The Next Phase of Grantmaking:
A Letter from John Davies, President and CEO, Baton Rouge Area Foundation
As you know from prior postings on this site, the Foundation began its response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina with a very aggressive, immediate grantmaking program based on the many shelters that went without funding and services for their populations. Within two weeks of the storm, we had made our first round of grants, and to date we have awarded approximately $3.8 million representing 119 grant awards.
I write to inform you that we are changing our strategy so that we can deal with the long term and difficult challenges that are before us. We have decided to go from an active and immediate response structure to a more traditional methodology of request for proposals and in a bi-monthly grantmaking cycle. We have also determined that our focus will be on the following areas: 1) To support the remaining shelters that exist, mostly hotels; to support quality of life enhancements for the trailer villages; and to support the transition from trailers to permanent housing. 2) To develop an aggressive education and intervention program for mental health challenges. The displaced population is, by and large, traumatized and the forecasts received from mental health experts have been sobering. Next week, we are gathering a group of some of the foremost mental health experts in the country to help us formulate an active response to the challenges that are growing quickly within the displaced population. We will keep you posted as to what we learn and how, specifically, we will address the issues that confront us in this area. 3) The opportunities to reinvent public education for the displaced population are huge. We have had excellent conversations with some major foundations in the United States that work on educational issues, and we are hopeful that we will be able to soon announce partnerships with significant funding from those foundations that will allow us to structure schools that address the educational and the psychological needs of the displaced population, and to implement those plans quickly so that we can move from despair, to hope, to achievement.
The funding for these three areas will be determined on a bi-monthly basis and we will report to you as grant distributions are made.
We are, on a continuing basis, humbled and grateful to an incredibly generous country that has stepped up with its support to the plight of people in and from Louisiana.