By: Kyle Baltuch, SVP of Equality of Opportunity, Florida Chamber Foundation
In 2016, the Florida Chamber Foundation set out to unite the business community behind a bold stance: childhood poverty is one of the greatest economic challenges we face, and if not combated, will impact Florida’s future economic growth.
Since then, the Florida Prosperity Project has led a movement to unite the business, civic, and philanthropic community to ensure every child in Florida has a pathway to prosperity, and that effort is paying off.
Since the start of 2023, we have seen the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Prosperity Project partner with leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors to bring about real, systemic change in Florida that will provide long-term, sustainable pathways to prosperity.
For example, this past session, the Florida Legislature passed a historic expansion of KidCare for working families throughout Florida. This expansion, which was a leading recommendation of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Less Poverty, More Prosperity: The Fiscal Cliffs Report, will increase the eligibility threshold for subsidized health insurance for uninsured children living in low-income households. Under the new law, a Florida family of four will now be able to access high-quality, affordable health insurance for their children if they are making $90,000 or less.
Additionally, the business sector is thoughtfully partnering with the non-profit sector to invest in those communities where opportunities are most needed. In April’s addition of Florida Trend, Florida Blue was featured as the cover story for their zip code adoption efforts. As part of the Florida Prosperity Project, businesses are coming together to understand how the root causes of poverty impact the communities they serve. More importantly, they are using tools like The Florida Gap Map to support data-informed approaches to ensure investments are targeted towards the specific needs of each community. Through their effort, they are distributing $25 million of targeted funds in five of Florida’s most impoverished zip codes. In fact, more than 18,000 children live below the poverty line in just those five zip codes where Florida Blue is investing.
Going even further, our Path to Prosperity Scholarship Program, in partnership with the Florida Prepaid College Foundation, has been able to commit more than $4 million in scholarship funding for college bound high school students residing in 15% of Florida’s zip codes that house half of all children in poverty. This includes Florida Chamber Foundation Community Development Partner Florida Power & Light’s multi-million dollar contribution to the program, that will provide 2-year scholarships to 1000 students, over the next four years.
Last week’s Florida Prosperity and Economic Opportunity Summit hosted over 150 business leaders strategizing necessary future efforts, and the Root Cause Matters Webinar Series has educated more than 1,000 business leaders on the promising practices taking place throughout Florida to ensure all children have a path to prosperity.
Luckily, getting engaged in this effort has never been easier. We are united in this effort to ensure every child has path to prosperity, but we need your help. To learn how to get engaged at the state or local level, reach out to Zenani Johnson at email@example.com or 850-521-1291.
We look forward to connecting with you on the path to prosperity.