Foundation Announces $1 Million Grant to Community Lighthouse Project

May 24, 2022

The award is the Foundation’s largest single grant from its disaster response and restoration fund and will build commercial-scale solar power and back-up battery capacity for nonprofits that respond to disasters across the region.

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NEW ORLEANS – Today, the Greater New Orleans Foundation (Foundation) announced a $1 million grant to The Community Lighthouse Project, an initiative of Together New Orleans (TNO), as the lead investor and partner in getting the project off the ground. The gift is the Foundation’s largest single grant from its Disaster Response and Restoration fund following Hurricane Ida and will create a community-wide network of nonprofit resilience hubs, each powered by commercial-scale solar systems with back-up battery capacity, that will be able to better provide assistance to surrounding communities during power outages.

Andy Kopplin, President & CEO of Greater New Orleans Foundation

“The Greater New Orleans Foundation is thrilled to be the lead investor and partner on this project,” said Andy Kopplin, President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “Our region is all too familiar with disasters and the devastating effect they have on our communities. The Community Lighthouse Project will provide our nonprofit partners with critical resources to better serve their communities when they are needed most. Partnering with Together New Orleans on this initiative was an easy decision.”

The initiative was conceived by Together New Orleans in the fall of 2021 after its leaders realized the need for a sustainable solution following the catastrophic power outages caused by Hurricane Ida. The Community Lighthouse Project envisions an eventual network of 85-100 “hubs” – congregations and nonprofit institutions – located in Southeast Louisiana with the pilot program starting in the Greater New Orleans area. As envisioned, every parish in Southeast Louisiana will have a resilience hub with the goal of eventually ensuring that every resident will eventually live within a 15-minute walk of a lighthouse.

Matthew Candler, Electricity Reform Team co-chair, Together New Orleans

“After Ida, I felt powerless to respond. We all felt powerless, as we have so many times before,” said Dr. J.C. Richardson, Executive Committee Member of Together New Orleans. “This time, though, our community started putting together a plan. Greater New Orleans Foundation and its donors are helping to make that plan a reality, with profound implications for how our community responds to disasters. The Community Lighthouse Project is an idea whose time has come!”

Demetric Mercadel speaks on behalf of Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr.

“As we face the consequences of a changing climate, with a greater frequency of natural disasters, the Community Lighthouse Project is a prime example of how we harness solar power to serve our community in the aftermath of disaster,” said Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr. “I want to thank the Greater New Orleans Foundation, Together New Orleans, and New Wine Christian Fellowship for their commitment to creating a more resilient community for our residents.”

The Community Lighthouse Project has four goals:

  1. Resilience during grid outages

  2. Stronger disaster response capacity

  3. Local investment in renewable energy

  4. Workforce training and jobs

When the power outages occur, Community Lighthouses will be able to:

  • Conduct needs assessments to determine what nearby residents need.

  • Provide for those needs by offering

    •  Charging stations/small battery distribution

    •  Food preparation and distribution

    •  Cooling/heating stations

    •  Oxygen exchange/light medical equipment

Pierre Moses, President of 127 Energy

“As a member of The Community Lighthouse Project team, we couldn’t be more thankful for the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s early and significant support of our solar plus battery storage resiliency projects,” said Pierre Moses, President of 127 Energy. “This is a shining example of how public-private partnerships can empower the resources of local residents, and we’re excited to get construction of community-led microgrid projects underway.”

Rendering of solar panels on New Wine Christian Fellowship rooftop

The initiative will kick off this Summer with a pilot phase that has identified 10 sites for lighthouses, including New Wine Christian Fellowship in LaPlace. Construction will begin on the first of these sites during the second half of 2022 with completion estimated in Spring 2023.

St. John the Baptist Parish President Hon. Jaclyn Hotard

“My heartfelt thanks to the Greater New Orleans Foundation and Together New Orleans for their contributions and commitment to St. John the Baptist Parish,” said St. John the Baptist President Jaclyn Hotard. “We are grateful they have supported our residents in their time of need, and that, through this Community Lighthouse, they are helping us plan and prepare for future disasters. Government can only do so much, and we rely on our nonprofit and faith-based partners to help us fill the gaps.”

The cost of the pilot phase is estimated to be $4.6 million with a total cost of the complete network estimated to be $40 million. The cost to install the panels and batteries at large facilities is just under $1 million; medium facilities about $430,000; and small facilities average around $150,000. The Community Lighthouse Project will be funded through public-private partnerships, philanthropic efforts, and equity funding from tax-credit investors.

Pastor Neil Bernard, New Wine Christian Fellowship

“On behalf of myself and St. John the Baptist Parish, we are ecstatic by the partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation and Together New Orleans to be a Community Lighthouse for this community,” said Neil Bernard, Founding Pastor of New Wine Christian Fellowship. “We have been honored to be able to serve our community in times of disaster, and this Community Lighthouse will enable us to have better resiliency and be able to better serve our community in the event of a disaster.”

Since 2020, The Foundation’s Disaster Response and Restoration Fund has awarded over $11 million to nonprofits serving our 13-parish region. This grant is made possible due to the generosity of many individuals and families, including leading contributions from the following donors:

Aliski Family Fund Greg and Donna Howard Family Fund
Dennis and Alisson Allen Hueber-Breuer Construction Company
Mrs. Lore Aloro Humana Foundation
Amalgamated Foundation IBERIABANK/First Horizon
Annenberg Foundation Cathy and Walter Isaacson
Anonymous JP Morgan Chase Foundation
Aramco Americas Arthur Jung III
Arnold Ventures William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust
J Aron Charitable Foundation, Inc. The Charles & Lucille King Family Foundation
Aronson – Besthoff Fund Kresge Foundation
The Baltimore Ravens and the Stephen and Renee Bisciotti Foundation, Inc. Casey Langteau Art, LLC.
The Governor’s Disaster Fund Alan & Sherry Leventhal
Mrs. Gayle Benson Sharon D. Lund Foundation
The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Catherine Meehan Donor Advised Fund
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation Robert Merrick Family Fund
Boeing Company Molina Family Foundation
Canal Barge The PepsiCo Foundation
Capital One Peterson Family Foundation
Chevron USA Reily Foundation/Ethel Reily Dicks Memorial Fund
Delta Dental Community Care Foundation Reily Foundation/H. Eustis & Frederica G. Reily #1 Family Fund
DJR Foundation Reynolds American and Sante Fe Natural Tobacco Company
Stephen Elledge Rockefeller Foundation
Eugenie & Joseph Jones Family Foundation Rachael Schultz Fund
Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Five Below Southern Insulators and Reliable Glass and Mirror
Forman Watkins & Krutz LLP Kenneth Spradley Donor Advised Fund
Freeport McMoran Walker Sturdivant
Further Forward Foundation Swedish Match North America
Glaxo Smith Kline Donald B. Tanklage and Carole F. Tanklage Foundation of the Marin Community Foundation
Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund TJX Foundation
Dick J. Guidry Fund United Health Foundation, Inc.
William Randolph Hearst Foundation Wells Fargo
Hilliard Lyons Trust Bertrand and Mariann Wilson Family Fund 
Winky Foundation

New Wine Worship Team performs “This Little Light of Mine”



About the Greater New Orleans Foundation: 

With roots extending nearly 100 years, the Greater New Orleans Foundation serves the 13 parish region of Southeast Louisiana including Assumption, Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Charles, St. James, St. John, St. Tammany, Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Tangipahoa, and Washington. Over 965 nonprofits from the region participate in its annual online giving day, GiveNOLA Day, which has raised over $47 million for nonprofits in the last nine years. The Greater New Orleans Foundation has responded to every disaster since Hurricane Katrina, when it led the Unified Community Planning Effort and a $23 million affordable housing fund. The Foundation invested nearly $7 million in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has distributed over $4 million in response to Hurricane Ida.

About The Community Lighthouse Project:

The Community Lighthouse Project is an initiative to create a community-wide network of solar- and battery-powered resilience hubs that will be able to assess need and provide assistance to surrounding neighborhoods during power outages. The initiative was conceived by Together New Orleans in the wake of widespread power outages following Hurricane Ida in 2021. Once completed, the network will comprise as many as 85 lighthouses in community centers and congregations across southeast Louisiana, with the initial focus in the greater New Orleans region.

About Together New Orleans:

Together New Orleans is a broad-based coalition of 54 congregations and community-based organizations in the greater New Orleans area, with the capacity to address community problems large and small. The coalition is deliberate about crossing the lines of race, religion, neighborhood, and political affiliation. We work on issues affecting families and communities, and we are a strictly non-partisan organization.

About New Wine Christian Fellowship:

New Wine Christian Fellowship, founded in July 1995 by Pastor Neil Bernard, is located in LaPlace in St. John the Baptist Parish and was selected as a site for one of the first Community Lighthouses because of its successful track record serving the community in the wake of disasters. The congregation and its affiliate, New Wine Community Development Corp., has worked with parish, state and federal agencies to provide food, clothing, emergency shelter and rebuilding assistance since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It is recognized as the shelter of last resort for St. John the Baptist Parish and Bernard serves on the parish disaster response coalition. The congregation’s 62,000-square foot multipurpose facility, adjacent to its sanctuary, serves as a gymnasium and a warehouse for emergency operations, shelter and food distribution—not only following disasters, but every Friday, when it distributes food to 250 families in the area. New Wine is a member congregation of Together New Orleans and has worked closely with the Greater New Orleans Foundation serving its community following Hurricane Ida in 2021.