Officials with the REX Organization, which since 1872 has conducted its activities under the motto, "Pro Bono Publico" (for the public good), have announced the formation of a new non-profit foundation to support public education and other community needs in post-Katrina recovery New Orleans.
Christian Brown, chairman of the new Pro Bono Publico Foundation, announced also that renowned artist LeRoy Neiman; his distributor, Knoedler Publishing; and agent, Hammer Galleries; have made a donation of 75 Neiman signed serigraphs to the foundation. Once they are sold at a cost of $3,800 apiece, Brown explained, the nearly $300,000 will provide the new foundation's lead gift. Mr. Neiman has specified that his gift is to be used exclusively to support and improve the education of New Orleans' children.
"We are thrilled to announce the establishment of this new foundation and to recognize simultaneously the generosity of its lead donor," Brown said. The colorful serigraph, entitled "Mardi Gras Parade," depicts Rex, King of Carnival, sitting atop his majestic float and leading his lively procession through the city.
Brown said that Park West Galleries, which specializes in art sales and auctions aboard passenger cruise ships, has agreed to market the serigraphs. He added that the serigraphs will also be sold to the general public and that information is available at the Foundation's website — www.probonopublicofoundation.org
Brown explained that the new foundation was created as a result of the overwhelming success of REX 2006's "Operation Pro Bono Publico," which raised money and volunteer service time from REX members for three projects supporting the city's public safety, carnival clean-up and public education needs.
Project Gold raised over $50,000 from REX members through a matching funds partnership with the Renew NOLA Foundation. The funds were contributed to the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation to help police officers and other first responders who lost their homes to Katrina's floods.
Project Green organized a huge parade route cleanup activity on the Saturday after Mardi Gras. Partnering with the Katrina Krewe, and joined by other parading organizations and families, Project Green turned out almost 1,000 volunteers to clean up the entire uptown parade route.
Project Purple expanded the REX Organization's existing web-based education outreach program, REX in the Classroom, to provide legal, technical, accounting, architectural, and other services to New Orleans' charter schools. Brown said the value of donated goods and services and direct funding totaled more than $2.5 million.
Brown explained that while "Operation Pro Bono Publico" in 2006 was a huge success, REX officials recognized that doing even more to respond to these and other community needs would require the formation of the new foundation. With an expanded mission and capability in mind, he said the foundation's goal is very clear: to gather resources to help support the rebuilding of the city.
"The REX Organization is steeped in its 'pro bono publico' traditions," Brown commented. "As such, we certainly recognize a vivid corollary between the goal of this new foundation today in post-Katrina New Orleans with the very founding of the organization 135 years ago when our city was recovering from the economic devastation of the years of Reconstruction.
"Those founding Rex members in 1872 felt an obligation to do something special for their beloved city," Brown said. "We believe we have a similar duty to honor their legacy now as New Orleans faces such unprecedented challenges for recovery in its future."