Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund

by Greater New Orleans Foundation
Houma Indians, Evan Solet and Trent Dardar
Houma Indians, Evan Solet and Trent Dardar

The Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund was established on April 22, 2010 and has raised approximately $1,320,457 (including $50,000 from GNOF’s Environment Fund).  To date, 18 grants totaling over $600,000 have been made.  Grants include the following:

The Coastal 5+1 Initiative

The “Coastal 5+1” Initiative for the five coastal parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, lower Jefferson, Terrebonne, Lafourche and for the coastal-dependent urban parish of Orleans presents the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) with a singular opportunity to address in a strategic manner the most pressing challenges facing our region.  A grant of $100,000 will empower diverse communities to confront pressing coastal issues, as defined by local residents working in conjunction with regional and national experts. The Coastal 5+1 Initiative seeks to connect emerging leaders with immediate, concrete solutions to long-term problems created by marginalized economies, poor planning, and environmental degradation.  This includes working with the United Houma Nations.  After centuries of being forced ever southward away from rich farmlands by European settlers, they are now being pushed in the opposite direction by an unrelenting combination of failed environmental policy and a fishing industry threatened by pollution from one of the nation’s worst offshore oil spills. 

The Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund was established on April 22, 2010 and has raised approximately $941,739 (including $50,000 from GNOF’s Environment Fund).  To date,17 grants totaling over $500,000 have been made.  Grant include the following: 

The Alliance Institute

The Alliance Institute brings together an experienced team of professionals and grassroots leaders to advocate for social and economic justice in the towns and neighborhoods of coastal Louisiana. A grant of $18,000.00 from the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund will be used by the institute to establish health clinics designed to provide emergency health care and oil clean-up training in the coastal communities of Barataria, Crown Point and Lafitte, Louisiana. These clinics will be equipped to provide training and health resources to hazardous materials workers who are working with oil spill clean-up.

Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans

The purpose of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund grant is to convene commercial fishers from multiple racial, ethnic and geographic groups in our region in an effort to create a more unified voice for this industry and to create a comprehensive resiliency plan for the entire commercial fishing industry in our service area. A grant of $75,000 from the Greater New Orleans Foundation will go to the above efforts.

Coastal Communities Consulting

In reference to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund, Coastal Communities Consulting is working to expand the provision of business and oil spill related consulting services to the rapidly growing number of Latino and primarily Spanish-speaking commercial fishers, as well as to offer business-related consulting services to all commercial fishers in Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Orleans, Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes. A grant of $52,000 from the Greater New Orleans Foundation has been to support the Latino fishing communities in the above parishes.

GNO, Inc.

GNO, Inc. is launching the Greater New Orleans Marine Training & Certification Program with the help from the $50,000 grant from the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund.

Greater New Orleans Disaster Recovery Partnership

The Disaster Recovery Partnership’s goal in alliance with the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund is to support a regional approach to long-term recovery and preparedness for commercial fishers and others affected by the oil spill. A grant of $15,000 has been made to the Greater New Orleans Disaster Recovery Partnership.

Healing Hearts for Community Development

The Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund has granted $15,460 to Healing Hearts for mental health support to the communities of Greater New Orleans. Their services include: Mental Health Counseling, Substance Abuse Treatment, Case Management, Counselor Training, and Journey to Freedom (a recovery assistance program).

Just the Right Attitude

Just the Right Attitude (JTRA) was founded by Debra W. South in 2001 as a food bank serving the people of New Orleans East and Gentilly Communities. The Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund granted JTRA $1,095 to support their community food pantry.

Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation

The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF) is dedicated to restoring and preserving the water quality, coast, and habitats of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin. A grant of $25,000.00 from the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund will finance personnel, boat, and mileage costs associated with LPBF’s oil spill response work. LBPF has set up 16 field monitoring and data collection points to monitor the affects of the spill on the basin. This grant will enable them to archive and analyze pertinent data from these collection points, and coordinate their ongoing collaboration with federal, state and parish agencies to mitigate the effects of the oil spill.


Because of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund, families are taking their pets to the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LA/SPCA) because they simply cannot afford to care for them. If there was ever a time for families to keep their pets, it would be now because pets provide much-needed comfort. A grant of $15,000 from the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund will allow families to feed and treat their pets free of charge in an effort to encourage owners to keep their pets and to prevent companion animals from being abandoned.

Louisiana Bucket Brigade

Since the oil spill, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade is training additional local volunteers to sample the air quality in the coastal parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, and lower Jefferson. Equipped with EPA-approved ‘buckets,’ the volunteers monitor and report the quality of air in their communities. With a grant of $49,990 from the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade will train interested residents in the environmental health impacts of oil and dispersants, and the proper use of respirators and protective equipment.

Louisiana Justice Institute

With the support from the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund, the Louisiana Justice Institute’s goal is to support the salary of a paid organizer to provide education, outreach, organizing and hands-on legal assistance with claims processing to affected fishermen, concentrating in the African American and Native American Communities. With a grant of $30,000 from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, Louisiana Justice Institute will support their salary.

Louisiana Universities Marine Corsortium

The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) was formed in 1979 to coordinate and stimulate Louisiana’s activities in marine research and education. LUMCON provides coastal laboratory facilities to Louisiana universities, and conducts research and educational programs in the marine sciences. The Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund grant of $35,721 assesses the resilience of salt march ecosystems following an environmental catastrophe.

Market Umbrella

Market Umbrella is launching a pilot Community Supported Fisheries social enterprise during Lent 2011 for crabs and finfish to increase consumption of local seafood on Fridays. A grant of $35,000 from the Greater New Orleans Foundation will go to help launch Market Umbrella’s pilot Lent program.

Tulane Institute on Water Resources, Law & Policy

The Tulane Institute on Water Resources and Policy works to develop laws and policies that allow for improved stewardship and sustainable management of water resources. Since the oil spill, the Institute has been working with national and local water resource professionals to determine to affect of the oil spill on water resources. A $50,000.00 grant from the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund will enable the Institute to organize three community-level meetings to inform the public about oil spill response and the legal and policy framework that is controlling it. The Institute will also organize two meetings with the National Resource Damage Assessment department and coastal restoration professionals to consider ways of integrating the natural resource damage response to the spill with the broader coastal restoration efforts that are already underway in Louisiana.

Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association (VAYLA)

VAYLA is a youth-led community-based organization dedicated to empowering Vietnamese Americans. A grant of $10,000 from the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund will provide legal education on fishers’ rights in Vietnamese, create documentation on the ongoing impact to the Vietnamese fishing community, and sponsor town hall meetings to share information on clean-up efforts for the Vietnamese community.

Seedco Financial

As southeast Louisiana’s fishing communities watched the ongoing oil disaster threaten their economy and way of life, the Greater New Orleans Foundation made a grant from its Gulf Oil Spill Fund to help support critical services to fishermen—such as the Seedco Financial’s Southeast Fisheries Assistance Center.

The Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund was established on April 22, 2010 and has raised approximately $941,739 (including $50,000 from GNOF’s Environment Fund).  Since July,  seven grants totaling  of $187,990 have been made to community serving organizations including the Seedco Southeast Louisiana Fisheries Assistance Center, Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Vietnamese American Youth Leadership Association, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Catholic Charities of Thibodaux/Houma. 

Some six months after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the time has arrived to consider longer-term strategies for repairing the individual lives, communities and industries that were negatively impacted by this tragedy.  With this end in mind, the Greater New Orleans Foundation is making $400,000 available to regional nonprofit organizations that are prepared to address some of the critical issues that were either directly caused or uncovered by the BP spill.  Our intention is to fund programs and initiatives that seek to rebuild the viability of our economy and ecosystem in the specific context of the oil spill.

One overarching goal for the use of these funds is the sharing and implementation of best practices learned by other commercial fishers and charter boat operators from across the country who have overcome similar ordeals.  Additionally, these funds are meant to support long-term solutions to the problems caused by the BP spill.


Robert Whittington - Commercial Fisherman
Robert Whittington - Commercial Fisherman

The Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund

Following the Hurricanes on 2005, the Greater New Orleans Foundation became a conduit for national investment and private philanthropy in the Greater New Orleans region. As often happens in a disaster, donors turn to the local community foundation because of its intimate knowledge of the local nonprofit community. To meet this need, the Foundation established the Rebuild New Orleans Fund shortly after Hurricane Katrina. National foundations, corporations, families and individuals contributed millions to this fund to help with rebuilding efforts.

Recognizing the similar need to enable national and even international investment in the region following the April 20th explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and subsequent oil spill, the Foundation established the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund to assist the coastal communities directly impacted by the spill. We are funding philanthropic dollars back into the effected communities on short and long-term bases. To date, $175,000 in grants have been made to community serving organizations including the Seedco Southeast Louisiana Fisheries Assistance Center, Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Vietnamese American Youth Leadership Association, and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

Short-term Strategies

The Foundation has been deeply connected with Jefferson, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard Parishes. Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, to ensure that the rebuilding process in these three coastal parishes was spearheaded by leaders who live and work there, we launched and funded community based affiliate foundations in each of the three parishes. In August 2009, we broadened our reach to five additional parishes – including Terrebonne and Lafourche - by allocating $625,000 for grant-making.

Our work in the fishing communities of southeast Louisiana began in 2007 when we invited Seedco Financial to establish the Southeast Louisiana Fisheries Assistance Center, located in Plaquemines Parish. The center is the first and only one-stop resource center for fisheries in Louisiana and provides financial assistance and comprehensive business services to commercial fishermen. The first grant approved from the Oil Spill Fund was a $50,000 emergency grant to the Fisheries Assistance Center to provide additional staffing support during the crisis: up to 100 fishermen per day were visiting the center for assistance. Additional grants from the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund have been made to the Louisiana SPCA, the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.

In the short-term, we aim to preserve these fishermen’s livelihoods and communities. We will also advance strategies for commercial fishers to include 1) helping to bring best practices in how to position an environmentally "impacted" fishery to weather the present storm and to re-deploy itself as soon as possible, and 2) helping to devise a "commercial outreach strategy" that includes both marketing and a targeted informational campaign to fish consumers throughout the country.

Long-term Strategies

In many respects, GNOF has understood the fundamental interdependence of southeastern Louisiana’s rural parishes and the metropolitan hub of New Orleans virtually since its founding more than 87 years ago. The long-term strategies of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund address, in a strategic manner, some of the most pressing challenges facing our region through three program areas:

I. Civic Engagement and Leadership

Many observers have commented that levels of civic engagement rose significantly after the breaking of the levees. Because local, state, and federal governments failed to respond adequately to the crisis, individuals took matters into their own hands. Citizens became organized to help their neighbors and save their neighborhoods. Increasingly they engaged in the monitoring of public entities and policymakers. They began to expect more from local government. Many nonprofit organizations were launched.

The goal of the Civic Engagement and Leadership Program is to join Orleans Parish with its southern neighbors in advocating for the coast at the state and federal levels. In the short-term, our strategy focuses on 1) creating linkages around the issue of coastal restoration among political/civic leaders and institutions, and 2) educating the affected public about emerging state restoration plans and the effects that they will have on settlement patterns and the still local economies. In the longer term, we will focus on regional leadership development and training to influence national efforts that seek to create a healthy Mississippi River Delta, stem wetlands loss, and create a region that grows and manages its surface water in a more sustainable way.

2. Environment and Sustainable Communities

Ever since the disasters brought about by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, as well as Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, residents have had to make major adjustments in how they respond to increasingly dangerous storms. Whether man-made, such as the BP oil catastrophe, or natural, these disasters have critical repercussions for the most vulnerable people in our communities—low-income and working families, children, and the elderly. The experiences of the last five years have spurred a level of community engagement rooted in a commitment to better preparation, advocacy for fair and humane public policies for relief, and rebuilding in a manner that is smarter, safer, and more equitable. Clearly our region’s future will be significantly shaped by our responses to its unique environmental challenges.

The goal of the Environment and Sustainable Communities Program is, year after year, to encourage resilience, adaptation, sustainability, and ecological, economic, and cultural vitality through support for equitable, environmentally focused policies and programs. Our strategy is to support 1) the implementation of environmentally-related best practices that will have an immediately beneficial and measurable impact on the lives of our citizens and on the long-term viability of our economy; 2) transformation of processes and systems that impede equitable progress; 3) practical revision of zoning regulations to reflect current opportunities and needs; 4) land use and planning as well as community organizing and education to ensure state and federal investment; 5) the development of soft engineering solutions to managing surface water challenges, such as rain gardens, permeable surfaces, roof gardens, cisterns which are part of a water recycling system, and planning for more compact communities that conserve valuable absorptive land; and 6) the creation of sound water policy as it relates to the Mississippi River as an ecosystem, transportation corridor, and revitalizing community amenity. Through these strategies, we will create an adaptive culture through the building of resilient housing, integrated water management infrastructure, and equitable planning, which is the only alternative to mass migration further inland.

3. Sustainable Economic Development

Geographic isolation and concentrations of low-income people in our coastal region have been exacerbated by the recent disasters. Gaining access to opportunity – especially for our African American, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American communities – is increasingly difficult because of high housing and transportation costs, shifts in job creation away from low-skilled work, and the exodus of major corporations from the metropolitan New Orleans area following Hurricane Katrina. We believe that the development of water management technologies and the bringing to scale of these inventions will lead to new career opportunities for local residents that are well paying and enduring. Cultivated in the correct manner, they can lead to workforce opportunities that can, in turn, make our region into a world leader in such areas as integrated surface water management and resilient construction – areas that the Dutch, for example, have mastered and now export for profit.

To drive the development of this new economy in our region, the Sustainable Economic Development Program will support 1) economic opportunities that are unique to the region’s resources, such as traditionally viable industries in agriculture, fisheries, and energy production; 2) workforce development programs that are specifically tailored to emerging careers in such fields as wetlands restoration, innovative surface water management, planning and engineering; 3) workforce development programs conducted by professional trade organizations and community development financial institutions; and 4) non-traditional youth outreach and training which includes after-school education efforts geared toward empowerment, self-esteem and self-discipline, wealth creation and asset-building. With this “blue ocean” strategy, we can begin not only preserving our coastal communities but also improving the lives of people whose economic status has been limited by a combination of geographic isolation and over-dependence on unsustainable industries.

Grant made to SPCA Animal Relief Program
Grant made to SPCA Animal Relief Program
Citizens are trained to monitor air quality
Citizens are trained to monitor air quality


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Organization Information

Greater New Orleans Foundation

Location: New Orleans, LA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Greater New Orleans Foundation
Project Leader:
Josephine Everly
development officer
New Orleans, LA United States

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