For the New Orleans Family Justice Center, this year’s IMPACT grant from the Greater New Orleans Foundation will literally help keep the lights on at a place where last year alone 1,200 adult and 600 child victims of domestic violence or sexual assault were able to find the help they needed.
The New Orleans Family Justice Center is one of 48 organizations receiving money in 2015 from GNOF, through its signature grant-making program.
“Each year, we are entrusted with money by our donors to do with as we see fit,” said Flint Mitchell, program officer at GNOF. “Since 2009, this program has allowed us to give to a wide array of organizations in five categories: arts and culture, youth development, education, health and social services. Last year, we gave out $795,500. This year, it’s $960,000.”
Mitchell says GNOF received 205 letters of intent from organizations in the summer. Each letter explained who the organization was, what need they were hoping to serve, how they would serve the need and how they planned to evaluate their work.
“From there, we chose about 50 to speak with further on the phone or by visiting their site,” Mitchell said. “We then made recommendations to the eight members of our grant committee.”
This is the second year the New Orleans Family Justice Center has received an IMPACT grant — $20,000 in 2013 and $15,000 this year. As with last year, the grant will go toward offsetting the costs of renting the space for the agencies and paying for their operational costs.
“We are unique in that we have eight different agencies — all serving victims in different ways — all in the same location,” said Mary Claire Landry, director of the New Orleans Family Justice Center.
In addition to serving as the home of the New Orleans Police Department’s domestic violence unit, Landry said that the Family Justice Center also offers victims everything from legal help, to housing assistance, to counseling. “Instead of handing them a list of 20 places they have to go to, we provide a sort of one-stop shop, if you will.”
This makes the third year in a row that Grow Dat Youth Farm has received an IMPACT grant. For them, the grants have allowed the organization to continue to expand its reach.
Since 2011, the 4-acre farm located within City Park has employed area high school students to help produce healthy food for local residents. While doing so, the students learn leadership and teamwork.
“In 2012, when we were just getting started, we received $35,000 to develop a wellness curriculum,” said Johanna Gilligan, executive director of Grow Dat Youth Farm. “The educational curriculum included things like cooking classes with the purpose of educating the students about the importance of a healthy diet.”
In 2013, the program received another IMPACT grant of $25,000 to expand the program and educate the families of the youth. This year, Grow Dat Youth Farm has been awarded $26,000 to even further expand the wellness program to the community as a whole.
“We already sell at a reduced cost or donate 40 percent of the food we grow,” Gilligan said. “Now we’re going to be looking at how we can further encourage people in the community to make healthier choices and incorporate more fresh food into their diet.”
Since it began in 2009, the IMPACT Program has granted more than $5 million to more than 135 local nonprofit organizations. For information, visit www.gnof.org.