Haitian Community Receives Help to Ease Earthquake Repercussions in South Florida

MIAMI  – South Florida’s Haitian community will receive new resources to cope with the severe local stresses resulting from the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced today.

The grants, totaling $600,000, will go to five Miami-based nonprofit groups to address both short- and long-term challenges facing Haitians in South Florida. The proactive measures will address basic needs assistance and counseling, legal services and census and naturalization outreach.

The grants and recipients are:

  • Sant La/The Haitian Neighborhood Center ($250,000):  to encourage an accurate count of South Florida Haitians through the census critical to appropriate levels of federal funding and representation; to oversee a naturalization campaign to assist eligible Haitians in becoming U.S. citizens and to help local Haitians get the services and counseling they need following the earthquake.
  • United Way of Miami-Dade ($100,000 matching grant): to help local agencies provide food, clothing and meet other basic needs of Haitians arriving in South Florida after the earthquake.
  • The Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center ($100,000) and Catholic Charities Legal Services ($100,000): to help the estimated 50,000 South Florida Haitians who are eligible apply for Temporary Protective Status – allowing them to legally live and work in the U.S. for up to 18 months – and to train pro bono lawyers to help even more potential applicants.
  • Haitian Women of Miami (FANM) ($50,000): to provide immediate counseling and assistance to earthquake victims in South Florida and their families.

“These grants will not only assist South Florida Haitians in helping their family members, but also strengthen the community so that it has a stronger voice locally while supporting the rebuilding of Haiti,” said Gepsie Metellus, executive director, Sant La/ The Haitian Neighborhood Center.

Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation Miami program director, said the grants help forward the foundation’s goal of fostering informed, engaged communities.

“Healthy communities have the resources and strength to be engaged in important issues – which is why Knight Foundation is working to help empower the Haitian community at this critical time,” Scholl said.

The effects of the devastating earthquake in Haiti quickly rippled to South Florida, with local Haitians facing new stresses to provide support to relatives and loved ones in Haiti. Some have opened their homes, as well. Many of the 10,500 American nationals repatriated from Haiti in the weeks following the earthquake remain in South Florida with relatives. According to the local public school systems, as of mid-March, 990 Haitian children had enrolled in Broward schools and 938 in Miami-Dade schools since the earthquake.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed, engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

About Sant La / The Haitian Neighborhood Center
Sant La is a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower and strengthen South Florida’s Haitian community and ensure its success and stability through partnerships, advocacy and outreach. For more, visit www.santla.org.

About FANM Haitian Women of Miami
FANM is an advocacy and social service agency located in the heart of Little Haiti, serving the needs of low-income women and their families, as well as victims of abuse, neglect, violence, discrimination and racism. Since 1991, FANM has championed and advocated for the rights of those who have been underserved, marginalized, disenfranchised, and discriminated against in South Florida. For more, visit www.fanm.org.

About Catholic Charities Legal Services
The mission of Catholic Charities Legal Services (CCLS) is to provide professional immigration services to poor and low-income members of South Florida's refugee and immigrant communities.  The organization has won awards for excellence in advocacy from the South Florida Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more, visit www.cclsmiami.org.

About Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center
Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) is one of the nation’s largest non-profit immigration law firms. Since its founding in 1996, FIAC has handled tens of thousands of cases. This direct service work informs the agency’s broader policy work, positioning FIAC as a powerful national advocate for immigrants’ rights and a leader in the immigration field. FIAC influences national policy; successfully litigates or otherwise challenges patterns of abuse; and takes a leading role in educating the public about the impact that immigration laws and directives have on our communities.  FIAC is dedicated to protecting and promoting the basic human rights of immigrants. For more, visit www.fiacfla.org.

About United Way of Miami-Dade
United Way is working to advance the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all.  We are focused on improving education, income and health – the building blocks for a good life.  Our goal is to create long-lasting changes that prevent problems from happening in the first place.  We invest in quality programs, advocate for better policies, engage people in the community and generate resources.  We invite you to join us in this work and LIVE UNITED.  For more information, visit www.unitedwaymiami.org.

Contact: Marc Fest, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677; fest@knightfoundation.org

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.