Greater New Orleans Foundation Awards $700,000 in Grants to Combat Health Disparities in Southeast Louisiana Magnified by COVID-19

April 24, 2020

Greater New Orleans Foundation Awards $700,000 in Grants to Combat Health Disparities in Southeast Louisiana Magnified by COVID-19. Round III Grants made possible from gifts to GNOF’s Disaster Response and Restoration Fund.

NEW ORLEANS – Today, the Greater New Orleans Foundation awarded $700,000 to nonprofits in Southeast Louisiana to help combat long-term health disparities impacting African American communities which have been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. These grants to health-based nonprofits are aimed at injecting urgently needed resources to bolster services, outreach, and capacity of area nonprofits positioned to improve safety and public health.

“This pandemic has magnified health disparities many of us have known existed in poor and African American communities for some time,” said Carmen James Randolph, Greater New Orleans Foundation Vice President of Programs. “GNOF hopes that these initial grants will help bolster services to the most vulnerable in our community right now.”

“I want to thank two families who have played long-time leadership roles in our region for their deep personal interest in these grants we are announcing today,” said Andy Kopplin, President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation.  “We received generous funding from Scott Cowen and from the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation to support this vital initiative to address health inequities and racial disparities in our community, and we could not be more grateful for their passion in joining us in this call to action.”

Since the start of this pandemic, GNOF’s Disaster Response and Restoration Fund has awarded $938,000 to nonprofits serving Orleans, Assumption, Jefferson, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne Washington Parishes. This round of Disaster Response and Restoration Fund grants is made possible due to the generosity of many individuals and families, including leading contributions from the Kresge Foundation, Ford Foundation, Hearst Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Baptist Community Ministries, Metabolic Studio, Bentson Foundation, Target Foundation, Green Family Foundation, Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation, and Scott Cowen.

Through the Greater New Orleans Foundation Disaster Response and Restoration Fund, we honor the tradition of “paying it forward” by coordinating with a network of community foundations when disaster strikes other communities to get immediate support to the most vulnerable citizens. Our Disaster Response and Restoration Fund provides immediate relief as well as long-term support. We plan to support communities throughout our region over the long haul as we recover from the impact of COVID-19.

“As the local lead agency for community-based behavioral health services, MHSD is both pleased and poised to receive this generous financial support from the GNOF,” said Dr. Rochelle Dunham, Metropolitan Human Services District Executive and Medical Director. “The timeliness of it will help build needed capacity to manage both the acute and long-term crisis support needs for our local community.”

Round III Disaster Response and Restoration Grant recipients include: 504HealthNet, DePaul Community Health Centers (formerly Daughters of Charity Heath Centers), Louisiana Public Health Institute, Metropolitan Human Services District, National Alliance on Mental Health New Orleans, National Alliance on Mental Health St. Tammany, Ochsner Health, Red Cross, South Central Louisiana Human Services, and St. Thomas Health Clinic.

“We thank the Greater New Orleans Foundation for its foresight in partnering with organizations that address the health and well-being of the underserved,” said Michael Griffin, president/CEO of DePaul Community Health Centers. “Garnering this grant during a critical time in which we are combating the COVID-19 virus will help increase our capacity to serve vulnerable members of our community.”

A description of the enhanced services that will be made possible by these grants are below.

Grant funds will allow 504HealthNet to expand its services to collect data on shortages of its member health institutions and to procure urgent resources such as supplies, equipment, and health workers. It will also manage communication and information sharing between member centers, the City of New Orleans Health Department and residents.

DePaul Community Health Centers, formerly Daughters of Charity Heath Centers
DePaul Community Health Centers (DCHC), formerly Daughters of Charity Health Centers, plans to use the grant funds to increase the capacity of their Chronic Care Management program, which helps patients address various underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and obesity. DCHC has tested more than 400 patients for the COVID-19 virus, and plans to use the grant to increase their capacity in testing, as well as improve their ability to continue promoting Telehealth medical and behavioral health appointments for patients.

Louisiana Public Health Institute
The Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) will use the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Disaster Response and Restoration Fund Grant to provide additional health and COVID-19 educational information to Louisiana’s communities facing disparities in health outcomes. The grant will support LPHI’s current efforts to inform our state’s urban, rural, and populations who are harder to reach on the importance of physical distancing, wearing face coverings when running essential errands, and other COVID-19 response best practices.

Metropolitan Human Services District
The additional funds will support expanded provider capacity to meet the ongoing crisis response needs of our GNO area. A key component of person-centered care is use of certified peer support specialists with lived experience to relate supportively to social and emotional struggles. Additionally, certification of our peers and licensed clinicians in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), an evidenced-based crisis intervention service, will expand our capacity to offer the community psychological first aid. Mental Health First Aid with Psychological first aid will be a new service provided by our existing clinic staff. Expanding our peer support capacity will enhance our community outreach services and crisis support.

National Alliance on Mental Health New Orleans
With grant funds from GNOF, additional and enhanced telehealth supports will be acquired that will allow staff members of NAMI New Orleans (National Alliance on Mental Illness) greater and more efficient access to persons served, including current clients as well as those seeking low barrier care related to increased COVID-19 related anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health conditions.  African Americans and individuals of color already have greater stigma and reduced access to quality mental healthcare.  With improved telehealth services and training for staff, NAMI New Orleans anticipates being able to reach and serve over 500 more individuals in need throughout the greater New Orleans area.

National Alliance on Mental Health St. Tammany
This grant will allow National Alliance on Mental Health St. Tammany to increase support group offerings both for individuals living with a mental illness and their family members, letting participants know that they are not alone during this pandemic. NAMI St. Tammany has moved their free support groups and education classes for individuals living with mental illness and their families to an online platform, offering an alternative way to reduce the effects of isolation and find the vital support they need. With this expanded access ,they expect an increase to their annual average of 2,500 attending our education and support programs.

Ochsner Health
This grant will allow Ochsner Health to train a cohort of unemployed or furloughed hospitality workers, including opportunity youth, in the Greater New Orleans area and connect them to a new career pathway as certified patient care technicians.

Red Cross
This grant will allow the Red Cross to continue its fight against coronavirus by meeting the need for blood and platelet donors through blood drives for weeks to come.

South Central Louisiana Human Services
Grants to the South Central Louisiana Human Services would allow their agency to employ additional peer support personnel for six months to handle an increase in calls for mental health support.

St. Thomas Health Clinic
Grant funding from the Greater New Orleans Foundation will be used to support primary care service delivery at St. Thomas Community Health Center during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Specifically, funding will enable St. Thomas to continue transitioning primary care visits to telemedicine visits, ensuring that their at-risk patient population can still receive high-quality primary care services while also complying with the State of Louisiana’s mandatory stay-at-home order and reducing exposure to the novel coronavirus. Nearly 60 percent of the patients who utilize St. Thomas’ services receive Medicaid benefits, while 16 percent are uninsured.

“Ochsner Health has a rich history of investing in education and workforce development to create new generations of talent,” said Tracey Schiro, Ochsner Health Senior Vice President of Risk Management and Chief Human Resources Officer. “The generous grant from the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Disaster Response and Restoration Fund will allow us to train unemployed or furloughed hospitality workers in the Greater New Orleans area as these individuals work towards a new career as a certified patient care technician. People are at the core of everything we do and during these unprecedented times, we remain committed to training the next pipeline of healthcare professionals.”

Donations can be made to the Disaster Response and Restoration Fund by visiting