Meet the foundations we honored at the 2017 NCRP Impact Awards in New Orleans
For much of its 12-year existence, Foundation for Louisiana (FFL) has centered inclusive engagement and equitable outcomes in all its work. One of the best expressions of these values has been the relationships and partnerships in and through philanthropy that provide the financial, strategic and leadership resources necessary to grow funder and nonprofit capacity in this way.
FFL’s experience as a founding member of the Greater New Orleans Funders Network (GNOFN) and Grantmakers for Southern Progress exemplifies the opportunity to deepen funder impact in the Deep South.
Much of the foundation’s work in creating greater equity outcomes is deeply rooted in historic criminal justice work. In 2011, for example, FFL served as a key investor in the initial data analysis that made it clear that Orleans Parish was imprisoning thousands of nonviolent and innocent people in its jail. Since then, with much investment from local and national investors and grantee partners, the size of the New Orleans jail has been reduced by more than half – perhaps the most significant reduction in jail size in America. In addition to financial support, FFL chief executive Flozell Daniels, Jr. served on the city’s jail size task force, co-chairing the Reentry Committee.
In 2017, New Orleans’ jail size reduction success was bookended by successful efforts at the state level to reduce the number of prisoners in the state system. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards appointed the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Taskforce, whose recommendations informed the creation of 10 successful bills designed to reduce state prison populations and reinvest 70 percent of the savings (about $154 million) into evidence-based approaches to cut crime and recidivism.
The GNOFN Criminal Justice Action Table developed a surge-funding strategy that helped activist and advocacy groups more successfully participate in and lead the legislative changes. FFL chief executive was appointed as Governor Edwards’ designee on the Justice Reinvestment Taskforce, leveraging financial and leadership resources to pass the most historic legislation on criminal justice reform ever in Louisiana.
Foundation for Louisiana’s emphasis on investing in leadership and public policy that delivers on the promise of more equitable outcomes has created many opportunities to realize significant public policy wins. An example is a grant made through FFL’s TOGETHER Initiative to support community leaders in improving police accountability by strengthening the Office of Independent Police Monitor – ensuring it permanently has the resources and political independence to provide critical oversight of the New Orleans Police Department. It is now one the strongest of its kind, if not the strongest, in the nation.
“It’s really is about our fundamental belief in having an equity lens, a race lens and a justice lens – a way of thinking about including people in the creation of their own solutions,” Daniels said. “We cannot emphasize enough the importance of not just engaging through grantmaking and convening powers to effect this kind of change, but our work is also deeply rooted in civic engagement, organizing the full resources of philanthropy and community to solve problems and create solutions at their roots.”
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