Environmental Grants Benefit Coastal Communities

October 29, 2012

New Orleans, LA | October 29, 2012 – The Greater New Orleans Foundation announced that almost $1 million was awarded to 28 nonprofit organizations throughout the region in response to emergency needs after Hurricane Isaac and to four organizations working to address environmental challenges. “This is a perfect example of the role of a community foundation,” says Dr. Albert Ruesga, president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “We address the short and long-term needs of a community.”

In partnership with local donors, the Greater New Orleans Foundation responded immediately after Hurricane Isaac with funding to nonprofit organizations assisting families and individuals affected by the storm. A total of $347,761 thus far has been awarded to 28 organizations throughout the region.

“With 37 percent of our families living in asset poverty, people don’t have the savings to weather a storm,” said Dr. Ruesga. “Because work was interrupted for many, people needed immediate assistance with life’s basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter as they rebuilt their homes and lives.”

“Our response is not limited to post-hurricane relief,” said Dr. Marco Cocito-Monoc, director of regional initiatives at the Greater New Orleans. “For years, we have been partnering with nonprofit organizations to address long-term solutions for the families who live and work in our fragile coastal communities and whose livelihoods are threatened every day,” says Dr. Cocito-Monoc, referring to the 35 percent of Louisiana’s population who live in the threatened coastal communities and the city of New Orleans. In 2012 alone, the Foundation has awarded 19 environmental grants totaling $3,291,000 for work in a multi-parish region.

The Greater New Orleans Foundation works in partnership with select nonprofit organizations that are addressing economic, social, cultural, and environmental issues.

Boat People SOS LA was awarded $181,200 to address critical social service needs of people within the Vietnamese community, many of whom live and work in isolation as commercial fishermen.  “Can you imagine losing everything once when fleeing Vietnam, only to lose everything again in Katrina and the oil spill?” said Dr. Thang Nguyen, national executive director of Boat People SOS. “It’s not just a language barrier.  The Vietnamese people are very proud, and they don’t like the stigma of having to ask for help.”  The grant specifically trains members of the Vietnamese community to serve as Peer Companions which guarantees they and their peers receive the social services they need.

Just the Right Attitude was awarded $170,000 to provide hot meals five days a week to over 120 families. Based in New Orleans East, this food pantry provides for families from Jefferson to St. Bernard Parishes. “We feed Caucasians, African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics,” said Executive Director Debra South Jones. “We’re also introducing a healthy diet of fresh greens like spinach and mustard greens to residents who might not normally have a stable diet.” Over the course of one year, Just the Right Attitude will distribute groceries to 19,800 households.

The Nature Conservancy was awarded $118,250 to support its planning work for the Lower Mississippi River. “There is a lot of planning going on to protect the coast, and we want to be sure we include the Lower Mississippi River in these efforts,” said Karen Gautreaux, director of government affairs for the Louisiana office of the Nature Conservancy. The grant will allow stakeholders and special interest groups to formulate a vision of prosperity for the Lower Mississippi River.

Young Aspirations/Young Artists (YAYA) was awarded $200,350 for Fresh Paths, a two-year art project involving 120 youths in four parishes in southeast Louisiana. “We’re taking YAYA on the road,” said Baty Landis, executive director of YAYA, referring to YAYA’s twenty-plus year track record of success in New Orleans of teaching art and the business of art to disadvantaged youth. “The impact of YAYA goes far beyond the students we serve — it helps families, neighborhoods, and communities.”

About the Greater New Orleans Foundation

The Greater New Orleans Foundation is the community foundation serving the 13-parish Greater New Orleans region. We design and lead initiatives that improve the region, connect donors to community needs, identify and support great nonprofits, and strengthen civil society.


For more information on the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the role philanthropy has played in the recovery of this region, please contact Martha Landrum at 504-598-1290 ormartha@gnof.org.