Fighting for Miami’s Most Vulnerable Communities Amid Climate Change

Opportunity Miami
Opportunity Miami
Published in
3 min readApr 12


This is the April 11, 2023 edition of the Opportunity Miami newsletter written by Matt Haggman, which we send every Tuesday. Click here to subscribe to get our weekly updates in your inbox.

Featured Content

Q&A: Valencia Gunder of The Smile Trust, The Black Hive
Read our interview with the community activist tackling homelessness in Miami as well as preparing vulnerable communities for climate impacts.

Event: Climate Tech Conversations — Venture Capital
Join us on April 25th for a series of panel discussions with leading climate tech investors. Sign up here.

At the recent Aspen Ideas: Climate conference, Bank of America Vice Chair Paul Donofrio declared that the transition to a sustainable, net-zero economy “will have a bigger economic impact than the industrial revolution.”

This is a transition of our entire economy — from electric vehicles to clean energy — that will drive massive opportunity.

But in making the transition, how can we make it one that includes all of our community?

One person leading the charge to make sure this new transition benefits all of Miami is entrepreneur and community activist Valencia Gunder. A great admirer of the famed activist and civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hammer, Gunder is behind The Smile Trust Inc., which helps tackle homelessness and food insecurity, and The Black Hive, which serves Black communities dealing with extreme climate and weather disasters.


Amid Miami’s growth as a center of tech and innovation, it also ranks among the most unequal metropolitan areas in the U.S. To Gunder, the community is at a pivotal moment. On the one hand, as housing prices soar, larger and larger swaths of the population are being left out. “If we keep going on this track, Miami will lose all its flavor,” Gunder said.

But, on the other hand, she said, “If we could get it together, Miami can lead the world on what a sustainable community looks like, that is inclusive, and that’s equitable.”

Gunder joined us for our latest Opportunity Miami Q&A to talk about Miami’s future.

You can read the Q&A here.


The transition to a net zero economy that Bank of America’s Donofrio said will have such an enormous impact will include both existing enterprises — from airlines to homebuilding companies — and lots of new companies. There are now a host of venture capital firms that are investing in startups in a range of economic sectors aiming to be part of a net zero future.

At the end of this month, leaders of several global-leading climate tech VCs will be in Miami. Opportunity Miami is partnering with World Climate Tech Summit for a series of panel discussions on April 25 at the University of Miami with investors from venture firms, including 2150 VC, Breakthrough Energy, Lowercarbon Capital, and VoLo Earth Ventures.

To join us on April 25 and meet leading climate tech investors, please sign up here.

Last summer, several of the VCs joined together to invest $20 million in Boca Raton-based startup Blue Frontier, which is reimagining air conditioning. You can watch our video feature with Blue Frontier here.

In previous Opportunity Miami podcasts, we have featured Christian Hernandez of 2150 VC and Clay Dumas of Lowercarbon Capital.

As ever, we would love to hear what’s on your mind. You can email us at If you were forwarded this newsletter, you can subscribe here. We also invite you to subscribe to YouTube and follow us on social media channels.