The Pro Bono Publico Foundation, formed last year by leaders of the Rex Organization (Rex) to expand opportunities to provide support for the rebuilding of our city, has made its first grants, each for $10,000, according to Christian Brown, chairman of the Foundation. The recipients of these grants are New Schools for New Orleans and The Good Shepherd School.
While future grants will be considered in areas other than education, Brown believes these initial grants are well targeted. "The proper education of our youth is critical to a successful city," said Brown. "Through the dedication and hard work of the City's educational leaders and volunteers, many of whom are members of the Rex Organization, we now have the opportunity to become a model for the rest of the country of a functioning public school system. It is one of the brightest spots in our recovery."
New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) was organized after Katrina to provide critical support to the reform of the failed public school system in New Orleans. NSNO has successfully recruited teachers and leaders, helped incubate and support charter schools educating most of New Orleans' students, and recruited and trained board members responsible for the success of those schools.
"New Schools for New Orleans is extremely grateful for the continued in-kind and financial support of Rex and the Pro Bono Publico Foundation," said Sarah Newell Usdin, NSNO's Founder and President. "The members of Rex have greatly contributed to the successes of New Schools for New Orleans. This sustained generosity will help us achieve our vision of excellent public schools for every child in New Orleans and create a national model for urban education reform."
The Pro Bono Publico Foundation Grant will provide support for NSNO's very effective program to recruit, train, and support the boards charged with the oversight of public charter schools. Many charter school boards count Rex volunteers as active members.
The Good Shepherd School, located in New Orleans Central Business District, was founded in 2001, and has been most successful in its mission to provide excellent, tuition-free education to children from New Orleans' poorest neighborhoods. The Pro Bono Publico Foundation grant is intended to help the Good Shepherd School build on that success.
"This generous commitment to the Good Shepherd School will greatly assist us in providing our students the opportunity to break free from the cycle of poverty into which they were born," said Ronnie Briggs, Good Shepherd's Board Chairman. "In addition to the Pro Bono Publico Foundation's financial contribution we are most grateful for members of the Rex Organization who are active members of our Board and have been since the opening of the school. Their time, talent and financial support have made a difference year after year."
The first two Foundation grants continue the strong commitment to education made by Rex members since Katrina. Hundreds of Rex members volunteered to provide business, legal, financial and other support to public charter schools and other organizations supporting school reform in New Orleans.
Taking its name from the Rex motto, "Pro Bono Publico" which means "for the public good," the Foundation received its lead gift last year from the well-known artist, Leroy Neiman, and Knoedler Publishing, who together donated 75 of Nieman's "Mardi Gras Parade" serigraphs. Additional funds have been raised through donations from Rex members and through the purchase of special parade "throws" used by Rex members.
Further information on the Pro Bono Publico Foundation, as well as grant information and application materials can be found on the Foundation website.
Pro Bono Publico Foundation: www.probonopublicofoundation.org
Rex Organization: www.rexorganization.com
The Good Shepherd School: www.thegoodshepherdschool.org
New Schools for New Orleans: newschoolsforneworleans.org