• Prosperity Initiative - 2020 Year in Review

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    December 11, 2020
    MichaelWilliams
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    2020. I don’t think any of us saw it coming. While this year was definitely challenging at times, it did bring many reasons to be grateful. One of things I’m most grateful for is your partnership. As someone concerned about childhood poverty, you are key to helping us achieve the Florida Chamber Foundation’s goal of cutting Florida’s under-18 poverty rate in half by the year 2030. 
    By 2030, our goal is to move Florida from the 17th largest economy in the world, to the top 10. To accomplish that, we must ensure those children living in poverty are given the same opportunities to succeed as others.
    The Florida Prosperity Initiative was born out of the idea that the zip code a person is born into should not dictate their future. One of the unfortunate truths of 2020 is that Floridians who live in poverty were disproportionally hurt by COVID-19, both in terms of health outcomes and the economic hardship the pandemic created. Job losses in the service, hospitality, and retail industries are ongoing and may take some time to return to pre-pandemic levels, if those jobs return at all.
    Nevertheless, 2021 brings with it the hope that we may be turning the corner on the pandemic. Vaccines ready for delivery, an economy ready to thrive, and a pro-business Florida Legislature ready to get to work for Florida. As we slowly make our way into the “next normal,” my hope is we don’t lose sight of the lessons we learned through this ordeal. Helping neighbors lift themselves out of generational poverty isn’t just the right thing to do for them, it’s the right thing to do for Florida’s future.
    Some of the milestones the Florida Prosperity Initiative achieved over the past 12 months include:

     
    • A successful reimagining of the 2020 Prosperity Summit into a 5-part virtual event featuring dozens of speakers. The virtual setting allowed us to explore the relationships between the 10 root causes of poverty and how they create a complex web that traps people in poverty for generations. If you missed any of this important series, I invite you to view it here.
    • The launch of the Florida Gap Map, an interactive tool that allows businesses and community leaders to see where the highest numbers of children not reading at 3rd grade level are and how those leaders can intervene.
    • The creation of the Prosperity Advisory Council, an elite group of Florida’s biggest companies and thought leaders who provide critical aid and fund the research the Prosperity Initiative undertakes. A special thanks goes out to our founding members Advent Health, Florida Blue, and Humana.
    • The creation of Prosperity Partners, a group of the leading voices in each of the 10 root causes of poverty, convened to explore relationships between the ten root causes and make recommendations to the Prosperity Advisory Council. Dr. Brittany Birken of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta will serve as Chairperson.
    • Plans for the Florida Prosperity Initiative to launch 67 County-wide Prosperity Initiatives in each of Florida’s counties. In 2020, Prosperity Broward and Prosperity Polk became the first two initiatives to officially launch.
    • Inviting businesses to create teams addressing the ten root causes of poverty in each of Florida’s 983 Zip Codes. In 2020, Florida business leaders stepped up to adopt 14 zip codes around Florida. This is a great step in the right direction of creating prosperity in every zip code.
    • Recent article published in the James Madison Institute’s Fall Journal on ending inequality of opportunity. You can read that here. I also conducted my last video interview of the year with JMI which can be accessed below.
     
     
    • Dozens of presentations to non-profit, philanthropic, government, and business leaders around Florida. Presentations included Prosperity Broward, Junior Leagues of Florida, Café Con Tampa, the Ponta Vedra Sunrise Rotary, Broward College, and participation in the 2020 Florida Chamber Foundation’s Future of Florida Forum.
    • The continuous updating of our Promising Practices resource page, highlighting some of the best business and community led solutions to create prosperity and address the ten root causes of poverty at the local level.
    2020 has been a challenge, but we look forward to the promise 2021 can bring. If you would like more information on how you can become more involved with the Florida Prosperity Initiative, please contact me today.
     
    I wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season. I look forward to connecting in the new year as we continue to unite businesses for good and work towards prosperity for all. 
    Thank you again for your partnership and for believing in the cause.
    - Michael Williams
     
     

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