The Baton Rouge Area Foundation announced Wednesday the awarding of $18 million in oil leak recovery money to four nonprofit organizations.

There will be two or three more rounds of grant announcements to nonprofit groups in the northern Gulf Coast made between now and 2012, said John Davies, chief executive officer of BRAF.

The money comes from the foundation’s Future of the Gulf Fund, which has $75 million transferred from the Gulf Coast Restoration and Protection Fund established by a $100 million BP donation last year.

The original fund was designed to help oil rig workers impacted by the oil leak last spring and then a second round of funding was available to support workers in the deep-water drilling area.

During a news conference in New Orleans, BRAF announced the following grants:

• Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans will receive $15 million for the Spirit of Hope Collaborative, a group of 16 nonprofit groups helping disaster victims get mental health and career counseling.

• The Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans will receive $2 million to create a permanent triage and holding center to respond to future marine mammal and sea turtle emergencies.

• Louisiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster will receive $410,000 to organize a conference for disaster relief nonprofits in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. It will be held in Jackson, Miss. in November.

• Single Stop USA will receive $594,000 to operate a program at Delgado Community College in New Orleans to help oil leak-impacted workers transfer to new careers.

Margaret Trahan, president of Louisiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, explained that the organization is made up of numerous regional Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

Each of these groups is a collaboration of nonprofit organizations that are willing to put in resources to help in times of disaster, she said.

Ron Forman, president of the Audubon Nature Institute, said the $2 million will provide seed money to be better prepared to respond to and research future disasters, including hurricanes.

During the oil leak last year, Forman said the institute took in more than 300 sea turtles and other marine life for rehabilitation and a coastal wildlife center is needed in Louisiana.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s Future of the Gulf Fund will be making grants during the next three years to nonprofit groups geared toward helping people, wildlife and the environment along the Gulf Coast, Davies said. The focus for the grants runs from Cameron Parish in Louisiana to Panama City in Florida, he said. The groups must report their progress.

Particularly in Louisiana, there have been a number of factors in the last few years, including hurricanes, the oil leak, the economic downturn and damage to oyster beds due to opening of fresh-water diversion along the Mississippi River last year in an oil leak response, Davies said.

As a result, there are numerous social needs while nonprofit agencies are having a hard time raising money because of the economy, he said.

As the administrator of the fund, BRAF is not taking grant applications, Davies said. Instead, he said the foundation has numerous contacts and knowledge of the nonprofit organizations to know which ones could benefit from the money.