The submission period for the Accelerator grants program is now closed. Voting will be open until December 1 at 4:00pm.

Health & Safety

EyeTalker - wearable technology to help the visually impaired

EyeTalker is a pair of glasses with an embedded camera that captures printed text and delivers it as audio to the visually impaired. EyeTalker helps the blind “hear” text printed in books, magazines, restaurant menus and any other printed media. EyeTalker assists the visually impaired to acquire knowledge, shop for many basic necessities, earn a living, and gain a higher level of dignity, freedom and independence.

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Who are you? :

I've been working in tech for more than 10 years. In 2006 I founded my agency Crea7ive, where I still work as Creative Director.

I'm also one of the co-founders of EyeTalker and I'm passionate about innovation, technology and social entrepreneurship

How does this project impact the issue you selected? :

Access to printed information not only offers improvement in quality of life but also allows individuals for better access to education, jobs and therefore healthcare.

I like to tell people to think about how expensive it is to go to college and afford books. Then think about a visually impaired individual who needs to get trained on braille, try to find braille books or get expensive equipment to access printed information. EyeTalker offers a cost effective and simple solution to this issue.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address? :

improved access to healthcare (though education and jobs), quality of life, safety, access to quality education, job opportunities

Please give examples of your project's success. :

With 0 funding we have been able to develop a basic proof of concept:

 

Several blind organizations such as the National Federation of the Blind and low-vision products distributors such as Optelec and HumanWare have reached out to us and expressed their interest to carry our product.

 

We are now working closely to the Lighthouse Foundation for the Blind, performing surveys to users in order to improve our product design and UX.

Organization Name (or individuals name) : eyetalker

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139 votes
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Civic Engagement

South Florida Technology Learning Centers

The South Florida Digital Alliance (SFDA) has launched a comprehensive “digital empowerment” initiative called the South Florida Technology Learning Center project (TLC). The goal of TLC is to better prepare our community to participate and compete in the new digital society and digital economy by helping our residents become more adept at using new technologies. The TLC program provides access to technology, training, ...more »

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Who are you? :

The SFDA is a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to expand digital literacy and provide connectivity to all citizens regardless of income level, throughout S Florida. We believe digital literacy is the single most critical educational tool for the future..

How does this project impact the issue you selected? :

In our global society the development of technology skills has become a necessity for individuals seeking to excel in education, communications and economic activities. People who lack computer skills and have limited educational opportunities will only have marginal employment prospects. This fundamental economic problem has challenged SFDA to use technology to disrupt the dynamics of poverty and enhance the quality of life for residents of our region.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address? :

Civil Engagement - Volunteerism - our program seeks to obtain volunteers to paint the picture of the importance of technology is increasing educational, social and economic opportunities for our residents. Additionally, our project provides a platform that enables other non-profit organizations to effectively and efficiently deliver their message to residents.

Economy - our project looks to increase technology skillsets of residents and thereby their employment prospects.

Please give examples of your project's success. :

Currently we have 11 Technology Learning Centers in Miami-Dade County Parks providing 108 computers and internet access for use by the general public. Platform has been used by community programs such as enrollment in the Affordable Care Act in 2014/2015. The platform will also host educational opportunities for youth and adults on various technology related topics. The TLCs will be utilized to host multiple "Hour of Code" events in December 2014 that will teach youth computer coding basics.

Organization Name (or individuals name) : South Florida Digital Alliance

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135 votes
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Education

FIU Project Panther Life: Learning is for Everyone

Project Panther LIFE: Learning Is For Everyone is a certificate, non-degree program of study which allows students with Intellectual Disabilities to access and participate in a variety of FIU courses, varied job shadowing opportunities throughout campus, supervised employment internship experiences in the community, and other required program and community activities (e.g., Summer Residential Program, online academic ...more »

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Who are you? :

We are Panther LIFE, a postsecondary transition program for students with intellectual disabilities to have a university-based experience and prepare for paid employment. Visit program website for more information http://education.fiu.edu/pantherlife

How does this project impact the issue you selected? :

Students with Intellectual Disabilities have the poorest post-school outcomes compared to other students with disabilities. Panther LIFE is the only postsecondary transition program in South Florida providing access to a university and preparation for paid employment. By focusing on academic, social, and independent living skills, positive growth can be documented in employment and increased self-esteem as students begin to perceive themselves as more similar to their non-disabled peers.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address? :

To achieve a greater Miami, we need to provide education opportunities for all young people in our community, including those with Intellectual Disabilities. We are working to achieve this goal through Project Panther LIFE, a partnership led by Florida International University in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Parent to Parent of Miami. With the support of The Miami Foundation, we can ensure that learning really is for everyone.

Please give examples of your project's success. :

Our program has rapidly grown. Panther LIFE students take university courses, present at conferences, participate in workshops, learn about technology and email etiquette, and gain travel expertise of the Miami Metro System. Students research healthy food choices, participate in scheduled fitness classes, and some even compete in the Special Olympics! All students participate in a job shadowing experience. To date, we have graduated 6 students and 4 are currently employed in the community.

Organization Name (or individuals name) : Florida International University

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131 votes
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Health & Safety

Coverage to Care Miami

Coverage to Care Miami will be an extensive community education and social media initiative targeted to Miami-Dade residents informing them of their health insurance coverage options as well as how to access healthcare once insured. Numerous studies document the poor health outcomes of the uninsured and the significant challenges the newly insured experience navigating the health insurance maze in order to access healthcare ...more »

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Who are you? :

Legal Services of Greater Miami (LSGMI) is a nonprofit and provides free civil legal services to low-income residents in Miami-Dade. To promote access to justice, LSGMI provides community education on issues affecting the low-income community.

How does this project impact the issue you selected? :

Numerous studies establish that uninsured people are less likely to receive medical care; more likely to die early; and more likely to have poor health. Additionally, newly insured and uninsured individuals are more likely to be overwhelmed by difficulties accessing medical care. Providing individuals with a personalized road map on how to obtain health insurance, and access care increases the likelihood they will become insured, and access preventive care and ongoing treatment.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address? :

30% of Miami-Dade residents are uninsured, and the rate is likely higher among the working poor due to So. Florida’s small business economy and Florida’s refusal to expand Medicaid. Expanding the number of insureds through the ACA is a good first step, but is not enough to guarantee people receive the healthcare they need. The newly insureds and Medicaid recipients also need help navigating the healthcare plan “maze”. Additionally, the uninsured need education on safety net options.

Please give examples of your project's success. :

In 2013, LSGMI educated over 4,000 individuals to protect their rights. Our community education is based on best practices: collaboration with partners; focus on practical information; & innovative/participatory instructional strategies. In the past year, LSGMI represented 178 individuals to help them access healthcare or resolve a legal problem associated with insurance. This grant would allow us to use our expertise to benefit Miami-Dade residents & improve health outcomes.

Organization Name (or individuals name) : legal services of greater miami, inc.

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110 votes
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Civic Engagement

Liberty City Digital Commons (LCDC)

The Liberty City Digital Commons (LCDC) proposes the creation of a Wi-Fi network in Liberty Square, the largest public housing development in Miami’s Liberty City, a historically African American, culturally significant community where fewer than thirty percent of households have Internet access. The initiative will be launched using open technologies for wireless communications, such as mesh networking, to allow for ...more »

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Who are you? :

We represent a coalition that includes the Education Effect at Miami Northwestern High School, the School of Journalism at Florida International University, the Liberty Square Trust, and the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation.

How does this project impact the issue you selected? :

Providing open access to the Internet offers essential opportunities for civic engagement, whether seeking out volunteer opportunities, launching voter outreach campaigns, or running/joining community organizing initiatives. LCDC users will be able to use the network as a portal to both seek and post job and educational opportunities, and through these efforts, contribute to a community that is focused on strengthening social capital.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address? :

Because political engagement now relies heavily on digital media, increasing Internet penetration can boost voter outreach campaigns and ensure greater engagement around pressing issues when voters go to the polls. LCDC will create volunteer opportunities as residents build and maintain the Wi-Fi network, and learn of other volunteer opportunities posted to the network such as community gardening, working with charitable and after school programs, and joining neighborhood revitalization efforts.

Please give examples of your project's success. :

LCDC is modeled after other successful open Wi-Fi projects launched by a project partner, the Open Technology Institute, in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and in neighborhoods throughout Detroit. Additionally, one of the benefits of launching a community-based Internet project like LCDC is that there will be useful metrics used to measure whether or not the project is meeting its goals—among them general usage data, popular access points, time users spend on the network, and the peak times for use.

Organization Name (or individuals name) : Florida International University

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109 votes
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Education

TLE - Education - Employment - Independence - for the Disabled

Paid employment and independent living – support TLE (The Learning Experience School) in its drive to help its adult students to pursue these goals and to become happy, productive members of the community.

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Who are you? :

The Learning Experience School has a proven and successful track record, offering children and adults with mild to moderate developmental disabilities an excellent uninterrupted education from infancy through adulthood since 1977.

How does this project impact the issue you selected? :

Early intervention, a quality education, and training, help all people obtain employment and become productive members of society – and those with intellectual disabilities are no exception. Students with disabilities are amongst the most dedicated and reliable workers there are. Our adult students can work and want to. Some have paid jobs but not all. We need job coaches to ensure that their work experience is successful, both for them and for their employers.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address? :

Education and training give all people a better chance of finding a job, being productive, independent, self-reliant, and well-adjusted members of the community.

Please give examples of your project's success. :

TLE’s Shannon Campus allows our young adults to continue their education in multiple areas after receiving a top-quality education there. We have been able to help some students find paid employment where they are considered hardworking, dedicated and reliable by their employers and are extremely proud to do their jobs well. They are productive members of society. They - and we - want this for each one of them.

Organization Name (or individuals name) : The Learning Experience School

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107 votes
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Education

MDC Single Stop Mentoring Program:Access, Retention, and Success

Miami Dade College (MDC) Single Stop program is a “One Stop Shop” for students to connect to social services, mentoring programs, and academic counseling. Established in 2010, MDC Single Stop program proactively works to assist low-income students to obtain a college degree. MDC and its partners provide necessary counseling and coaching for participants from pre-registration to graduation and job placement. The program ...more »

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Who are you? :

The MDC Mentoring Program is an initiative that place students in a 2-year mentoring relationships. The program provides one-on-one academic support and career coaching that enable students to achieve a college degree and employment upon graduation.

How does this project impact the issue you selected? :

In 2009, 1,475 young adults aged out of foster care in Florida. Based on recent statistics, less than 50% will earn a high school diploma before they turn 22, most will experience homelessness and only 30% will be gainfully employed. Nationally less than 3% of former foster care youth your ever obtain a college degree. Through the MDC Single Stop Mentoring Program, MDC can expand its program to assist these young adults to obtain a college degree and career success.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address? :

The strength of Miami relies on its residents. We must provide the opportunity for an education to all residents and implement systems to help our citizens to succeed. In partnership with Educate Tomorrow, an organization that promotes independence through education, MDC is working to close the gap of educational attainment for former foster care youth. Support from the Miami Foundation would help MDC to expand the mentor program to a silent and extremely at risk population in our community.

Please give examples of your project's success. :

The MDC Mentoring program has traditional served our most at-risk population. Over the past three years, 343 mentor/mentee relationships have been established. For academic year 2013/2014, the average participant GPA was 3.0. 69% of the participants have a completion rate of 50% and more are on track to graduate this year. This past summer our mentoring program implemented an executive paid internship program which include permit job placement.

Organization Name (or individuals name) : Miami Dade College

Voting

66 votes
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Civic Engagement

Urban Paradise Guild: Volunteerism Unleashed!

Our GOALS: 1. Engage 10,000+ Volunteers per year. Every project is designed to: 2. Make Miami a better place to live today. 3. Make Miami's future safer from Sea-Level Rise and Climate Change. Urban Paradise Guild (UPG) has fielded hundreds or thousands of Volunteers every year from 2009-2014. Now, we are ready to grow! UPG is a Volunteer-Powered Organization: 100% of our Staff and Workers are Volunteers! In the ...more »

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Who are you? :

Urban Paradise Guild, Miami non-profit 501c3, Founded 2008

 

Missions include

Urban Forestry

Urban Agriculture

Nursery

Experiential Education

Urban Planning & Public Policy

 

Website: www.urban-paradise.org

Facebook 3000+ Photos

How does this project impact the issue you selected? :

Community Engagement + Volunteerism allow us to impact virtually all the issues identified in the Our Miami Report.

 

UPG has a uniquely effective Volunteer-Powered organizational model.

 

We need to scale up in order to engage more Volunteers. To do so, we need the resources to professionalize.

 

Goal: engage 10,000+ Volunteers every year.

 

Shaded Pedestrian/Bike Paths enable safe transit and exercise.

Organic Gardens allow Healthy Choices.

Education creates economic opportunities.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address? :

Civic Engagement: UPG has thousands of mostly young Volunteers.

Environment & Parks: UPG has ongoing projects that improve 7 locations. Sweat equity is invested 8x per week. All fight Sea-Level Rise.

Experiential Education helps students and adults learn how to learn. Engagement retains talent.

 

UPG Projects (Gardens + Pedestrian/Bike Trails + Volunteer Work) Improves:

Healthy Choices

Economic Opportunities

Housing Affordability

Pedestrian/Bike Friendly + Transit Access

etc...

Please give examples of your project's success. :

New grants allow UPG to add professional staff and resources.

 

We increase Recruiting and Engagement leading to increases in Volunteerism.

 

Improved Experiential Education leads to greater satisfaction and more Repeat Volunteerism and Staff Retention.

 

More resources available for UPG Projects enables greater impacts. We become more effective at protecting Miami from Sea-Level Rise.

 

Success increases popularity + "brand awareness", and helps us to get more funding.

Repeat from top.

Organization Name (or individuals name) : Urban Paradise Guild

Voting

62 votes
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Economy

Kiva Zip Miami

Kiva Zip is a crowd-lending platform that enables financially excluded small entrepreneurs to access loan capital. These entrepreneurs are able to crowd-fund a loan of 5 to 10K with 0% interest on our platform. Through our platform more than 35,000 lenders from around the world have lent to entrepreneurs in the United States. In addition to the financial capital, our borrowers also connect with thousands of lenders who ...more »

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Who are you? :

Kiva is an online lending platform that has provided over 600 million dollars in loans to small and micro entrepreneurs globally through crowd-funding. Kiva is the winner of the Economist "No Boundaries" Innovation award.

How does this project impact the issue you selected? :

In the US, capital access is one of the principal obstacles to small business growth. Yet, daily banks reject an average of 8,000 small business loan applications. This project brings financial capital to small entrepreneurs who can't typically secure a loan. Kiva does not use traditional methods of credit evaluation to assess credit worthiness. Rather our borrowers use their social capital to qualify for our program. This allows us to reach the most financially excluded populations.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address? :

First, one of the goals identified in the report relates to job opportunities. Based on our survey, we have found that 50% of Zip borrowers were able to use the funding to employ an additional employee. Second,

the report indicates an above average # of startups in Miami. Typically startups struggle to secure the business loans necessary to scale or succeed. For this very reason our loans are available to startups in order to provide the financial access they would not otherwise secure.

Please give examples of your project's success. :

Kiva Zip was a pilot project started in 2011 focused on addressing the needs of small US entrepreneurs who were struggling to secure loans. Since it's inception, the program scaled dramatically providing nearly 4.9 million in capital to over 5,000 borrowers. These loans have been crowd-funded by 35,000 lenders from 180 countries. Furthermore, we impacted the most financially excluded populations with the majority of funding supporting women and minorities from low-medium income backgrounds.

Organization Name (or individuals name) : Kiva Microfunds

Voting

60 votes
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Economy

Revive the Apprentice Model in Miami

We are growing a new pathway for professional success in Miami. According to recent studies, Miami is the hardest city in the country to find a job. Young people go into debt getting college degrees, to then find themselves underemployed or unemployed, working most frequently in entry-level roles where they learn from the lowest ranking managers in a company. That's a backward way to build a vibrant talent force. ...more »

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Who are you? :

Shaila & Kane, friends from the tech/startup space. Since launching in 2012, we have been named Echoing Green Fellows, Forbes 30 Under 30, & Next Leaders of the Future. Enstitute has been featured by CNN, Fast Company, and NYTimes.

How does this project impact the issue you selected? :

We are building a new pathway to economic success in Miami. We retain and develop top young talent, offering them outstanding professional development, access to powerful networks, and mentorship from our city's top economic leaders. We support businesses in Miami by offering them smart, ambitious, young talent who we develop over the course of their apprenticeship. We also retain that talent, as 90% of our apprentices complete the program with a full time job offer from their host company.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address? :

The Our Miami report highlighted a 2.5% employment growth rate in Miami in 2013. While that is promising, some peer cities had stronger results. (Houston has a 3.3% rate). Small businesses in Miami are growing into larger businesses at a .46% rate, while peer cities like Chicago boast a .78% rate. We seek to improve these statistics by helping talented young people get incredible jobs locally and by supporting the leaders of Miami businesses to accelerate the success of their enterprises.

Please give examples of your project's success. :

Most importantly, 90% of our apprentices complete the program with a job offer from their host company, with an average starting salary of $50,000. Over 85% of our host companies have referred another company to be a part of the program. Several of our CEOs contended that taking on apprentices is one of the most impactful leadership decisions they made this past year.

Organization Name (or individuals name) : Enstitute

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58 votes
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Housing & Affordability

TEC: Educating & Counseling about Mortgage Subsidies

Housing affordability is a major factor in where people choose to live and how well they live. When housing isn’t affordable, people can’t afford to buy a home or must choose housing far from their job. The affordability of housing in Miami-Dade County remains as an obstacle to ownership and affordable rentals. Another major obstacle to our low-moderate residents is the lack of knowledge about subsidy programs that help ...more »

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Who are you? :

Trinity Empowerment Consortium(TEC) provides counseling and education to families by helping them to identify affordable housing solutions and maximizing their potential by focusing on the limiting factors that preclude them from achievement.

How does this project impact the issue you selected? :

The lack of awareness within the low-moderate income communities for which the subsidy programs were developed continues to be a problem. The subsidy programs help make home ownership more affordable, but require stricter guidelines than FHA or conventional programs. By Increasing PR and marketing about the programs coupled with counseling and support to help prepare the potential home owners will result in greater utilization of the funds to make housing more affordable.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address? :

The data in the Our Miami Report indicated that over 65% of renters in Miami are spending 30% or more on housing and that there was a decline in ownership rates from 2011 to 2013 are a part of the impetus behind our proposal. When the increase of 36% in the median sales price is added into the mix, the severity of the problem becomes more significant.

Please give examples of your project's success. :

Ms L contacted us about the availability of subsidies to help her purchase her 1st home. It was determined that she was not eligible for subsidies due to a low credit score. Fast forward 8 months, after counseling, not only does she have an excellent credit score (765+), but a pre-approval for a mortgage utilizing subsidy programs. This is just one example of the success received when we are able to provide the combination of intense credit empowerment counseling and homebuyer education.

Organization Name (or individuals name) : Trinity Empowerment Consortium, Inc.

Voting

54 votes
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Economy

Sustainable Manufacturing in South Florida

The existing approach to product development/manufacturing is in dire need of a paradigm shift. Resources and labor have been outsourced to such an extent that the carbon footprint associated with consumer products is through the roof. Not to mention legislation, companies and organizations are pulling together to demand a more eco-conscious approach to daily practices and protocol. D Squared Engineering seeks to improve ...more »

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Who are you? :

D Squared Engineering is a small team of engineers specializing in efficiency optimization coupled with a passion for eco-conscious initiatives, and with over 40 years combined experience providing innovative solutions.

How does this project impact the issue you selected? :

Taking a holistic approach to efficiency optimization allows us to target not one, but four key platforms - the creation of "green collar" local jobs, the utilization of regionally-sourced raw material, the implementation of a local manufacturing facility, and the establishment of sustainable product alternatives.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address? :

The fist point addresses the offering of diverse jobs within our community. This project will not only bolster manufacturing efforts for South Florida, but also provide the sustainable foundation necessary to cultivate a formula for perpetuity in technical job openings.

Second is the growth of a Miami-based company such as D Squared - highlighting the opportunities available and support of local markets that aid in bolstering local business success.

Please give examples of your project's success. :

Miami-Dade County will become a leader in the use of sustainable packaging materials and composites to replace existing alternatives.

Schools will have the opportunity to participate in training programs focused on green tech, local companies can rely on sustainably manufactured products that cary not only environmental benefits but also competitive pricing, and the County will take a leap forward in battling the "brain drain" Miami has experienced.

Organization Name (or individuals name) : D Squared Engineering

Voting

45 votes
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