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10 Years After Hurricane Katrina, These Orgs Are Still Working for a More Equitable New Orleans

New Orleans Travel
by Elspeth Gilmore Sep 3, 2015

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since Hurricane Katrina. But as one of the founding members of Gulf South Allied Funders, I am honored to be reconnecting with others in this moment to reflect on the disaster and help continue supporting ongoing efforts in the Gulf South region.

I helped start Gulf South Allied Funders months after Hurricane Katrina hit. We raised over $3 million to support groups doing grassroots, social justice, equitable, anti-racist rebuilding work. Ten years later, there is still much work to do. Below is a list of organizations and projects you can support to help the region’s ongoing struggles:

1. Gulf South Rising

GSR is a regional strategy to unify Gulf South movements. It is the outcome of a five-year movement building strategy anchored by Colette Pichon Battle, the founder of GCCLP (Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy) in connection with Project South. They’re currently raising money to mobilize around the 10th anniversary.

2. STEPS Coalition

They were formed in 2006, right in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They are comprised of over 39 non-profit organizations and community members that convene to “provide the space for a community to define and advocate for its priorities” and “to build capacity and leadership.”

3. Mississippi NAACP

The Mississippi NAACP has been central to the STEPS Coalition and pre and post-Katrina Gulf Coast Mississippi organizing.

4. Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative

JPNSI is a housing and community development organization that uses the community land trust (CLT) model of shared equity and land stewardship to help create equitable and just neighborhoods in the area.

5. NENA — Neighborhood Empowerment Network Association

This is a recovery center in the Lower 9th Ward that offers assistance to displaced residents (both homeowners and renters).

6. The Workers’ Center for Racial Justice

This organization organizes workers, day laborers, and homeless residents to build a social movement in post-Katrina New Orleans. Projects include: Alliance of Guestworkers for Dignity, Congress of Day Laborers, and STAND with Dignity.

7. Southern Mutual Help Association

Founded in 1969 to be an agent of change in rural Louisiana, this organization aims to “build strong, healthy and prosperous rural communities” by creating new approaches to the root causes of poverty, racism, sexism and classism. Some of their work has included protecting the environmental assets and land of rural communities, fostering economic development in stressed communities, developing rural housing,providing homeowner assistance, assisting fisher businesses and fisher families’ work, and more.

8. Ashe Cultural Center

An initiative of the nonprofit Efforts of Grace, this center’s mission is to “use art and culture to support human, community and economic development” in the area.

9. Women with a Vision

A grassroots collective of African-American women created WWAV in 1989 in response to the spread of HIV/AIDS in communities of color. These days, they focus on sex worker rights, drug policy reform, HIV positive women’s advocacy, and reproductive justice outreach. Their vision is “an environment in which there is no war against women’s bodies, in which women have spaces to come together and share their stories, in which women are empowered to make decisions concerning their own bodies and lives, and in which women have the necessary support to realize their hopes, dreams, and full potential.”

10. Advocates for Environmental Human Rights

AEHR is a nonprofit, public interest law firm that provides legal services, community organizing support, public education, and campaigns that defend and advance the human right to a healthy environment. They also advocate for the human rights of internally displaced Gulf Coast hurricane survivors.

11. V.O.T.E.

From their website: “Voice of the Ex-Offender is a grassroots, membership based organization founded and run by Formerly Incarcerated Persons (FIPs) in partnership with allies dedicated to ending the disenfranchisement and discrimination against FIP’s.”

For Youth:


This is a multiracial community-based organization in New Orleans that empowers youth and families through supportive services. Their vision states “We recognize youth has a voice, so we equip them with the confidence to speak for themselves, and the skills and knowledge to do it effectively.”

2. Kids Rethink New Orleans

This organization uses participatory education and action-research to develop the organizing and leadership skills of New Orleans youth.

3. BreakOUT! New Orleans

This organization seeks to “end the criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth to build a safer and more just New Orleans.” They build on the “rich cultural tradition of resistance in the South” to empower LGBTQ youth ages through youth organizing, healing justice, and leadership development programs.

4. Family and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children

From their website: “FFLIC’s mission is a grassroots membership-based organization working to transform the systems that put children at risk of prison. Through empowerment, leadership development, and training, we strive to keep children from going to prison, and support those who have.”

Other resources


This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate, Naomi Klein’s book (2014). Chock full of what’s happening in terms of resistance across the Gulf Coast as well as at other frontline sites nationally and internationally.

FLOODLINES: Community and Resistance from Katrina to the Jena Six, Jordan Flaherty (2010).


A Movement Lab in New Orleans: The 10-year fight for a just recovery from Hurricane Katrina has driven a surge in innovative, progressive organizing.” Jordan Flaherty, The Nation, Aug-Sept 2015.

New Orleans Katrina Pain Index at 10: Who Was Left Behind“, Bill Quigley, Huffington Post, July 20, 2015.

10 New Orleanians on How Katrina Changed Their City,” Next City

After the Deluge” The New Republic, July/August 2015. Mixed but some good history.


Hurricane Katrina Didn’t Kill New Orleans — But It Almost Did. A new 25-minute documentary that Jordan Flaherty just directed for the Laura Flanders Show.

Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek” is an award-winning documentary by filmmaker Leah Mahan (earlier films include “Holding Ground” and “Gaining Ground”). Its streaming free August 26-September 4. See the website for more info.


The Land Of Opportunity interactive website

Visit Bridge the Gulf to stay abreast of Gulf Coast happenings, and on Facebook. A community journalism and storytelling project founded immediately post the BP oil explosion. Launched by the Advancement Project and Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC). The website is an overview of how African Americans in New Orleans have been left behind in the city’s recovery efforts and the decade-long displacement and neglect this community has suffered.

This post has been created with help from the following members of the Gulf South Allied Funders project: Laura Wernick, Donna Hall, Tracy Hewat, Amelie Ratliff, Rev. John Vaughn, Sam Seidel, Nancy Dalwin, Amy Laura Cahn, Erica Waples, Amira Anne Glickman, Jamie Schweser, Tracy Burt, Roan Boucher, and Christina Case.

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