Online fundraising campaign aims to energize public giving to New Orleans five years after katrina

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Devastation after Cyclone Katrina

Today, MoveOn and ColorOfChange.org appealed to their members to contribute to 18 local organizations leading long-term recovery efforts in New Orleans. The Open Society Foundations will match contributions dollar-for-dollar up to $500,000.

“The challenge is not just to rebuild New Orleans–but to build a city that is stronger and fairer than the one that was devastated five years ago,” said Ann Beeson, executive director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Foundations. “There are amazing success stories from New Orleans over the last five years, and there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done. This fundraising campaign invests in a number of inspiring, locally-led organizations that are determined to transform New Orleans.”

The campaign launched today will benefit 18 local organizations, most of which have small operating budgets. They focus on ensuring government transparency and accountability, using arts and culture to advance social change (on issues including the housing crisis and alternatives to violence), securing a fair criminal justice system, and engaging diverse communities in rebuilding New Orleans. The organizations were selected because they are current grantees of the Open Society Foundations. The Greater New Orleans Foundation will disperse the funds evenly among the 18 organizations later this summer.

A full list and descriptions of the organizations that will benefit from the online fundraising campaign–as well as a video featuring several of the groups–is available at http://www.soros.org/us/nola.

The organizations include:

  • SilenceIsViolence, a community-based public-safety campaign that was launched in response to local murders. The group harnesses the culture of New Orleans by engaging musicians and others to demand that all violence in New Orleans is addressed seriously and that the government and residents work together to stop violence;
  • The Louisiana Budget Project, which monitors and reports on state government spending and how it affects low-to-moderate-income families. The group helps hold the government accountable for rebuilding post-Katrina; and
  • Orleans Public Defenders, a pro-bono legal office that represents all indigent defendants in Orleans Parish (where arrests have skyrocketed after Katrina and 90 percent of all defendants are poor).

“This is going to be an emotional weekend for everyone in New Orleans,” said Gabriela Hernandez, executive director of Sweet Home New Orleans, a group that supports New Orleans’ unique musical and cultural traditions. “It helps to know that people around the country support what we’re trying to do, and are standing with us for the long haul.” Sweet Home New Orleans, an artistic force behind the city’s revitalization, is one of the groups that will benefit from the fundraising campaign.

To learn more about the fundraising campaign, named the Transform New Orleans Fund, please visit http://civ.moveon.org/donatec4/katrina.html.

Since Hurricane Katrina and the floods, the Open Society Foundations have invested approximately $10 million in local organizations in Louisiana.

Active in more than 70 countries, the Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. Working with local communities, the Open Society Foundations support justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.

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