New Orleans Fund

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.



Inclusive Economies

The Inclusive Economies Program fosters the creation of an inclusive and equitable economy in which people of color can maximize their potential as leaders, creators, and innovators across sectors.

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Sustainable Environments

The Sustainable Environments program seeks to support communities of color and low-wealth communities to direct infrastructure and land use investment dollars, drive decision-making processes and design policy solutions because those who are disproportionately impacted by environmental and climate inequity have the most powerful solutions to resolve these inequities.


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Thriving Cultures

The Thriving Cultures Program is guided by Radical Imagination for Racial Justice, our future-oriented, world-building strategy, which is organized across three interconnected grantmaking approaches:

  • Create invests (through regranting organizations) in artists of color who work with communities of color to imagine and build racially just systems and structures at a local scale.
  • Clarify invests in researchers and cultural critics of color to interpret and disseminate knowledge about the work of artists and to build a more equitable research and criticism infrastructure.
  • Connect advances the role of artists and communities of color in shaping public policy, narrative change, and philanthropic practices that advance racial justice.

What We Do Not Fund

Our grantmaking does not support:

  • Individuals (However, we do fund organizations that make grants to individual artists.)
  • Capital campaigns or building construction
  • Projects that are based or focused outside of the United States, tribal lands, or U.S. territories
  • Purchase of equipment
  • Awards, scholarships, or endowment funds

Grants are made by invitation only. We are not accepting unsolicited inquiries or letters of intent at this time.

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