New Orleans, Louisiana, is a city rich in culture and history. But like many cities in America, it faces its share of social and environmental challenges. Fortunately, there are many social enterprises in New Orleans that are working to make a positive impact on the community.
New Orleans has a thriving nonprofit sector that is actively engaged in improving the quality of life for residents and promoting economic development.
According to the Greater New Orleans Foundation, there are over 6,000 nonprofits operating in the Greater New Orleans area, making it one of the most vibrant nonprofit communities in the United States.
Nonprofits in New Orleans employ over 60,000 people, which represents about 12% of the workforce in the area and generates over $5 billion in annual revenue, making it a significant contributor to the local economy.
Social enterprises are also a growing sector in New Orleans. According to the Greater New Orleans Foundation, there are over 100 social enterprises operating in the area.
The New Orleans Business Alliance, a public-private partnership focused on economic development, has identified social entrepreneurship as a key strategy for promoting economic growth and addressing social challenges in the city.
In recent years, New Orleans has become a hub for impact investing and social finance, with a number of organizations and initiatives focused on supporting social enterprises and impact-driven investment.
Overall, the nonprofit sector in New Orleans is a dynamic and thriving community that plays a vital role in shaping the city’s future. Through their work, these organizations are building a more resilient, equitable, and sustainable New Orleans for all its residents.
In this post, we’ll highlight the social enterprises that are making a difference in New Orleans.
Grow Dat Youth Farm
Grow Dat Youth Farm is a nonprofit organization based in New Orleans, Louisiana, that operates a farm where young people can gain experience in agriculture, community service, and leadership development.
The organization’s mission is to cultivate young leaders through the practice of sustainable agriculture, and they do this by providing paid opportunities for high school students to work on the farm, learn about food systems, and engage with the community.
The farm also provides fresh produce to the community through farmers’ markets and partnerships with local restaurants and schools. Overall, Grow Dat Youth Farm aims to empower young people and promote food justice in the New Orleans area.
Son of a Saint
Son of a Saint is a New Orleans-based nonprofit organization that provides mentorship, education, and emotional support to fatherless boys through a long-term program.
The program starts with boys aged 10-12 and continues until they graduate high school, providing them with access to mentorship, education, recreation, camaraderie, cultural enrichment, emotional support and helping to fill the void for fatherless young men in New Orleans.
The organization was founded by Bivian “Sonny” Lee III, who lost his father to (a former professional football player for the New Orleans Saints) when he was a child, and wanted to provide mentorship and support to other boys who were growing up without a father figure.
The program aims to break the cycle of poverty and violence and provide young boys with the tools and resources they need to succeed in life.
The Green Project
The Green Project is a nonprofit organization based in New Orleans that aims to promote environmental sustainability by diverting materials from landfills and making them available for reuse.
The organization operates a retail store that sells reclaimed building materials, furniture, and household goods at affordable prices.
In addition, The Green Project also provides education and outreach programs to the community, such as workshops and volunteer opportunities.
The organization’s mission is to create a culture of reuse and to reduce waste in the New Orleans area.
Overall, The Green Project is dedicated to promoting environmental sustainability and social responsibility by encouraging people to rethink their relationship with waste.
Bonfolk is a social enterprise that specializes in producing high-quality socks with unique designs inspired by various regions and cultures of New Orleans. The company’s mission is to use fashion as a vehicle for social change by supporting local nonprofits.
The Bonfolk impact model is built around the “One for One” program. For every pair of socks sold, the company donates a pair to a homeless shelter in the United States. This program helps to provide those in need with warm, comfortable socks, which can make a significant difference in their quality of life.
Socks are an essential clothing item, but they are often overlooked when it comes to donations for shelters.
To address this issue, they have designed a special sock that meets the necessary requirements for those in need. The socks are solid black, have a reinforced sole, are moisture-wicking, and ultra comfortable, making them the perfect addition to any shelter.
Through feedback from their partner causes, the brand realized that there was a demand for another important item: towels. Many of the shelters informed Bonfolk that their guests often take a shower, but then do not have anything to dry off with.
To address this need, Bonfolk is now able to donate towels to a variety of amazing causes, including animal shelters like ARNO, non-profit swimming programs like Tank Proof, and outdoor experiences for youth like LOOP NOLA.
Café Reconcile is a nonprofit restaurant that provides job training and life skills to young people in New Orleans. The restaurant serves Southern-inspired cuisine and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
Sadly, almost 1 in 6 young Louisianans between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither working nor attending school, according to the 2019 Measure of America report.
The Hospitality paid workforce training program at Cafe Reconcile is designed for young adults between the ages of 16 and 24.
This program is designed to provide essential skills and support services necessary for success in any profession.
The training program is free and includes various benefits such as competitive stipends up to $3,000, industry-recognized credentials through occupational skills training, industry-specific uniforms, daily meals, career coaching, job placement, college preparation, and exploration.
Additionally, support services such as transportation, mental health counseling, child care assistance, housing assistance, legal aid, and healthcare navigation are also offered.
The program aims to teach foundational life skills, career preparation techniques, and occupational skills specifically in the Hospitality industry.
Their goal is to create a New Orleans where every young person is supported and empowered to pursue their dreams.
The Water Collaborative of Greater New Orleans
The Water Collaborative’s mission is to guarantee that every resident can enjoy a lifetime of abundant, healthy, and cherished water resources. The organization brings people from diverse backgrounds together to prioritize water as a fundamental resource.
The organization strives to ensure that water management is accessible, affordable, and clean, as well as climate resilient, for all individuals residing in the Greater New Orleans Region.
You can become involved with their climate resilient movement, which features some of the sector’s most accomplished leaders, professionals, and advocates, by joining the free membership and advisory groups.
The Water Collaborative envisions a network of inclusive communities that collaborate to create a world that is resilient to climate change, with New Orleans at the forefront of rights-based water management.
Saul’s Light is a non-profit organization based in New Orleans that offers support and community to families with babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
The emotional and financial toll of a NICU experience can be overwhelming for families, even after a brief stay.
NICU families often struggle with long-term psychological stress and have difficulty covering the costs of medical care, loss of work, travel, meals, and childcare.
Saul’s Light provides financial donations, emotional tools, and bereavement support to help ease the burden for NICU and bereaved families. They also offer events, yoga classes, and a Facebook group to help parents connect with others and find support.
The organization was founded by Kimberly and Aaron Novod, who personally experienced loss in the NICU with their son, Saul. Their experience inspired them to create a community that provides all NICU and bereaved families with the resources and support they need to heal and thrive.
Liberty’s Kitchen is a unique social enterprise in the heart of New Orleans that offers young people a path to a brighter future through its innovative training and employment programs.
Founded in 2009, Liberty’s Kitchen’s mission is to provide a comprehensive training program to young people in the Greater New Orleans area, who are at risk of becoming disconnected from the workforce, and to support them in obtaining and retaining employment.
The organization’s flagship program is its Youth Development Program, which is a three-month-long, full-time program that provides young people aged 16 to 24 with a range of skills, from culinary and hospitality training to life skills coaching and professional development.
Participants in the program receive a stipend while they learn, as well as access to counseling, case management, and job placement services after graduation.
In addition to its Youth Development Program, Liberty’s Kitchen also runs a School Nutrition Program, which provides healthy and delicious meals to students in schools across New Orleans, as well as catering services for events and organizations throughout the city.
SOUL (Sustaining Our Urban Landscape)
SOUL (Sustaining Our Urban Landscape) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to foster a resilient and environmentally just New Orleans by reforesting the urban landscape.
The organization’s approach to reforestation is unique as they plant trees in clusters, serving as natural systems and infrastructure, to mitigate flooding, reduce pollution, improve community health, and provide beauty and shade.
SOUL also involves community members in the reforestation process, guiding them to drive the reforestation of their own community or neighborhood.
Every tree planting is supervised by SOUL to ensure successful growth, with tree guards provided to protect against weed-eater damage, which is the leading cause of tree death.
Furthermore, every tree planted is mapped, and maintenance guidelines are provided to every home and business that receives trees. SOUL is committed to answering questions and being available to provide ongoing support to promote the long-term success of reforestation efforts.
Propeller is a non-profit organization that supports and nurtures entrepreneurs in their efforts to tackle social and environmental disparities. Their vision is to create an inclusive and thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Orleans that is responsive to the needs of the community and creates equitable conditions for the future.
To achieve their goals, Propeller focuses on building a critical mass of small businesses and nonprofits that work to address disparities in areas such as community economic development, education, food, health, and water.
These areas have been identified as having significant inequities, yet present market opportunities for local entrepreneurs to implement solutions.
At the core of Propeller’s efforts is their Impact Accelerator, which is a free program designed to help startup and growth stage entrepreneurs start, grow, and transform their businesses.
Since 2011, Propeller has successfully graduated over 300 entrepreneurs through this program, who have collectively generated over $262 million in revenue and financing and created over 485 full- and part-time jobs for New Orleanians.
Propeller also provides a 10,000 square foot Coworking building, which offers a collaborative workspace and meeting place for small business owners, nonprofit leaders, and community members.
With over 50 organizations and 100 individuals as members, their space is available to rent for events and can accommodate gatherings of all sizes.
Recirculating Farms is a collaborative of farmers, educators, and activists dedicated to creating an equitable food system from farm to fork. As a 501c3 non-profit, they operate socially and ecologically responsible programs that utilize innovative and eco-efficient methods based on historic practices to grow local, affordable food.
Through training, outreach, and advocacy, Recirculating Farms advances sustainable farming and creates stable jobs in green businesses for diverse communities. Their aim is to foster physical, mental, and financial wellness for all.
Unfortunately, the primary food production systems in the United States rely heavily on industrialized methods such as concentrated animal feed lots, factory fishing boats, and massive fruit and vegetable farms.
This reliance on imported foods, which are subject to minimal safety inspections and have a significant carbon footprint for transportation, has negative consequences for both people and the environment.
These consequences include fewer job opportunities, increased pollution, and lower quality food for consumers.
In response to public dissatisfaction with the current state of the food system, the U.S. government has explored various ways to boost domestic food production.
However, these efforts often encourage further industrialization and poor food quality. Recirculating Farms’ challenge is to promote an alternative model that establishes healthy, natural, and community-based food production.
These are just a few of the many social enterprises that are making a difference in New Orleans. By supporting these organizations and others like them, we can build a more sustainable, equitable, and thriving community for all.
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