OR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 17, 2012
Local young professionals grant $40,000 to eight local nonprofits
Four-year-old philanthropic organization has experienced rapid growth and will surpass $120,000 in grants since its inception
NEW ORLEANS – In May 2012, 40 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 fourth 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 grew to 29 individuals, and the 2011 class included 35 participants. This year’s class of 40 members brings together a broad mix of Louisiana natives and newcomers with diverse professional backgrounds.
The program’s fourth annual class announced today that it will present awards to its eight grant recipients during a ceremony at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 17, at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
As in the previous three 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 pooled their resources, learned about the grant-making process, heard from nonprofit experts, reviewed proposals from nonprofit organizations in the Greater New Orleans area seeking funds, and ultimately provided targeted grants to selected nonprofits. This year’s class is awarding $40,000 to eight nonprofits.
“[EPNO] has really filled that ‘sweet spot’ for young professionals in the city that want to be part of the process, not just onlookers to the process. It’s an invaluable niche that needed to be filled,” said Rachel Lombardo, a member of the 2012 class.
Once selected, the class members divide themselves into issue-based grant-making teams, which are selected based on the group’s interests. For 2012, EPNO participants focused on five areas: Crime & Public Safety, Economic Development & Entrepreneurship, Education & Youth Development, Environment, and Healthcare.
After a six-month process, which included educational sessions, grant proposal evaluations, and site visits, the teams selected the local organizations which will receive this year’s funds.
The 2012 grant winners include the following organizations:
Louisiana Bucket Brigade
The Beautiful Foundation, Inc.
Youth Orchestra of the Lower 9th Ward
The Green Project
Luke’s House Clinic
EPNO is an entirely volunteer-run organization. The grants are administered by the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Program alumni remain committed to New Orleans and the organization’s goals. In fact, more than 73% of EPNO alumni have remained involved by volunteering with past grantees, holding leadership positions within EPNO, participating in EPNO events, or contributing matching funds. For some, this program has served as a catalyst to serve on other nonprofit boards.
“Giving matching funds not only ensures that the mission of EPNO is continued but also inspires class members who have an extraordinary opportunity to make an impact in the Greater New Orleans area through philanthropy,” said Casie Z. Davidson, an alumna who has donated matching funds to support the current class.
In its first four years, EPNO has received and read more than 450 grant applications and distributed $122,000 in grants to 29 local organizations. Prior grantees include A’s & Aces; Artist Corps New Orleans; Bard Early College in New Orleans; Boys Hope Girls Hope of Greater New Orleans; Early Childhood and Family Learning Foundation; First Grace Community Alliance/Hagar’s House; Girls First; Goat in the Road Productions; GrowDat Youth Farm; Healing Hearts for Community Development; Latino Farmers Cooperative; Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation; lowernine.org; Propeller (formerly SENO); Roots of Music; Start on Success at O. Perry Walker; takeashine; Tennessee Williams – New Orleans Literary Festival, Inc.; Westbank Community School; YAYA; and the Youth Empowerment Project.
“When I think about EPNO’s role as a connector between our network of civic-minded young professionals and the many nonprofits in our community who are doing essential and innovative work, I see so much potential for effecting positive change in New Orleans,” said Beth Shapiro Lavin, EPNO’s Advisory Board Chair.
To learn more about EPNO, please visit http://www.