Sunday, December 1, 2013

City Announces Wisner Grant Awards (Finally)

By Joey Lehrman | Email the Author | Follow on Twitter 

The City of New Orleans and Mayor Mitch Landrieu have announced the 2013 Wisner Donation grant recipients, which will allocate $450,000 in funds to 41 non-profits throughout the greater metropolitain area.

Click here to view the full list of recipients.

The fund solicits proposals from area non-profits on a bi-annual basis. According to's coverage of the grants announcement, the city received 124 applications this year. The purpose of the fund, according to the City's website, is as follows:
The Edward Wisner Donation was created from the estate of Edward Wisner to the City of New Orleans as a 100 year charitable trust in 1914. According to the original donation, the Wisner Donation must support local needs in the areas of beautification, education, recreation or human services.
The fund has been the source of ongoing criticism in recent years due to its inconsistency in grant awards and Mayor Landriue's desire for greater discretion on how the grants are allocated.

Again according to the City's website, "Each year there are two review periods: the Spring Proposal Review (February 15 – 28) and the Fall Proposal Review (August 15 – 31). Applications are due by COB on the business day prior to the beginning of each review period."

Several area non-profits have noted that their proposals have gone unreviewed for months, with emails and calls to the city left unanswered. One non-profit discussed how a proposal submitted in February of 2013 wasn't reviewed and announced until December of this year. According to the grant guidelines, the review timeline is supposed to be as follows:
Proposal Review: February 15 – 28
Grant Awards: March 15 – 31
Unfortunately, the delayed review and announcements can make it difficult for non-profits to strategically plan and make budgetary decisions. And although the grant funds can be meaningful for the local recipients, the lack of transparency and accountability continues to limit the effectiveness of our valuable area non-profits and the city's resources.

Furthermore, if the city is going to solicit applications, our elected officials need to be mindful of the time and effort required for submitting a grant proposal. Delaying decisions by 9 months is a disservice to local non-profits and their constituents.

What do you think? Have you or your organization applied for a Wisner grant in the past? What communication, if any, have you received from the city throughout the process? Share your comments below.

Joey Lehrman is a retired teacher with over 40 years of experiece in the New Orleans public school system. Since retiring, he has transitioned to sharing his experience and persepctive and all things New Orleans through a variety of blogs, news-sites, and social networks.

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