Area Nonprofits Battling Environmental Challenges Celebrate New Year With $500K+ GNOF Grants

         It’s good to be a New Orleans nonprofit.

         Especially if the Greater New Orleans Foundation feels it addresses environmental challenges.

         The GNOF recently awarded $528,160 in grants to 14 nonprofit organizations that the Foundation determined do just that.

         “It’s going to take all of us—government, national organizations and local nonprofits to create long-term solutions to our region’s sustainability,” said Ella Delio, director of GNOF’s environmental and regional initiatives. “The role nonprofits are playing is increasingly important because their programs and projects are having a direct impact on the people whose lives are affected by the environmental threats we face every day.”

         The Foundation’s environmental work focuses on three issue areas: the management of urban water, the protection and restoration of the Gulf Coast and the growth of the Southeast Louisiana water economy.

         They also promote environmental, social and economic sustainability in the greater New Orleans region.

         Since its inception in 1994, the Environmental Fund has supported the work of “high-impact, highly-effective” nonprofit organizations that share the goal of creating a region that is a safe and viable place to live and work.

         With support from national foundations, including the blue moon fund and the Surdna Foundation, GNOF made grant awards to the following:


Bayou Grace

Grant: $20,000, to engage residents in education activities on land loss, coastal restoration and hazard preparation.

         Bayou Grace mobilizes local and national communities to restore and protect coastal Louisiana, with a focus on the rural five bayou communities of lower Terrebonne Parish.


Bayou Interfaith Sponsoring Committee

Grant: $20,000, to engage in strategic partnership activities around coastal restoration and protection.

         In the southeastern Louisiana bayou parishes of Lafourche and Terrebonne, BISCO organizers said they champion the voice and power of local residents to address the most pressing issues facing their communities. They said the disasters of the last decade — Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, the BP Oil drilling disaster in 2010 and the River Flood of 2011— have severely impacted their two parishes.

         Working with local churches and communities, BISCO said they aim to empower local residents to use their collective voices to effect change locally, regionally and nationally.


Committee For A Better New Orleans – Greater New Orleans Water Collaborative

Grant: $58,800, to hire a full-time GNO Water Collaborative coordinator.

         CBNO reps said they recognized that despite all the energy and enthusiasm around water management after the release of the Urban Water Plan, the lack of collaboration and information-sharing was a major impediment to progress.

         They created a steering committee, which they said led to the September 2014 launch of the Water Collaborative with more than 100 nonprofit, for-profit and individual members, and facilitated the flow of information on emerging water management opportunities and fostered effective collaborations among participants.


FirstLine Schools

Grant: $10,000, to develop a Water Education Technology (WET) program at Phillis Wheatley Community School.

         FirstLine Schools seek to create and inspire open admissions public schools in New Orleans to prepare students for college and fulfilling careers.

         They believe, “New Orleans can be the first city in America where every child goes to a great school.”


KIPP New Orleans

Grant: $25,000, to reconstruct a KIPP Central City schoolyard with green infrastructure and stormwater management features.

         KIPP New Orleans Schools’ mission is to build a high quality, sustainable network of tuition free, open enrollment, college preparatory public charter schools that empower students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in school and life.


Louisiana Appleseed

Grant: $20,000, to help remove legal hurdles involving title clearing in the coastal communities through education and advocacy.

         Louisiana Appleseed reps said they recruit professionals to donate pro bono time to advance social justice by effecting change at the policy, or systemic, level to increase access to education, opportunity and justice.


Lower Ninth Ward – Center For Sustainable Engagement And Development

Grant: $20,000, to launch a coalition that will engage the Lower Ninth Ward community in a restoration project.

         The Lower 9th Ward CSED focuses on coastal rehabilitation, greening the built environment and increasing food security by lifting up and strategically reinforcing community driven goals by striving to create an economically, culturally and environmentally sustainable Lower Ninth Ward.


Neighborhood Partnership Network/ NOLAVibe

Grant: $50,000, to conduct research on the Greater New Orleans region’s assets related to the water economy.

         For more than 7 years, NOLAVibe has pioneered multidisciplinary social innovation network-building focused on water programming in Louisiana, including co-founding the Horizon Initiative Water Committee, the GNOF/ Idea Village Water Challenge, serving as Louisiana representatives for the EPA Water Cluster Leaders initiative, and most recently, launching the Louisiana Water Network. In 2014 they published and presented research evaluating Louisiana’s nascent water clusters in comparison to national and global initiatives, and in 2015 were honored with the inaugural Water Challenge Champion award.



Grant: $170,360, to run the Water Challenge Accelerator program.

         Founded in 2009, Propeller incubates and launches socially minded ventures from its coworking space on Washington Avenue and South Broad Street where workspace and event space are available for rent.

         Their vision is to build a critical mass of entrepreneurs tackling key challenges in issue areas including food security, water management, healthcare and educational equity in order to make significant change for underserved individuals.


Southeast Louisiana Legal Services

Grant: $20,000, to work with leaders of Isle de Jean Charles on advocating for their community’s needs.

         SLLS is Louisiana's largest provider of free civil legal aid serving 22 parishes with 6 offices and more than 70 attorneys, staff and volunteers.


Trust For Public Land

Grant: $39,000, to develop a web-based tool that will allow for the prioritization of green infrastructure locations.

         Since 1972, their mission has been to create parks and protect land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Trust for Public Land officials said every park, playground and public space they create is an open invitation to explore, wonder, discover and play. They report millions of Americans live within a 10-minute walk of a park or natural area they helped create.


United Houma Nation

Grant: $20,000, to work with tribal leaders on coastal issues affecting their communities.

         The UHN is a state recognized tribe of approximately 17,000 tribal members residing within a 6-parish (Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jefferson, St. Mary, St. Bernard and Plaquemines) service area encompassing 4,570 square miles. Within this area, distinct tribal communities are situated among the interwoven bayous and canals. However, tribe leaders said boat travel is no longer a viable option due to the effects of coastal erosion, which has left these waterways either nonexistent or impassable and in many cases completely open water that requires larger vessels for safe travel.

         The Tribe continues to battle unique challenges of preserving and maintaining their culture and way of life when the land, they said, is disappearing beneath their feet.


Urban Strategies

Grant: $25,000, to support the design of green infrastructure and of educational programs for Lafon Park.

         Urban Strategies’ mission is to empower residents in distressed urban core neighborhoods to lead healthy, prosperous lives in thriving, self-sustaining communities by implementing place-based human capital development strategies in public housing communities that are undergoing comprehensive physical revitalization. Founded in 1978, Urban Strategies works to help communities build safe neighborhoods, enhanced schools and a range of comprehensive human service supports and to build social and economic mobility for low-income families living in mixed-income communities.



Grant: $30,000, to operate the Coastal Desk.

         WWNO is the NPR member station for New Orleans and the 13 parishes of southeast Louisiana, broadcasting on 89.9 FM — and on KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area — as a public service of the University of New Orleans.

         Since mid-2014, WWNO’s Coastal Desk reporting team has been producing frequent news reports and in-depth features covering coastal erosion and restoration, hurricane protection and offshore energy and other coastal businesses.



Foundation reps said the GNOF is a community foundation serving a 13-parish Greater New Orleans metropolitan area that designs and leads initiatives that improves the region, connects donors to community needs, identifies and supports great nonprofits and strengthens civil society.

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