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The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Charity Navigator's Cross-Country Tour: Florida

Each week, Charity Navigator “stops” in a new state to feature a few of the highly-rated organizations serving the people, communities, and environment there. This week we’re heading south from Delaware and making our way to Florida.

We’re featuring ten of Florida’s top organizations, but the state is home to more than 370 highly-rated charities. You can find them using Charity Navigator’s Advanced Search Tool.

Protecting and restoring our blue planet

The Florida Aquarium's mission since opening in 1995 is to entertain, educate and inspire stewardship about our natural environment. The Aquarium astounds visitors with the beauty and fragility of our eco-system. The facility is home to more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals. It serves as a significant example of Florida's commitment to preserving native landscapes, ecosystems, historical and archaeological sites, and ethnic and cultural traditions representative of the diverse geography unique to our state. The Aquarium has provided cultural enrichment experiences to more than 800,000 visitors, including 100,000 school students and 1,000 teachers.

Miami City Ballet (Miami Beach, FL)
Presenting and promoting ballet

Founded in 1985 by Edward Villella and Toby Ansin, Miami City Ballet (MCB) is among the largest ballet companies in the United States. MCB's active repertoire has 88 ballets, including nine world premieres; the Company has toured all over the United States and with this season's touring included, will have danced in more than 100 U.S. cities. Internationally, MCB has performed in Europe, Great Britain, South America, Central America, and Israel. Miami City Ballet School, opened on Miami Beach in January 1993, trains students for a professional career in ballet. The School has an enrollment of 375 students, and no child of talent is turned away for lack of funds. The Company's Education program is experienced by thousands of young people annually.

Boca Helping Hands (Boca Raton, FL)
Together we can make a difference

Boca Helping Hands (BHH) mission is to provide food, medical, and financial assistance to meet basic human needs as well as education, job training, and guidance to create self-sufficiency. Operating since 1998, BHH serves lunch six days a week, Monday to Saturday and a Thursday Night Family Dinner; Distributes over 5,000 pantry bags monthly to qualified individuals, Reaching over 1,000 elementary students through BHH Backpacks with 6 meals and 2 snacks for 33 weekends during the school year; Job Mentoring Program helps clients through computer classes, resume building, and online job searches; Job Training Programs include: Hospitality, Home Health Aide; CDL (Commercial Driver's License), Call Center Representative, and IT Help Desk Technician; Resource Center helps qualified Boca residents in crisis situations with limited financial help, budget planning and referrals to other agencies; Children's Assistance Program (CAP) helps working parents with summer camp and daycare.

1000 Friends of Florida (Tallahassee, FL)
☆☆☆ + Impact
Building better communities and saving special places

The state's leading not-for-profit smart growth advocacy organization, 1000 Friends of Florida is building better communities and saving special places in one of the fastest growing states in the nation. We promote vibrant, sustainable, walkable, livable communities which provide residents with affordable housing choices and transportation alternatives. We work to protect natural lands that cleanse and store fresh water needed for residents, agriculture and the environment, provide refuge for wildlife, and support abundant recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. Above all, we strive to give citizens a meaningful role in shaping the futures of their communities and state.

Suncoast Humane Society (Englewood, FL)
Finding a new friend couldn’t be easier

Suncoast Humane Society (SHS) exists to reduce the numbers of homeless animals and improve the quality of human life through animal companionship. Founded in 1971 as the Animal Aid Society of Englewood, SHS operates one of the few open admissions shelters in Florida. We accept all animals brought to us by the public, regardless of health or temperament. Medical and behavioral staff evaluates each animal for adoptability. Healthy animals with stable temperaments and good behavior patterns are recommended for adoption. There is no time limit set on their stay, barring serious illness or aggressive behavior. Our wonderful group of Foster Home volunteers, along with our Pet Placement Partners (Breed Rescues), help to make these policies possible.

Exploring, explaining, and conserving the world of tropical plants

Founded in 1938 on an 83-acre site south of Miami, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden works to save tropical plant diversity by exploring, explaining and conserving the world of tropical plants. Fundamental to this task is inspiring a greater knowledge and love for plants and gardening so that all can enjoy the beauty and bounty of the tropical world. Assembling and maintaining an outstanding botanical collection has always been a fundamental part of the institution's existence. The Garden has also emphasized the expansion of plant knowledge through publications, education programs, and research in taxonomy, floristics, conservation biology and ethno-botany. Today, Fairchild is the region's leading source of environmental, horticultural and botanical education.

Preventing child abuse. Protecting children. Restoring lives.

Founded in 1998, the Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center works to prevent child abuse and neglect, protect children in Okaloosa and Walton Counties, and restore the lives of child abuse and neglect victims. The Center provides services which prevent child abuse; reduce the trauma of sexual and physical abuse; protect and treat child abuse victims and their families while holding offenders accountable; and restore the lives and futures of abused, neglected, and drug endangered children and their families. Direct services include crisis intervention, mental health counseling, providing for the needs of children (clothes, food), and case management.

Mote Marine Laboratory (Sarasota, FL)
Advancing the science of the sea since 1955

What started as a one-woman operation in 1955, Mote Marine Laboratory is now home to more than 200 staff members, including 36 Ph.D. scientists who lead their respective fields. Mote research has expanded to include twenty-four diverse research programs today. These diverse and impressive research programs make Mote a world-class scientific enterprise. Coupled with this expansive breadth of research, Mote focuses on strengthening conservation efforts as well as public education and outreach. Mote's mission is to advance marine and environmental sciences through scientific research, education and public outreach, leading to new discoveries, revitalization and sustainability of our oceans and greater public understanding of our marine resources.

The Florida Orchestra (St. Petersburg, FL)
Listen to the soundtrack to a life well lived

The mission of The Florida Orchestra is to enrich the life of the Tampa Bay area as it inspires, entertains and educates a wide and diverse audience with the unique experience of live symphonic music, ensuring that future generations will continue to enjoy this legacy that so magnificently celebrates the human spirit. Founded as the Florida Gulf Coast Symphony in 1968, the orchestra was established by representatives of the Tampa Philharmonic and the St. Petersburg Symphony, who merged the two cultural institutions. The Florida Orchestra is recognized as Tampa Bay's leading performing arts institution, one of the leading professional symphony orchestras in Florida, and one of the best orchestras in America.

Orlando Museum of Art (Orlando, FL)
☆☆☆ + Impact
Enriching the cultural life of Florida

The Mission of the Orlando Museum of Art is to inspire creativity, passion and intellectual curiosity by connecting people with art and new ideas.

Don’t forget you can use Charity Navigator’s Advanced Search Tool to find even more highly-rated Florida charities.

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