Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans

January 30, 2024

First Class of Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans Since Becoming Part of Foundation Awards $33,000 to Five Area Nonprofits

By Julie Ward, EPNO Advisory Board Co-Chair and EPNO 2019 Alumni

The 2023 class of Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans (EPNO), the first EPNO class since the program became a part of the Greater New Orleans Foundation family, culminated on December 5 with the presentation of checks to five area nonprofits. Totaling $33,000, the grants included donations from participant contributions. The 2023 grantees are Central City Community Outreach, The COOL Cooperative, Hagar’s House, Make Music NOLA, and Wake.

Each year, EPNO cohorts are divided into smaller groups—or impact teams—to focus on building upon participants’ existing skills and knowledge base in nonprofit mission areas.

The Arts and Culture impact team awarded $5,500 to The COOL Cooperative and $5,500 to Make Music NOLA. The COOL Cooperative helps at-promise youth with film-industry-specific workforce development. Make Music NOLA creates access and opportunity for students eligible for free or reduced lunch in Orleans Parish through intensive music training.

The Housing impact team awarded $9,000 to Hagar’s House and $2,000 to Central City Community Outreach. Hagar’s House is a sanctuary for women, children, trans, and gender-nonconforming individuals that provides an open and empowering residential community, resource coordination, and a safe space to transition into sustainable housing. The Central City Community Outreach offers up to six months of transitional housing for formerly incarcerated men and provides assistance with clothing, work training, employment search, and referrals to behavioral health and medical services.

The Human Rights and Justice impact team awarded $11,000 to Wake, a nonprofit organization that aims to provide education and resources for meaningful, affordable, and environmentally sustainable death care.

The presentation of checks was the last in a series of educational sessions, group work, and community panels that guided EPNO’s local emerging leaders through the grantmaking process.

In March 2023, the Greater New Orleans Foundation welcomed EPNO to the Foundation, creating a longstanding relationship that will support Southeast Louisiana’s next generation of philanthropists. EPNO’s mission is to inspire and educate young community members to become effective, strategic, and lifelong philanthropists. Over 475 alumni have gone through the EPNO program since 2011.

The knowledge and resources made possible by the Foundation partnership elevated the EPNO experience for both the 2023 class members and the nonprofits. We are encouraged by the feedback we have already received and look forward to watching EPNO and the Foundation build future generations of philanthropists for many years to come. Participants described the experience as powerful and fulfilling with one participant describing EPNO as “…an incredible experience. I’ve met lifelong friends and am excited to also be a life long philanthropist.”

Bethany Paulsen, EPNO Advisory Board Co-Chair, said, “We are so proud of this year’s class – the first in EPNO’s return to Greater New Orleans Foundation. Each person really leaned in this year to create an incredibly valuable experience for themselves, their classmates, and the grantees.”

The EPNO program kicked off in August with an orientation, where participants learned what to expect from the program, met members of their focus area groups, and began drafting focus statements for the grantmaking process. Participants dived right into the experience, sharing the community passions that brought them to EPNO and articulating how their collective action could make our region even better.

In September, EPNO hosted a Community Issues Nonprofit Panel and a Grantmaking 101 Panel.

Nonprofit panelists included:

Nonprofit leaders discussed pressing needs in each focus area and answered questions from EPNO participants. The conversation highlighted the interconnectedness of services in our region, importance of general operating support for regional nonprofits, and the power of individuals in supporting an organization’s work through sharing the work with their networks.

Grantmaking 101 panelists included:

Grantmakers advised the class on how to lead the grantmaking process with compassion and integrity. The panel shared what brought them to philanthropy, sharing individual and personal experiences as the root of their philanthropic journeys, and noted the importance of clear relationships between funders and grantees.

EPNO participants spent the month of October reviewing grant applications and conducting site visits to learn more about potential grantees. In November, each group shared learnings from the process with recommended awards to the EPNO Advisory Board at a Recommendation Panel hosted at the New Orleans Career Center.

After the grants were awarded in December, EPNO hosted a new event called Your Future Philanthropy focusing on how EPNO alumni can stay engaged in their community as philanthropists. Alumni learned how to build on their EPNO experience as volunteers, philanthropists, and nonprofit leaders.

Panelists included:

Applications for the 2024 EPNO class will be open in April 2024. For more information about EPNO, contact epno@gnof.org or visit https://www.gnof.org/what-we-do/initiatives/epno/.