New Orleans: Planning for a Better Future

Rockefeller Foundation



Case Study Sector


Within days of Hurricane Katrina, the Rockefeller Foundation made more than $3 million in commitments aimed at the rebuilding of New Orleans. The grants were made to proven community-development and housing intermediaries that were pursuing strategies for housing and businesses. Nearly all other leading foundations collectively pledged hundreds of millions of dollars as well, and money and other resources flowed in from a wide range of donors to support immediate relief efforts. But as attention began to focus on longer-range challenges, a number of factors particular to New Orleans came to the forefront. Despite its rich and vibrant culture, pre-Katrina New Orleans was one of the poorest cities in the U.S.

Reconstructing such a city would mean accepting profound changes to its identity. More than rebuilding the shattered infrastructure, more than replacing streets and sewers, schools and parks, reconstruction would mean acknowledging that the new city would be a different place, with possibly fewer residents, a different economic base, perhaps a somewhat different sense of itself. At the same time, the reconstruction process held out the prospect of a better city one that would be more open and collaborative, and that would extend more opportunities to its residents for self-determination.



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