Our mission is to provide valuable ARISE life skills and staff training to at-risk youth and the adults who care for them. We enable youth of all ages, and young adults to achieve their highest potential as law abiding citizens through ARISE group sessions conducted by well trained, caring ARISE Facilitators.
“Life skills are not hereditary; they must be taught. With this in mind, we dedicate ourselves to building social and emotional fitness in youth and young adults.”
— Edmund And Susan Benson, Founders Of ARISE Foundation
The History of ARISE
Edmund and Susan Benson, Founders
Edmund F. Benson was born in Boston in 1929 and attended school there. Impatient to do his part during World War II, at age 14 he joined the Massachusetts State Guard. One month after his 16th birthday, he joined the U.S. Merchant Marine. Three years later, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. At age 21, he established a sales organization which grew into a chain of 18 furniture rental showrooms with locations stretching from Boston to Austin, TX. In 1972 he moved his business headquarters and family to South Florida. Since his retirement in 1982, he has devoted 100 percent of his time and energy to making the world safe for children. Susan Benson, M.S. Ed., was born in New York in 1942 and attended school there. She has been an educator with over 30 years of experience teaching learning challenging children and young adults.
In 1986, the Bensons established a non-profit foundation, ARISE Foundation, which through its Anti-Pollution Committee alerted, educated and badgered residents and government representatives of the severe environmental problems being caused by Dade County's garbage incinerator. The facility, built without serious health considerations, was emitting unacceptable levels of toxic pollutants.
The primary focus of ARISE Foundation at that time was environmental education. Edmund and Susan Benson directed many of their activities toward our schools--in Dade County, throughout the nation and the world--to reach the maximum number of people who can achieve short and long-term impact on the threats to life and health of our throw-away, chemically-oriented society.
“Edmund became to South Florida what Rachel Carson became to America: an endearing workaholic who spent every waking hour committed to protecting our beautiful and delicate environment, to ensure that today's children and their children inherit a healthy community. This truly motivated man made a fundamental commitment, through his personal convictions and intellectual integrity, from which everyone benefits” -The Miami Herald Spirit of Excellence Award, Sept. 11, 1990.
Edmund F. Benson: At-Risk Kid
As a child, Eddie (his name back then) was a “troublemaker.” That’s what they called at-risk youth when he was growing up. Parents would warn their children, “Stay away from that Benson boy; he is bad news.” Fortunately, drug use was not as common in those days and crime wasn’t an option in his family circle. Committing a crime would have been as remote an option as planning to eat lunch on the moon. It is sad to say, but Eddie’s home life was miserable. There was no love or understanding. His family looked at him as a loser, a dropout, and a rebel. In their eyes, he couldn’t do anything right. At school life was no better for Eddie. The teachers would use whips (long, hard pieces of bamboo) to beat him over his hands and body to control him. That did not work.
Eddie was not destined for higher education. He joined the Massachusetts State Guard at the age of 14 and the Massachusetts National Guard at 15. He quit school at 16 and enlisted in the US Merchant Marines at the tail end of World War II. His first trip on a freighter lasted six months and went to South America, Africa and Germany. The ship was populated with people who were either dishonorably discharged from the US Armed Forces or hadn’t been allowed to enlist in the service due to their prison records. They were tough characters. His adventurers could fill a book, including one where he was totally lost one night in the kasbah in Casablanca, North Africa. It was common for Americans to be killed just for their shoes in that area. After the Merchant Marines, Eddie joined the US Army Engineers where he got his GED. He received an honorable discharge when his enlistment time was up . Here is a picture of Eddie at 16, in front of his ship docked in Buenos Aires, and in Argentina at age 20, in the US Army Engineers.
At age 21, Eddie started his own business selling pots and pans door to door. In those days he was referred to as a custom peddler. He realized if he was going to be successful with his limited education, he would have to work twice as hard as those with high school diplomas and college degrees. That’s what he calls his “two-day-a-day work ethic.” Eddie (now called Edmund) still works no less than 16 hours a day, seven days a week. This entrepreneur built a successful business that stretched from Boston, MA to Austin, TX and at age 52 he retired.
He left the world of commerce with a single purpose—to share the life skills he learned (the hard way) that led to his success. Fortunately, Edmund met and married the love of his life, Susan, an educator with a master’s degree, and between them they have written over 125 books that teach life skills to at-risk young people (like Eddie as a child). They have created a complete resource center for at-risk boys and girls and young adults. When developing these lessons, they made sure that there were no hard-to-understand words, no run-on sentences, no small type or tiny line spaces that restricted those with difficulty reading. Every word and lesson has been created to be interactive, interesting, and informative. As a dropout himself, Edmund understands that these problems are exactly what caused him to explode with frustration and anger in a classroom setting. In 1986, the Bensons established ARISE Foundation.
Many circumstances create at-risk youth. Some have been traumatized by violence; some have been abandoned, abused, or mistreated; others suffer with addictions to drugs or alcohol. All of them worry about what’s next in their lives. It doesn’t require a crystal ball to see that with a limited education, they are most likely to be unemployed, involved in crime, in need of state-funded medical care, or on welfare. This is not a pretty picture. The Bensons feel misery has enough company.
As a former at-risk kid, Edmund feels he was born to provide the lessons he and his wife wrote to turn these at-risk children away from a more serious criminal path. This is why they devote their lives to writing life-skills lessons and training staff members and volunteers to teach ARISE groups to at-risk children, ARISE trains teachers, juvenile care officers, mental health workers, church parishioners, youth care workers or anyone working with troubled at-risk youngsters. After all, little Eddie wanted nothing more than love, understanding, and someone to show him what it takes to get ahead in a society that demands good character, education, and law abiding behavior.
Edmund F. Benson: Productive Member of Society
The Many Journeys of ARISE
The “Miami Monster”
Benson was shocked into action due to health-damaging concerns created by Dade County’s solid waste incinerator. After alerting the public and officials of environmental perils caused by fallout from one of the largest municipal waste incinerators in the world, local media lauded him for his “bulldog tenacity”. Benson has received the enthusiastic endorsement of his neighbors Senators and Members of Congress, as well as the Mayor and Board of Dade County Commissioners.
Describing the incinerator as "working toward our own extinction", Benson battled on and off for 10 years to get the County to clean up its act. First, he convinced officials to terminate its contract with the builder-operator of this waste-burning plant. He led parents and children on protest marches; collected 10,000 signatures on petitions demanding change. Using vivid aerial photographs, he fixed the public eye on the disease-laden facility where garbage rotted in the outdoor sun and airborne ash containing heavy metals, with the potential for causing serious illness, spewed from superheated incinerator stacks. He designed and executed hard-hitting mail campaigns, and conducted surveys demonstrating that, tragically, his neighbors felt better and their health dramatically improved once they distanced themselves from their homes to breathe cleaner air.
His "Gruesome Times" newsletter, contains "All the garbage that's fit to print". Its screaming environmental graphics demand attention, as he speaks and writes in word pictures: "What has become an urban rite--the thoughtless incineration of society's castoffs...A foul acid rain falls constantly over South Florida while mysterious maladies send the sick searching aimlessly for healers as we continue breathing untrustworthy air...The County was slowly contaminating our health and environment. What's worse, they declined responsibility for it."
Politicians hemmed and hawed, saying they didn't know where the problem required attention-- local, federal or state. Residents, however, knew that dangerous toxic substances mixed with nauseating odors, was filling homes with foul air. Ring-around-the-collar was no joke--suspended ash particles, smoke and soot caused it. Following Benson's investigations in Washington, Tallahassee and Dade County, Florida's Department of Environmental Regulation directed Dade County to eliminate the problem.
When County officials ran up the white flag, in February, 1986, and were ready to act, Benson gave them his list of improvements to be made:
1) Drain the leachate ponds, containing millions of gallons of contaminated water used in the incineration process, mixed and muddied with garbage ash and health-destroying bacteria, plus discarded toxic chemicals, killer biological pollutants and powerful industrial waste;
2) Remove hundreds of thousands of discarded auto and truck tires behind the incinerator plant (a fire hazard plus breeding ground for a year-round crop of mosquitoes;
3) Test for dioxin, the deadly part of Agent Orange which is emitted into the air as garbage is burned and is considered 10,000 times more deadly than strychnine, so preventing even short-term exposure is essential.
It was agreed that testing for dioxins would commence after new boilers were installed. Benson himself tossed the last remaining junk tire onto a dump truck in 1988. A new sewer system was laid, the poisonous leachate ponds drained and contamination of his neighborhood's drinking water from this source ended. Next, air cleaning devices and the Best Available Control Technology acid-gas scrubbers and filters were installed to stop poison emissions from the Miami Monster's stacks--a testimony to Benson's now-renowned patience and perseverance.
A Smashing Victory…and Then Some
In tandem with the improvements to the incinerator, Benson gained the creation of three Metro-Dade County task forces:
1) To monitor operations and improvements so the incinerator could, “Never again be allowed to run out of control”, and keep tabs on the millions of dollars being spent rebuilding and refurbishing the plant.
2) A countywide Recycling Task Force to educate municipalities and residents to "Stop the throw-away lifestyle were hooked on" (7-1/2 pounds of trash per person daily). As an outgrowth of Benson's task force, Dade County now has the largest curbside recycling program in the United States--265,000 homes.
3) Subsequently, the Metro-Dade Environmental Awareness Advisory Task Force was created with the help of County Commissioner (Sen.) Sherman S. Winn. Chaired by Benson since its inception, emphasizes improving indoor air quality. It's major recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners have been to eliminate smoking in all County vehicles and facilities (Including the air and sea ports); establish an Integrated Pest Management program; conduct lead testing in all County facilities and creation of an annual Lead Awareness Week to alert citizens of steps to eliminate exposure to this toxin; abolish use of legal-size paper, procure two-sided copiers, and establish a "Buy recycled products" policy.
With a goal of enlisting every elementary school student across America (and around the globe), Susan saw Dade County Public Schools, 4th largest school district in the nation, as the logical climate for this innovative program to bloom and flourish. ENVIRO-COPS were 225,000 strong, the largest green police force on the Planet! On Earth Day1992, a special cable television presentation of the Dade County School Board swore in 173,000 youngsters in their
ENVIRO-COPS were mostly elementary school youngsters who pledge to protect their own Environment and nature’s environment by arresting waste and policing pollution. ENVIRO-COPS were dedicated to saving our world and their future by conserving our limited resources.
How do you get kids excited about this? By developing their awareness of the importance of self-esteem. By presenting strong messages of "Great Expectations" in two-hour entertainment spectaculars featuring clever, original songs, clowns, skits and successful role models delivering esteem-building messages the kids can relate to.
Success of the program is obvious. With its first effort in a hotel ballroom (500 youngsters), ENVIRO-COPS extravaganzas subsequently have rocked the walls of Miami Arena (with 14,000 Dade County Public School students) and the James L. Knight Center in downtown Miami, where 5,000 second-through-sixth graders in the process of becoming leaders took the ENVIRO-COPS Oath. ARISE Foundation provided membership and pledge cards, "Environmental Alerts", flyers, posters and ongoing educational programs at absolutely no charge to students.
The ENVIRO-COPS' stunning success also can be attributed to partnerships the Bensons have developed--with school system administrators, principals, teachers, students and every aspect of the Metro-Dade government. Metro-Dade Police Department's Law Enforcement Trust Fund awarded ARISE Foundation/ENVIRO-COPS $15,000 in 1991 to further its work, followed by a $60,000 grant for an ENVIRO-COPS comic book to teach 100,000 children that "Drugs and crime are a waste of time". In addition County Commissioners authorized $75,000 for a school system coordinator of the growing project and the 3rd Annual Great Expectations Awards presentations. ENVIRO-COPS also have the complete support of the County's Department of Environmental Resources Management--DERM's Director John Renfrow is the top ENVIRO-COP. Even Vice President Al Gore put on an ENVIRO-COPS badge during a 1992 visit to Miami.
From the birth of the ENVIRO-COP concept, Attorney General Janet Reno (then Dade County's State Attorney) played the role of mentor. Without the help of this exceptional woman, ENVIRO-COPS would have been just another good idea.
We're Not Quitting
ENVIRO-COPS promise to reduce excess consumption by re-using and recycling; purchase ecologically-safe products (not harmful or over-packaged ones), track down booby traps at home where little brothers and sisters could poison, drown, burn or otherwise harm themselves; check batteries in smoke alarms, etc. (with an adult, of course), consume "Friendly Foods" (not junk foods), say "NO" to drugs, guns, alcohol, tobacco and other harmful activities that threaten their future, continue their environmental education and share their knowledge with friends and family.
At the Bensons’ urging, Dade County Public Schools established an ENVIRO-COPS Hotline, (995-COPS) for students to get answers to recycling and environmental questions. ENVIRO-COPS also has its own inter-school mail code (9999-ENVIRO-COPS), making it easy for kids to communicate.
ENVIRO-COPS Clubs and ENVIRO-MENTORS
In 1992, Edmund and Susan Benson developed the exciting, new ENVIRO-COPS Guidebook and Lesson Plans, a 250-page, illustrated comprehensive teaching tool suitable for use in every school system in the United States. With it, select high school and college volunteers, ENVIRO-MENTORS, from Florida International University and the University of Miami guide Dade County's more than 225,000 ENVIRO-COPS through a detailed environmental education course at weekly ENVIRO-COPS Club meetings.
With the Metro-Dade grant, the ENVIRO-MENTORS concept is training these young adults to teach ENVIRO-COPS about everything from "Friendly Foods" (high-fiber, low in fat, salt and sugar), good health habits and personal safety, to "Looking For Trouble" that could cause harm to younger brothers and sisters at home, and conducting "Environmental Audits" in their neighborhood to pinpoint potential sources of danger. Actually, they're teaching the environmental facts of life for the '90s and beyond.
An exciting project for 1993: A 16-page full-color comic book featuring the exploits of Marvel Comics' superheroine Namorita and Dade County's own superheroes--ENVIRO-COPS, of course--helping teach all elementary school kids the dangers of guns, drugs, tobacco and alcohol in a medium they enjoy. With a $60,000 grant from Metro-Dade Police Department's Law Enforcement Trust Fund, the text encouraged youngsters to recognize police as the kid-friendly people ENVIRO-COPS can approach for support when needed.
One of Edmund and Susan Bensons' maxims is "We're doing what you'd be doing if you had the time." ENVIRO-MENTORS become the role models kids can easily relate to as they learn their way through the minefield of dangers they face every day.
"Our message is empowerment--that elementary school students can change things and have an impact on their world." ENVIRO-COPS is a living, breathing multitude of young people (starting in 2nd grade when minds are eager to learn) who are littering less, saving more and--most important--developing the "I can make a difference" feeling!
"The Facts of Life" on Cable TV
In 1991, Benson initiated a 24-episode, weekly, hour-long, call-in television series promoting the ENVIRO-COPS message. It answered youngsters' (and their parents') safety, health and environmental questions on Cable-TAP Channel 35, the Dade County Schools' educational network which reaches 320,000 homes. "The Facts of Life for the 90s and Beyond", provided an opportunity to enhance viewers' understanding of the critical need to protect their own well-being and the environment.
The Bensons co-hosted the program with a different student each week, plus experts in such fields as recycling, food irradiation, cosmetics, pesticides, AIDS, sun dangers, violent toys, alcoholism, poison prevention, recycling and thrift as a viable alternative lifestyle, etc.
The program broke station records every week for call-in responses, encouraged by Benson's outlines to principals and teachers at participating schools earlier in the week. Teachers used the show for classroom discussion and homework assignments on the important topics. Benson even brought in an interpreter so the hearing impaired could enjoy and participate in the program via telephone.
Enviro Cops Bus
In 1996 Miami Dade Transit Authority Dedicated a bus painted in Enviro-Cops colors and logo. This alerted 2 million plus residents on ARISE’s goal of making the world safe for children.
The Dade County School Board Nutrition Task Force
Marveling at the poor quality and makeup of school food Susan Benson saw in the Dade County Public Schools (she taught the hearing impaired), the Bensons convinced the Dade Parent-Teacher Association and the Dade County School Board to establish this entity to look at all aspects of school food--quality, preparation, service, ambience. Both have been members of the Task Force.
Largely through contacts with the American Cancer Society, Florida Division, and the National Cancer Institute, Dade County Schools were chosen to participate in a pilot study, "to alert children at an early age of the importance of wise food choices, and to motivate them to adopt health-promoting eating patterns that will serve them throughout their lives." Only eight schools in America were given this honor.
Food Service Worker Awards
In the process of working with this group, another area of the schools' food program caught their attention--the dedicated, untiring efforts of cafeteria personnel. The majority of these workers (middle-aged women, often the sole support for their families), were doing difficult work with no real benefits or acknowledgement. "If food service workers are happy, mealtime can be fun in the public schools," he thought, and in 1989 established the annual Dade County Schools Food Service Worker Awards. Benson arranged it all, including $5,000 in cash awards to those selected for their outstanding contribution to improving quality and service in their school lunchrooms.
1989-90 Recycling Awards
It took over two years but ARISE Foundation, working with Dade County School personnel, put together the largest recycling program of any school system in America, culminated by presentation of the McAliley-Ruvin Environmental Awards (named in honor of School Board Chair Janet McAliley and then-Dade County Commissioner Harvey Ruvin): $10,000 for students and schools collecting the most recyclables. In addition to cash awards, ARISE arranged for an expense-paid, spectacular day trips to Disney World for six busloads of students from the winning senior, middle and elementary schools.
Friendsday/Friendship Games were held annually since 1985. Between 1,500 and 2,000 Dade County residents take part with celebrities in fun, games, food and drink--a day of acceptance for individuals with mental health problems. "What better way to show that we as a community care?" That was Edmund F. Benson's question in proposing creating of Friendsday to the Board on which he served at the Northwest Dade Center, one of the largest community mental health centers in Dade County.
Mario Jardon, executive director of the Center, said the special day "had become the single most important event in the history of Dade County's mental health community."
Police Departments teach ARISE’s Law Enforcement Curricula
In 1994 the following police departments used the ARISE Law Enforcement curricula: Miami-Dade County, City of Miami, Key Biscayne, Florida City, Coral Gables, Hialeah. Children learn whose your friend when there’s trouble.
Countywide Safety Event Weeks
Every year since 1993, ARISE has conducted countywide annual events dealing with crucial issues that affect the safety and well being of our youngsters. In 1993 we began with Lead Awareness week and as of the year 2,000 ARISE has developed 12 different safety events. In 1998 they reached 191,298 kids with their weekly events. Events cover the following topics: poison prevention, anti-graffiti, success, stranger safety, violence reduction, electrical safety, substance abuse and guns, burn awareness, health awareness and lead awareness. These events were supported by the following entities: Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Jackson Memorial Hospital Poison Prevention Center, Florida Power and Light, Miami-Dade Fire Department and Miami-Dade Police Department.
A non-judgmental listening program for at-risk and incarcerated juveniles. In 1995 this program began by recruiting volunteers from psychology classes, social work programs in Colleges and University. The volunteers were trained and placed as listeners in Department of Juvenile Justice facilities.
Holiday Card Recycling Program
In 1995 ARISE created a holiday greeting card program in partnership with Miami-Dade County Government. Over a million Christmas cards were collected. They were sorted, cut and reassembled by handicapped people and incarcerated youths at Metro-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation facilities. These cards were given to those in nursing homes, school children and indigent families in Miami Dade County that would not be able to afford to get cards.
Six videos were produced to be used with our elementary life lessons. The topics were guns, poison look-a-likes, stranger safety, drugs, graffiti, and where the waste goes. These videos were produced in cooperation with Miami-Dade county public schools and Miami Dade County government.
Kids Need to Know TV Show
In 1997 ARISE produced a total of 12 one hour TV shows on channel 17 directed to middle school populations. It was a live audience show discussing life issues such as drugs, guns, safety smarts, staying in school and much more.
Metro-Dade Parks Use the ARISE Life Skills Programs
Beginning in 1995 the Metro-Dade Parks taught life skills in their summer parks programs.
ARISE Life Skills is Born
Since 1986 ARISE Foundation has developed over 40 different social skill curricula teaching over 260 different live skill topics to children from ages 0 (through parenting programs) through high school. In the beginning, lessons stressed environmental issues. Topics such as anger management, conflict resolution, skills for finding and keeping a job, health and hygiene, gangs, importance of staying in school and self esteem are just some of the life skills offered.
ARISE has written the programs, administered it to all ages, monitored the progress and evaluate the end results. These life lessons have been utilized in day school, after school programs, alternative schools, secured Juvenile justice facilities, halfway houses, day treatment programs, probation programs, parks and recreation departments, summer camps.
ARISE Begins Work with Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.
Beginning in 1996 the Department of Juvenile Justice started using all of ARISE Life Skills programs in their major facilities throughout the state of Florida. The Juvenile population in Florida received approximately 13,000 hours of life skill instruction weekly. We started with 18 facilities and in 2010 serviced over 100 facilities.
Nursing Students Volunteer Program at Department of Juvenile Justice Facilities
Volunteer nursing students taught the ARISE health curriculum evenings and weekends.
STD Video Produced
In 1998 ARISE staff was trained by specialists from the University of Miami’s School of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology on STD’s and HIV. Using very graphic slides and the expertise of May Goins, a nurse from the Black Nurses Association, we produced a lesson plan and video that was used throughout Department of Juvenile Justice facilities.
Inner City Games uses ARISE Life Skills
To keep middle school students busy after school and in the summer, Inner City Games a recreational program began using ARISE social skills lessons in their summer camp during the summer of 1998. Other Inner City Games in other states used ARISE’s life skills programs dealing with anger management, violence and conflict and self-esteem.
After a youngster has completed the ARISE Life skills program, they take the information to go. They teach the same life lessons they learned to others in their neighborhoods.
Partnering with the Faith Network
Starting in 1998 ARISE Foundation trained groups from local churches to administer the ARISE Life Skills Programs to their young parishioners.
ARISE On Stage Playlets
ARISE wrote and produced plays that were incorporated into the life skills curriculum at the Department of Juvenile Justice facilities. The entire facility was invited to watch these productions. This was learning a fun way.
ARISE Training Programs
ARISE provides training for staff that provides tools to create a more positive work environment and tools to empower youth to make better life choices. ARISE offers a two-day -life skills training, a five day “Drop it at the Door: Anger and Stress Management Training training, a five day Master Life Skills Training and gender awareness training. In addition, ARISE conducted on-line webinars to reinforce learning.
ARISE in District of Columbia
Since 2004, ARISE has provided Skills Training to over 130 facilities in Washington DC and has certified over 1,000 ARISE Life-Skills Group facilitators. In 2009, ARISE received funding from the Justice Grants Administration to conduct a pilot project called ARISE for Change. This project combined the concepts of Motivational Interviewing (MI) with the ARISE Drop it at the Door Training and was used with staff and youth.
ARISE Life Skills curricular and training is being utilized around the world. The ministry of education in Bermuda has used ARISE life skills and we have trained 20 master trainers so that the program can continue without us actually being there. ARISE Foundation, an organization in Uganda, is doing ARISE group sessions. We worked with a woman in Cambodia to bring ARISE Life Skill lessons to young girls involved in sex trafficking.
Today, ARISE Foundation is a thriving organization with a small but dynamic team including the tireless founders of ARISE who continue to create and push the organization forward.
We realized the necessity of on-line training, so ARISE Life skills Training and the Drop it at the Door: Anger and Stress Management Training for staff is in an online format and can be accessed from anywhere there is a computer and internet.
Because we recognize the value of Internet marketing, ARISE designed a web store (www.at-riskyouth.org ) that provides descriptions, tables of content, and graphics on our books. In addition, the website gives background information on Arise, including our mission, credentials, and awards. People all over the world can now have access to our curriculum materials and staff training. ARISE is now self-sustaining through the sale of its curriculum products and staff training.
-- Sept. 1, 1988: In recognition of his spirit and environmental concerns, Dade County Commissioners designated N.W. 97th Avenue in Miami "Edmund F. Benson Boulevard". The same day, Mayor Steven Clark proclaimed the observance of Edmund F. Benson Day in Dade County. Benson received a Proclamation which was read into the Congressional Record, extolling the manner in which this dedicated man serves his county and his country.
--Jan. 29, 1989, Washington, D.C.: Elected to the Executive Board of the Committee for a National Recycling Policy.
--Feb. 6, 1989: Invited to serve on the Dade County School District's new Environmental Awareness Advisory Committee, charged with reviewing all construction material specifications to reduce the amounts of formaldehydes, trichloro-ethylenes and benzenes in materials, furnishings and other school equipment. He is now its Chair.
--April, 1989: Concerned Residents of Kendall (Miami) presented Edmund F. Benson with its Community Achievement Award for "providing significant leadership and excellence improving the quality of life in Kendall."
--April/May, 1989: Modern Maturity Magazine, a publication of 24 million subscribers, featured Benson on its "Spotlight" page for "Taming the Miami Monster", Dade County's infamous garbage incinerator.
--May 11, 1989: Voted an honorary member of the Dade County Food Service Workers Association, the first such distinction.
--Nov. 3, 1989: Elected Chairperson, Dade County Public Schools Pesticide Committee.
--Nov. 29, 1989: The Giraffe Project, Langley, WA, honored Benson with its award, for men and women who risk their comfort and serenity to do the unconventional with creativity and spirit.
--April, 1990: Appointed by Dade County Commissioners to the blue-ribbon Citizens Advisory Committee looking into the Public Health Trust and Jackson Memorial Hospital.
--April, 1990: Nominated to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Integrated Pest Management Peer Review Committee created to establish IPM programs in public schools across the country.
--May 27, 1990: Re-elected Chairman of the Environmental Committee of the Dade County Council, PTA/PTSA.
--May 31, 1990: Elected Commissioner of the Citizens Commission on School Food Nutrition, affiliated with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington, D.C.
--June 1, 1990: ARISE Foundation is awarded a National Achievement Award by the National Environmental Awards Council "Searching For Success" campaign.
--Sept. 11, 1990: The Miami Herald presented Edmund F. Benson with its prestigious "Spirit of Excellence Award" acknowledging his contributions in "making South Florida a better place to live."
--Oct. 17, 1990: Elected Chairperson of the new Dade County Environmental Advisory Task Force established to provide the Board of County Commissioners with recommendations on environmental aspects of the 1,200 County-owned and managed buildings, including the airport, seaport and the 760,000-sq.ft. Metro-Dade Center.
--Oct. 9, 1991: ARISE Foundation, the Hospital Consortium, and MedX, a medical waste disposal service, held a one-day seminar, "Environmental Enhancement Programs for the Health Care Waste Industry", informing hospitals from all of South Florida on waste reduction, recycling, indoor clean air, Integrated Pest Management, how to create their own environmental task force. Subsequently, it has been repeated with continuing success.
--Oct. 24, 1991: Miami Arena was packed with 14,000 students for ARISE Foundation's "Great Expectations" seminar featuring esteem-building role models in a half-day verbal and graphic demonstration of the "I can make a difference" attitude. Attorney General Janet Reno, then Dade's State Attorney, swore in 5,000 Safety Patrol members as ENVIRO-COPS.
--1992: President George Bush, through the National Association of County Organizations, cites ARISE Foundation as one of his "Thousand Points of Light" for its exemplary ENVIRO-COPS program.
--Feb. 24, 1992: Joined Mothers & Others for a Livable Planet in its Washington, D.C. meetings with members of Congress to emphasize concerns that current environmental policies fail to take into account the special needs of children, urging support for the Circle of Poison Prevention Act.
--Mar. 19, 1992: Elected Chairperson of Dade County Public Schools' Environmental Awareness Advisory Committee.
--April, 1992: ENVIRO-COPS and "The Facts of Life" television series were regional finalists for the 1992 Environmental Protection Agency Administrator's Award Program, selected from among numerous projects in eight states furthering the effort to "prevent pollution in all its forms to achieve and maintain a clean environment for the future."
--Apr. 2, 1992: Received the 1991-92 Dade County Public Schools' "Exemplary Dade Partners Award", for outstanding activities by a non-profit foundation (County-wide) in partnership with the schools--primarily ENVIRO-COPS and "The Facts of Life" television series this year.
--Apr. 22, 1992: 173,000 children pledged to protect the environment as ENVIRO-COPS in a County-wide televised "swearing in" ceremony during a Dade County Public Schools Board meeting.
--May 14, 1992: Metro-Dade Mayor Steve Clark declared May 19 ENVIRO-COPS Day in Dade County, saluting these youngsters who are working with Metro-Police, Metro Department of Environmental Resources Management and the County's Fire Department, learning all about conservation, waste reduction and home safety.
--May 14, 1992: 5,000 youngsters in grades 2-through-6 enjoy a "Great Expectations" seminar of entertainment and education at Miami's James L. Knight Convention Center and are sworn in as ENVIRO-COPS, enviro-smart kids pledged to protect their environment.
--May 19, 1992: Metro-Dade's Commission votes unanimously to install (Benson's) scrubbers and filters retro-fitting the incinerator--the end of a 10-year battle!
--June 22, 1992: Construction begins as a crane lifts the roof at MedX, Florida's largest hospital waste incinerator to install anti-pollution devices.
--June 24, 1992: ENVIRO-COPS received a Certificate of Environmental Achievement from Renew America, a Washington, D.C.-based national environmental organization, for its success in protecting the environment and setting "a positive example that can help other communities meet environmental challenges." The program is listed in Renew America's 1992 Environmental Success Index, the most comprehensive guide to the nation's environmental programs.
--September, 1992: Metro-Dade County votes $75,000 to fund ARISE Foundation's expansion of the ENVIRO-COPS program with ENVIRO-COPS Clubs in every elementary school, to be led by ENVIRO-MENTORS under the guidance of a full-time Dade County Public Schools coordinator.
--Oct. 13, 1992: Benson's Environmental Awareness Advisory Task Force requested a Proclamation be passed by Metro-Dade's Board of County Commissioners establishing Oct. 19-23 as Lead Awareness Week.
--Oct. 19, 1992: Major press conference in the Mayor's conference room on lead. The Skyway Elementary School's ENVIRO-COPS Chorale performed.
--Nov. 6, 1992: 600 new ENVIRO-COPS sworn in at Nova University Elementary School.
--December, 1992: $60,000 grant from the Metro-Dade Police Department's Law Enforcement Trust Fund will finance publication of 100,000 copies of a Superhero comic book, combining the exploits of Marvel Comics' Namorita and ENVIRO-COPS, to reach at-risk children in a medium they relate to with environmental, safety and health messages they can understand.
--Feb. 17, 1993: Dade County School Board, following the recommendation of its Environmental Awareness Advisory Committee, voted to drastically reduce carpeting in classrooms and throughout the entire system.
--May 1993: Choice Champion Award for adults who embody the phrase “Winner Never Gets Older”
--1995: 1995 National Poison Prevention Award presented by Jackson Memorial Poison Prevention Center for developing a program to teach kids about the poisons in their homes.
--October 1996: Miami Dade Community College Partners in Action and Learning Award- For the best agency working with the schools service learning center.
--October 1998: Dade partners Hall of Fame Award-Winner for three years in a row for the best partner in a non-profit category working with Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
--October 14, 1998: Allstate Leadership Award for State of Florida-Highest award for a program teaching inner city children safety guidelines.
--November 4, 1998: Providers Appreciation Award-from Cove Halfway House providing service above and beyond.
--March 18, 1999: Proclamation from Board of Commissioners Miami-Dade County- For educating youth on the poisons in their home. There are 5 million children poisoned a year in the United States.
--April 11, 1999: Proclamation from Board of County Commissioners Miami-Dade County- for assisting youth in developing life skills, character and ethics and safety smarts.
-- 2004 – NOVO Award Finalist, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.
--2005 – NOVO Award Finalist, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.
--2006-Present Day – ARISE had proven their worth through obtaining grant funding and evaluating their programs so it was time to become self sufficient through the sales of their products and training so they could continue to fulfill their mission of providing life skills for at-risk youth to learn to make better life choices and become productive member so of society. Their efforts to sell their products and sustain ARISE will continue in perpetuity.