Dade Community Foundation Will Use Nearly $4 Million to Continue Identifying and Developing Leaders Through the Miami Fellows Initiative

MIAMI — Dade Community Foundation will use $2.8 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and $1 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to create a fund, making the Miami Fellows Initiative self-sustainable.

The Knight investment meets a fund-raising challenge in the Kellogg Foundation grant; the endowment the grants build will ensure that the fellows program continues to promote leaders from multicultural backgrounds with a strong commitment to the community through civic and public service. The funding covers two additional leadership classes of Miami Fellows and will bring the total number to 115. In addition, the funding will help Dade Community Foundation create an alumni program to connect and engage these emerging leaders more formally.

“Although I was somewhat involved in the community, my involvement increased exponentially after the two-year fellowship,” said attorney Miguel de la O, a member of Class I. “Through a combination of access to community leaders and generating a surge of self-confidence, MFI was my springboard to greater community involvement and leadership.”

“One consistent element of outstanding communities is leadership,” said Ruth Shack, president of Dade Community Foundation, which has overseen the program since its inception in 1999.

“The Miami Fellows Initiative cultivates new generations of promising leaders and fosters a culture of ethical leadership and cross-cultural, cross-sector collaboration that has made and will keep making a difference in our communities,” she said.

Dade Community Foundation established the initiative in 1999 through a grant from the Kellogg Foundation. Knight Foundation has since funded three more Miami Fellows classes. The Community Foundation screens, interviews and selects between 16 and 20 men and women for each two-year class who represent a cross-section of the greater Miami population and who exhibit strong leadership potential through professional or volunteer activities. The program does not require institutional fees or sponsorships, and creates classes that are diverse on several levels – race, ethnicity, profession, politics and work sector.  

“Knight Foundation believes nothing big happens without big ideas, and the leaders who identify them and put them into action,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation.

“We strongly support the work of the Miami Fellows Initiative and are pleased to be a partner in this endeavor,” said Valorie Johnson, a Kellogg Foundation program director. “Leadership is a key ingredient in all efforts to bring about social change and the Kellogg Foundation has a long history of commitment to developing a diverse pool of competent leaders. Graduates of the Miami Fellows program are already proving their value within their communities and we expect great things as this program continues into the future,” she said.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of Miami and 25 other U.S. communities. Knight Foundation supports ideas and projects that create transformational change.

Established in 1967, Dade Community Foundation (now the Miami Foundation) is Greater Miami’s permanent philanthropic endowment for enhancing the quality of life of all Miami-Dade County residents. The Foundation provides non-profit organizations funding support and technical assistance for programs and projects which benefit the community. And for its many donors, the Foundation provides an effective vehicle for charitable giving and grant-making expertise about quality programs across a broad spectrum of community issues and needs.