For too many New Orleanians, saving money and building generational wealth is out of reach. The 2012 “New Orleans Assets and Opportunity Profile” report commissioned by the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) from the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) showed that 71 percent of New Orleans residents have subprime credit scores, and 37 percent of New Orleans households live in asset poverty, meaning that these households do not have enough assets to live for three months at the federal poverty level should they lose their main source of income.
Households that do not have enough savings or assets are vulnerable to emergencies, whether it is an unexpected car repair, funeral, or mandatory evacuation. Even a small savings of $500 can make a big difference in how a household weathers hard times. One of the more telling findings after Hurricane Katrina was that many households did not respond to mandatory evacuation orders because they did not have a car or could not afford gasoline to travel a long distance. Hurricane Katrina spelled disaster for families and individuals living paycheck to paycheck, because it fell so close to the end of a pay period. This should never be the case.
The Foundation focuses on creating opportunities for low-income families to realize their full economic potential through meaningful employment, paths to affordable home-ownership, savings and investments, financial education and counseling, and small business growth and development.
Our Economic Opportunity Community of Practice brings together a Learning Community of nonprofits that want to provide striving families with the best financial education, tools, and resources to become more self-sufficient, and build their own advocacy power to develop and implement a public policy agenda focused on asset building.
NOW works with employers and the workforce education and training community to ensure that New Orleans residents are qualified for tomorrow’s careers. NOW is committed to more than just filling jobs. Its goal is to create an environment with opportunities for higher wages, better benefits, and career advancement for New Orleans workforce.
We support the work of local advocates through an Advocacy Forum that we started in 2015, and through a small grants program. The purpose of our Advocacy Forum is to increase the strength and connections of the people and organizations working to create communities that promote equity and access to opportunity. The Advocacy Forum meets throughout the year for legislative briefings, workshops, and information sessions about the work of advocates in the area.
NOLA 360 was launched 2015, and consists of a series of public forums to connect new audiences and our existing donors to new perspectives on economic security challenges of families and possible solutions. Our approach lies at the intersection of arts, politics and culture as a platform to change hearts and minds.
As in other program areas, the Foundation supports investments in organizational capacity-building among nonprofits working in the field of economic development.
The Community Revitalization Fund was a collaborative fund created by the Greater New Orleans Foundation as a five-year, $25 million initiative in partnership with national and local foundations. The CR Fund supported housing production, increased the capacity of community development organizations, promoted equitable and sustainable rebuilding, and increased GNOF’s capacity as a leader in community revitalization. Ultimately, the CR Fund raised $23 million, made 75 different grants to 59 grantees over a period of seven years, supporting the production of 9,378 units. For more information about the CR Fund, please visit the site of the fund’s final evaluation at crfnola.org.
We have supported and collaborated on the following reports about housing and economic opportunity: