Help us help preserve our coastal communities.
Louisiana’s coast is eroding at an alarming rate of approximately one football field per hour. Moreover, the Louisiana coast faces the highest rate of sea level rise worldwide, with New Orleans projected to be under water by 2100. Although there is general awareness of coastal issues like coastal erosion and sea level rise, there is a need to further educate coastal communities about these issues and how it affects them. Another reality is that government agencies have not effectively engaged coastal communities before developing policies and plans that affect these communities.
The Foundation envisions a thriving 13-parish Southeast Louisiana region that is educated about the issues and risks facing them due to coastal land loss and sea level rise. This awareness leads coastal communities to support coastal restoration, protection, and adaptation efforts and make informed decisions regarding actions they need to take based on the risks that they face. Moreover, coastal communities are actively engaged in decisions on coastal issues that impact their lives and achieve equitable and effective solutions that strengthen their communities. The Foundation also envisions a state government that prioritizes coastal restoration, protection, and adaptation efforts while ensuring the vitality and safety of their constituent communities.
In order to achieve this vision, the Foundation, through its Environmental Fund, strives to support organizations that:
- Represent populations vulnerable to climate change and help government agencies engage more effectively with these at-risk coastal communities in Southeast Louisiana
- Advocate on a parish and state level to ensure that:
- Coastal communities, especially underserved populations, are harmed as little as possible due to coastal restoration and protection activities and that these populations are properly engaged in planning these activities
- Coastal restoration and adaptation remains a funding priority
- Coastal restoration and protection activities are science- and data-based
- Deepen the knowledge of Southeast Louisiana communities that will be affected by coastal land loss and sea level rise on coastal issues and various coastal restoration and protection efforts
- Start the conversation about how to plan for and execute future transitions among policymakers, government practitioners, and at-risk coastal communities, and help vulnerable coastal communities adapt to such transitions
The Foundation provides grants in the form of operating support, programmatic support, and technical assistance. It recognizes that various community-based organizations that are doing critical work in the coast need the flexibility that operating support funds provide.
Equity in Action
By serving as a convener, GNOF has helped raise the voices of important community-based and non-profit organizations during civic processes.
In early 2017, GNOF convened a group of 11 coastal community-based and environmental advocacy organizations to come to a consensus on their recommendations and questions regarding the draft of the 2017 Coastal Master Plan. The group met in January and February to discuss where these organizations all agree regarding to the 2017 Coastal Master Plan. The group’s initial comments were presented to the Planning Team of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) in March. There was a productive discussion between the nonprofits and state representatives. After the March meeting, the nonprofits finalized their recommendations, questions, and concerns regarding the 2017 draft Coastal Master Plan and outlined it in a document that GNOF submitted to the CPRA on behalf of the group. The Foundation supported the group’s comments, which included comments on flood risk reduction, Master Plan project selection, and community outreach and engagement.
GNOF went through a similar process in February 2018 when it convened ten community-based organizations and environmental nonprofits to come to consensus on recommendations and questions regarding the draft of the draft FY 2019 CPRA Annual Plan. The group met in early February and submitted comments to the CPRA that same month.
Given its accomplishments as a group in helping build the power of community-based organizations, this group of ten community-based organizations decided to form a coalition called Southeast Louisiana VOICE (Voices of Impacted Communities and Environments). VOICE is a coalition of community-based and environmental organizations convened by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, which is working with the most vulnerable coastal communities in Southeast Louisiana to provide a collective voice on coastal issues that impact their lives.
As independent organizations, the members of Southeast Louisiana VOICE are well versed in their specific communities’ concerns, knowledge, and strengths. This coalition brings members’ expertise together to address issues of coastal restoration, protection, and adaptation. VOICE has spent the last two years working with regional stakeholders to identify and address the future health of the coast’s people, ecosystems, and industries.
Southeast Louisiana VOICE does this through:
- Listening to community voices and, based on these voices, identify solutions and insights that we collectively advocate for on a local, state, and federal level
- Ensuring that residents and decisionmakers have data and knowledge about pressing coastal issues and tools to facilitate adaptation and resilience.
- Coordinating and collaborating across diverse communities and organizations to achieve greater community resilience.
Aside from the funding support the Foundation provides to nonprofit organizations working on the Gulf Coast, the Foundation helps build the capacity of these organizations through its Organizational Effectiveness work. The Foundation has provided technical assistance funds and staff support for the following organizations since 2015:
- BISCO – to perform organizational planning (2015) and leadership transition planning (2016)
- Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development – to go through a strategic planning process (2016)
- United Houma Nation – to provide leadership coaching (2016)
- Woodlands Conservancy – to provide marketing and social media support (2016)