Having experienced programmatic impacts from administrative delays by Miami-Dade County in issuing a competitive process for environmental education grant funds, seven non-profits organizations including Dream in Green (DIG), Citizens for a Better South Florida, Fantasy Theatre Factory, Friends of the Everglades, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center, Officer Snook and the South Florida National Parks Trust, successfully united to urge County Commissioners to direct the Mayor to issue emergency funding and award the remaining funds through a Request for Proposals (RPF) process.
In fiscal year 2014, the seven organizations were awarded Environmental Education (EE) Community-Based grants, funded by the Division of the Environmental Resources Management (RER/DERM), to provide environmental education to the residents and visitors of Miami-Dade County. These awards expired on September 30, 2014. Although the FY 2015 budget included EE funds in the same amount as the previous year, an RPF had not been issued months into the fiscal year, unduly impacting the organizations. Lead by Citizens For a Better South Florida and DIG, the seven united and organized a strategy to educate the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners (Board) of the situation and urging immediate action.
Letters to Miami-Dade County Commissioners were first sent on February 6 advising them of the status of grant funding. Immediately following, on February 11 several organizations attended the Metropolitan Services Committee meeting, which oversees RER-DERM, to seek their assistance in receiving continuation funding until the release and award of the RFP, as recently had been done with other social service grants. While three organizations were able to speak, the County Attorney opined that the rest could not be heard since the EE grant did not relate to any item on the agenda.
Not deterred and with no RFP in site, following the committee meeting a formal request was made to Board Chairman Jean Monestime for a citizen’s presentation in March so that the seven would have the opportunity to be heard by the full board. At the March 17 Board of County Commissioners meeting, DIG Board Chair Jenny May made a citizen’s presentation on behalf of the seven nonprofits. After much debate regarding administrative delays, the Board directed the Mayor to immediately issue emergency funds to the seven organizations and to award the remaining FY funds through a competitive process.
The seven have been advised of their award for emergency funds and are currently providing the required information to ensure receipt of those funds.