plan to improve the mental health care system. Click here to learn more.

Location: Sarasota County

Humana Bold Goal

In 2015, Humana announced Bold Goal, a population health strategy to improve the health of the communities they serve by 20% by 2020. Through community, clinical and business integration, Humana is taking that goal beyond 2020 and creating community partnerships to tackle issues such as food insecurity, loneliness and social isolation and unreliable or lack of transportation.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Nationwide – Florida Communities include Jacksonville, Broward County and Tampa Bay



IDignity was created to assist the disadvantaged in Central Florida in navigating the complexities and financial burden of obtaining their various legal identification documents. These documents are often required to access education, employment, housing, proper healthcare, financial institutions, and numerous other opportunities.

Through extensive collaboration and generous support of the community, IDignity Orlando has assisted over 22,000 clients in the past decade. Access to legal identification not only empowers individuals to better their own lives, it also cultivates a society that is more inclusive, productive, and secure for us all.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Central Florida


Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay3DE

Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay has developed a partnership with Hillsborough and Pinellas County Schools to launch 3DE, an innovative high school model proven to accelerate student engagement and academic outcomes in traditional public high schools. 3DE will launch in August 2020 at three high schools with plans to expand into additional schools following the successful integration at the initial locations. The instructional model at 3DE schools is based around case method that integrates real-world concepts and experiences. Activated through local and national partners, students gain access and skills to navigate careers in high growth industries.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties

Keeping Teachers in the Classroom – Charles & Margery Barancik

Keeping Teachers in the Classroom includes three programs: Emerging Educators to help with certification costs, career guidance and application success for future teachers; Educators Rising that is creating a pipeline for future teachers by engaging high school students; and Elevating the Profession through strategic communications and journalism to raise respect for the teaching profession within the community. Click here to learn more.

Location: Sarasota County 

Launch to Tomorrow- Orlando Economic

Advancing prosperity is no small feat and takes leaders from all areas to accomplish. The Orlando Economic Partnership’s Launch to Tomorrow program seeks to advance prosperity in their region. Click here to learn more.

Location: Orlando


LIFT Orlando

What happens when business leaders take on the  challenge of generational poverty and work together to help their community thrive? Look no further than LIFT
Orlando- a group of business leaders looking to make a difference. Click here to learn more.

Location: Orlando


Lockheed Vocational and STEM Scholarships

The first of its kind within the domestic aerospace and defense industry, Lockheed Martin is launching a vocational scholarship for high school seniors and college students pursuing vocational and trade degrees. The scholarship will fund degrees at accredited vocational-technical schools to prepare students for careers in technology and advanced manufacturing that do not require a bachelor’s or advanced degree. 

For the second year in a row, Lockheed Martin will also offer its four-year STEM Scholarship program. This program is open to high school seniors and undergraduate students who plan to pursue a major in engineering or computer science, demonstrate financial need, and come from underrepresented or under-served communities.  Click here to learn more.

Location: National Program


Miami Community Venture

Designed to deliver long-term economic benefits, the Miami Community Ventures (MCV) initiative connects low income unemployed individuals to living wage jobs and provides support to help ensure they are successful in that first job and beyond. The program includes services such as job training, child care, success coaching, and education (emphasis on financial literacy). The Beacon Council Foundation under the One Community One Goal umbrella serves as the convener working with partner organizations and facilitating operational next steps.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Miami


Nemours Reading BrightStart!

Nemours Reading BrightStart! was developed to promote reading success and prevent reading failure in children through innovative programs, research, leadership and partnerships focused on children from birth to 8 years old. Practitioners and caregivers are given the tools to help build language, literacy and communications skills, wile also developing cognitive, physical and social emotional skills for each infant or toddler in their care. At-risk children who received Nemours BrightStart! instruction made significant gains in their reading readiness scores relative to peers who did not quality for instruction. Click here to learn more.

Location: BrightStart! Tools are being used 20 states including Florida

OIC of South Florida

OIC is a community based workforce development and training organization that is committed to preparing youth and adults to realize their full potential by providing training and certifications. OIC focuses on the unemployed, underemployed, and unskilled and is committed to helping those with barriers to self-sufficiency due to the past indiscretions in their background via our various Adult and Young Adult Workforce Development initiatives.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Broward and Miami counties

 Parramore Kidz Zone – Black Bee Honey

A non-profit business founded by the youth in Parramore Kidz Zone, Black Bee Honey is now in its second year and is run by entrepreneurs from the Parramore and Holden Heights communities in Orlando. With a mission to turn their communities “from food deserts to food oases,” the business teaches students about entrepreneurship.

The Parramore Kidz Zone (PKZ) was launched in 2006 by Mayor Buddy Dyer. For the past three years, every high school senior involved with PKZ has graduated from high school on time and enrolled in college or trade school, or enlisted in the military. The continued success of PKZ earned it the Powell Legacy Award from America’s Promise Alliance for its work transforming a community and the lives of the young people and families that live there.  Click here to learn more about Black Bee Honey or click here for information on the Parramore Kidz Zone.

Location: Orlando


Pepin Academies Foundation Campaigns

Pepin Academies Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports all of Pepin Academies’ campuses. Pepin Academies are public, tuition-free charter schools that serve students with learning disabilities in grades 3-12. Pepin Academies Foundation launched its inaugural “Adopt-a-Classroom” to provide funds for teachers with needed academic enrichment materials. “Adopt-a-Student” funds will provide students with a backpack filled with needed school supplies that will be delivered directly to their school for collection. Click here to learn more.

Location: Tampa, Riveriew and New Port Richey


PGT Innovations – Sunshine Education Academy 

PGT Innovations unveiled the 7,500-square-foot Sunshine Education Academy to the community in April 2019. Operated by the Venice branch of the SKY Family YMCA, the Sunshine Education Academy offers affordable, convenient child care with a focus on early childhood development programs and services to PGT Innovations’ families with young children, as well as parents who work in the Triple Diamond Commerce Park and the surrounding area in North Venice. The PGT Innovations-owned facility accommodates parents working various shifts and operates six days a week from 4:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., with flexible pick-up and drop-off hours to best fit the needs of working parents. Staffed by professionals trained by the YMCA and operated as a licensed and accredited facility, the center offers curriculum-based programs, healthy meals, and an outdoor playground to children aged six weeks to five years old.

Location: North Venice


Prosperity Broward – A Six Pillars Broward Program

Prosperity Broward is an initiative of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance Foundation which seeks to power prosperity for all by leveraging the county’s booming economy to benefit individuals in six economically challenged zip codes: 33311, 33309, 33313, 33319, 33069, and 33023.

The six focus areas for this initiative are: education/training, employment, small business development, employer engagement, support services, and policy.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Broward County



Over the last 10 years, Publix has given $2 billion in food to Feeding America member food banks and other nonprofits. Publix is now pledging another $2 billion in food over the next ten years. The food Publix donates as part of this program includes dairy, deli, meat, produce and baked goods, and goes to more than 100 Feeding America member food banks and other nonprofits. The food is good to eat but unsalable and provides individuals and families facing hunger a way to bring more meals to the table.   Click here to learn more.

Location: Statewide


Purpose Built- Rybovich: RISE Initiative

How is one company helping to pave a path to prosperity for communities in West Palm Beach? With a partnership with Purpose Built Communities that includes private and public sectors, Rybovich is one example of a business that is investing back into their community.

“Our goal should not be temporary relief for the poor, but rather to attain enduring equity by eradicating the underlying pathology of poverty that has precluded 3 million Florida residents from achieving their God-given potential.”

Wayne Huizenga, Jr.

 Click here to learn more or download the RISE Initiative White Paper

Location: West Palm Beach

Reading Recovery – Charles & Marjery Barancik Foundation

Reading Recovery is a proven formula to help catch up elementary students who struggle with reading and writing.  30 minutes a day, four days a week, select students work one-on-one with a trained teacher through specialized reading instruction. Participants are taught through a concentrated and multisensory approach, designed around the way children learn naturally in life.  Click here to learn more

Location: Sarasota County

Ride United

A transportation access initiative helping those in need overcome transportation barriers, Ride United launches with initial support from General Motors and Lyft, and leverages the strengths of local United Ways and the 211 network to address unmet transportation needs for individuals and families. The first cities involved in this initiative are partnering with Lyft to provide free rides to eligible 211 clients in need of transportation for  employment, health, and other needs.  Click here to learn more.

Location: National, including Jacksonville, Tallahassee and
Tampa Bay Area

The Roundtable of St. Lucie

The Roundtable of St. Lucie County, composed of elected officials, law enforcement agency leadership, the heads of numerous agencies that affect policies and funding, and respected community leaders and partners, have been working together for over 25 years to identify and implement research-based, comprehensive solutions to achieve and sustain long-term success for youth and their families. At the heart of their efforts is a commitment to identify and eradicate implicit bias and systemic racism in our society, in particular, the criminal justice system. Click here to learn more.

Location: St. Lucie County


GENYOUth, the child health and wellness nonprofit, and SAP, market leader in enterprise software sales, believe that the most promising solutions come from the efforts of public and private sectors working together. In that spirit, GENYOUth and SAP joined forces to create the SAP4Kids Program, which helps families find food and other resources during the COVID-19 crisis. GENYOUth has also launched a COVID-19 School Nutrition Fund that provides grants of up to $3,000 per school to supply much-needed resources for meal distribution and delivery to help ensure that our children continue getting nutritious meals. Through the combined power of SAP technology and GENYOUth’s unmatched access to school communities, these programs aim to connect people to local resources, while also providing ways that organizations can offer additional support. Click here to learn more.

Location: National Program

Seedfunders Opportunity Fund

Seedfunders, a St. Petersburg-based early stage investment firm, has launched the Seedfunders Opportunity Fund, to make pre-seed investments in Black-owned startups throughout Florida. Research shows that entrepreneurs of color often have uniquely positioned ideas for technology-driven businesses, but cannot raise the capital to get started. The new Opportunity Fund will supply that capital. Seedfunders has made 24 investments in a wide range of technology startups since it was founded in 2017. The new fund will have slightly different investment criteria than the organization has used in the past.  Click here to learn more.

Location: St. Petersburg, Miami, Orlando

Student Finance League

How can having the right money, business, and life skills help Floridians be prosperous? The Student Finance League partners with organizations, shelters, schools, law-enforcement, and federal agencies hosting workshops and seminars to teach money, business, and life skills. The focus is on language, vocabulary, conversations, and confidence, leveraging student’s strengths, goals, and abilities, to promote equality, stability, and opportunity.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Miami

Tampa Bay Lightning Hunger Relief – Goals for Food

Tampa Bay Lightning and The Mosaic Company are partnering on a program to help Feeding Tampa Bay. The Tampa Bay Lightning and The Mosaic Company announced hitting the milestone of 6 million meals donated through the ‘Goals for Food’ program. The program links the success of the Lightning to feeding food insecure families across the Tampa Bay region, where approximately 700,000 people, including 250,000 children, are not sure from where their next meal will come.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Tampa Bay


T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood

The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program offers a strategy for systematically improving the education, compensation and retention of the early childhood work force. Working work with 48 colleges, universities and vocational technical schools throughout the state as well as 14 community-based training institutions, the Florida T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program serves as an umbrella for a variety of educational scholarship opportunities for people working in early care and education programs including family child care homes. Since 1998, more than 37,000 scholarships have been awarded. The turnover rate for  these T.E.A.C.H. program participants is less than 6% – a testament to the success of this program.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Statewide

The Learning Pavilion

The Learning Pavilion, formerly known as The Dick Howser Center for Childhood Services, is a smart-play preschool that strives to be inclusive for all children, and uses a play-based curriculum that emphasizes self worth, capability, and school readiness. Since 2010, The Learning Pavilion has partnered with Goodwill Big Bend. Goodwill provides TLP with administrative support and fundraising. In addition, business and community organizations come together to provide funding that is used for scholarship programs that help families dealing with unexpected financial issues, giving them the ability to cover a portion of the monthly fees, ensuring their children continue to stay enrolled and receive the care needed to thrive.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Tallahassee

First 1,000 Days Sarasota County

From the third trimester of pregnancy through babies’ second birthday, human brains undergo a period of rapid growth. During the first 1,000 days of life, children are hardwired in ways that have lifelong consequences. To provide intergenerational cycles of opportunity, First 1,000 Days Sarasota County is ensuring every new family in our county has access to the resources needed so their children can flourish. Click here to learn more.

Uber Works

Uber has launched a new platform that connects workers with businesses looking to fill temporary shifts. The platform grew out of Uber’s business incubator, leveraging the company’s marketplace technology and operational know-how to help solve pain points that exist in finding on demand and temporary labor.  Click here to learn more.

Location: Miami

UHealth Jackson Urgent Care – Back to School Kits for Kids

UHealth Urgent Care and  Cutler Bay Urgent Care Center will hold back to school drive-thru events in August. The Back to School Kits for Kids will provide school supplies and free backpacks for children ages 5 to 13.  Click here to learn more.

Locations: North Miami and Cutler Bay

Year Up

Millions of young adults in the US have talent and motivation, but lack opportunity. At the same time, companies have opportunities available, but lack the talent they need to succeed. Year Up brings talented young adults together with top companies and helps bridge the opportunity divide.  Click here to learn more.

Florida Locations: Jacksonville, Tampa, Miami

Year Up

Millions of young adults in the US have talent and motivation, but lack opportunity. At the same time, companies have opportunities available, but lack the talent they need to succeed. Year Up brings talented young adults together with top companies and helps bridge the opportunity divide.  Click here to learn more.

Florida Locations: Jacksonville, Tampa, Miami

YMCA Reads

The mission of YMCA READS! is to enable at-risk and disadvantaged children in Kindergarten through third-grade, regardless of their race, economic status, or capabilities, to increase their reading skills through structured after-school reading instruction and mentoring. Currently, the program operates in 17 public schools, 9 participating YMCAs in 13 counties in Florida. YMCA READS! is implemented in partnership with the Florida State Alliance of YMCA’s Foundation, Inc. and the local YMCA’s in Florida.  Click here to learn more.

Locations: 13 Counties in Florida

National Promising Practices

Cummins Inc.

Cummins Inc. announced the launch of Cummins Advocating for Racial Equity (CARE). CARE is another step forward in Cummins’ intent to take a leading role in undoing systemic discrimination against the Black community in the U.S.  The creation of CARE is the first step in Cummins’ effort to undo systemic discrimination; and since its creation in July 2020, the company has developed strategies and initiated work in four identified areas:

 – Achieve police reform
 – Realize criminal justice reform
 – Create economic empowerment by building Black wealth and income
 – Drive social justice reform in healthcare, housing, workforce development and civil rights, including voting rights and education



Research & Resources 

For additional information on what organizations around the nation are saying about the root causes that should be addressed to create economic opportunity, check out the research, tools, and resources below.


Standford Social Innovation review:

Click here to find out.


What is collective impact and how can it help secure Florida’s future?

Click here to learn more.


Community Foundation of the Florida Keys

More than 27,000 homes were either destroyed completely or received substantial damage in the Florida Keys due to Hurricane Irma. How is the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys helping residents recover?

Click here to learn more.


Florida Children’s Council

What does a “two-generational approach” mean and why does it matter when creating pathways to prosperity?

Click here to learn more.


Federal Reserve System

COVID-19 response and recovery efforts have underscored both the importance and fragility of childcare. This brief was developed by a Federal Reserve System work group to provide context on childcare system challenges and considerations for addressing the needs of working families with young children. 


Click here to learn more.

2020 Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity

Did you know more than 3 million Floridians live in poverty? Of those, more than 260,000 are under age 5.

Join business and industry leaders as well as elected officials and community voices us as we analyze a path to prosperity for each of Florida’s zip codes. We will also discuss best practices around the state, how they can be replicated and more. Conversations will also focus around 10 topic areas that the Florida Chamber Foundation’s research shows are: Jobs, Education, Housing, Health, Food, Safety, Child care, Justice, Transportation and Agency-Community voice.

Florida Business Leaders Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity
May 19, 2020
The Westin Sarasota
Sarasota, Florida

To have your logo featured here, click here or contact Aaron Kinnon at

Robin Safley on Paths to Prosperity, Food, and More

We caught up with Robin Safley, Executive Director of Feeding Florida to discuss issues like food insecurity, paths to prosperity, and how businesses can play a part in creating solutions. Click the videos below to hear more.

On food security:

“A child who is hungry can’t learn in school. And an adult who is stressed and is hungry can’t be retrained for a job… I think businesses could do a big job with their employees and the individuals they come in contact with to really identify food insecurity.”

On their Produce Program:

If you estimate that about 16 percent of all produce grown doesn’t make it into the supply chain…but it’s perfectly edible. What could possibly be available is between 700 and 900 million pounds of produce on an annual basis. There’s about 3.2 million individuals who are food insecure. If I was going to try to attempt to get every one of them a serving of fruit and vegetables every day- all I would need to do is source 104 million pounds of food. We could that with some nutrition classes, so that we are really teaching people the importance of that food and also how to prepare it.

When you look at poverty and you look at all the intricate parts of that- housing and transportation and jobs- I almost see food as that common denominator, that fundamental base that people needs to have prosperity in those other sectors.

On place-based solutions and intersectionality of issues:

“The more that we don’t isolate these conversations- it’s not just take care of housing, but when you are taking care of housing, you should think about transportation and where is the food in proximity to that housing. [Consider] place-based solutions- how do we embed food in an environment- whether it’s charitable or retail. We don’t necessarily need more bricks and mortar, we just need to utilize the bricks and mortar we have more intently.”

On creating financial literacy and understanding the A.L.I.C.E. population:

Sometimes we think individuals are not making the right choice in that early moment, and it’s probably under the stressful situation in which they are just surviving- sometimes to the detriment of that long-term planning. I think if we wrap all of those issues around some of the individuals we are dealing with, with food being that fundamental, I think we are going to see success.

Stay Involved in the Conversations

Learn About the Initiative

Past Events, Webinars, and Interviews:

2019 Florida Business Leaders Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity

The recent Business Leaders Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity brought together business and industry leaders as well as elected officials and community voices on May 22-23 in West Palm Beach.

Click here for additional information.

A video highlight of the 2018 Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity & Economic Opportunity is also available- click here to learn more.

Robin Safley on Paths to Prosperity, Food, and More

During a recent Florida Horizon interview, Robin Safley, Executive Director of Feeding Florida, discusses issues including food insecurity, paths to prosperity, and how businesses can play a part in creating solutions. Click here to learn more.

Prosperity & Economic Opportunity Webinar and Call: Justice

Click the image below to hear Robert Doar, Resident Fellow & Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies of American Enterprise Institute discuss the impact poverty has on justice-related issues.


Business Leader Video Series

Click here  to watch business leaders including Will Weatherford with Weatherford Partners, Ann Reinert with JPMorgan Chase, and others discuss how we can move forward during the 2017 Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity. 

Harris Rosen’s Challenge to Business Leaders


Join the Prosperity Initiative      Attend the Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity & Economic Opportunity

“My dream is that every under-served community in the United States of America would have a Tangelo Park program. And when that happens- we won’t recognize America.”

Mosaic on Becoming More Globally Competitive

Mosaic is the world’s largest supplier of phosphate and potash but is looking to stay competitive in a rapidly growing industry. Karen Swager, Vice President of mining at Mosaic, said improvements in global phosphate mining has motivated the company to revamp its own practices.

“We are in the process of transformation and what we are trying to do is ensure that all of our assets remain competitive in the market as they continue to evolve. Central Florida used to be the center of the universe for the phosphate industry,” Swager said. “Recently, more deposits in the world are becoming economic and are being developed, particularly over the past decade. Africa and the Middle Eastern are some of the areas where this is happening and they are being constructed with the latest and best technology.”

One aspect of the company that is transforming is the participation of Mosaic employees. Input from ground-level workers has been integral to the development of new ideas. By bringing them into the process, Swager said employees have a greater sense of involvement in the company’s new direction.

“In order for us to remain competitive, we really need to develop a culture that is focused on innovation and reliability. We’ve really engaged our employees in this effort and have a very strong pipeline to the front line,” Swager said. “We are eliminating some of the red tape and bureaucracy from the past, which may have stymied some of the decision making in these areas and some of the innovation that our employees are quite proud of.”

The decision-making process isn’t the only change the company is making. In 2017, Mosaic completed the largest land acquisition in the company’s history. The company purchased Vale Fertilizantes in Brazil for $2.5 billion, a move Swager said is still paying dividends. The goal was to increase the company’s international presence and strengthen its presence domestically.

“I think the acquisition of Vale Fertilizantes is going to have tremendous benefits for Mosaic. It certainly enlarged our footprint in one of the fastest growing agricultural markets. It is going to ensure that the whole company benefits from that growth,” Swager said. “In addition, that newer, bigger footprint in South America will ensure that we remain the producer of choice for our customers in America. With a broader asset base in the hemisphere, it makes it harder for offshore competitors to compete and penetrate these markets.”

In addition to land expansion, Mosaic is also ramping up efforts in the Tampa Bay community. The Company partners with the Tampa Bay Lightning on the Goals for Food program. Since the program’s inception, Mosaic has provided nearly a half-million dollars to local food banks.

“We’re really a producer of agricultural commodities and it’s such a primary mission to help the world grow the food that it needs. What a lot of us know is unfortunately in our own back yard there’s thousands of families that lack certainty on where their next meal is going to come from,” Swager said. “There is no better brand to associate with in Tampa than the Lightning and they have helped raise the profile of all of these organization. They’re also critical to ensuring that families that are struggling to make ends meet and are able to put food on the table.”

Swager said projects like Goals for Food are a core part of what Mosaic wants to be as a company. She added that a free market economy gives Mosaic and other companies the best opportunity to do so.

“People don’t just move here for beaches and warm weather. They move here because Florida has a vibrant economy where they can start a business and be successful,” Swager said. “That growth is enabled by Florida’s approach to free enterprise. Our property taxes are lower than most states and we have no income tax because the state is able to fund its obligations by revenues generated by this business activity.

Watch: Leaders Discuss Prosperity and Economic Opportunity

Topics the Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity Will Cover:

Join business and industry leaders, as well as elected officials and community voices as we analyze a path to prosperity for each of Florida’s zip codes, discuss best practices around the state and how they can be replicated, and more.

Conversations will also focus around 10 topic areas that the Florida Chamber Foundation’s research shows are part of the conversation of prosperity. Below, you can watch business leaders from the 2017 Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity discuss how we can move forward. 

What role do businesses have in creating economic opportunity for all Floridians?


How can Florida’s business leaders use partnerships to help ensure economic opportunity?

How can Florida’s business community encourage entrepreneurism?

What are some barriers to employment that Floridians often face and how can training programs help reduce these barriers?


What role does education play in ensuring paths to prosperity and what challenges must learners, educational institutions and businesses be ready for?


How do you get the business community engaged in an issue like homelessness?


What is food insecurity and what is one solution Florida can take?

Child care

What is a “two-generational” framework and how can addressing “fiscal cliffs” through this framework help drive economic prosperity?


What can Florida’s business community do to help reduce recidivism rates?


What role can reliable transportation play in encouraging economic opportunity?

Agency-Community voice

What is collective impact and what role does it play in ensuring that the business community drives meaningful change?

What role can communities and partnerships play in ensuring economic opportunity for all Floridians?

Bipartisan Affordable Housing Bill Passes Senate Community Affairs  

Today, the Florida Chamber of Commerce commended the Florida Senate Committee on Community Affairs for voting favorably on bipartisan affordable housing legislation that would prohibit the sweep of the State and Local Housing Trust Fund. The legislation, Senate Bill 874, sponsored by Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples), is slated to be heard next in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development.

“Attainable housing is a key ingredient to meet the needs of Florida’s growing workforce. Ensuring workers have access to affordable housing will help our economy to continue growing, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce thanks members of the Senate Community Affairs Committee for protecting this important program,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida 2030 research project— a once-a-decade benchmarking report looking at the fundamentals of the state and planning for future changes and disruptions— provides a more in-depth analysis on the need for affordable and attainable housing in order to secure Florida’s future. As part of the Florida 2030 research project, the Florida Chamber Foundation visited 67 counties and engaged more than 10,000 Floridians in town hall conversations. One issue universally identified as crisis across the state was the availability of attainable housing, particularly for critical workers.

Additionally, during the Florida Chamber Foundation’s annual Economic Outlook Summit last week, Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist, Dr. Jerry Parrish, identified affordable housing as one of Florida’s constraining variables to economic growth.

A statement on the need for attainable housing, prepared for today’s committee meeting by Tony Carvajal can be found here.

Sign Up to Continue This Conversation

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Less Poverty Through More Prosperity Summit identified ten specific areas Florida must get right if we are to secure economic prosperity for all Floridians. From housing to childcare, click here to sign up for your specific area of interest.

Florida Chamber CEO Delivers Unexpected Message


, Bradenton Herald, February 17, 2017

On Wednesday, Florida Chamber of Commerce CEO Mark Wilson delivered a somewhat unexpected message to a room of 75 businesses leaders and government officials.

“I’m positive that when some of you got the invite for today you asked, ‘What’s the chamber doing looking at poverty?’” he said.

Wilson took attendees through a presentation showing how business leaders and their attitudes need to adjust to solve the problems associated with generational poverty.

Read the full article that appeared in the Bradenton Herald.


Join the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Prosperity Movement. Click here to learn more.


JUST RELEASED: More than 3.1 Million Floridians in Poverty

By 2030, Florida is expected to grow to 26 million residents and will welcome more than 150 million visitors per year. With this, comes opportunities and challenges, as this growth is expected to come during one of the most disruptive periods, where changes in the landscape of work, technology and talent will create a new normal. With this in mind, the Foundation’s Florida 2030 project is committed to focusing on Florida’s long-term future and ensuring global competitiveness, pathways to prosperity and vibrant and sustainable communities.

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Less Poverty, More Prosperity: Florida’s Fiscal Cliffs Report shows Florida has more than 3.1 million people living in poverty, with  944,415 of that total under the age of 18. The large number of Floridians living in poverty in our state impacts not only individual families, but also businesses, Florida’s economy, and our state’s global competitiveness. Florida will find it harder to succeed in 2030 and beyond if more than 1 in 6 Floridians continue living in poverty.

Click here to download the report.

O’Hara: Florida Chamber’s Scorecard Raises Flags About Jobs, Senior Tsunami

Originally Published in the Sun Sentinel by the Editorial Page Editor, April 12, 2017


If you like to paint by the numbers, paint storm clouds on Florida’s horizon because a gray tsunami is headed our way that’s destined to change our population mix and threaten how we are taxed for government services.

On the sunny side, numbers compiled by the Florida Chamber Foundation show we’ve made remarkable progress in high school graduation rates, averaging 80.7 percent statewide. Though one in five children still fails to complete school, it wasn’t so many years ago that graduation rates hovered around 50 percent.

But before we go puffing our chests, consider the high number of Florida children living in poverty — 23.4 percent, including a good number with disabilities — and you’ll see the biggest threat facing our state’s economic growth.

“If you take the poverty rate of kids under 18, and the high school graduation rate, if you could only give me two metrics to predict how well a county was going to do, I would pick those,” says Jerry Parrish, the foundation’s chief economist.

Parrish recently presented the state’s updated scorecard at the Broward Workshop’s 9th Annual State of the County Forum. I called him later to dig deeper into the numbers on the website,

“If you’re in poverty, your probability of graduating high school is lower than everyone else,” he says. Plus, poverty leads to more disabilities because of poor nutrition and lack of health care. “So if you work on child poverty and get more kids through high school, it’s highly correlated with economic success.”

Click here to read the entire Sun Sentinel article. 

One in six Floridians live in poverty

Originally Published in the Herald Tribune by Dale White, February 22, 2017


Although he received a positive reception from an audience of local business and civic leaders Wednesday, Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson says he frequently gets a negative reaction when he raises the troubling issue of how many Floridians live in poverty.

Many people think an organization that promotes business interests puts profits over people and should not get involved in “a social issue,” Wilson said. “They ask, ‘Are you a lefty, liberal, social nut to worry about poverty?’”

Yet, in his role as head of the Florida Chamber, Wilson says he should be spreading the word about a disturbing reality many of this state’s more than 20 million residents would prefer not to discuss, much less acknowledge: More than 3 million of their number live in poverty and many of them are so disadvantaged that, no matter how hard they try, they cannot climb out.

When a low-income mother with two children gets a raise in wages, the presumption is that she can afford a better lifestyle, Wilson said. Yet she could actually find herself in an even tougher financial bind. As her wages go up, her children may no longer qualify for Head Start preschool. The family may lose Medicaid benefits. Her federal income taxes increase.

At a luncheon with members of the Sarasota and Manatee chambers of commerce, Wilson discussed the Florida Chamber’s launch of an initiative to tackle such quandaries and improve the quality of life for the state’s most income-challenged workers.

“This is not a partisan issue,” Wilson said. The Florida Chamber is urging every community — local chambers, business and civic leaders, county commissions — to examine how they can address poverty and the ills associated with it on the local level.

“What if everybody got on the same page with the same goal?” Wilson asked.

That goal is not to ensure “equal outcomes” for all Floridians, Wilson stressed. Disparities in incomes will always exist. The goal, he said, is to achieve “equal access to opportunity.”

The first step, he said, is to “raise awareness.”


Promoting Opportunity and Prosperity Takes on Greater Significance

Bradenton Herald, February 17, 2017
By Mark Wilson

As the 16th-largest economy in the world, creating one out of every 10 jobs in America, Florida is moving in the right direction.

Florida adds more than 1,000 new residents each day, and they add $879,000 in income every hour. This is the Florida many know – one that’s prosperous, creating jobs and economic opportunity.

Yet, there is a different reality for many Floridians. The state’s poverty rate for those under 18 is 23.4 percent – that’s 944,415 children living in poverty. More than 3 million Floridians are on food stamps and more than 57 percent of Florida’s students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. More than 40,000 students between Pre-K and fifth grade are homeless.

Florida has led the way in economic growth and opportunity. We can and must do more to break the cycle of generational poverty by focusing on creating opportunities for all Floridians, especially those born into poverty.

The way forward has four components:

  • First, business leaders can only help solve challenges if they know about them. provides essential county-by-county metrics that illuminate key data points like third-grade reading scores (only 54 percent of Florida’s third-graders are reading at grade level or above), the percentage of children eligible for free and reduced meals, and more. Please help the Florida Chamber educate everyone on the millions of Floridians who need economic and educational opportunities.
  • Second, we need to recognize that, in many cases, government entitlement programs often do more harm than good, unintentionally creating a system of dependency that keeps people trapped in poverty and unable to get out. The Florida Chamber believes social safety nets are necessary, as poverty resulting from setbacks like the loss of a job or home foreclosures will always exist. However, their goal should be to act as a lifeline, not create a lifestyle of reliance on government assistance. Government should encourage earned success for job-seekers and unshackle private-sector employers rather than perpetuate permanent support.
  • Third, we must ensure all Floridians have access to high-quality education that equips learners – especially young learners – with the relevant skills needed to excel in the modern, changing workforce. Rigorous standards in Florida’s classrooms will help keep educators accountable while also helping students develop necessary lifelong skills.
    Florida Chamber Foundation research indicates within five years, 65 percent of all job openings in the U.S. will require at least some post-secondary education. From middle skills to high-tech skills, Florida wins when we prepare students to succeed on a global stage and ensure students have access to affordable post-secondary education through grants and scholarship programs. These steps will help bridge the “talent gap” between the requirements of employers and their 287,000 unfilled jobs and the current skill-set of Florida’s growing workforce.
  • Finally, we must address the problems related to government inefficiencies such as legislator inaction on the $1.5 billion workers’ comp increase and a broken legal climate that adds a $3,400 lawsuit tax to families who can least afford it. When Florida’s businesses and communities have to foot the bill for these added costs, it disproportionately affects Florida’s neediest and most vulnerable families.

The way forward is not easy, but we must keep the conversation going and fight for solutions. This is one reason the Florida Chamber Foundation is bringing leaders together for our 2017 Prosperity Summit on May 10 in Tampa.

The Florida Chamber views the challenge of creating the opportunity for economic prosperity for all Floridians as one of economic and moral significance. If our state’s business and government leaders work together, putting politics aside, we can end generational poverty and put Floridians back to work and on the way to achieving their utmost potential.

When Florida wins, America wins.

Mark Wilson is the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Breaking the Cycle of Generational Poverty

This weekend, Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, discussed the importance of economic opportunity for all Floridians during a presentation at Leadership Florida.

While Florida is creating 1 out of every 10 new jobs in the U.S., and is lowering taxes and creating greater economic opportunities, 1 in every 6 Floridians live in poverty and more than 1 million households live below the federal poverty line in our state.

Earlier this year, during testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Human Resources, Wilson urged Congress to seek ways to end generational poverty by lifting up Americans through economic opportunity instead of entitlements.

“In my view, the battle of this generation is between economic equality and economic opportunity – between those who believe that everyone is entitled to equal outcomes and those who believe everyone should have an equal opportunity at earned success,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

High School Dropouts Lose $250,000 in Lifetime Earnings

How do we ensure that Florida’s children are prepared to succeed in education and in life? It starts with early learning, which sets the foundation for educational achievement and creates a skilled workforce for our businesses and safer, more prosperous communities for all Floridians.



Get Involved

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Business Alliance for Early Learning will be hosting Early Learning Roundtables in several communities throughout Florida. If you are interested in attending or would like more information, contact Tracey Lowe at