The Rex Organization’s floats for the 2019 Mardi Gras parade, themed “Visions of the Sun,” were a colorful backdrop at the Rex Den for the announcement by Pro Bono Publico Foundation of its awarding of $1 million in grants to 68 recipients on Sat. Jan. 12.
The 68 grants serve a total of 35,000 students and include nine charter management organizations responsible for 44 schools, 18 individual charter schools and nine other schools, including several serving children with special needs. Also, part of the grants were 23 organizations that provide support services to students and schools, as well as six policy and advocacy organizations. Awardees include Audubon Charter School, Bright School, Choice Foundation, Homer A. Plessy School, KID smART and Youth Force NOLA. A full list is on the foundation web site (probonopublicofoundation.org).
It was the fourth consecutive year the foundation’s grants totaled $1 million, bringing the cumulative grant total to more than $7.5 million through 12 grant cycles.
In addition to announcing the awards, the event was an open house for the grant recipient representatives and their families, who got an early peek at the floats. “Myth, history and culture artistically combine on 26 floats,” said Rex historian Dr. Stephen Hales, who was Rex 2017. He also noted the online enrichment on the Rex Organization site (rexorganization.org) for teachers to use for their students to learn more about the 2019 floats, in addition to the krewe’s permanent nine floats.
The foundation was started by members of the Rex Organization after Hurricane Katrina to help support the city’s public schools and its students. This year, the foundation recently established a Strategic Innovation Fund.
“In 2019, we are trying to start a transition from our traditional, smaller grants to charter schools and their support organizations,” said foundation Chair Storey Charbonnet. “And target the short-term, somewhere in the 20 to 30 percent core giving, to strategic grants. This will most likely be in partnerships with schools or support organizations, such as Teach for America or New Schools for New Orleans, to work on a difficult program such as teacher retention.
“We are pretty excited for what the future holds with the fund and it will enable us to partner with other foundations from out of the city and bring more money to the foundation’s endeavors.”