An Interview With Isabelle Benditte, Director of Development, South Florida Urban Ministries
At critical moments in modern Miami history, South Florida Urban Ministries’ executive director and staff members have been at the forefront of social justice advocacy and disaster response. From helping to establish the Haitian Refugee Center in the '70s to the formation of People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality in the '80s, to coordinating a large-scale recovery effort in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in the '90s, this organization has been on the front line seeking to improve the quality of life for all members of its community.
The general purpose of the organization was then refined in the late 1990s, and a new strategic plan was formulated that would seek to stabilize the organization. Several years later and the result of much hard work, current program emphasis has proven to be effective in the following four areas: 1) children and youth services; 2) economic development; 3) hunger reduction; and 4) financial stability services. From a modest $108,000 in 2000, the budget has grown to more than $2 million in 2010.
FundRaising Success spoke to SFLUM Director of Development Isabelle Benditte about the organization and its fundraising initiatives.
Fundraising Success: Can you tell us a little about the organization's history?
Isabelle Benditte: Unlike most charities that focus on one cause, South Florida Urban Ministries focuses on the whole community. We empower people to move from poverty to prosperity by teaching them important life skills. Our main focus area is our Branches program, which consists of four after-school enrichment centers, where elementary-, middle- and high-school students can come for tutoring and mentoring, as well as fun extracurricular activities. We have three sites in Dade County and one in Broward County. Our other focuses are on hunger relief, small business development, and now we also offer financial services through our new partnership with United Way’s Center for Financial Stability.