Year Four of the Philanthropy Tank Program Kicks off on August 1st

Year Four of the Philanthropy Tank Program Kicks off on August 1st

Are you a teenager with an idea for how you can make an impact within your community? Beginning August 1st, 2018 students who live in Palm Beach County or who are enrolled in 8th-12th grade within the county, can apply to become Finalists for the 4th year of the Philanthropy Tank program.

Click here to apply

Philanthropy Tank fuels and inspires Palm Beach County’s next generation of change leaders. The program challenges, empowers and equips them to develop and execute sustainable initiatives and solutions to these problems. Philanthropist-Investors fund student initiatives, investing in their community projects. Through one-to-one mentoring, philanthropist-investors also fuel students’ desire, helping them execute initiatives while increasing their ability to make meaningful change.

Students are making an impact in the health & human services, education & youth development, women & girls and community development sectors. The fundamental aims of Philanthropy Tank are to help shape students’ leadership paths and, through their creative solutions, address and improve social issues in our community. To date, Philanthropy Tank has:

  • Generated more than $300,000 in grants for 57 student entrepreneurs for 26 projects
  • Inspired more than 500 students to get in clubs that support Philanthropy Tank programs
  • Impacted more than 200,000 people in our community.

Last year’s Finalists included projects focusing on literacy, clothing and food distribution for those in need, music promotion and computer programming classes for kids, among others.

A total of $100,000 of project funding was awarded. Applications for year 4 of the program open on August 1st and will close on November 4th.

The Brightline has made Ft. Lauderdale our back yard

The Brightline has made Ft. Lauderdale our back yard

I have never arrived in Ft. Lauderdale (or Miami) in a good mood. I95 has a way of sucking all the energy out of you. So when I was invited by the team at VisitLauderdale to do some sightseeing I jumped at the opportunity.

Of course, I tweeted the whole way in one epic thread.

I would like to say that the 43-minute train trip was uneventful, except that sitting in the chair behind me was the former US Ambassador to Hungary and founder of the Susan G. Komen foundation, Nancy Brinker. I introduced myself and she was incredibly gracious, and LOVED the Brightline, said she “wouldn’t travel any other way“. We chatted for a couple minutes and took a picture and before we knew it, we had arrived in Ft. Lauderdale.

We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale and jumped on the SunTrolley, a low-stress hop-on, hop-off transit system that links up Ft. Lauderdale. Grab the app, find a trolley on one of the 7 lines, wave for it to stop, pay $1/trip or $3 for the day and you’re off. We headed to Las Olas.

First official stop of the day was Louie Bossi, the Italian destination restaurant. Meatballs, pasta, pizza, craft cocktails, freshly brewed beers and desserts, with beautiful indoor seating and a piazza to enjoy in the back. The place was packed.

To work off some of these calories we jumped on the CycleParty and took a tour of historic old Ft. Lauderdale. The CycleParty is a 15-seat human-pedaled party bike. You can enjoy them in West Palm Beach as well as Wynwood and other locations. As we peddled around we heard the stories of the original settlers, drove by the Historic Stranahan House Museum, and saw the New River. We also made a pitstop at the Royal Pig pub.

Having taken a train, trolley, and CycleParty, it was time for the water-taxi part of our adventure. This was provided by the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi. A day-pass is $28, happy hour (after 5) is $18 (with 2 for 1 drinks), and you can get a month pass for $49. Sounds like a deal to me.

We’re almost done here… not really.

Next stop was a short walk from where we disembarked from the water taxi. We enjoyed the Rooftop of Township. Perfect view for seeing all the impressive development that is happening in this area of Ft. Lauderdale. We went downstairs for some pretzels and beer cheese. So good.

Back on the trolley (it’s about 5pm at this point) for a quick visit to FAT Village to check out their ART Walk.

FAT Village bills itself as “Downtown Fort Lauderdale’s creative enclave” and their monthly ART Walk includes “Open Galleries showcasing new art exhibits, local artists and artisans selling gifts and goods, and a variety of food and entertainment.” It reminds me of Wynwood 7 or 8 years ago, before everyone discovered it. Very cool!

By this time we were exhausted and hopped back on the trolley to catch the 7:45 back to West Palm Beach. I was too tired to notice any celebrities on the train, but I did bump into some of neighbors who live a street away from us in the South End of West Palm Beach. We pulled back into our home station right on time at 8:25.

Here are some notes:

Downtown Ft. Lauderdale is surprisingly walkable. We took various modes of transportation, but a similar trip could have very easily been accomplished on foot. An alternative to doing the entire trip on foot is to plan your trip so that you walk on the way out, then uber back to the station at the end. You don’t want to miss your train.

The Brightline connects South Florida culturally. We have so much going on in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, that people who aren’t exposed to them have no idea are going on. Arts, history, architecture, music. Having our downtown linked through Brightline provides easy access to all of this, and will help grow the smaller/underground arts and culture scene throughout South Florida.

Brightline is for everyone. On the way there we traveled with Palm Beach royalty, and the way back we traveled with young families. People like to push back on alternative transportation saying things like “why take a train when our cars work just fine”. If the number of people coming in and out of the station on a Saturday morning is an indication of the acceptance of this new(ish) form of South Florida transportation I’d say we’re on the right track.

Finally, I have talked a lot of crap about Miami and Ft. Lauderdale over the years. It turns out that I just really don’t like I95. The cities themselves aren’t that bad, I just need a Carefree / Carfree way of getting there.. Also I’ve got to do some sort of juice cleanse because I ate waay too much over the weekend. Send suggestions to awormus@gmail.com.

Matt is Auditioning for the coveted position as the Brightline Mascot

Dramaworks production of “Woody Guthrie’s American Song” brings rave reviews

Dramaworks production of “Woody Guthrie’s American Song” brings rave reviews

Head on over to Dramaworks on the 200 block of Clematis Street before August 5th and enjoy the ensemble cast perform Woody Guthrie’s American Song. Every word written by the folk singer and champion of social justice Woody Guthrie.

Tickets are FREE for students – use code “STUDENT” when ordering your tickets at PalmBeachDramaworks.org! And if you’re between 18 and 40 you pay your age! Perfect for a date night.

Each of the actors play multiple instruments, often playing more than one instrument at the same time, and are backed up by the hugely talented and local Lubben Brothers.

The performance and casting of the Lubben Brothers was so spectacular that SouthFlorida.com wrote “In the 20 years that ‘Woody Guthrie’s American Song’ has been performed, it is hard to imagine a more perfect union than the one formed onstage between the words and music of the iconic dreamer and the remarkable musicianship and humble idealism of West Palm Beach’s Lubben Brothers.”

Lubben Brothers playing at the West Palm Beach Brewery

The reviews are in and the show is a MUST SEE.

Palm Beach Daily News writes: “If you’re a fan of 20th century protest troubadour Woody Guthrie you’re bound to love Palm Beach Dramaworks’ production of Woody Guthrie’s American Song. But even if you’re not, this high-energy show is likely to charm you.”

Even West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio got a review in on her facebook page: “Last night we saw Woody Guthrie’s American Song at Dramaworks. What an amazing show. The musicians were incredibly talented and the songs as relevant today as they were in the 30’s and 40’s.

Get Out South Florida writes: “I cried at the end when the entire cast sang ‘This Land is Your Land’….more timely than ever. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is some bluegrass or country music show. Woody Guthrie’s American Song is about the America we all love…and a fitting end to an incredible season at Palm Beach Dramaworks.”

Palm’s West Monthly’s Robert Hagelstein rounds it up nicely in his great review“The simplicity and the beauty of the music evoke those of gospel songs and hymns. It is astounding what Guthrie could do musically with just a few chords, songs sometimes just a variation on the others. His heart-rending words take flight in this production.”

Discuss West Palm Beach Budget at an upcoming Budget workshop

Discuss West Palm Beach Budget at an upcoming Budget workshop

It’s budgeting time over at City Hall and the City has set up budget workshops to allow citizens to give input and ask questions to the team.

Here is a link to the City’s budget website

Budget workshop will be held in the following locations

  • District 1 – July 23, 2018 @ 6:00 pm – Community Workshop – Fire Station #3 5050 Broadway
  • District 2 – July 25, 2018 @ 6:00 pm – Community Workshop – Fire Station #5 500 N. Congress Ave
  • District 3 – July 26, 2018 @ 6:00 pm – Community Workshop – City Hall Flagler Gallery
  • District 3 – August 1, 2018 @ 6:00 pm – Community Workshop – UB Kinsey Community Center 720 8th St
  • District 4 – July 31, 2018 @ 6:00 pm – Community Workshop – Fire Station #7 8011 Okeechobee Blvd
  • District 5 – August 2, 2018 @ 6:00 pm Community Workshop – Fire Station #2 4301 S. Dixie Hwy – District 5

If you’re interested in last year’s budget here is the full 357-page document, and here are the highlights:

  • The City’s certified taxable property values increased $879 million, or 7.98%, to reach $11,894,514,378
  • New construction projects added to the tax roll amounted to $89.5 million.
  • Maintained millage rate at 8.3465 mills levied on every $1,000 in taxable property value.
  • Fire Department increased $4.4 million due to one new position, employee raises, increased pension costs, and costs for sixteen Firefighters no longer funded through grants, and overtime for events offset by revenue.
  • Police Department increased $0.2 million due to employee raises, lease payments on police vehicles, and costs for ten Police Officers no longer funded by a grant. The increases were offset by a reduction of expenditures due to twenty fewer mandatory retirement payouts.
  • Mayor’s Office increased $1.4 million due to two new positions, employee raises, a student intern program, strategic initiatives, and economic development to support job creation and emphasize business expansion and retention.
    Parks and Recreation increased $1.1 million due to four new positions, employee raises, Youth Empowerment Center programs, capital funding for a new bus, two dump trucks, five new vehicles and a boat dock downtown for use by Police and Fire departments.
  • Public Works increased $0.8 million due to additional Heavy Equipment leases, offset by $0.4 million additional revenue from garbage, recycling and hauling fees.
  • General Government decreased $(2.9) million due to a reduction of $(4) million in transfers for capital projects, reduction of $(2) million for contingency funding, $(1.6) million reduction for Fire Chapter 175 pension contribution, and increases of $1.1 million for a one-time contribution to the City’s self insurance fund for estimated costs of claims. An increase of $3.5 million for Police Pension Bond 2016A Principal and Interest, $0.5 million increase for Capital Bond payments were also included.
  • The City utilized a $2.5 million carryover from FY 2017 to balance FY 2018.
  • A net of thirty-six new Full-Time Equivalent (FTE’s) positions were added to the General Fund bringing the total General Fund employees to 1,100.
7 Exciting ways to celebrate Independence Day weekend in West Palm Beach

7 Exciting ways to celebrate Independence Day weekend in West Palm Beach

It’s here! 4th on Flagler, and the City is pulling out all the stops over the long weekend that starts at BBQ Blues and Blues on Saturday, through 4th on Flagler on Wednesday.

“This year’s 4th on Flagler will be extra special, given that we are celebrating not only Independence Day but also the tremendous success of one of the City’s longest running and most iconic annual events,” said West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio. “We invite everyone to join us for 4th on Flagler. The waterfront setting is the perfect place to celebrate, and– with vibrant live music, dynamic activities and games, and a phenomenal fireworks display– it’s a family-friendly event everyone can enjoy.”

Get all the details about 4th on Flagler here & the 5th Annual BBQ, Brews and Blues here

I’ve thrown in some pictures from previous years festivities. I hope you enjoy them!

1. Soul food & Brews

BBQ Blues & Blues – Rosemary Ave. 30th of June

Independence Day activities in West Palm Beach with the 5th annual BBQ, Brews & Blues event in the city’s Historic Northwest District on Saturday, June 30, 2018 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The family-friendly event features the area’s best barbeque vendors along with a fantastic lineup of soulful blues on Rosemary Ave., just three blocks north of Clematis Street.

Guests can enjoy free samples of delicious southern soul food and craft beers by local vendors (while supplies last) at this savory event. Patrons should arrive early for this unique tasting of summer barbeque favorites including pulled pork sandwiches, BBQ ribs, BBQ chicken, fried pork chops, sweet potato pie, boiled peanuts, pickles and more. There will also be plenty of sweet treats for kids and adults including funnel cakes, deep fried Oreos, freeze cups and more. Patrons who would like to partake in the brew samples must be 21 years old and over, and must present their ID at the registration tent. Additionally, there will be plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained including basketball, soccer, carnival games, and more.

2. Blues Music Lineup

BBQ Blues & Blues – Rosemary Ave. 30th of June

Headlining the evening is the must-see modern blues sensation from Memphis, Ghost Town Blues Band. GTBB is not your grandpa’s blues band – their energetic live shows captivate audiences with their horns, harmonies and homegrown instruments.  Other musical favorites performing include the dynamic soul working man Slam Allen and the contemporary jazz of Catch the Groove.

3. JetRide Watercraft Stunt Show featuring Chris Anyzeski

4th on Flagler – Wednesday at the Waterfront

As a throwback to three decades of memories, the City is including a water show in this year’s entertainment lineup. A nod to water ski shows from the very first 4th on Flagler events, the “JetRide Watercraft Stunt Show” will feature some of the world’s top watercraft athletes staging stunts above the water as they perform impressive personal watercraft maneuvers. For the grand finale, Chris Anyzeski, a professional personal watercraft freestyle athlete with more than 10 years of experience, will attempt to flip his personal watercraft 30 times in honor of 4th on Flagler’s 30th anniversary. After the show’s finale, JetRide, a personal watercraft rental company, will also award one lucky 4th on Flagler attendee with a complimentary year’s membership while they are onsite.

4. Military Salute

4th on Flagler – Wednesday at the Waterfront

The event will salute the nation and honor its history with its annual Military Honor Ceremony, which includes a tribute to all branches of the military, presentation of the local Hometown Hero award and the unfurling of a five-story American flag. Music for the moving tribute will be provided by The Air National Guard Band of the South, a 45-member military music ensemble that supports the Air Force and Air National Guard’s mission by inspiring patriotism and fostering a deep appreciation of its rich history and legacy.

5. Fairy Tale Playhouses & FlaminGO Croquet

4th on Flagler – Wednesday at the Waterfront

As part of the City’s overall “Summer in Paradise” (S.I.P.) campaign, which launched in early June in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County, the smallest of waterfront visitors are also encouraged to “be our guest” and participate in free imaginative play at the “Fairy Tale Playhouses.” The community art installation features 15 unique, outdoor playhouses, which have been painted by local artists and paired with nonprofit beneficiaries. The playhouses illustrate timeless fairy tales, with stories hailing from across the globe, including “Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox,” from North America; “The Boy and the Dragon,” from Canada; and “Rapunzel,” from Germany. In addition to fun, the child-size homes aim to educate about the need for affordable housing. Guests can also “sip” on additional campaign elements, including “StoryVille,” a create your own life-size fable activity; and “FlaminGO Croquet,” complete with an “Alice in Wonderland” theme and flamingo mallets.

6. Selfie with Mad Hatter Teacups

4th on Flagler – Wednesday at the Waterfront

Photo ops and selfie spots are also a priority in this year’s “Summer in Paradise” lineup. The City brought back the “Big Storybook,” outlining all involved in the community activation and noting how each artist, fairy tale and nonprofit is paired. New this year are the “Mad Hatter Teacups,” which were once car tires that have been upcycled into cup and saucer sets spread on the Great Lawn, at 101 N. Clematis St.. The installation was inspired by the famous tea in “Alice in Wonderland”.

7. Music Lineup on 3 Stages

4th on Flagler – Wednesday at the Waterfront

Derek Mack Band  (Meyer Amphitheater) ☆ 5:00 p.m. The Derek Mack Band is one of South Florida’s premier show bands. A high-energy and versatile group of musicians, the band is known for performing music from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s 2000s and today.

The Air National Guard Band of the South  (Meyer Amphitheater) ☆ 6:30 p.m. The Air National Guard Band of the South supports the total Air Force and Air National Guard mission in war and peace by inspiring patriotism and fostering a deep appreciation of the rich history and legacy of the Air Force.

Liddy Clark (Discover the Palm Beaches Stage) ☆ 5:00 p.m. Liddy Clark is a singer/songwriter who forges a fresh, new path in country music with keep-it- real lyrics and trailblazing sonic landscapes. Her music is bold, blending a world-wide-open youthfulness and “ain’t-scared” attitude, topped-off with a definitive hallmark vocal that has led to more than 500,000 social media followers.

Andrew Morris (Discover the Palm Beaches Stage) ☆ 7:30 p.m. With a musical blend that can be attributed to Andrew Morris’ background and upbringing, The Andrew Morris Band is known for consistently converting music lovers to country fans.

Brass Knucklehead (Post Park Stage) ☆ 5:00 p.m. Complete with a trumpet and a trombone for full effect, Brass Knucklehead is a local neighborhood ska band. Known for playing ska classics, including favorites from 90s bands such as Reel Big Fish and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the band is also known for putting a ska slant on crowd favorites. Revving it up at the Post Park Stage, guests are encouraged to stop by for some punk rock nostalgia.

The People Upstairs (Post Park Stage) ☆ 7:15 p.m. Funk. Reggae. Rock. The People Upstairs have been playing for more than a decade, reflecting chemistry and camaraderie amongst the band. The mixture of brotherly love, low-brow comedy and musical talent makes The People Upstairs more than a band – they are an act. They combine modern rock-funk with a groovy island touch and Latin rhythm to bridge barriers and broaden appeal, often described as Chili Peppers meets Sublime.

Palm Beach Tech’s Golden Palm Awards Celebrates Technology in the Palm Beaches

On Friday night approximately 200 tech luminaries gathered from Palm Beach County at West Palm Beach’s beautiful Waterfront Pavilion. The event was the First Annual Golden Palms award the organization that put all this together was West Palm Beaches very own Palm Beach Tech Association. The event was lead by Palm Beach Tech’s Co Chairs Cam Collins from DockMaster Software & David Bates from Gunster with Adam Steinhoff of Dedicated IT as the master of ceremonies.

Full house at the Waterfront Pavilion

Joe Russo the founder and executive director of Palm Beach Tech started out small. Standing in front of who’s who in technology, told the story of the first Startup Weekend in exact location. The Startup Weekend, which was organized by Nick Mohnacky and Chris Callahan of Startup Palm Beach, kicked off his vision to turn Palm Beach County into a technology hub of Florida.

I remember it well, we were on the same team and we built in 54 hours we developed, designed and marketed an called “The Yo App” (technical note: this was about a year before he more famous “Yo App” was created). The Startup Weekend process forces teams to get together, and not just develop technology but also to develop a business plan and determine that there is sufficient need for your product, before finally presenting it to the Judges. One of whom was West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio.

Palm Beach Post Article on the first Startup Weekend – photo features Joe Russo and The Yo App team

The Yo App made it into top three of that year’s Startup Weekend projects, but more importantly it set off a chain of events that would lead to this night. Honoring people who have worked with Joe Russo and Palm Beach Tech to further propagate technology in Palm Beach County.

Honorees were divided into the following categories

Excellence – Awarded to those who have contributed exceptional efforts to build our tech industry

  • Mayor Jeri Muoio, Chris Roog, & The City of West Palm Beach
  • Chris Nielsen, Ryan Gay, & Levatas
  • Dan Cane & Modernizing Medicine
  • Rhys Williams & FAU Tech Runway
  • Christian Boniforti, Barbara Cambia, & Lynn University

Emerging Leadership – Awarded to emerging business & community leaders in our tech industry

  • Shay Berman, Founder & President @ Digital Resource
  • Yulia Konovnitsyna, Founder @ Straight Fwd Co
  • Sarah Nohe, UI / UX Lead @ Nebular Agency
  • John Calloway, President @ Halo Technologies
  • Greg Van Horn, Founder & CEO @ Launch Potato

Community Leadership – Awarded to those who have selflessly impacted our tech community

  • Aaron Wormus, CTO @ SmartX Advisory Services
  • Jeremy Lawson, Platforms Manager @ Arrow Digital
  • Damian Montero, Founder @ Moned
  • George Whitaker, Director of Engineering @ PGA
  • Gissela & Sean Biganski, Executives @ Hello Labs

Many forget that Palm Beach County was the original Silicon Valley. When IBM developed the first PC in Boca in 1967 and went over grow the workforce to 10,000 high-tech employees at their height during the 80s.

The fact is that technology drives so much of today’s industry. And I believe that Palm Beach County is uniquely qualified to be a new Technology Hub. The live-work-play qualities of a West Palm Beach and other down Palm Beach County downtown’s, make perfect environment for tech workers. The close proximity to Ft. Lauderdale & Miami as well as Brightline to connect them all. Palm Beach and access to potential to venture capital. Not to mention Florida’s tax-free status which is huge incentive for high-wage salary earners to relocate to the area.

The irony is that we already have so many of these pieces. But all of these individual components don’t add up to much unless you have an organization who is willing to connect all of these pieces. Connect the these individual companies and create the ecosystem for both technology leaders business Builders as well as a thriving opportunities for people who work in Tech.

This is exactly what Palm Beach Tech brings to the table. And if we’re interested in the growth of Palm Beach County it’s so important to support this and other technology focused organizations. Whether you’re a current resident, who wants to find a reason to get your kids to move back to the are after collage. Or you’re a event-producer looking for a younger crowd to market your events to. Or you work for the Convention center and are looking to host technology conferences. Or you’re in the food & dining industry and you want to serve the thousands of out-of-towners that come to the area for those tech conventions. Or you’re a real-estate developer looking to create a modern new downtown business district. Or a FinTech firm looking to hire the brightest developers to create the next big thing. Each of these industries benefit greatly from the work that Palm Beach Tech is doing.

But back to the event. As each of the honorees stepped up to accept their Golden Palm Awards they all told their stories of live and work in Palm Beach County. And then the event broke up to individual celebrations, official and unofficial after-parties.

I left the awards with a feeling of pride of what is being accomplished with Palm Beach Tech, as well as gratitude to Joe Russo and the Palm Beach Tech Association team all the work they have done over the last 5 years to bring us here.

David Bates, Cam Collins, Frank Barbato, Gabriel Goldstein, Alan Murphy, Michael Fowler, and Joe Russo – Board Members who Palm Beach Tech Association’s Award for Meritorious Service

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