Community Impact

Nonprofits touch our lives every day, and the Community Impact series highlights their critical work and the difference they are making.

Each week, New Orleans-based producer Eve Abrams brings you the stories of diverse groups working across southeast Louisiana. You’ll hear directly from leaders and staff on the frontline of important issues, from dedicated volunteers and from the people whose lives have been improved by these nonprofits.

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Katy Reckdahl

Laniker Hunter-Davis is an outreach worker for UNITY of Greater New Orleans. She and her partner, Joycelyn Scott, drive and walk around the city trying to reach the hardest-to-reach homeless people. One night, I tagged along.  

“The first place that we’ll be stopping is at Washington Park. It’s off of Elysian Fields. We have a lady  that’s in that park with her dog, and she can’t utilize the shelters because of her dog. So we gonna go check on her.

Kate Howe

It’s lunchtime at the Renew Cultural Arts Academy, and that means a group of medical students from Louisiana State University are sitting down with kindergarden, first and second graders to talk about the food that’s on their plates.

“So what do you use your protein for?”

“Makes you strong!” 

“Makes you strong. Got to have big muscles, huh? Can you show me your muscle? All right, there you go.”

About a dozen medical students are equipped with colored building blocks: red for protein, green for carbohydrates, and yellow for fat.

Chartwell Center

Just a few blocks from the intersection of Napolean and Magazine Streets is an unassuming yellow shotgun house. From the street there is no way to know this is a school — a very special school.

Inside and down the hall is the elementary school of the Chartwell Center, a nonprofit dedicated to serving children with autism spectrum disorders. In one of the two classrooms, Hayden and Matt — ages 8 and 9 — go over a recipe for a drink called Sunset Juice with their two teachers.

Ellen Katz is a Managing Attorney at the Advocacy Center, a non profit which helps protect the rights of people with mental and physical disabilities — people from all over Louisiana. Other staff members at the Advocacy Center make home visits, but much of Ellen’s work is conducted over the phone. 

“Hi Miss Fisher, how are you today?” Ellen asks a new client.

In the wide-ranging effort to reform the New Orleans criminal justice system, this new nonprofit works for more equal access to expungements of criminal records to help people get jobs and move on after release.

At the edge of Terrebonne Parish, and on the front lines of Louisiana's coastal erosion crisis, a community center with a long history for the Native American Houma people is focused on resiliency for the future.

An organization formed to help people fleeing the Vietnam War establish themselves in the U.S. is now helping a Gulf Coast community deal with the impact of much more recent history.

From crime and jobs to education and local history, a new program is analyzing how factors in our neighborhoods and closest to home impact life in New Orleans, and it's giving residents the data they need to petition for positive change.

After spending many years behind bars before being exonerated, a group of criminal justice reformers are working to teach New Orleans youth the value of their freedom and their own power to make the right choices.

In the new landscape of public education in New Orleans, many students crisscross the city each day to attend classes. But a new initiative is aimed at making the neighborhood school just down the street into a more accessible hub to find enrichment programs and other services.