FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 9, 2011
CONTACT: Lauren Benjamin, email@example.com
Local young professionals grant $35,000 to 8 local nonprofits
Three-year-old philanthropic organization has experienced rapid growth and huge success
NEW ORLEANS – Earlier this year, 35 young leaders became the newest members of a unique philanthropic experience in the Greater New Orleans area. Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans (EPNO), an initiative to engage the city’s up-and-coming talent in philanthropic giving, recently completed its third annual class.
Founded in 2008 as the Crescent Civic Engagement Fund, EPNO has expanded at a rapid pace. During a conversation at a 504ward Dine Around event, the idea for a young professional philanthropic giving circle was conceived. The initial pilot class included 18 participants in 2009. The 2010 class included 29 individuals, and the 35 participants in this year’s class represent a broad mix of Louisiana natives and newcomers to the city.
The program’s third annual class announced today that it will present awards to its eight grant recipients during a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center, at 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
As in the previous two years of the program, each class member contributed $500, which EPNO then matched dollar-for-dollar through outside sponsorships and alumni contributions. During the six-month program, participants combined their resources, learned about the grantmaking process, reviewed proposals from nonprofits in the Greater New Orleans area seeking funds, and ultimately provided targeted grants to selected nonprofits. This year’s class is awarding $35,000 to eight nonprofits.
“It’s pretty unbelievable,” said Lauren Jacobs Benjamin, Chair of EPNO’s Advisory Board and a member of the 18-person pilot class. “A bunch of working professionals in their 20s and 30s—a traditionally busy and over-committed demographic without much disposable income—are competing to donate their hard-earned income and six months of their time. Young professionals in the New Orleans area are looking for ways to impact their communities as active philanthropists. EPNO is providing that opportunity.”
Once selected, the class members divide themselves into issue-based grantmaking teams, which are selected based on the group’s interests. For 2011, EPNO participants focused on four areas: arts, education, healthcare, and housing.
After a six-month process, which included educational sessions, grant proposal evaluations, and site visits, the teams selected a total of eight organizations to receive the funds.
The 2011 grant winners include the following organizations:
Goat in the Road Productions
Early Childhood and Family Learning Foundation.
Bard Early College in New Orleans
Boys Hope Girls Hope of Greater New Orleans
Healing Hearts for Community Development
EPNO is an entirely volunteer-run organization. The grants given to selected nonprofits are administered by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and the Urban League of Greater New Orleans serves as the program’s fiscal agent. Program alumni remain committed to New Orleans and the organization’s goals.
“Participating in EPNO is one of the best experiences I have had in New Orleans,” says Eric Parrie, a member of the 2010 class.
In fact, over 80% of EPNO alumni have volunteered or plan to volunteer with grantees. For some, this program has served as a catalyst to serve on nonprofit boards. Additionally, over two-thirds of alumni have provided matching funds for the current class. Within the next few years, EPNO expects to raise all matching funds through alumni contributions.
“The funds not only go to worthy local nonprofits, but they are helping to engage and inspire the future philanthropists and leaders of New Orleans,” said Beth Shapiro Lavin, an alumnus who has donated matching funds to support the current class.
In its first three years, EPNO has received over 300 grant applications and has distributed $82,000 in grants to 21 local organizations. Prior grantees include Artist Corps of New Orleans, A’s & Aces, Girls First, Latino Farmers Cooperative of Louisiana, Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation/YB Green Recycled Fashion, Roots of Music, Social Entrepreneurs of New Orleans, Start on Success, Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival, Tulane City Center’s “Grow Dat” Youth Farm, Westbank Community School, YA/YA, and Youth Empowerment Project.
To learn more about ENPO, please visit www.emergingphilanthropists.org.