We've had a great response to the Newsmaker interview we did with Albert Ruesga, president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. So before interest in post-recovery Katrina efforts begins to fade, we'd like to take a moment to publicize a new program just announced by the foundation.
The Community IMPACT Program will award $1 million in grants in six areas -- arts and culture, children and youth, civic engagement and nonprofit support, education, health, and human and social services -- to nonprofit organizations serving the thirteen-parish Greater New Orleans metro region. According a press release issued by the foundation, the ultimate goal of the program is "to create a resilient, sustainable, vibrant, and equitable region in which individuals and families flourish and in which the special character of the New Orleans region and its people is preserved, celebrated, and given the means to develop."
More from the release:
Who can apply?
Nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations that serve the Greater New Orleans region. Organizations that are not tax-exempt but have a fiscal agent relationship with a 501(c)(3) organization are also eligible.
How to apply?
- Submit a two- to three-page Letter of Intent by September 22, 2009. To review what the Letter of Intent should include, click here. Hard copies of the information can also be picked up at the Greater New Orleans Foundation offices, 1055 St. Charles Avenue, Suite 100. GNOF will review all Letters of Intent and will notify organizations invited to complete a full application by October 12, 2009.
- Those invited to submit a full application will be asked to submit their proposals by November 2, 2009. Awards will be announced by December 11, 2009.
Obviously, this is good news for the region and for nonprofits working to serve those who live there. But as Tony Pipa, a frequent contributor to PhilanTopic, reminded me in a comment he made in an earlier thread, there's a lot left to do. Writes Tony:
[W]hile I think there have been particular instances of philanthropy performing admirably, I think there is also much room for improvement in that response overall, and I hope that the sector takes an unvarnished look at its response and learns from the lessons. In regards to federal involvement, it's not so much whether there will continue to be support, but how that support is deployed and whether it gets to the people, businesses, and communities that really need it.
In answer to your question, many foundations (even some of the ones you mention) are wrapping up their commitments in the Gulf Coast, figuring that they've "done their part" for the recovery. If they take a second look at the Gulf Coast, though, I think they'd recognize that with the amount of creative community-problem solving going on, there are many lessons for them to learn by investing there that they could apply in other places. It requires looking at New Orleans and the Coast with new eyes, not as a region still trying to recover from crisis but as one looking to the future with energy and innovation....
We all know that foundations and individual donors were hit hard by the financial crisis. And while portfolios have recovered some of their losses and the economy may be bottoming, the future is uncertain. As Tony suggests, however, it is way too early to declare "Mission accomplished" in the Gulf. "Full recovery," still years away, should be our starting point, not a final goal. The "region was poor before the storms," Ruesga told me when I spoke to him. "The city suffered from so-called white flight in the '70s and '80s, and the region as a whole, being largely rural, suffered from years of public underinvestment."
I don't know about you, but I believe the affluent and well-to-do have done just fine over the last thirty years. It's time we turned our attention and really invested -- in thoughtful, creative, and sustainable ways -- in the poor and most vulnerable among us.