As founder and director of MIAMI SOUP, Carl Hildebrand secured funding from the Knight Foundation in order to award micro-grants for social innovation projects.
Carl brought to Miami this unique international funding model which is a non-bureaucratic format for the implementation of change at the local level. Launched on May 1st, 2014 in Soya & Pomodoro’s historic Great Hall, the sold out event concluded with the first grant going to a mobile theatrical production.
Carl is also the founder and director of PechaKucha Miami, and more recently Public Programs Manager at The Wolfsonian-FIU.
Why did you decide to build a life in Miami?
First I realized that I had developed an invaluable personal and professional network while studying at the University of Miami. I found Miami’s complexity and diversity a wonderful asset. Also, the fact that the city fosters creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit made move me to call Miami home.
What does your initiative aim to do? How was it founded?
MIAMI SOUP aims to do three things.
Provide independent funding for local projects. MIAMI SOUP eliminates the anonymity of Internet funding and directly connects the funder to project manager allowing people to not only give money, but lend a hand.
Spark a dialogue about the availability of private and public funding. MIAMI SOUP is a micro-grant that helps people get projects started. The adage that “you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great” applies here.
As well as serve as fertile ground for seeds of change. Unfettered by the restrictions laid out by private and governmental grants, MIAMI SOUP is free to award and help implement projects.
Describe a challenge you overcame to get to where you are today.
In the mid-nineties, I had a vision to be Miami’s go to real estate agent for buying and selling U.S. Green Building Council certified residential and commercial properties. In less than six years, the real estate market bust changed conditions so much so that interest in green building and projects stopped. This made me reconsider my career direction in real estate and develop my interest in social innovation.
How did you end up collaborating with your team?
I am growing the organization slowly and have been fortunate to have two founding board members, Jill C. Weisberg and Mark Lesniak, who are both friends and fellow civic engagement, social innovation, and city revitalization advocates. Corinna Moebius with People Place Connect will be joining the MIAMI SOUP board this month.
What does your team mean to you?
Jill and Mark are integral collaborators, connectors, and are solution driven. These attributes facilitate and widen the scope of all projects under our purview.
How has Miami impacted who you are today?
The vivaciousness of the city and its natural surroundings inspire me to live in the moment and for the wants and needs of others.
What do you love the most about how Miami is being redefined?
It is exciting that Miami is willing to take on risk and evolve into a more vibrant, harmonious and compassionate city. Miami has become a world-class city and mirrors the ever growing resilience, idealism and divergent personality of its citizenry.
Any innovation advancement you are working on?
I am interested in social innovation and a significant part of that is partnering with other organizations that have similar goals. I hope to develop a MIAMI SOUP app which connects people and tracks the projects funded through MIAMI SOUP.
What’s the most gratifying aspect of what you are trying to achieve? And the most grating?
It is most gratifying to bring people together in peace, understanding and common vision to help realize someone’s dream for a better Miami through a micro-grant.
It is grating for me not to be able to micro-fund everyone.
What wisdom would you share with your younger self?
Most the skills, knowledge, and wisdom needed for success won’t come from the classroom or textbook.
What community issue keeps you up at night?
There is a fair amount of fragmentation and isolation of people within Miami. I ask myself, “What technology or which local community service can I better utilize to resolve social issues?”
Describe your ideal Miami. Why are those qualities important to you?
The ideal Miami is more patient and collaborative. She would foster a greater sense of common identity for sharing ideas and compassion within her circle of people. This would ultimately offset the fragmentation and isolation usually found in big cities.