Friday, November 21, 2014

Where to donate money in New Orleans

Hey you! Over there, with the disposable income!

Feeling generous? Feeling guilty? Want the tax write-off?

Just in time for this holiday season, here's a list of places to give money in New Orleans where your dollars are going to be put to actual work, and not just to pay bureaucrats with nonprofit management degrees. Instead of buying your sister some crap at Bed Bath & Beyond for Christmas, make a donation in her name to one of these fine organizations. We got a lot of good shit going on here!

In no particular order, with an emphasis on groups that address health, education, advocacy, housing, immigration, youth, food justice, etc.:

Trystereo / New Orleans Harm Reduction Network
Provides health supplies, wellness education, wound-care consultations, toiletries, and clothing to drug-users in southeastern Louisiana. Facilitates workshops on safer drug-use, first aid practices, and overdose prevention. Self-funded (no overhead!). Also working on a 12-Step Alternative support group for people who feel kinda judged or unwelcome at AA/NA/etc meetings.

Apex Youth Center
Originally run by a couple out of their living room, this organization does an awesome job of providing free afterschool care for youth in the city. Kids get snacks, clothes, tutoring, whatever. The older kids are the "mentors." The center is often open to the neighborhood for barbecues and other parties. The founders even negotiated with the police to extend the nighttime youth curfew to kids leaving the Center late at night.

Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools / The Rethinkers
A participatory education group of New Orleans students who reject the school-to-prison pipeline, and the teach-to-the-test pedagogical approach. Instead, they work to make their schools supportive environments for learning and leadership development.

Cornerstone Builders
Free buses to prisons around Louisiana. Help a mama visit her son while he's locked up!

Books 2 Prisoners
Sends free books to people in the South's jails and prisons.

Voice of the Ex-Offender
Helps formerly incarcerated individuals re-acclimate to society. Provides legal resources, financial management education, and leadership development opportunities. Promotes community education and collaboration around voting rights and interaction with law enforcement.

Resurrection After Exoneration
Say you spent a lot of time in prison for a crime you didn't commit. Then you get released, but you have nowhere to go. This organization will let you live in their house for free! They'll also hook you up with clothing, legal resources, and whatever else you might need.

Common Ground Health Clinic
"Solidarity, not Charity" is the motto of this Algiers community-based clinic that focuses care on low-income residents of New Orleans. They also publish and distribute a free (and extremely useful) guide to mental and physical health resources in the GNO area.

Survivors Village
Stands up for people whose housing was seized after Katrina for "abandonment," "blight," or other political reasons, when really they just didn't have enough money to come home.

New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice, specifically:

Congreso de Jornaleros / Congress of Day Laborers
One of the bravest groups around - a union of undocumented workers. These people rebuilt New Orleans after Katrina; now they're being deported. Fuck that. Give them money to access healthcare, education, labor rights, housing, and stable legal standing.

Stand with Dignity
Tirelessly advocates to improve the housing, employment, and educational opportunities for low-income residents of New Orleans. These people were left in deplorable conditions during Katrina, and stood up to (successfully) demand radical changes to the city's shelter and evacuation protocols.

Puentes
Asserts the rights and needs of Spanish-speaking populations in New Orleans. They do stuff like: help clinics translate health flyers; advocate to get interpreters wherever they're needed; link families to information about schools and housing; and hold businesses and social services accountable for working with Spanish-speakers.

Crescent City Childcare Collective
Provides free babysitting for kids while their primary guardians are at community development meetings and events. A super-crucial solidarity effort.

Sex Workers Outreach Project
This anti-violence network provides health, legal, and safety information to people engaged in sex work (stripping, escorting, etc)  in New Orleans. It is an important support in an industry where many laborers experience stigma and alienation.

Women with a Vision
Facilitates the empowerment of low-income women of color through legislative advocacy, educational programming, and other initiatives that nobody else is taking up. They do a lot of important work around harm reduction for drug-users and sex workers; they're currently running domestic violence support groups as well. Someone fucking burned their office down the other year, so let's not stand for that.

Break Out
Organizes against police profiling and brutality of queer and transgender youth of color. A totally self-determined group of badass visionary young people.

Youth Rebuilding New Orleans
Founded by two New Orleans-born brothers in their 20s, this agency engages youth to build houses for public school teachers. They also make room to train and mentor young people doing court-mandated community service.

Supporting Urban Agriculture
Grows food in the Lower 9th Ward and gives it to the neighbors, sells it to the people who can pay. Kinda evens things out, and promotes healthy eating for everybody.

Community Kitchen
Makes and serves free meals (including vegan and gluten-free options!) for anyone who's hungry. Caters events for other radical groups in the city.

If you're interested in supporting the arts scene, here are a few other recommendations for groups that have a social justice orientation:

Ashe Cultural Arts Center
Promotes African, Caribbean, and African-American art and artists. Hosts community groups about health and fatherhood, among other themes.

Junebug
The successor of the Free Southern Theater, this organization produces and encourages social justice-driven art. Recent productions have concerned the privatization of New Orleans schools, and the experience of displacement in the environmentally fragile Gulf Coast.

Patois
A film festival that spotlights the struggles and triumphs of marginalized populations.

Mondo Bizarro
A multidisciplinary arts group that produces works around ecological and other civic concerns. Their stellar outdoor "Cry You One" show was performed last year on the canals and swamps of St. Bernard Parish, highlighting the human consequences of environmental degradation.

Artspot
A multidisciplinary performance arts group that uses theatre as a tool of healing and recovery. Runs a theatre group at Louisiana's St. Gabriel prison for women.

* * * *
Hit up the comments section if you want another group included! Thanks to everyone who helped me compile this list by doing the work / shouting out others who do the work.

Readers' Choice Awards

Youth Agenda's Kwanzaa Freedom School
The youth organizing arm of People's Institute for Justice and Beyond: "Part of a people’s movement for social transformation, led by people of color, with the understanding that undoing racism is liberation for all people." Yes.

LowerNine.org
Rebuilds people's houses in the Lower 9th Ward. Pretty simple. The homeowners just pay for the construction materials; volunteers do the rest. On a side note, it's pretty ridiculous that we're still relying on volunteers and donations to rebuild people's houses in the Lower 9th Ward. Let's get it done already.

DiscoveryFEST Afterschool and Summer Enrichment
Arts, sports, foreign language, yoga, drama, dance, culinary, etc. classes for youth in New Orleans. This program - formerly called CP3 Afterschool Zone - used to be funded by Chase Bank, but Chase Bank no longer cares about the children of New Orleans. Somehow the program has to fund itself now. You can help!

Operation ZipZap
This fundraising campaign supports a low-income transgender woman of color who wants to learn electrolysis in order to provide it to other trans folks, on a sliding pay scale. She's based in Florida, but has important connections to New Orleans trans advocates.

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