Nearly $1 Million in Grants Assures Thousands of New Orleans Area Children Enjoy Safe Summer Fun and Learning

June 23, 2008

Contact: Erin Brownfield
Communications Officer
The Wallace Foundation
(212) 251-9861


(New Orleans, LA) -  Unified Summer Grants Collaborative partners United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area, Greater New Orleans AfterSchool Partnership, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, The Wallace Foundation and the New York Life Foundation announce the collaborative is providing funding to 52 summer programs totaling more than $974 thousand dollars and serving more than 15,000 children and youth.

The Unified Summer Grants Collaborative’s goal is to increase the availability of summer programs in the six-parish (county) region since The New Orleans Recreation Department and so many recreational facilities were damaged or destroyed in 2005 by back-to-back hurricanes. These programs are designed to give hurricane-affected children and youth access to fun, safe, and educational activities while school is out of session and help them succeed and deal with their changing environment.

"The New York Life Foundation is proud to partner in this effort to increase the availability of positive opportunities for children affected by the loss of productive programs and services as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita" said Chris Park, president, New York Life Foundation. “Increasing the availability of summer programs that offer youth an opportunity to participate in a safe, recreational and educational experience will positively effect the children and the New Orleans community."

With names like ‘Awesome Girls 2008’, ‘Language…A Main Ingredient of Life’, ‘6 Degrees of Exploration’ and ‘Television, Film and Music Production’, camps run the gamut. Their activities, including programs focusing on literacy, sports, the arts, and hurricane preparedness, benefit children from pre-school age through their teens.  The agencies receiving grants use the money to hire staff, cover food, pay for transportation, and other operational costs. 

“Research shows two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower and higher income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities.” said Gina Warner, executive director, Greater New Orleans Afterschool Partnership. ”Summer is a great time to experiment with new teaching techniques and environments that may encourage deeper learning and greater retention of information.”

“Children and youth can gain important learning and developmental benefits through frequent participation in high-quality programs,” said Nancy Devine, director of communities for The Wallace Foundation. “We hope our contribution of $700,000 to the city’s United Way organization will help meet the immediate needs of the city’s families and children. The Lighthouse program highlighted at Capdau Charter School, through its collaboration with local schools and use of federal education funding, exemplifies the public-private partnership often required to deliver high-quality programs.”

Wallace is providing an additional $150,000 to Afterschool Partnership for Greater New Orleans to train workers and evaluate the programs. 

"Chef Lagasse's interest in helping our city's youth find creative and educational opportunities in the summer months is the reason the Emeril Lagasse Foundation is a founding partner in this collaborative, and has proudly invested over $250,000 toward these efforts since Katrina." said Kristin Shannon, executive director of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation. “The Unified Summer Grants Collaborative allowed programs to apply for funding from the four agencies with a single application. By working in collaboration we were able to ease the application process for the community and make our organizations’ reach as broad as possible.”

To be eligible, proposals had to be submitted by public or charitable, non-profit (tax exempt) organizations or sponsored by such an organization operating within one or more of the six-parish areas of Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St Tammany, and Tangipahoa and the Summer activities must be in operation between  June 1 - August 31, 2008.

“Thanks to a group of 20 volunteers and staff, 117 applications were reviewed totaling more than $3.1 million in requests.” said Todd Battiste, vice-president of Children and Families for United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area. “The collaborative partners feel confident we have chosen 52 exemplary programs to fund”.