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Children's Trust tackling social issues, awards $1.6 million to 22 projects


Tackling Social Issues

In 2002, Miami-Dade County voters approved a referendum creating a special taxing district for the Children’s Trust, a local fund dedicated to improving the lives of children and families. Last year, amid COVID-19 and protests over police killings of black people, the trust put out a call for innovative ideas addressing social justice and racial equity, ultimately awarding more than $1.6 million to 22 projects.

Recipients include a virtual theater program that exposes middle and high school students to Miami’s racial history, a roundtable dining experience aimed at fostering cross-cultural understanding and an initiative in Opa-Locka to provide families with monthly activity kits promoting mental health and social bonding.

“We would have been somewhat tone-deaf if we did not focus on social justice issues," says Children’s Trust CEO James Haj. “Everybody has been impacted by COVID, but your lower socioeconomic areas of town got impacted worse.”


  • Miami-based HealthSnap plans to create 65 jobs and spend more than $1.5 million to expand over the next three years. Founded in 2015 by five University of Miami graduates, HealthSnap has created software that collects and analyzes patient-generated lifestyle data from digital health devices to help doctors manage chronic diseases.
  • Heru, a medical technology spinoff of UM’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, raised $2.7 million, led by Mako Surgical co-founder Maurice Ferre. Heru will use the money to complete clinical trials of its cloudbased technology, which pairs with augmented reality headsets to autonomously diagnose and correct vision defects.


  • The Education Fund, a nonprofi t that supports Miami-Dade Public Schools, has partnered with Ford to use the automaker’s local self-driving test fl eet to deliver food and learning supplies to families in need.
  • Facebook invested $1 million to address racism through the Miami Foundation’s new Racial Equity Fund. Since its launch last summer, the fund has made at least two rounds of grants to local non-profits, activists and community leaders.
  • Stacey Glassman Mizener is founding executive director of the Sabrina Cohen Foundation, which aims to raise $10.5 million to build an adaptive fitness and recreation center for people with disabilities in Miami Beach. Mizener previously was vice president for development at the National YoungArts Foundation in Miami.


Community bank Banesco acquired an office building near Miami International Airport for a new headquarters, relocating from Coral Gables. Laura Kaplan, previously managing director and senior private client adviser at Bank of America Private Bank, joined BNY Mellon Wealth Management as Miami market president.


  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and his wife, Gisele Bundchen, reportedly paid $17 million for a waterfront lot on Indian Creek Island, where they plan to build a home. Local developer Omega Investors Group expects to begin building Eleven55 NoMi, an $86-million, 384-unit workforce housing project in North Miami, later this year. Planned amenities include a pool, cafe, pet spa, bike storage and yoga rooms. The North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency awarded $8 million in infrastructure grants and up to $7 million in other incentives for the project.
  • CocoWalk in Coconut Grove reopened with a retooled commercial mix consisting of cowork spaces, a music school, gym, barbershop and new-to-market stores and restaurants.


  • Former New York Yankees player Alex Rodriguez and joint venture partner Adi Chugh are backing a $650-million hospitality fund that Miami-based CGI Merchant Group has launched to acquire and develop about 20 hotels in North America and the Caribbean over the next three years.


  • Miami-Dade County unveiled a plan to phase out thousands of aging septic tanks and help homeowners switch to the county’s sewer system. The county estimates the effort would cost $4 billion, with an additional cost to homeowners of between $7,500 and $40,000 each.


  • Key West International Airport has a new autonomous robot that uses ultraviolet light to kill COVID-19 and other pathogens. Monroe County bought the $100,000 robot from IP Program in Tampa.
  • Miami-based Jackson Health System partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools to vaccinate full-time and part-time school employees who are 65 and older.


Read more in Florida Trend's March issue.
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