Photo of David Lawrence, Jr.^
David Lawrence Jr.

In the late 1980s, recognizing that the needs of children in Miami-Dade County far exceeded the resources and support systems available, a cadre of committed individuals spearheaded a drive to address the problem through the creation of a special taxing district. Using a Florida statute that allowed for such an initiative, the group was successful in bringing a referendum to ballot in 1988, but voters failed to pass it.

Retired Miami Herald publisher David Lawrence Jr. led the charge with a new initiative just over a decade later. Given this second opportunity and with a much better funded campaign, Miami-Dade voters in September 2002 approved the creation by a 2-1 vote of what is now The Children's Trust. One key difference between the 1988 and 2000 campaigns was that the latter emphasized a commitment to all Miami-Dade children, while still clearly recognizing that some children are more at risk and therefore need more help. A "sunset provision" required voters to decide five years later if the institution should continue to exist. Despite the difficult economic climate in 2008, 86 percent of voters reauthorized The Children's Trust on August 26.

In recognition of his tireless efforts on behalf of The Children's Trust from its inception through the successful authorization campaign, David Lawrence Jr. was awarded the honorary title of Founding Board Chair, which invites Mr. Lawrence to attend all board meetings and serve as a volunteer advisor to the organization albeit without voting status.

To learn more about The Children's Trust's history and impact over its first 20 years, download The Children's Trust 20th Anniversary Special Edition from Miami's Community News.

To learn more about our historic 2008 reauthorization, download this case study (March 2009) or view this video.