Staff Report

Fifty years ago, 21 great Miamians, including newspaper magnate James L. Knight and media pioneer Mitchell Wolfson, brought together thousands of dollars to create a “living philanthropy,” tasked with improving life in Greater Miami forever. Florida Memorial University was one of eight recipients of the philanthropic effort.

Fifty years later, the Dade Foundation has grown into The Miami Foundation, managing over $300 million in charitable assets after investing more than $250 million in the people and ideas that have built a greater Miami for decades.

This storied history was celebrated at the foundation’s 50th anniversary launch event, “Legacy,” on Friday, January 27, at the Historic Alfred I. duPont Building downtown. Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen, Foundation President Emeritus Ruth Shack, and Mitchell Wolfson’s grandson and Pinnacle Housing Group Founding Partner Louis Wolfson, III, were among the 400+ guests who gathered to celebrate the milestone.

The evening culminated with the announcement of $1 million in strategic grant investments throughout the anniversary year, and the launch of the Miami Forever Fund, a historic permanent endowment with a $5 million fundraising goal to support innovative solutions to issues that threaten Greater Miami’s quality of life.

“From hurricanes and economic downturns to the challenge of sea-level rise, Miami has faced immense threats throughout our history. Each time, we unite to confront them together,” said The Miami Foundation’s President and CEO Javier Alberto Soto. “The Miami Forever Fund will allow devoted Miamians to provide tactical resources to innovate and solve the known challenges of today and those of tomorrow we can’t foresee. It’s our way of ensuring that the caring, passionate, and above all, generous Greater Miami that we know today is a reality for the next 50-plus years.”

The $1 million in signature grant investments will provide resources to pivotal organizations with a legacy of innovation and success in both tackling Miami-Dade County’s most pressing issues of the past and molding its future. They will be awarded in four categories: celebrating the Foundation’s Legacy, creating Opportunity for residents, ensuring Greater Miami’s Resiliency and fostering homegrown Creativity.

Friday’s event marked the first of the signature grants, with $100,000 in awards going to the original eight organizations to receive grants in the Foundation’s history: Boys and Girls Club of Miami-Dade, Children’s Home Society, Florida Memorial University, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center on behalf of The Pap Corps: Champions for Cancer Research, Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida, Salvation Army, St. Alban’s Child Enrichment Center and the YWCA of Greater Miami.

“After 50 years, all eight organizations receiving our Legacy signature grants are still in existence and doing critical work to serve local residents. That speaks to the impact, longevity and importance of Miami-Dade’s nonprofit community,” said Soto.

Throughout the year, the Foundation will invite the entire community to share their “Miami stories:” how they got here, why they stay here and what they value in Greater Miami. Their hope is that by sharing and amplifying those narratives, the Foundation can build deeper connections between residents and their community, inspiring them to take ownership of its future by investing today in what matters to them.

The Legacy launch event was made possible by supporters and donors, including the Historic Alfred I. duPont Building, Tilia, SEI, and the National Young Arts Foundation, which provided the evening’s entertainment.

For more information and to explore residents’ Miami stories, visit