Lessons learned, looking ahead
Overall, grantees, funders, and GNOF staff describe the Community Revitalization Fund as a success. Many also believe that it changed GNOF in significant ways.
The Community Revitalization Fund was new territory for GNOF. Funders and grantees say that the Fund brought GNOF into contact with more national foundations, got its staff out in the local community, and showed that GNOF could manage a large fund. Many grantees say that GNOF has grown and is more engaged in the local nonprofit community than it was before Katrina.
GNOF has changed dramatically since the storm… before the storm they were much more low-key… now they have a real strategy.
– Martha Kegel, Executive Director, UNITY
It was an under-resourced foundation. It became higher profile because housing was such a big deal post-storm.
– Juliet Page, Former Development Officer, Greater New Orleans Foundation (Currently: consultant)
Funders, grantees, and current and former GNOF staff describe the Community Revitalization Fund as successful. They say it supported the development of housing and the capacity of nonprofit organizations and city agencies working in the affordable housing arena. Funders and GNOF staff call the funder collaborative approach an effective way to harness expertise and financial support from national and local foundations. Finally, grantees appreciated the flexibility of philanthropic funding, as well as the credibility it provided to other funding sources.
I think the Fund was great. I think it was really important. It brought a lot of national funders into GNOF… it helped deliver millions of dollars to the city that might not have been delivered.
– Carey Shea, Former Program Director for Community Revitalization, Greater New Orleans Foundation
(Currently: Executive Director, Home by Hand)
The Community Revitalization Fund is a model [for disaster recovery]. GNOF should get out there and evangelize.
–Brad Myers, Senior Program Officer, Hilton Foundation
When asked what they would like to see GNOF focus on going forward, many grantees, former staff members, funders, beneficiaries, and local housing experts said affordable housing. They often cited New Orleanians’ growing housing cost burden to illustrate the need for involvement in this issue. Some added that GNOF should invest not just in building affordable housing but also in developing the economic strength of New Orleanians so that they can afford to live here.
I think it would be great if GNOF continued to have a focus on affordable housing… They’re providing money for different kinds of services and programs, but not really for housing production, and I think that’s a real gap that exists there.
–Michelle Whetten, Vice-President and Market Leader, Enterprise Community Partners, Gulf Coast
We’re not done yet. We have neighborhoods that are blighted… I would like to see us be able to clean up these neighborhoods.
–LaToya Cantrell, Former President, Broadmoor Improvement Association
(Currently: Councilmember, City of New Orleans)
Though the Community Revitalization Fund has sunset, the Greater New Orleans Foundation is working on the following initiatives related to community revitalization: