New Orleans businessowners and philanthropists John and Dathel Georges have donated $1 million to the United Way of Southeast Louisiana to help the nonprofit eradicate poverty.
The hefty donation earns the couple, who own The Advocate, a seat at United Way’s Million Dollar Roundtable, a national circle of donors who give $1 million or more. The Georges join philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates.
“We are more than happy giving to United Way to support the local community where our customers, employees and family live and work,” the Georges said in a statement.
Latter & Blum CEO Robert Merrick was the first Louisiana resident to join that group in 2014, when he gave $1 million. Associated Terminals chairman David Fennelly followed with another $1 million donation last year, and an anonymous donor gave the agency $1.2 million in April.
Donations from the Georges’ and others this year will help fund the United Way’s “Blueprint for Prosperity,” a plan seeking to address the problems caused by poverty today and carve out a path to end poverty in the future.
Programs that could be funded under that plan include the United Way’s Individual Development Account Project, a matched savings account program that helps savers purchase a home or other large assets; the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, which helps low-income individuals file their annual income taxes for free; and STRIVE NOLA, Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s four-week job training program for unemployed residents.
In a shift in United Way’s strategy, the plan also calls for the financing of initiatives backed by more than one organization, as opposed to only funding one nonprofit’s goals at a time, local United Way spokeswoman Terry Westerfield said.
To measure the progress of programs the Georges’ and others have funded, United Way will track the percentage of people participating in those programs who gain stable employment and the skills necessary to overcome employment barriers, as well as those who can pay for basic needs with their income, among other indicators.
United Way will release its findings a year after distributing initial program awards. It will announce official award recipients for the 2016-2017 fiscal year in a few weeks, Westerfield said.
The Georges’ donation helped United Way reach fundraising goals for its annual workplace campaign, which raised $14.6 million this year. Employees in Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes participated.