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Member Spotlight: Digital Vibez

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Wednesday, January 30, 2019

January Spotlight: Digital Vibez

Making the world a better place - isn't that what nonprofits are all about? 

Digital Vibez certainly thinks so. Over the years, this nonprofit in Palm Beach County has literally made thousands of underserved children move toward a healthier lifestyle.

Along the way, the agency won our 2018 Hats Off Nonprofit Awards for “Nonprofit of the Year (Small category).” And they were one of the shining stars in our 101 For The 501 program in 2017.

And so, Digital Vibez is our January spotlight.

 

After a group of young people held him up at gunpoint and robbed him, Wilford Romelus set out on a new mission in life. With his skills in technology and his brother’s skills in dancing, Romelus decided it was time to put their experience to work and give young people a more meaningful, less destructive avenues to express their emotions. 

 

That is how Digital Vibez was born.   

 

“So many kids get into trouble because they can’t express their feelings,” Romelus said. “I knew one of the kids who robbed me and I knew if we can change the way he expresses himself, he can make better choices.”

 

Romelus, his brother, Wilbert, and other supporters began organizing a variety of activities and classes for children with the goal of maintaining a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle. Their focus was to serve all of Palm Beach County, concentrating particularly in the zip codes marked as high-risk by Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County.

 

The thinking was, by giving youth an opportunity to express themselves in a safe place, they would channel their emotions away from destructive behaviors.

 

It worked.

 

In the past eight years, Digital Vibez has partnered with after-school and community organizations to deliver engaging fitness, computer literacy, mentoring, and other programs to many thousands of children. Its messages are aligned with countywide health and wellness initiatives promoted through the Palm Beach County School District, the Florida Department of Health Palm Beach, and other affiliated organizations.

 

The group’s wellness workshops have expanded from 10 sites in 2015 to 20 sites in 2017. And the organization’s annual revenue increased from $50,000 in 2014 to close to $400,000 in 2017/18.

 

In addition to the Hats Off Nonprofit Awards, Digital Vibez has also received the Champion Award from Diabetes Coalition of Palm Beach County.

 

And one more thing: the number of steps children have taken collectively through the fitness and other programs has exceeded 2.6 million.

 

The success came largely from Romelus’ passion for connecting with children. Romelus, who is 32, was born in Haiti and grew up in rural Immokalee, Florida. He had always wanted to better his community.

 

Digital Vibez also took off because of support from funders and other donors. In addition, it helped that Romelus learned many strategies for running a nonprofit by completing Nonprofit First’s 101 For The 501 program, which is targeted for nonprofit start-ups.

 

“Many kids imitate what they see and we just need to give them better choices,” he said.

 

Learn more about Digital Vibez here.

 

And to truly understand their programs, check out one of their videos here.

 

If you want Nonprofits First to spotlight your nonprofit, please contact Charlotte Gill, our director of development and business strategies, here.

 

 

Tags:  Charities  Leadership  Membership  Nonprofit  Storytelling 

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Member Spotlight: Rising Leaders Class of 2019

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Member Spotlight: Rising Leaders Class of 2019

 

Our nonprofit sector is growing – fast. It’s expanded by as much as 20% during the past 10 years, according to studies.

 

As new and existing organizations expand, a fresh crop of leaders is needed to oversee programs and services as well as manage advocacy, philanthropy, and many other initiatives.

 

Enter Nonprofits First’s Rising Leaders program.

 

We profile our program and meet the new class of 2019 as part of our December member spotlight.

 

 

Rising Leaders has a simple and honorable purpose: prepare nonprofit staff members to lead the organizations and causes that they serve.

 

Our program helps employees gain the next level of personal and professional growth in areas such as human resources, marketing, finances, board governance, and philanthropy.

 

Rising Leaders participants learn leadership skills that set them apart from their peers. They develop a strong understanding of how they can play a critical role in shaping their nonprofits so that they meet their mission and improve our community.

 

Nonprofits need great leaders – especially now.

 

A 2016 study of nonprofits (Nonprofit Salaries & Staffing Report) found more than 50% of the survey respondents reported staff increases, and employees transferring from the for-profit sector were also on the rise as workers looked to nonprofits as a favored place for the next job or to renew a career.

 

Here’s another important data point: After retail and manufacturing, nonprofits employ more people than any other sector, according to Johns Hopkins Nonprofit Economic Data Project. That’s nearly 12 million people working for various social good groups. By comparison, just over 12 million people work in manufacturing, and another 16 million earn paychecks from retail trade.

 

That’s a lot of jobs, and a lot of opportunities to become a leader.

 

We hope members of our new Rising Leaders class will find those opportunities and lead their organizations to do even more good in Palm Beach County and beyond.

 

Introducing the members of our new class:

 

Alexis Howard, Community Aids Network

Brittany Perdigon, Police Athletic League of West Palm Beach

C’jon Armstead, Quantum Foundation

Claudia Harrison, Compass Inc.

Claudia Herrera, Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County, Inc.

Crystal Dole, The Lord's Place Joshua Thrift Store

Dolores Korf, Community Partners

Donna Denney, United Way of Palm Beach County

Hallie Balbuena, Children's Home Society of Florida

Iris Soto, Families First of Palm Beach County

Jacqueline Medina, Pine Ridge Holistic Living Center

Jaime Joshi, Community Partners

Jose Catana Morales, Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League

Kathryn Fant, The Lord’s Place

Kayla Morton, Nonprofits First

Krissy Webb, Student ACES

Leandra Silfa, Adopt-A-Family

Melinda Becker, Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League

Michelle Davis, Boys Town South Florida

Odessa Walker, Housing Partnership (Community Partners)

Rose Newbold, Prime Time Palm Beach County, Inc.

Saidy Garzon, Lake Worth West Resident Planning Group, Inc.

Shakiyla Hart, The Lord’s Place

Shari Waknin-Cohen, Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services, Inc.

Trinea Freeman Martin, Area Agency on Aging

 

To learn more about our Rising Leaders program, click here.

To watch what past Rising Leaders participants had to say about the program, click here

Tags:  Cultivate  Leadership  Network  Professional Development  Rising Leaders 

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Member Spotlight: 3 Things

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Tuesday, November 27, 2018

It’s a challenge many nonprofits face: how to inform the public about their missions?

 

There’s help available – finally!

 

Nonprofits First, along with our affiliate member All the Rage Marketing, has teamed up with WFLX FOX29 to educate the public about the services of nonprofits in Palm Beach County and beyond.

 

A new segment on WFLX FOX29 called 3 Things profiles individual nonprofits and their three

issues or services (hence the name 3 Things) that benefit the community. And get this: it’s FREE to members of Nonprofits First. So far, more than a dozen nonprofits have done these segments on WFLX FOX29 – and millions of TV viewers and social media users have learned about these agencies.

 

We asked Rafael Ibarra, marketing producer at WFLX FOX29, to explain the 3 Things segment in more detail.

 

It’s our November member spotlight….

 

Why did your station decide to do 3 Things?

 

Rafael Ibarra: 3 Things was started as a way to bring nonprofits closer to the community they serve and to each other. Many people in our area need help and don’t know where to turn. Interestingly enough, there are just as many people with extra time to volunteer or with things they aren’t using anymore that would mean the world to someone less fortunate. 3 Things shows both of these groups and places they can turn to that they might not have even known existed before. We have also heard of a few instances where nonprofits have reached out to each other after seeing them on 3 Things to offer help and services. It really is an amazing thing to witness.  After only 12 weeks on the air, 3 Things messages have already been shared with MILLIONS of viewers and social media followers.

 

 

What’s the goal of 3 Things? What do you hope the public will gain from watching the 3 Things segments?

 

Rafael Ibarra: The goal of 3 Things is to educate, inform and give a little fun fact that makes viewers say “Huh! I didn’t know that!” Each segment is carefully crafted, so if you don’t live near the organization and it doesn’t target you, you still walk away having learned a new word or fun fact about dogs, the human brain, or just about any other topic under the sun. If you get any sort of new information from 3 Things, then we’re doing our job.

 

 

 

Why do you think nonprofits need to be recognized for their work?

 

Rafael Ibarra: For the same reason doctors, police and firemen do. These people are out there working tirelessly to make our communities better places to live. They give to the needy, help new mothers, and even pull people back from the brink. They’re heroes, and all we hope to do is to shine some light on the hard work they do, and hope that someone out there decides to help anyway they can.

 

 

See all the 3 Things segments here.

 

Want to have your nonprofit featured in a 3 Things segment? Contact Charlotte Gill, Nonprofit First’s director of development & business strategies, at 561-910-3891 or at cgill@nonprofitsfirst.org

Tags:  Collaborations  Marketing  Mem  Nonprofit  Public Relations  Social Media  Television  WFLX FOX29 

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Member Spotlight: War on Hunger Collaborative

Posted By Charlotte Gill, Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Spotlight on Feeding Palm Beach County’s Hungry Residents

 

People often say that nonprofits work in silos and don’t work well together. This year, the “War on Hunger” collaborative in Palm Beach County proved them wrong.

 

The massive food distribution effort won the 2018 Community Collaboration Award during our Hats Off Nonprofits Awards event in October.

 

So it’s only fitting that we highlight the collaborative in our monthly spotlight on the extraordinary work of nonprofits.

 

Here is the story of how the group reached hundreds of thousands of hunger residents in our community.

 

 

The task was enormous: hand-delivering 3,864,168 snacks, in 214,676 “white boxes,” to nearly 215,000 Palm Beach County residents struggling with poverty and hunger, in a two-month period.

 

It was a job for the military or another big government agency, right?

 

No, this was done locally by a collaboration of 19 key public, private, and nonprofit organizations with the clear goal of feeding every hungry child, adult and senior in Palm Beach County during the spring of 2018.

 

The massive outreach effort started when Farm Share alerted Living Hungry, a West Palm Beach-based group fighting hunger, to the fact that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was looking for agencies to accept 100 truckloads of expiring “hurricane-shelter snack boxes.” If the food was accepted, it would need to be distributed fast to avoid the expiration date of July.

 

“We are going to need more partners, more people!” Maura Plante, founder of Living Hungry, said at the time.

 

And so, Plante contacted Palm Beach County School Board Member Erica Whitfield, along with other public sector organizations including Houston Tate and Ruth Morguillansky from the Palm Beach County Office of Community Revitalization who recruited the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Together, with Michael Farver, South Florida Hunger Coalition they followed a creative, strategic planning process and set out to build an outreach collaborative, with each partner playing a specific, mission-critical role.

 

The “War on Hunger” collaborative, as it became known, also involved: Nonprofits First, Sysco Southeast Florida, Restoration Bridge, Daughters of the American Revolution, The Palm Beach Post, Cox Media, The Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida, Glades Initiative, and ARC of the Glades, as well as other organizations from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors with support from the Everglades Trust. Additionally, many municipalities helped out with logistics and distribution, including City of Riviera Beach, City of Delray Beach, and cities of Belle Glade, South Bay and Pahokee.

 

Together, they engaged dozens of local charities, churches, agencies, businesses, girl scout troops, civic groups, service providers, organizations, school principals, teachers, coaches, police officers, and neighbors to get the food out. The Palm Beach County Office of Community Revitalization distributed 2.2 million meals in just 9 days with the cities and hundreds of partners.

 

One of the many areas of target: filling the hunger gap for 33,000 students over the 10-day Spring Break holiday in March.

 

The PBC School District School Food Service team asked all principals to pick up pallets in vans, trucks, and SUVs. In just three days, close to 600,000 snacks were handed out at 87 schools at the start of the weeklong break. One student said to a collaborative team member: “Without these snack boxes, we would not have had much to eat.”

 

The collaborative had many other powerful stories, like getting nearly 1,555 Girl Scouts involved in the effort. They learned about hunger and earned a “Drive the Food” badge for feeding 28,000 people people they each researched and chose who to feed locally with 505,000 snacks. One of the troop leaders said: A hungry man “shocked the girls when he sat right down on the spot and cracked open the can of ravioli to eat.”

 

In all, a small army of workers and volunteers from more than 170 organizations answered the call to help and distributed the boxes of food to tens of thousands of hungry residents from across Palm Beach County.

 

It’s another extraordinary example of what happens when nonprofits take the lead in addressing our community’s toughest challenges.

 

If your nonprofit has a great story to tell, contact Charlotte Gill at Nonprofits First: (561) 910-3891 or cgill@nonprofitsfirst.org.

Tags:  Charities  Network  Poverty  Storytelling  Volunteer 

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Member Spotlight: Cultural Council of Palm Beach County

Posted By Sophia Raymond, Tuesday, September 25, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nonprofits are doing extraordinary work in Palm Beach County. They are part of the fabric of our community — they protect, feed, heal, shelter, educate and nurture bodies and spirits of tens of thousands of residents, every single day.

 

Too often, their achievements fall under the radar. And so, Nonprofits First is showcasing some of the organizations and the differences they are making to improve our county.

 

Here is the story of one of them: Cultural Council of Palm Beach County -- which enhances the quality of life and economic growth of the community by creating a cultural destination through support, education and promotion of arts and culture. (Cultural Council is a member of Nonprofits First.)

 

 

 

For years, Palm Beach County schools have cut creative arts classes, mirroring a national trend to focus students toward “employable” subjects like math and science.

 

That’s a major concern for art advocates.

 

Research shows that art studies and activities help keep high-risk dropout students in school --and music, in particularly, not only improves skills in math and reading, but it promotes creativity, social development, personality adjustment, and self-worth.

 

Now what?

 

Here’s good news: as a result of squeezing the arts out of many school, our member, Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, started a new program to bring the arts and culture to children and families outside of traditional school classrooms.

 

Their Arts in My Backyard (AIMBY) program, kicked off in 2016, expanded arts instruction across the community by bringing arts educators and arts-related programming to the Council’s headquarters in downtown Lake Worth and pairing arts educators and their programs with designated schools and afterschool programs in Palm Beach County.

 

It’s part of the Council’s long-term vision: arts education is a proven factor in student achievement and workforce readiness for the 21st century.

 

“Our program provides opportunities for youth and families to engage with the visual and performing arts, along with providing exposure for partner cultural organizations to the education community,” said Ericka Squire, the Council’s manager of Arts and Cultural Education.

 

School districts have been slashing arts programs for years – for two main reasons. There’s been funding cuts to balance budgets. And there’s been shifts towards standardized testing and the common core subjects of reading and math.

 

Those decisions, though, have consequences, especially for underserved children: research from the National Endowment for the Arts reports that low-income high school students who earned few or no arts credits were five times more likely not to graduate from high school than low-income students who earned many arts credits.

 

And so Cultural Council’s AIMBY was developed to inspire children, as well as adults, to create and express themselves in a variety of forms. The arts education program comprises of five branches: Outreach, Field Trips, Afterschool, Early Learners and Family Saturdays.

 

Family Saturdays, for instance, aims for families to discover the arts together through visual art, dance, and theater. Upcoming sessions are: Food as Art (Oct. 13); Processional Arts Workshop (Nov. 10); and Thankful Expressions (Dec. 1). See more Family Saturday events here.

 

So far, the program is doing well -- attendance is consistent, and feedback indicates participants are satisfied, Squire said. (AIMBY programs, except Early Learners, are generously underwritten by the Celia Lipton Farris and Victor W. Farris Foundation, The Batchelor Foundation and Jim and Irene Karp. AIMBY Early Learners is generously underwritten by Christine and Bob Stiller.)

 

Will arts and cultural programs make a comeback in schools in the near future? It’s hard to know.

 

What’s clear is that the Cultural Council will continue planning and supporting programs that will keep children and adults engaged in the arts and allow them to have fun while exploring the world through different art forms.

 

Everyone in our community needs the arts, whether they realize it or not. Squire explains it better: “The simple creative activities and modes of exploration cultivated by the arts form the building blocks of child development, leading to healthy social interactions now and later in life.”

 

If you have any questions regarding the Cultural Council’s education programs, contact Ericka Squire: (561) 472-3347 or esquire@palmbeachculture.com.

 

If your nonprofit has a great story to tell, contact Charlotte Gill at Nonprofits First: (561) 910-3891 or cgill@nonprofitsfirst.org.

Tags:  Arts  Cultural Council  Nonprofit Philanthropy 

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