In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Surdna staff and board saw historically underserved communities – primarily black and brown residents – struggling to survive. National funders, aid organizations and volunteers from around the world turned their attention to the post-Katrina crisis and subsequent recovery and rebuilding efforts.
In fiscal year 2009 (September 2008), three years after Katrina, our board created a special New Orleans Fund of $1 million per year, initially set to last five years. Grantmaking for the Fund centered on developing the social and organizational infrastructure and public discourse for deep civic engagement around rebuilding efforts.
The Fund complemented ongoing grantmaking in New Orleans through our three grantmaking programs. In 2012, our board and staff decided to extend the Fund for an additional three years, with June 2016 as its sunset. We believed that the particular history of culture, race and class in New Orleans together with the aftermath of both Katrina and the BP oil spill offered us a critical opportunity to continue to test our work around fostering just and sustainable communities.
During the Fund’s eight years, we partnered with over 50 grantee organizations in New Orleans, investing over $9.5 million through the Fund and an additional $3+ million through program grantmaking.