Charitable giving rose for the fifth year in a row in 2014, rebounding past a pre-recession peak to an estimated $358 billion, according to an annual report from the Giving USA Foundation. The New York Times reports, “Giving USA 2015: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2014,” shows that contributions rose in all categories — individuals, corporations, foundations and bequests — making up for ground lost during the economic downturn.
Giving back is an important way to connect with the community in which you live and work, and Miami is no stranger to philanthropy. We are home to some of the country’s most prominent philanthropists: Patricia and Phillip Frost, Adrienne Arsht and Jorge Perez to name a few. But charity isn’t just for the rich and famous. Everyone can donate as little or as much as they are able to.
These Miami philanthropists that will inspire you to give:
Ira Leesfield’s Family Foundation just celebrated its 25-year anniversary this past month. Ira, a Miami trial attorney, began the foundation to give back to the community causes that needed it most, in particular, children and the elderly. Annually, the foundation provides grants for student scholarships designated to law students who demonstrate a commitment to preserving the civil justice system or it lends support to national and international causes such as the Clinton Foundation, the American Red Cross, and immediate and direct aid for natural disasters. The Daily Business Review recently sat down with Ira to discuss his philanthropic endeavors and how he finds his balance between legal and charity work.
Philippe Houdard, the founder of Pipeline Workspaces, also founded Developing Minds Foundation. The organization constructs schools and supports educational programs as a way to break the cycle of poverty, hopelessness and violence in impoverished areas.
Tere Blanca, the founder, president and CEO of Blanca Commercial Real Estate is also the chair of the Board of Directors of City Year. City Year unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service, giving them the skills and opportunities to change the world. As tutors, mentors and role models, these diverse young leaders help children stay in school and on track, and transform schools and communities across the United States, as well as through international affiliates in Johannesburg, South Africa and London, England.
When Miami-based litigation attorney Andrew Hall is not in the courtroom, he can be found dedicating his time to a variety of philanthropic causes in our community. A Holocaust survivor himself, he serves as the Chair of the Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial. He is also the President of the Miami and Broward American Jewish Committee, a global Jewish advocacy organization that enhances the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel and advances human rights and democratic values in the US and around the world.
Most recently Aaron Podhurst of Podhurst Orseck, another well-known philanthropic visionary in South Florida, was honored with AJC’s Judge Learned Hand Award for his achievements in his legal career and his dedication to individual rights and democratic values. He has served as the Chair of the now Perez Art Museum Miami for two decades and was a driving force behind making Museum Park a reality.
Alan Kluger, founding member of Miami-based litigation boutique Kluger Kaplan, also combines his passion for philanthropy and art by creating a great fundraising opportunity for local nonprofits. Recently, Alan moved about 30 pieces of his world-renown art collection into the firm’s office space in Downtown Miami. After hosting a successful event for his grandkids’ pre-school, he quickly realized how much more he could do by “donating the space” and a personal tour of the art. In just the past month, Alan and his wife former Judge Amy Dean have hosted three other nonprofit groups – and they plan to continue partnering with charitable organizations that are interested.
Louis Wolfson III is a fourth generation Miamian and philanthropy has been engrained in his life since he was born. He is highly regarded for his work as a trustee of Miami Dade Community College, where as Chairman of the MDCC Foundation he helped build over $20 million in endowments. Through the Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Foundation, Louis is able to take his passion for helping others and turn it into something tangible. The foundation has been the driving force behind bringing Art in Public Places to many of Miami’s most blighted areas, including Pinnacle Housing Group’s developments and local schools.
We are proud to say Miami can boast so many business people that see the need to pay it forward.
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