Learn more about FFL's Coastal Resilience Leverage Fund


In order to face the resulting challenges of losing land and a rising sea level in Coastal Louisiana, an abundance of NGOs, business groups, and philanthropists is growing alongside increasing government agency participation at the federal, state, and local scale. Often, this multiplicity of interested players and government agencies can contribute to duplicative as well as absent efforts and simultaneously leave economic inequalities to be exposed by relevant disasters. Coupled with the multiplicity of interwoven efforts, plans and commitments have been established throughout various agencies within local, state, and federal government.

Through the Coastal Resilience Leverage Fund, Foundation for Louisiana is working to amplify collective impacts by establishing, cultivating, and utilizing partnerships with other organizations, government agencies, and academic institutions addressing coastal challenges throughout Louisiana communities. Across the state, we are aligning efforts already underway and furthering the evolution of best practices so that endeavors to reshape, retrofit, and resettle the coastal zone evolve in an equitable manner enhanced by civic engagement.

Louisiana is a state with a varied history and a vibrant culture, multifaceted economically with a wide expanse of waterborne industries. Yet, the same fertile landscape that has rendered this rich array of opportunity illustrates the transforming risks faced on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Within the Mississippi River Delta, interconnected ecological, economic, and social systems are already facing the challenges of climate change due to persistent wetland loss and a degraded environmental system. Historic infrastructure development has influenced a dramatic decline of protective woody swamps and coastal marshes. Compounded by changes in hurricane intensity and frequency, the residents and embedded communities across the coastal landscape are experiencing increasing vulnerability and exposure to natural disasters. Additionally, at-risk assets span the breadth of local and [inter]nationally relevant industries such as maritime commerce, agriculture and fisheries, energy development, and tourism; still, communities in and around New Orleans present the cultures and ways of life that uniquely define the Mississippi Delta. Coastal restoration and pro-resilience climate adaptation are required to protect and promote the future of the state, the region, and the nation as a whole.

(Read more: Keep up with coastal news with briefings, upcoming events, Mississippi River Delta updates and more with the FFL Coastal Briefing Page”:http://rt2967.wixsite.com/fflcoastalbriefing)

New funding streams are coming into play, ranging from $500 million annually in BP settlement funds to $234 million in HUD money to the state and City of New Orleans through the National Disaster Resilience Competition. In addition to establishing a resettlement paradigm with the relocation of the Native American Isle De Jean Charles community, the Office of Community Development is investing those federal dollars in the development of LA SAFE, a resilience program with state wide application to reduce flood risk. The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is in the process of refining the restoration projects and development programs within its updated 2012 and upcoming 2017 Coastal Master Plan. At an individual community level, relationships and meaningful communication networks must be developed in order to further resident-led planning efforts that holistically respond to changing coastal challenges. However, these high intensity civic engagement projects generate even more substantial demands for these agencies. We look to enhance and supplement ongoing efforts as well as establish necessary programs to support them through diverse coalitions and design of collaboration with partners and allies.

In order to help communities to reduce their risk and design more sustainable, equitable opportunities for their future, the facilitated engagement process must connect relevant partnerships and agencies with the communities that are affected by coastal land change and sea level rise.

The Coastal Resilience Leverage Fund is developing a model for risk reducing, sustainability enhancing community engagement to support aforementioned multi-agency and partner efforts across Louisiana. With initial support from the blue moon fund, Foundation for Louisiana proposes to partner with other international, national, and local philanthropists through a common grant-making program to complement the critical work already being done by other organizations and partners. This fund allows for shared investments from philanthropy and government to guide and implement a comprehensive strategy and funding plan. Complete with senior experts, strategic leaders from implementing NGOs, and foundation executives, the Advisory Committee of the Coastal Resiliency Fund will resolve and finalize the overall campaign plan and budget in order to optimally allocate budgeted expenses between revenue sources. Through six unique but aligned funding tracks, we are employing individual grantmakings to evidence and support adjacent funding priorities in the present and future. These key funding areas include community engagement; communities in transition; economic opportunity; policy, advocacy, and education; fisheries and science; and health and education. Through this alignment and comprehensive coastal program strategy, we consider and incorporate funding for the complex social, economic, and cultural challenges that affect risk and reduce the capacity for resilience throughout Louisiana. Each individual investment is simultaneously self sufficient and mutually beneficial to other funding areas. Thus, the continual development of partnerships is required to address all aspects of these manifold coastal conditions.

(Read more: Learn more about Liz Williams, Coastal Communities Resilience Program Director)

In order to help communities to reduce their risk and design more sustainable, equitable opportunities for their future, the facilitated engagement process must connect relevant partnerships and agencies with the communities that are affected by coastal land change and sea level rise. By providing the proverbial place at the table, the Foundation for Louisiana is utilizing the Coastal Resilience Leverage Fund to ensure that the State of Louisiana’s coastal restoration and resilience efforts not only lead to long-term social, environmental, and economic benefit but also serve as a national and international model for equitable and constructive climate change adaptation. This experience of challenging circumstances in Louisiana can inform similar efforts to combat the realities of climate change around the world. The survival of community, economy, and culture throughout our region requires assorted efforts to mitigate and adapt to environmental transformation in coming years.

By investing in proven and promising organizations that benefit communities across Louisiana, Foundation for Louisiana invests in people and practices that work to reduce vulnerability and build stronger, more sustainable communities statewide.

Liz Williams Russell
Coastal Communities Resilience Director
4035 Washington Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70125