Brackets for Good, a March Madness-Style Tournament, Raises Funds for Miami Charities

Children participate in the Miami Music Project, part of the Brackets for Good lineup.
Children participate in the Miami Music Project, part of the Brackets for Good lineup.
Courtesy of Miami Music Project

With every win on the court, it becomes increasingly likely that the Miami Hurricanes will punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament, better known as March Madness, or "the dance." It's exciting no matter how many times your school makes it into the 64-team tournament. For fans, there's just something about the annual tradition of putting a Sharpie to your bracket in the hopes that your selections will make it seem as if you paid attention to college basketball all season. Sadly, you're usually exposed as a know-nothing fraud early on as your teams, one by one, let you down. Bracket. Busted. Worthless piece of paper, meet waste basket.

One bracket being filled out in Miami, however, has no losers. Everyone is a winner even if they get bounced out in round one.

Brackets for Good, a bracket-style fundraising tournament that kicked off February 24 in Miami, pits nonprofit charities against one another to drum up donations. These charitable tournaments, which have raised more than $2.75 million since their inception in 2012, award the winning charity with a $10,000 championship grant. Each $1 raised equals one point, with the highest totals moving on to the next round. Those who lose, though, are left with the consolation prize of the funds they raised for a great cause.

The idea, according to the Indianapolis-based group Brackets for Good, came about just as you might have expected.

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"Brackets for Good originated from an Indianapolis basement in 2011 after Butler University fell just short of an NCAA championship for the second year in a row," Reid McDowell, Brackets for Goods partnerships and marketing director tells New Times. "The idea of Brackets for Good formed as a way to use the energy and excitement of a bracket-style tournament to help charities gain awareness, raise funds, and meet new donors — in a fun way."

As with the NCAA tournament, the Brackets for Good tournament pits higher seeds against lesser, "underdog" charities. Part of what makes March Madness practically a two-week national holiday are the annual Cinderella stories. Everyone loves an underdog, and so does Brackets for Good.

"One organization that has surprised us is A Vision of Redemption," McDowell says. "With $718 raised at the time of writing, they've raised more than any other Miami organization. What's most surprising is that they are in Division 4, which is made up of the smallest organizations in the tournament based on staff size, operating budget, etc."

The list of charities involved in the Miami tournament is vast and quite diverse. The groups include Urban Oasis Project, Up2Us Sports, the Life of Freedom Center, HandsOn Miami, Stop Hunger Inc., Red Hearts of Hope, PARK Project, and many others. Miami is just one of 11 cities across the nation hosting a Brackets for Good tournament, in which 680 nonprofits will participate.

Those who would like to see their charitable team advance in the tournament in hopes of taking home the $10,000 grand prize can donate at miami.bfg.org.


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