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GCYPRF Evaluation 1
Gulf Coast Youth Program Recovery Fund
Qualitative Impact Evaluation
Prepared for:
Mercy Corps, Gulf Coast Hurricane Recovery Program
Prepared by:
Jessica Smith
RALLY Foundation
December 2006
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GCYPRF Evaluation 2
Table of Contents
Executive Summary
Mercy Corps Response
Criteria for Grant Applicants
Grant Awards
Impact of Granted Programs
Rebuilding Healthy Communities
Renewing Capacity of Organizations
Support for Parents and Families
Positive Youth Development
Strengths of Grantees
Program Limitations
Identified Needs and Opportunities for Intervention
Needs and Gaps
Opportunities for Intervention
Community Centers
Youth Drop-In Centers
Community-Based Mentorship
School-Based Mental Health Support and Case Management
Appendix A: Methodology
Appendix B: Programs Included in Evaluation
Appendix C: Complete List of Grantees
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GCYPRF Evaluation 3
Executive Summary
Background and Mercy Corps Response
Hurricane Katrina had a devastating impact on Southeast Louisiana and Gulf
Coast communities by destroying infrastructure, networks, and inflicting a sense of loss
on virtually everyone. Youth and children, as well as their parents and guardians, were
uniquely impacted by the interruption of daycare services, education, and cultural
enrichment programs. In response to a needs assessment conducted in December of 2005,
a partnership formed between Mercy Corps and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. This
partnership created the Gulf Coast Youth Program Recovery Fund which awarded grants
to over 80 innovative programs focused on youth welfare.
Impact of Granted Programs
The Gulf Coast Youth Program Recovery Fund had a meaningful impact on the
youth who participated in the programs, and it went even further to assist parents and
guardians, and even whole communities struggling with hurricane recovery. Specifically
the programs helped rebuild healthy communities, renew capacities of service-providing
organizations, support families, and encourage positive youth development. The most
important impacts on youth development included, creating a sense of normalcy and
structure, providing safe spaces for self-expression, and exposure to new skills and
concepts. These influences on youth resulted in discovery of new talents, increased self-
confidence, and an enhanced sense of social responsibility. The programs encouraged
healthy development in an environment that is challenging these normal processes. The
positive influences on youth extended to their families, and even to the neighborhoods
and communities in which they live.
Identified Needs and Gaps
Over one year after Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Coast region is still struggling
with fundamental deficiencies in social services and basic standards of living. The
evaluation participants identified issues they are struggling with in their communities
including, a lack of assistance programs for basic needs and services, or an inability to
access them if they do exist; weakened social support networks; mental health counseling
and emotional support; and a lack of recreational opportunities for youth.
Based on identified youth and community needs, as well as innovations and ideas
of the programs, this evaluation offers several recommendations for future youth
programming in post-disaster environments. Community centers, youth drop-in centers,
community-based mentorship programs, and school-based mental health support and case
management are specific interventions discussed in the evaluation. General elements of
any youth program should include normalcy and structure, individualized attention,
inclusion of family, cultivation of trust, and fulfillment of basic needs.
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GCYPRF Evaluation 4
The Gulf Coast communities in Louisiana and Mississippi experienced the severe
impact of Hurricane Katrina in numerous and complex ways. The storm and its aftermath
destroyed civil infrastructure, social networks, and disrupted virtually every facet of life
for area residents. Children and youth, as well as their caregivers,
were uniquely affected
by the disaster. The interruption of services for daycare, education, and cultural
enrichment threatened to compound the emotional and practical struggles already
experienced by these groups. These struggles included displacement; financial burdens;
and considerable grieving over loss of community, personal belongings, and even loved
An assessment of available educational and organizational youth-oriented services
in Orleans Parish presented to Mercy Corps in December of 2005 gauged local capacity
and needs for youth programming. Surveys, interviews, and document review revealed
uncertainty regarding the extent to which schools and non-profit organizations, whose
capacities had been significantly reduced by the damage, would be able to fulfill the
needs of youth and communities. Service providers were grappling with issues such as
structural damage to facilities, reductions in staff, and funding cuts. These needs
identified by the assessment required thoughtful programming, as well as significant
funds and resources to ensure that the youngest survivors of Katrina received the care,
support, and stability essential in a post-disaster environment.
A partnership forged between Mercy Corps and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF
helped meet these needs by creating a grant program that supports innovative youth
programs in Southeast Louisiana and Gulf Coast Mississippi. At the close of these
programs, qualitative data was collected from a representative selection of grantees
through focus groups and interviews to evaluate the impact of the funding on youth
It was clear the programming benefits extended far beyond the youth to reach
their families and communities as well. This synthesis of the data collected from the
youth, their guardians, and program staff describes positive impacts of the programming,
as well as persistent needs of the beneficiaries. The insights of these individuals provide
an opportunity to enhance existing efforts and develop even more effective youth
programming in future post-disaster environments.
Mercy Corps Response
In response to the post-Katrina needs assessment conducted in New Orleans,
Mercy Corps developed the Gulf Coast Youth Program Recovery Fund to address the
instability and dearth of services for youth in Louisiana and Mississippi communities. A
key element of the program was the collaboration between Mercy Corps and the U.S.
Fund for UNICEF, the donor partner. The purpose of the grants program was to assist
existing organizations and schools in providing youth services for a specified period of
In this document, the term “caregiver” refers to parents, guardians, daycare providers and early childhood
educators. The terms “parents” and “guardians” will be used interchangeably to refer to adults who care for
youth in the home.
For a description of the methodology used for the report, including a list of the 8 programs included in the
evaluation, please see Appendixes A and B.
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time. In facilitating this return of services, the grants also had the potential to help
organizations leverage additional funding from other sources.
Criteria for Grant Applicants
In order to be considered for grant selection applicants had to be an existing
organization whose programming had been interrupted by Hurricane Katrina. The grants
program specifically targeted licensed day care providers; schools (pre-school to grade
12) and their extracurricular and psychosocial programs; and non-profit agencies
providing youth programming. In general, the programs focused on academic support,
sports, the arts, life skills, and mental health services.
Funding Priorities included:
Equipment or materials to resume or enhance a community service or
For example, playground equipment for a daycare center or school; arts and
crafts supplies; furniture for a classroom; sports equipment; and teaching
Re-establishing services or developing new youth services:
For example, a consultant or trainer for sports or arts activities, especially as
they contributed to creative expression, life skills, and healing; operating
funds to hire daycare service providers as a short-term bridge to future
funding; and funding a part-time social service provider in a school.
Fees and scholarships to support vulnerable family access to youth services:
For example, tuition support for children to attend daycare; and fees to attend
camps or programs for children in financially burdened households.
Grant Awards
The U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Mercy Corps partnership awarded grants to 39
applicants in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany, and St. Bernard parishes in Louisiana, and
Hancock and Harrison counties in Mississippi. A review committee evaluated all
applicants using a standard set of criteria and awarded grants based on the degree to
which the application matched funding priorities and other application criteria. Mercy
Corps also awarded additional grants through a discretionary mechanism. Overall, over
80 youth-oriented programs received assistance from the Gulf Coast Youth Program
Recovery Fund. The grant amounts ranged from $2,000 to $26,000 in value and totaled
approximately one million dollars. Some specific examples of funded programs included
arts camps, literacy training, daycare, mental health support, and yoga.
Impact of Granted Programs
The Gulf Coast Youth Program Recovery Fund (GCYPRF) had a far-reaching
and multi-faceted impact on the beneficiaries. Directly, it provided constructive, positive,
safe, and enriching activities for youth participants; however, the benefits also impacted
the wider systems relevant to youth. These systems included families, schools, and the
A complete list of the grant recipients can be found in Appendix C.
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broader neighborhood communities. While all programs were unique, common themes
and experiences emerged from conversations with the beneficiaries. The following
discussion describes how the grants helped rebuild healthy communities, renew
capacities of service-providing organizations, support parents and families, and
encourage positive youth development.
Rebuilding Healthy Communities
One of the most important ways that the GCYPRF affected communities was by
re-establishing services and activities that had existed before the hurricane. The staff
members implementing the youth programs brought a commitment to rebuilding back
into the neighborhoods and helped to establish normalcy where for so long disorder had
dominated. In discussing community impact, one service provider commented, “I think
people just saw life. People saw a little bit of normalcy amidst all the chaos that was
going on...I think it would have been comforting to some of the folks to see that going
on.” This sense of normalcy contributes to a future orientation; a hope that things will
continue to improve, especially when children are involved.
In addition to reassuring communities of progress, these programs solidly filled
some glaring gaps in services. The return of services addressed the communities’
concrete needs, including case management, child care, mental health support, young
adult education, and physical fitness. By addressing these needs with programs that
occupy children, parents were available to contribute to community recovery by working
on damaged homes and returning to jobs. Many parents, such as the plumber and
electrician who had their children in grant-funded daycares and camps would have been
otherwise unable to work. Without these valuable services in the community, recovery
would have been slower and much more frustrating than it already was. Creating assets
that fill important needs is a key element of community building, especially for
communities that have lost most of their services and infrastructure.
The programs established new networks, collaborations, and relationships with
other community groups and organizations, such as Rotary, Kiwanis, and local schools,
making it easier and more efficient to provide services. These connections and
reconnections helped to develop a community network for donations, sharing of
information and resources, and providing referrals. In addition to network creation among
community organizations, parents also benefited from supportive networks. In one
program, some parents decided to form a monthly support group for hurricane-related
issues. This relationship-building is a sustainable outcome of the programming in that it
paves the way for future collaborations.
One important element of the programming, specifically for the arts-oriented
programs, was the incorporation of local traditions in culturally-specific activities. Mardi
Gras beading and quilt-making were unique ways to honor local culture and instill
community pride. One dance instructor included elements of New Orleans and St.
Bernard parish traditions in her activities and conversations with the youth. Parents also
recognized the need to remind their children where they come from. As one parent said,
“Nurture our culture. You know, what is New Orleans?...Teach them about, this is your
home, this is why your mom is proud to be a New Orleanian; why your grandmother was
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proud to live here.” Exploring and celebrating local culture with the youth participants is
a way to help them recognize and commemorate their community strengths.
A valuable attribute of the programs that impacted the broader community was
the promotion of a culture of giving and social responsibility. Some programs recruited
volunteers from local schools providing an opportunity to do service in the community.
Other programs taught skills, such as basic literacy, that facilitated becoming a “...viable
part of a community, as opposed to being someone who just requires a constant
entitlement,” as one instructor framed it. Within the programs formed small communities
of support amongst the youth and the staff members. One teaching artist was impressed
by the transformation of the youth participants: watch the camp become a community in itself; just a regular working
community, like family. You went in there during lunchtime, you had
some of the older kids in the kitchen helping, serving, checking on the
younger kids to see if they were OK. That was just really special to see
that. To see everybody working together, as one unit, was very special.
Parents also recognized these transformations and the long-term impact they could have
on community, and even society. As one parent said:
Programs like this, I think they offer a view of what could be better....It
teaches the kids how to work together, how to come to positive conflict
resolution, how to handle things a lot better than the people that came
before them. And I think the benefit is really going to take hold in the
future, future generations. They're going to be able to teach us a thing.
Renewing Capacity of Organizations
The grants provided not only resources and funding to the recipients, but also
provided stability to programs that often operate on a grant-by-grant basis. The post-
Katrina climate of uncertainty threatened organizations’ ability to maintain services, and
in some cases even threatened their survival. One agency, discovering that their office
had escaped catastrophic damage, paused to regroup:
And we weren't sure where funding was going to come from this year. We
never know, because that's what we live on...We were re-evaluating
everything in the middle of September. And still, we knew that half of
New Orleans was gone so that means maybe half of our funding was
gone...So it was important for us to have this grant because we just didn't
know. We didn't know our future at that point.
When the grants were awarded, these organizations had the ability to move forward and
resume serving their communities as needs increased exponentially.
In addition to resuming services with the funds received from the GCYPRF, the
program went one step further in helping to leverage additional resources from other
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funding sources. One agency director stated that the grant, “...made a huge impact on the
fact that the other grants that we’re writing are going to be very successful because of the
fact that we were successful with Mercy Corps.” This mechanism contributes to
consistency of services because it allows the organizations to maintain their presence in a
community; this fosters trust and relationship building.
The grants helped to establish structure and normalcy, not only for the
communities they served, but also for the staff members of the recipient organizations.
These individuals were also struggling with post-hurricane loss, including jobs, income,
and even a reason to get out of bed. One daycare director said running the daycare was,
“...the best thing I could have done because I sat everyday in my little parking lot in my
itty bitty trailer, looking at total destruction. And I'm about children and childcare, so
being able to get back into a normal situation was very good mentally.” Other staff
members said support services made available to them by the grants helped them to cope,
and actually made a positive difference in overall job performance. The grants made it
possible for staff members to reclaim their helping roles, ultimately enhancing the
capacity of these organizations.
Support for Parents and Families
The role the granted programs played in the lives of parents and families is hugely
significant. The programs provided temporary relief when it was most needed, alleviating
their anxiety and stress over what to do with their children. Services were so limited, and
even non-existent in some areas, that parents had few options for childcare. In many
cases children could not be left at home due to hazardous conditions, even if a baby-sitter
happened to be available and affordable. In practical terms, the programs provided a safe
place for children. As one parent stated:
I couldn't even leave my children at home with a home sitter because the
yard was torn up, debris everywhere...You know, we had four feet of
water in our house. It floated off its piers, so it had to be demolished. So
even though we had FEMA trailers there, the house was still there falling
over onto our FEMA trailer. I mean, is that a place for kids to be?...And
you need peace of mind to go to work. You don't need to be worried...
On a deeper level, the stress relief may have been even more valuable. Peace of mind was
in short supply. An early childhood mental health care provider believes, “Some of the
families are just on the edge. They’re just teetering on the edge.” One parent validated
this by describing the difficulties of having children at home when dealing with so many
other issues: “Because having to be at home, and having to deal with insurance, FEMA,
this, that; plus add on top of that three little children under the age of four, stress level is
through the roof.” She went on to explain how getting her child into a program alleviated
some of that stress for her.
Once parents and guardians were able to get their children into the various
programs, they benefited even further from direct support services such as case
management and mental health offered by the funded programs. In many cases these
services were provided not only to the youth, but to all family members. One employee
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GCYPRF Evaluation 9
of an agency providing emotional support to families dealing with serious health issues
described the impact she felt her agency had on their client families: “I think that it is
helping them to lift the hearts and the souls and the minds of some of these families. Like
they know there's somebody there if there's an emergency. There's somebody there who
cares.” A parent receiving mental health support described the impact of having these
services available to her:
...because literally, I feel on the verge of a nervous break down. You
know, there's no closure to anything...trying to move forward with your
life but you can't...It was nice to be able to talk to someone and get their
perspective on you know, what I can actually do to better the situation as it
currently is...There's a lot of people who are still hurting and having to
deal with this on a daily basis. This has been absolutely devastating.
Programs have also provided referrals for assistance with WIC, food stamps, housing,
and legal advocacy to client families.
Some of these family support services helped to equip guardians with techniques
and coping mechanisms for addressing issues with their children and other family
members. One counselor stated that in working with the parents, “...once you teach them
the tools and they implement it at home, they feel empowered...And not only giving them
tools to work on parenting issues, but also, how to calm down, how to relax, which I find
is helpful for them.” A parent described issues of fear her child is struggling with and
how mental health services have helped them cope:
...if he sees the sun, if it starts to cloud up, and the sun goes behind the
clouds, he starts getting anxious. ‘I don't want the rain to come Momma...’
Because he's still dealing with that. He still mentions several things about
the storm, and so our counselor has been teaching him how he can better
cope. And teaching me coping skills to help him be a little less fearful and
One student described how she taught her mother breathing exercises she had been using
in a school program, and how they used these together to help them through difficult
situations, specifically in dealing with other family members. Not only did this provide a
tool, but it also empowered the student to teach a loved one something healthy she had
learned from her program. Others commented that higher patience levels stemming from
stress management decreased mistreatment in families.
This aspect of programming is
sustainable in that long after the services are gone, individuals still have the capacity to
draw on these tools and strengths for difficult situations in the future.
Once parents had someplace safe and stimulating for their children to be, they
were able to attend to pressing needs weighing on them; in most cases returning to a job
or working on a damaged home. Adults were left to handle adult problems without the
One mental health counselor even stated, “I think it's going to reduce ultimately, the cases of abuse.
Because we have seen, after Katrina and last school year, huge amounts where we've had to report abuse
cases, and kids coming to school with marks, and a lot of issues like that. It's gone down, so I think we have
more families that we're able to kind of lower the stress for and take it and normalize it, and make it OK.”
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children having to be involved. As one mother explained, “And the one year old already
knows how to put the phone to his ear, so that kind of makes me feel guilty...Poor kid,
that’s all he sees his mom doing is being on the phone.” Not only is it more difficult for
parents to handle issues when they have children at home, but their stress is detrimental
to the emotional health of their children. A parent discussed how having her child in a
head start program meant that she did not have to worry as much about the effects of
Katrina on her child, because she was in school.
Another important aspect of parents being freed to resume employment was the
return of income. Most parents would not have been able to work without some type of
programming for their child. One parent discussed the realities of unemployment post-
And then the whole life would suffer for the whole family. Because you
can't pay bills. And the bills still came in. Oh, that next month, you still
had bills to pay. You know, you didn't have the money, didn't have the
job, but you had the bills.
For these reasons, the ability to return to work and start generating income was
instrumental for parents. The programs were essential in allowing families to survive in
an uncertain and thoroughly damaged environment, while also providing caring and
stimulating activities for youth.
An additional financial impact of the youth programming for families was that it
helped maintain affordability and accessibility of services. At a time when so many other
goods and services were becoming more expensive and difficult to obtain, the youth
programs met families’ needs. Costs of summer programs were described as prohibitive
for some parents, but the purpose of the funded programs was to reduce barriers to youth
participation. In one case, the funding helped a daycare owner keep her prices at the same
level as before the storm. Because this was the only operating daycare center in the entire
parish, this pricing was a huge relief to parents. Another center was able to provide free
daycare on a temporary basis until families were able to regain some income and other
daycares reopened. Arts camps provided free or low-cost programs with high quality
services and unique learning opportunities for the children. A teaching artist for one of
these camps commented on the community reaction to the low costs by saying, “I don’t
think people could really fathom that it was just $25.00. That was just too good to be
true.” In addition to providing free services, a young adult education program further
reduced barriers by supplementing transportation and childcare for some of its students.
This helped them to more consistently attend their literacy and GED preparation classes.
Many of the funded programs targeted low-income households and populations in need.
Their inclusiveness was hugely beneficial to families struggling with lack of information,
lack of resources, and mounting financial burdens.
Positive Youth Development
The funded programs positively contributed to youth development in numerous
ways. The theme of returning to normal routines and activities was discussed with respect
to communities and families, but developmentally, establishing normalcy is much more
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crucial for children. For example, one parent and daycare owner discussed how important
basic consumer services like fast food restaurants and grocery stores were to her children:
We need a McDonalds...My kids want to go to McDonald's at least once,
twice a week. I mean, you're laughing, but it's a sense of normalcy for
them...The kids couldn't even wait to go to their first day at Winn Dixie
(grocery store) because they used to go with their parents before the
storm...because it all has to do with something for their normalcy and
getting back into what they did before the hurricane.
Another parent expressed concern for one of her younger children: one year old, as far as mental health, I don't think that there's any
concern there, but developmentally, there's been some issues. Because
we're not on a schedule, we're not on a routine. The child hasn't even been
able to sleep in a crib or in his own room.
Another daycare provider expressed a similar concern: “these children needed...a routine,
some place to go, other kids to be around...A place to feel safe. I've still got one right now
that if she hears a loud noise, she starts screaming. She thinks a hurricane is coming.”
These children, including infants, are experiencing intense emotions and adjustments
even fourteen months after the hurricane has passed.
The programs addressed these issues by providing a place for the children to go
every day, and by establishing a consistent and constructive tone. By setting guidelines
and fostering an environment of mutual respect, those working with the youth established
safe, healthy, and nurturing environments. These environments gradually encouraged
attitude shifts and positive behaviors in youth participants. In commenting on one
organization’s consistent approach to work with children, a teaching artist noted:
We were the same way every day; we had the same rules every day. We
didn’t bend; we didn't make exceptions. These are the rules and you have
to follow them. It was summer and we wanted them to have fun, but at the
same time, there has to be some kind of structure there...And accepting
responsibility. And they really got that. They took ownership of the camp,
and they wanted their camp to be better.
The counselors and instructors used different tools and strategies for setting these
tones, including poster boards with rules written out; handbooks discussing issues such as
listening, focus, trust, and respect; and in one case, a daily unity circle at the start and end
of each camp day. One teaching artist,
...saw similar things that you would see whenever you have the adults
setting a certain kind of a tone. They (the children) just seemed to really
appreciate it. You know, birthdays, special days, we would sing for them.
They were kind of standoffish in the beginning and warmed up toward the
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Some implementers described fewer “explosions in behavior,” moving “from
rambunctious to more calm and polite,” and a specific child who, “as opposed to leading
the folks who were causing the disruption, he was leading the folks who were trying to
get it done.”
The youth also recognized these behavior changes in themselves. One student in
an education program said that in order to participate, “I had to stop hanging around with
a lot of people. I had to stop wanting to fight so much...So I just had to just change my
whole attitude.” Other youth discussed the calming effects of some of the programs,
including anger management, stress relief, relaxation, and increased patience. The youth
seemed to appreciate these opportunities to focus on positive activities.
The normalcy established by the programs allowed children to be children; to
engage in youth activities; to play. While this benefit sounds simple, the current
environment of stress and loss in which youth are living elevates its importance. As one
daycare provider stated, “...after the hurricane, they were all coming back to nothing. All
the kids were coming back to no toys; they were all coming back to no house.” In
speaking with some of the youth participants, field trips were a highlight often
mentioned. Going to the zoo, the pool, the bowling alley, or the IMAX were needed
treats. Some groups had to travel significant distances out of their damaged communities
to get to these places, but that made it even more meaningful. An arts instructor discussed
her approach to reducing adult worries and concerns for the children:
I just continued to do things that they liked and that they enjoyed post- and
pre-Katrina...Just so they could feel like, they didn't have to think about
that they have to go home to their trailer, or their house wasn't there. So
we just talked more of the lighter subject.
For children, normalcy is playing with other children, engaging in fun activities, and
interacting with caring adults focused completely on their needs. The funded programs
provided this.
They also provided an alternative to unhealthy environments and activities,
increasing youth safety. One parent appreciated how a summer camp kept his son
occupied: “You know, kids like to hang out and sometimes, you know, idle minds, idle
hands, it's not a good thing. It's the devil's playground.” Many people pointed out that a
lack of recreational opportunities for youth leads them to devise their own forms of
entertainment, including unproductive and destructive ones. Some youth recognized this
as well. One student said, “I've got to be busy doing something. And I'd rather be busy
doing something positive than negative.” In diverse forms, these programs provided
positive outlets. One program exposed youth to a healthier lifestyle through yoga. Others
helped with anger management, stress reduction, and concrete services such as GED
preparation. They all increased youth health and safety in some capacity.
Another impact of the programs was the creation of emotionally safe
environments for expression, especially as it related to the hurricane. Activities and
discussions helped to normalize youth’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Some of the
programs were tailored specifically to mental health needs. A mental health counselor
described the progress she had made with a student at an early childhood center:
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I have one little client...really traumatic...they left their home due to the
high flooding and had to stay under the overpass for a few days. And
exposure to violence, looting, grandfather is out there with a shotgun...But
just amazing how I started the session where she wasn't saying anything,
to now she's just opening up to develop that rapport. And just seeing her
express herself, express her feelings, and communicating them is just...I
had a great session today.
Other programs provided children with emotional support just by recognizing that need
for expression, honoring it, and incorporating it into activities:
Leaving like the discussion open for the kids to voice all their concerns
and everything through their art. Everything would go back to Katrina.
Somehow it goes back to Katrina. So we were definitely teachers,
but we were acting as mental health professionals in a certain way. Just
because of the nature of being so close to the storm.
The specific approaches to providing this emotional support for the children was less
important than the manner in which these adults accomplished it. They established
trusting relationships with the children that fostered honesty, openness, and
communication. In doing so, they strengthened their resiliency. As one teaching artist
said, “...we wanted to...turn something that is a negative into a positive, so that they could
kind of come back and...take back some power.” This helped the youth to integrate the
hurricane into their experiences and regain a sense of control.
The individualized positive attention that the youth received from program staff
was very valuable. Though most of the programs centered around group activities, the
teachers, counselors and instructors placed extra emphasis on one-on-one interactions.
One teacher noted,
I don't think a lot of these kids get recognized for anything positive. So we
kind of went out of our way, when we saw them doing something good, to
acknowledge it. To let them know that good attention matters too. They
get enough negative attention.
Staff put this into practice by noticing small behavior changes and verbally
acknowledging them to the youth, or even giving them a hug. Other more educationally-
oriented programs recognized that “some youth do not work well in a classroom setting,
and they need to be working one-on-one with someone,” as one instructor stated. These
programs were responsive to youth needs and planned their curriculum accordingly,
allowing students to choose how they wanted to learn. Youth reinforced this by noting
how much they enjoyed the one-on-one attention. This may be an indication of something
that is missing in other aspects of youth’s lives, especially in post-hurricane environments
where resources and energy are in short supply. As one parent and childcare provider
stated, “...children may not necessarily be getting the same thing they got from us before.
Because the hurricane used us up. It really did.” Receiving individualized positive
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attention, as the funded programs provided, helps to instill a sense of security in youth,
and allows them to develop confidence in their abilities.
The programs also helped youth build relationships and socialize with each other,
as well as with adults. In the current environment, youth have had to make significant
adjustments to people, places, and activities, and this has the potential to negatively
impact child development. Even children who returned to their homes found themselves
in a foreign environment that they had to adjust to. Parents seemed to be worried about
socialization of their children. One parent commented,
...with this Katrina situation, it was hard for him (his son) at the time to
associate with other kids because in my neighborhood, we didn't have too
many other kids around at that point in the summer. You had a lot of
parents still debating whether or not to come home.
By participating in these programs, the children and youth benefited from the opportunity
to meet new people and interact with other children, a healthy and normal developmental
process. One daycare provider described the change in one of the children from the
beginning to the end of the summer program:
Watching him at the beginning, he was real quiet. All he would do is read
books. Just really didn't want to talk. But by the end of the summer, he
was all playing. You know, back like, where he should be. You know
where he has friends...being like a normal 8 year old boy.
In addition to practicing socialization during the programs, the children also
enhanced their own self-identity. For younger children, this was learning about a sense of
self. One parent observed the change in her daughter through playing with other children
at daycare: “She was very very shy until she first came here. And then she started
developing: I am Sally,
I have my own opinions, and I don't care what you say...I am
who I am.” Older children learned a bit more about individual perceptions and points of
view. A program director pointed out the role of art: “And the arts talk to them about
what do you think? Really getting at creative processes and personal perspective, and
who you are in the world, and what is your place in the community or the larger world.”
Moving through these stages of learning to play, learning to trust, learning how to be a
friend, learning who you are as an individual, and how you fit into your larger
community are important developmental steps, and the programs helped to ensure that
these youth were not delayed in experiencing them.
The funded programs introduced youth to a variety of new experiences. Youth
were exposed to new skills, creative outlets, technology, concepts, and knowledge. These
discoveries uncovered previously unexplored talents and competencies. Some examples
of unique opportunities for the children included filming a movie, writing songs that were
recorded onto a CD, learning digital photography programs, mastering yoga positions,
and quilting. One teaching artist recalled a child who excelled in photography:
Not her real name.
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GCYPRF Evaluation 15
just had this awesome eye...I mean, we want him to be a
photographer or cinematographer or something, because the pictures that
this kid took were amazing. And they were doing stuff with the Photoshop
and he would come up with these awesome colors. And just superimpose
all kinds of....I mean this kid, he's got some vision that other kids ain't
seeing. Definitely.
Even for some of the youngest children, the programs provided stimulating activities.
One parent commented on the impact of daycare on her son: “Well I don't think it was
just a daycare. I mean he came home singing songs... he's learning, he's pretending. He's
not even two years old and he's already pretending. You know and that just blows my
mind...” Even on field trips accomplishments like getting strikes at bowling and skating
without falling down were meaningful for the children. These activities helped the youth
build self-esteem.
In carrying the themes of knowledge and skill even further, the programs
contributed to a culture of learning for youth. The children’s activities, relationships, and
experiences expanded their perspectives and opened them up to new possibilities. One
summer camp brought in a group of young adults from New York to work with the
children, and guardians appreciated this “fresh perspective” and “new side of thinking.”
One child liked learning about New York, which he would not have otherwise been able
to do. Another parent noticed how his daughter had learned to write from different
perspectives. A literacy program taught one student about winter darkness in Scandinavia
and another about the length of time required to form a diamond. Both students were
enthusiastic about this new information. The instructor was too because, as she stated,
“this is what learning is all about. The surprise of learning something you didn’t know,
about other people somewhere else.” She continued,
...there's a lot of these young people that really want to learn. They come
in here and they're writing...they're reading, they're asking questions. They
really want to know. They realize that they're missing something. They
know that. That's a sad thing, but it's also a good thing.
It is a good thing because it inspires youth to reach for something; to extend their abilities
and their realm of knowing. These programs have been able to respond to that. As one
father put it, “Programs like this give the kids a chance to see something brighter. To say,
hey, I’m not going to settle.”
Strengths of Grantees
The organizations and programs evaluated exhibited strengths that contributed to
their positive impact on the youth, families, and communities. These strengths should be
noted as strategies and values that all youth-oriented programs should seek to embody.
One such strategy was a holistic approach to programming through recognizing the need
to work with the entire family, rather than the youth in isolation. The ability to look
beyond surface issues to identify underlying situations that may be contributing to
Not his real name.
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GCYPRF Evaluation 16
problems is another effective approach. Many programs were able to either address these
directly, or provide referrals for other services.
Programs also strove to reduce barriers to receiving services by making it difficult
for youth and families to find reasons not to participate. Some examples are solving
transportation issues with rides or bus tokens, providing childcare for parents who were
themselves receiving services, and subsidizing costs. This required awareness on the part
of program implementers, and sensitivity to the issues their clients were struggling with.
One adult education program waived the traditional requirements to signing up for their
program. If youth had lost their student ID, social security card, or birth certificate, they
were still allowed to participate. This kind of approach ensures that everyone who would
like help has access to it.
Another strength many of these programs exhibited was flexibility and
adaptability. They were responsive to the needs of their clients, and were willing and able
to modify their programming accordingly, rather than putting the onus on the youth and
families to change. Some had difficulties finding locations to hold youth programs in the
damaged communities, but were resourceful and creative in solutions. Others were forced
to go door-to-door to recruit children for summer programs as traditional communication
networks were lacking. The program implementers were insightful, creative, sensitive,
and tenacious in getting valuable services to those who needed them.
Program Limitations
Though the programs’ positive impacts have been significant and even
immeasurable in the extent to which they may have guided or influenced these youth,
some limitations must be noted. The nature of a grant is that it imposes time restrictions
on program implementation. These grantees would have been even more successful with
their programs if they had fewer restrictions on time. In some cases, program staff voiced
a desire to continue their programs, but had run out of time. For many programs success
depended on relationships formed between the implementers, and the youth and families.
One teacher at an early childhood center offering mental health counseling spoke about
the parents’ readiness to access mental health services: “...they need it, but they’re not to
the where they’re open enough to let you in.” It takes time to establish trust and
many programs felt that they had formed productive relationships just as their programs
were ending. As one teaching artist said, “we were consistent for four weeks in the
summer and look what came of that. Just think the impact we’ll have with the kids over a
longer period of time.”
Related to time are issues of sustainability. Many programs spoke of the need to
offer continuous services by maintaining a long-term presence in the community. Some
programs were in the process of looking for funding to continue their services, but were
uncertain about the future of their programs. Several also voiced concern over what
would happen next summer when even more children have returned to the area. The
funding certainly realized its goal of providing temporary assistance and bridging gaps in
services until organizations and communities could regroup, but long-term responses to
youth needs are also necessary.
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GCYPRF Evaluation 17
Identified Needs and Opportunities for Intervention
Many needs, gaps, and problems were identified by those who participated in the
evaluation. Well over one year after Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Coast region is still
struggling with fundamental deficiencies in social services and basic standards of living.
Some, such as lack of affordable housing, governmental inefficiency, displacement, and
poverty, though mentioned often by respondents and often the root cause of problems, lie
outside the scope of recommendations offered in this evaluation. These issues
undoubtedly deserve attention, but this document will focus on issues that lend
themselves to simpler solutions easily implemented in future assistance programs.
Needs and Gaps
Social service and assistance programs are inadequate to meet the needs of
populations in Southeastern Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. Even very basic necessities,
such as housing, are still missing for some. In some cases, these were pre-existing needs
that have been exacerbated by the hurricane. The director of a program for young adults
described the realities for her clients:
They're just missing the basic sort of secure home environments that most
people just take for granted. They may or may not have a home to go to.
They may or may not have a bed in that house. They may or may not have
food in the kitchen. They may or may not have electricity. They may or
may not have a washer/dryer. They may or may not have quarters to wash
their own clothes...Like very basic things that we're dealing with that are
just not being taken into consideration.
These programs helped to fill a gap for many families, but the supply of services has not
been adequate to fill the demand.
In instances where the services and assistance do exist, the lack of communication
and information dissemination makes them unattainable for those who do not know how
to access them. Reliable information is in short supply. As one parent said, “Information
is the reason we’re in this boat that we’re in right now.” A daycare owner expending
considerable effort to access help for her clients described her plight as “a fight.” The
hurricane damage broke down communication networks and people in need do not know
how to access help.
Several respondents expressed concerns over environmental hygiene. Some
individuals referred to “toxic soils” and even “death and destruction spores” as colorful
descriptions for the environmental hazards caused by oil spills and Katrina damage.
Whether or not these fears have been supported with scientific findings, they are real
fears of people living in these communities, and certainly impact their perceived quality
of life. In some cases, because of these anxieties and the lack of health care facilities,
families have elected not to bring elderly family members back into these environments.
Providing childcare support in some families, the missing grandparents decrease the
number of resources parents have to rely on.
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GCYPRF Evaluation 18
Weakened social support networks were another challenge identified by the
evaluation. Fewer resources and mounting stressors are contributing to unstable home
environments. Families are forced into uncomfortable living situations such as small
trailers, or sharing a house with extended family. As one parent said, “No one knows how
to fully deal with this.” Pre-existing domestic problems have been exacerbated by the
effects of the hurricane and children are caught in the middle of these tensions, and even
explosions. The erosion of social support networks is taking its toll on care givers and
children alike.
Mental health counseling and emotional support was another identified need. One
parent recognized this:
So the entire community is absolutely devastated. And people are not
dealing with it well. We have 70 year old couples who are committing
suicide together. You know, I mean, just people don't know how to deal
with it, and then on top of that, there's no mental clarity. And no one has
ever been through this before, so there's no guide to help you.
Youth program implementers also observed this need in their work with children. One
teaching artist commented, “I see a real need for mental health counselors to work with
kids. I think there's a lot of...unhealthy stuff going around that's unchecked, that gets
ignored.” Youth that have trouble expressing themselves may be led to destructive
manifestations of their emotional issues. This is also a concern for adults as many believe
that abuse has escalated in post-Katrina environments.
Respondents also reported that youth have nothing positive to do in their free
time. Recreational outlets and activities are missing in many communities. Youth felt
particularly strongly about access to fun activities and having somewhere to “just go,
listen to music, play basketball, just chill” as one young man expressed. Adults were
more concerned about the alternative activities youth were engaging in. As one parent
said, “The youth are at a breaking point where they can go the good way, or the bad
way...So if something specific is not implemented rather quickly, you know, we have a
serious situation on our hands.”
Opportunities for Intervention
The needs identified by this evaluation lend themselves to areas for programmatic
intervention. Strengthened social service networks and organizational collaborations is
one such way to approach community recovery. Enhanced cooperation would improve
how information is shared and disseminated in communities. If community needs were
promptly defined, and organizations collectively planned their interventions and shared
resources, services would be provided much more efficiently. Information on services
would likely also be easier to access. This opportunity for intervention is applicable not
only to youth-oriented services, but to all community work.
Another opportunity for intervention is the provision of emotional support and
mental health services. An important aspect of this approach would be education for
parents and guardians addressing the impact of stress on youth, as well as techniques to
address it. Many teachers, childcare workers, and parents believed that adults did not
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recognize the negative impact of their stress on children. Providing these services would
strengthen social support networks that families could turn to in times of difficulty or
Even before mental health and emotional issues can be addressed by
interventions, basic human needs must be fulfilled. Issues such as housing and physical
health should be programmatic priorities. Concrete services through case management to
meet these basic needs are an essential component to any intervention that hopes to
improve the welfare of children. Rising costs of insurance, rent, and utilities have created
a climate of chronic financial stress for families in this post-disaster environment, and
people need guidance and assistance in moving forward with recovery.
Additionally, the creation of safe recreational spaces to engage youth is another
programmatic opportunity. Violence in varying degrees and forms has become a regular
and familiar experience for youth, even on a daily basis. It will continue to shape their
experiences unless they are offered alternatives. Opportunities to provide structure and
stimulation should be taken advantage of as opportunities to positively influence youth
This evaluation identified numerous successes of the beneficiaries of the Gulf
Coast Youth Program Recovery Fund. Using these successes, the strengths of the
organizations, and the needs identified by the program implementers, the youth, and their
parents and guardians, this evaluation concludes by offering several recommendations to
inform future youth programming in post-disaster environments.
General themes to be considered and incorporated in any youth program include:
Normalcy through structured activities and consistent programming.
Providing some stabilization in the midst of disorganization is important for the
emotional health and development of children.
Individualized positive attention.
Youth need and crave this attention, and are often deprived of it when families
experience stress and schools suffer a strain on resources and personnel.
Inclusion of family.
Care givers and families should be incorporated into interventions as much as
possible. Stress in children may be a symptom of problems at home, and parental
participation is an important component of youth work.
Trusting relationships.
Providing effective services requires trusting relationships between program
implementers, and youth and their guardians. Trust is achieved by demonstrating a
commitment to the community through consistent service delivery, or by
partnering with a trusted community entity.
Fulfillment of basic needs.
Basic human needs must be met before positive youth development can occur.
Ensuring that housing, food, health, and a general sense of safety are established
should be priorities in youth programming.
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The following recommendations stem from the evaluator’s synthesis of the data
collected, and in some cases are the specific ideas of program implementers, parents, or
youth who participated in the evaluation. Where appropriate, ideas were combined to
provide a comprehensive vision to guide future interventions.
Community Centers
Community centers were often mentioned as a need by those who participated in
the evaluation. These centers would allow not only youth, but all community members to
access resources such as after school care, adult education programs, recreational sports
and activities, community meetings, case management, and counseling. The center site
would be a local high school or middle school. Using a school as the physical site is
practical because it is an entity and location with which all community members are
familiar. Families have established relationships with schools making it more likely for
them to access services and activities there. An additional benefit is that a center like this
has the potential to draw in parents and guardians who are less involved with their
children’s scholastic activities. Providing free and needed services in a familiar location
is a strategy that could combat this apathy. Providing so many services in one place is
also convenient for community members. The schools/centers would stay open until the
late evening to accommodate all schedules.
Youth Drop-In Centers
A drop-in center is another vision of program implementers stemming from the
needs of the at-risk youth they work with. This type of center would serve youth only and
would ideally be open 24 hours a day. It would serve several functions, the most
important of which would be a safe place for youth as an alternative to being on the
street, or in an unsafe home environment. Not only would it provide a refuge, but it
would have showers, a kitchen, and recreational space. Additionally, case management
would be available, as well as career counseling and job training. A drop-in center has the
potential to reduce youth exposure to violence while also providing positive resources,
assistance, and services to individuals who are growing up in disadvantaged
Community-Based Mentorship
Adults working with the youth recognized and expressed concern over the
disconnect that occurs in communities during an individual’s transition from childhood to
young adulthood. This relates to the theme of learned responsibility that surfaced often
during discussions of youth programming. Youth need guidance along their journey to
adulthood and presently, that seems to be lacking for them. Mentorship programs would
be a way to increase the positive individual attention that is so important to healthy youth
development, while also imparting life skills, encouraging identity formation, and
teaching social responsibility. While this learning occurs formally or informally for some
This recommendation came from a teaching artist and is an innovation that may take place in a local high
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GCYPRF Evaluation 21
fortunate youth, it is apparent that it is not happening for far too many others. These
programs would be based in the community, led by community members, and would be
culturally relevant.
School-Based Mental Health Support and Case Management
Mental health counseling is an important intervention to have in place in post-
disaster environments. Youth and families are struggling with experiences and stressors
that they have never encountered before. They often do not know how to handle and
integrate these stressful and even traumatic experiences, and find themselves stuck,
unable to move forward. Additionally, families have to confront chronic sources of stress,
such as rebuilding and financial burdens even after the disaster has passed on.
Professional support may be necessary to navigate these emotions and learn tools to
master them. Advocacy through case management would also be a component of services
to aid families in obtaining concrete assistance.
To effectively implement a program like this, the culture surrounding mental
health support and assistance would need to be demystified and de-stigmatized. Including
an educational component for all parents would help to normalize mental health support
while increasing awareness of available services. It would also inform parents of the
effect their emotions, and how they handle them, have on their children. These services
would be provided in the schools because they are familiar, trusted, and convenient
entities for parents and guardians. Because it is not unusual for parents to be in the
schools meeting with teachers and staff, they would benefit from a degree of anonymity
with respect to the kinds of services they are receiving.
The Gulf Coast Youth Program Recovery Fund made it possible for programs to
offer innovative youth services to communities and families with significant needs for
various types of assistance. The impact of the grants program was powerful. The youth
programs it funded contributed to rebuilding healthy communities, renewing capacities of
service-providing organizations, supporting parents and families, and encouraging
positive youth development. Specific impacts on the beneficiaries included establishing
normalcy and structure in damaged communities; giving parents the time and peace of
mind to work on their families’ recovery; facilitating social reconnections and fostering
new relationships; providing support for youth and adults struggling with hurricane-
related stress; imbuing youth with self-confidence through discovery of new skills and
positive attention; and creating a culture of learning and social responsibility. By
improving youth welfare, especially at this pivotal point in hurricane recovery, the youth
grants fund has made a meaningful contribution to the youth participants, their families,
and the communities they live in. This contribution is long-lasting because it has the
potential to influence youth and the decisions they make in their futures.
The evaluation also identified persistent needs and problems of beneficiaries and
their communities. These needs are significant but lend themselves to workable solutions
to consider for future assistance programs. In general, a lack of social assistance, weak
information dissemination systems, feeble social support networks, a lack of mental
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health support, and few recreational opportunities for youth were named by participants
as needs and gaps in services. In response to these needs, specific recommendations
offered by this evaluation include community centers, youth drop-in centers, community-
based mentorship programs, and school-based mental health support and case
management. In any effective youth intervention however, the following elements should
be included: normalcy through structured activities, individualized positive attention,
inclusion of family members, cultivation of trusting relationships, and fulfillment of basic
needs. The ideas and recommendations offered in this evaluation provide a guide to
inform future youth programming in post-disaster environments to ensure effective
recovery and improve the welfare of children, their families, and communities.
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Appendix A
Evaluation Methodology
The purpose of this evaluation
was to qualitatively assess the impact of programs
funded by the Gulf Coast Youth Program Recovery Fund on youth participants, their
families, and the communities in which they live. Eight programs from Louisiana and
Mississippi were selected by Mercy Corps to represent the 80 grant recipients. Over a
period of four weeks, the evaluator collected data through focus groups and in-depth
interviews with youth participants, their parents and guardians, and implementers of the
youth programs.
Faculty from Tulane University’s School of Social Work developed general focus
group and interview guides. The evaluator adapted the guides to each program, making
them specifically relevant to the program activities. The questions were also modified
slightly throughout the course of data collection based on which ones elicited the richest
Consent and assent forms for the adult and youth participants were developed by
Tulane faculty as well. Each participant reviewed and signed a form before the interview
or focus group to ensure that they understood the purpose of the evaluation, their role in
it, potential risks to participation, confidentiality of responses, and their right to terminate
their participation at any time. For children under the age of 16, parents signed a consent
while the children signed assent forms.
Confidentiality of responses was explained fully in the consent forms, and was
again reviewed orally by the evaluator at the beginning of each interview or focus group.
Participants were assured that no names would be used in the evaluation, and that all
written and audio records of interview sessions would be destroyed upon completion of
the evaluation. Confidentiality was protected even further by omitting the names of
organizations throughout the report.
Data Collection
The process of data collection consisted of digitally voice recording each focus
group or interview, and then transcribing the audio into a written document to be used for
content analysis. When possible, a back up voice recorder was used. During focus
groups, the evaluator moderated the sessions while an assistant took notes on nonverbal
commentary and transitions in speakers. The interview and focus group sessions were set
up by program staff in locations familiar to all participants (a school, daycare center, or
local church) to maximize their comfortability. Refreshments were also provided to
convey appreciation for participants’ contributions.
Mercy Corps did not require that this evaluation follow strict academic guidelines for qualitative research.
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Data Analysis
Once the data was organized and transcribed, it was reviewed by not only the
evaluator, but by Mercy Corps staff and a Tulane School of Social Work faculty member.
These individuals met to discuss the different themes emerging from the data and how
best to organize them. This triangulation ensured that a variety of perspectives
contributed to shaping the final document. Once the major ideas were identified, the
evaluator coded the content of all transcripts into thematic groups and subgroups. These
groupings became the sections of the report and the final document was written and given
to Mercy Corps.
One weakness of the evaluation methodology was the influence social desirability
may have had on the participants’ responses. The participants were the beneficiaries of
the funding provided by Mercy Corps and may have felt a need to amplify positive
aspects of the programming. The program implementers may have been particularly
susceptible to this bias. It is also possible that focus groups forums encouraged excessive
agreement amongst participants, and discouraged responses perceived as disagreeable or
It is impossible to know to what extent this bias may have crept into the data, but
efforts were made to minimize it. An important component of the introduction to the
focus groups and interviews was to establish impartiality to the outcome of the session.
The evaluator clarified that she did not work with or for Mercy Corps, but was hired by a
third party to conduct the evaluation. She also deflected all attempts to thank her for the
funding and instead assured the participants that she would pass on their gratitude to
Mercy Corps.
Another limitation to this evaluation was the variation in the amount of data
collected for each organization. This was dependent on who was willing and available to
participate. For only one organization was data collected from all groups: youth, parents,
and program implementers. Sessions also varied in the richness of responses and data
Finally, in some sessions that included youth participants, they were too young to
provide the kind of responses that this evaluation sought. Sometimes it was too difficult
to hold their attention and these sessions tended to be short and full of less relevant
comments. Even so, it was important to include their perspectives and let their voices be
heard in this youth grants evaluation.
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Appendix B
Programs Included in Evaluation
The following tables summarize each of the eight programs included in this evaluation,
and list the data collection methods used.
Angel’s Place, Metairie, LA ($20,000 granted)
Returning to Care Project
Angel’s Place provides respite care and hospice services for terminally ill children and
their families. With enhanced funding, the organization located former patients while
expanding their services to new children and families in order to improve their quality of
life and reduce stress levels of parents and guardians.
Data Collection:
1 Focus Group with 4 program staff
Children’s Palace Daycare and Pre-School, Meraux, LA ($20,000 granted)
Project Oasis
This summer program created an opportunity for 50 children living in St. Bernard Parish
to enjoy fun activities on field trips outside of their devastated community.
Data Collection:
1 Focus Group with 5 program staff
KID smART, New Orleans, LA ($20,000 granted)
Summer Art Camp on the Porch
This summer art program targeted 40 youth between the ages of 8 and 16 living in the 7
ward to use visual and performing arts to help them process their feelings after the
hurricane while building resiliency, self-esteem, and a greater sense of community. The
program also aimed to train teaching artists in working with youth affected by trauma.
Data Collection:
1 Group Interview with 3 program staff
1 Group Interview with 3 parents and guardians
1 Individual Interview with a youth participant
Regina Coeli Child Development Center, St. Tammany Parish, LA ($20,000 granted)
Children’s Mental Health Support
In order to address an increase in behavioral and emotional problems among children in
head start and early head start programs, this funding contributed to the provision of
direct mental health services for the children, as well as mental health training and
services for staff and parents.
Data Collection:
1 Focus Group with 8 program staff
1 Individual Interview with a parent
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Young Audiences of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA ($20,000 granted)
Resilience and the Arts
In partnership with the Unity Project, this large-scale program consisted of arts-infused
resiliency training for youth aged 8 to 17 years to discover their strengths and share
common experiences with one another. It also included professional development
workshops for teachers and teaching artists in working with children in crisis and the role
of art in building resiliency.
Data Collection:
1 Focus Group with 6 program staff
1 Focus Group with 6 youth participants
Youth Empowerment Project, New Orleans, LA ($18,000 granted)
New Orleans Providing Literacy to All Youth (NOPLAY)
The goal of this project was to provide literacy and GED training to out-of-school youth
aged 17 to 24 years in a way that meets their cultural, educational, and emotional needs.
In collaborations with My House Center for Learning the program enrolled and is
providing educational services to high-risk youth.
Data Collection:
1 Focus Group with 6 youth participants
2 Individual Interviews with program staff
Center for New Opportunities, Biloxi Schools, MS ($9,172 granted)
Yoga Eases Stress (YES)
This program used intensive interactive yoga to encourage behavior modification,
increase self-esteem, and foster a greater sense of self-control for 40 alternative school
students. Learning a healthy coping mechanism helped provide physical and mental stress
reduction for the participants.
Data Collection:
1 Focus Groups with 10 youth participants
1 Group Interview with 2 program staff
1 Group Interview with 2 former youth participants
City of Pass Christian Recovery Program, MS ($16, 949 granted)
Temporary Childcare
By providing temporary free daycare for children aged 6 weeks to 7 years, this program
provided uninterrupted learning and stimulation for children while allowing their parents
to work to rebuild their homes and their communities. Specifically, the funds were used
to purchase modular classrooms that meet state licensing requirements.
Data Collection:
1 Focus Group with 5 parents and program staff
Total: 8 Focus Groups
4 Group Interviews
4 Individual Interviews
A total of 64 youth, parent, and program staff beneficiaries contributed to this evaluation.
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Appendix C
Complete List of Grantees
The U.S. Fund for UNICEF - Mercy Corps
Gulf Coast Youth Program Recovery Fund
Grants Digest for Louisiana
Angel's Place, Metairie, LA -$20,000 helps reestablish its services to terminally ill
children in the Greater New Orleans area that were interrupted as a result of Hurricane
Katrina. Through outreach and volunteer coordination, 30 new children from newborn
to age 14 years old will benefit from the full array of social and family respite services
provided by Angel’s Place.
The Arc of Greater New Orleans, LA - $ 11,320 supports the purchase of rubber mulch
playground surfacing for outside play areas for this community child care center. The
center serves 65 children between the ages of six weeks to five years, many who have
special needs.
Bishop Perry Middle School, New Orleans, LA - $18,000 supports its Summer
Enrichment and Activity Program, which extends the school year through June and July
to provide returning students with academic, sports, and cultural enrichment
opportunities. An estimated 30 to 60 students, ages ten to 14, will benefit from this
Children’s Bureau of New Orleans, LA - $20,000 supports Project LAST (loss and
survival team) which provides mental health services to children and families who have
been impacted by Hurricane Katrina and related events. Twenty families reaching
approximately 60 individuals will benefit from this project.
Children’s Palace Daycare & Preschool, Meraux, LA - $20,000 funds Project Oasis, a
life enriching summer program for 50 children, from age five to 12. This program is one
of the few summer youth offerings in the St. Bernard Parish, allowing participants to
experience the healing affects of old-fashioned fun.
Country Day Creative Arts Program, Metairie, LA - $19,080 provides 18 scholarships to
economically disadvantaged youth, ages nine to 13, to participate in the five-week
Creative Arts Hope Summer Arts Program. This program celebrates differences and
children discover the radiance that different people and life-styles bring to the world.
East St. Tammany Rainbow Child Care Center, Slidell, LA - $20,000 replaces storm
damaged interior contents such tables, chairs, mats, storage bins, toys, books, and other
basic supplies for seven classrooms. Ninety children, ages newborn to five, and their
families benefit from this grant.
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The Eyes Have It, Inc, New Orleans, LA - $18,480 helps provide free vision screening
assistance, linkage to full comprehensive eye examination, as well as delivery of free
and/or discounted eyeglasses to students in need of vision correction, education and
empowerment, plus a continuum of good vision health. An estimated 1,355 youth, ages
five to twenty will benefit.
Hope Center, Gretna, LA - $17,000 helps support an After-School program for 68
children, ranging in age from five to ten, to enhance current services that are offered by
the local public schools. Youth Program Recovery Funds will specifically hire an
enrichment/social development coordinator and purchase necessary supplies.
Housing Authority of New Orleans, LA - $20,000 supports a partnership with the
Children’s Defense Fund to provide a literacy-rich summer program for New Orleans
public housing youth. The five to eight week program will reach approximately 100
youth, ages five to 18, integrating reading, conflict resolution and social action in an
activity-based curriculum that provides social, cultural and historical awareness.
Hynes Charter School Corporation, New Orleans, LA - $10,000 helps Edward Hynes
Elementary School purchase books to replenish the loss of their library. An estimated
728 children per year will benefit from this grant.
Jefferson Performing Arts Society, Metairie, LA - $7,150 supports Cultural Crossroads,
an arts education and cultural enrichment curriculum-based program that integrates
science, language arts, math, history, and social skills with the arts. This program will
reach 403 youth ranging in age from ten to 15 years old, exposing them to alternate ways
of living and learning.
Jefferson Public Library, Metairie, LA - $10,708 funds the purchase of incentives for
children who participate in the yearly summer reading program. The majority of the
children in Jefferson Parish are struggling readers and need extra motivation. The
summer reading program reaches an estimated 11,000 – 15,000 youth, ages one to 18.
Joseph S. Maggiore Elementary School, Metairie, LA $10,650 creates a new youth
project specifically designed to meet the needs of post-Katrina students. Using artist
residencies, this project develops skills to improve 50 fourth-grade students’
performances in English, Reading, Writing and Social Studies while also helping them
process the change in their lives.
Kids in Crisis Project, Mandeville, LA - $17,299 supports the training of mental health
professionals in two research-based techniques for assisting with disaster related mental
health problems. Thirty mental health professionals will be trained, reaching an
estimated 250 family members in the first year.
KID smART, New Orleans, LA - $20,000 supports an arts summer camp for 40 youth,
ages eight to 16, who live in the 7
Ward of New Orleans. This camp will provide ways
for participants to process their feelings and heal from the trauma of the hurricane, with a
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goal to gain a greater sense of self-esteem and self-empowerment about their role in the
future of New Orleans.
Neighborhood Story Project, New Orleans, LA - $10,000 supports personnel and
operating costs of this community documentary program in New Orleans. This program
will work with 20 adolescents, helping them to tell the stories of their communities, often
misrepresented by the media, and bringing meaningful literature to their neighborhood.
Regina Coeli Child Development Center, St. Tammany Parish, LA - $20,000 augments
mental health services by providing 275 hours of direct mental health services to children
and 75 hours of mental health training and services for staff and parents. More than 425
children between the ages of birth to five and their families will benefit.
Special Olympics Louisiana, Hammond, LA - $20,000 provides needed communications
and volunteer coordination staff to help locate and reengage athletes in the Special
Olympics training and competition program. An estimated 2,000 athletes, ranging from
eight to 25 years of age, will benefit by being offered an avenue to return to normalcy.
Teach for America - Greater New Orleans, LA - $20,000 funds the recruitment,
selection, training and ongoing support for four 2006 corps members. Working to close
the achievement gap between lower-income students and their wealthier peers, corps
members will serve as full time teachers in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes during the
2006-2007 academic year.
Teaching Responsible Earth Education, Covington, LA - $20,000 waives tuition fees
for 60 fourth-grade students, enabling them to participate in the Earthkeepers program.
During this three day program students, teachers and parents participate in a series of
concept activities that teach basic life science and environmental concepts, which are
fully integrated with classroom curricula.
Volunteers of America, LA - $15,000 purchases the Voyager Passport Program, an
intensive reading intervention that has been proven to dramatically improve the
performance of students who are struggling to read. This intervention will increase the
effectiveness of Lighthouse After School program at Milestone Sabis School with an
estimated 80 beneficiaries.
Young Audiences of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA - $20,000 supports the Unity Project,
which will provide dynamic arts programming combined with resilience skills for youth
to discover their strengths and abilities while working with others around common
experiences. A hundred teachers and teaching artists will be trained, reaching up to
20,000 youth by December 2006.
Youth Empowerment Project, New Orleans, LA - $18,000 supports the New Orleans
Providing Literacy to All Youth (NOPLAY) program, which provides GED and basic
literacy instruction to out-of-school youth, ages 17 – 27. NOPLAY’s six-month goal is to
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enroll and provide culturally appropriate educational services to a minimum of 30 young-
The U.S. Fund for UNICEF - Mercy Corps
Gulf Coast Youth Program Recovery Fund
Grants Digest for Mississippi
Bay St. Louis Babe Ruth Baseball, Bay St. Louis, MS - $15,000 helps reestablish the
youth baseball program by replacing physical facilities and equipment that were damaged
from Hurricane Katrina. Approximately 40 youth ages four to twelve will immediately
benefit from this program.
Bay St. Louis Youth Football Program, Bay St. Louis, MS - $12,500 helps replace
equipment that was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina, enabling youth football and
cheerleading programs to resume. Approximately 300 youth ages five to twelve will
from this program in the first year.
Center for New Opportunities - Biloxi Schools, MS - $ 9,172 funds Yoga Eases Stress
(YES), a six-month intensive, interactive Yoga program for approximately 40 alternative
school students. The YES program helps with behavior modification and increases self-
esteem and self-control.
Children's Imagination Station, Long Beach, MS - $ 13,050 provides computer lab
equipment for the Expanding Horizons Program. Funds will also be used to purchase
needed commercial kitchen equipment to provide nutritious meals for 124 children,
ranging in age from six-months to 12 years.
City of Pass Christian Recovery Program, MS – $16,949 purchases a modular classroom
building that meets states licensing requirements, which provides shelter for child care
services for 40 children and allows Pass Christian families to rebuild their community.
Gaits to Success, Kiln, MS - $20,000 helps provide scholarships and customized
equipment to support 50 special needs youth, from ages three to 21, participate in a
therapeutic riding program designed to accommodate each individual’s physical and
developmental needs.
Gulf Coast Women's Center for Nonviolence, Biloxi, MS - $20,000 purchases
playground equipment and appropriate surfacing materials to provide a fund and safe
place for children receiving services at the Center. Approximately 20 children ages three
to five will be served in the first six months, with an expectation of 2,000 to be served
over a ten-year period.
Hancock County Human Resources Agency/Child Development Center, Kiln, MS - $
15,000 helps provide parents a three-month respite period from paying day care fees,
allowing 50 one to five-year olds participate in the Child Care Recovery Assistance
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Hancock County Little League, MS - $15,000 helps renew little league softball by
purchasing damaged softball and concession equipment. Approximately 150 girls, ages
five to 18, will benefit form this program in the first year.
Maritime & Seafood industry Museum, Biloxi, MS - $15,320 helps support seven one-
week summer camp sessions, educating approximately 500 youth, ages six to 13, about
Mississippi Gulf Coast’s unique maritime history and seafood heritage.
Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, Gulfport, MS - $5,000 supports WINGS Performing
Arts, supporting arts programming through day camps and fall touring shows.
Approximately 9,860 youth, ages 4 to 18 will be direct beneficiaries.
Methodist Children's Center, Bay St. Louis, MS - $10,000 helps fund the installation of
a commercial kitchen and staff salary to provide low-cost, nutritionally complete meals to
approximately 60 children ages six-weeks to five years.
Moore Community House, Biloxi, MS - $10,000 helps restore playground equipment
that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Approximately 128 children will immediately
Quarles Elementary Kindergarten, Long Beach, MS- $8,000 helps purchase chairs and
replace rugs and other damaged materials for three kindergarten classes. Approximately
75 children will benefit in the first year.
Small Blessings Preschool, Bay St. Louis, MS - $15,000 helps rebuild the playground by
purchasing ground covering, shredded rubber and climbing equipment, providing a safe
place for 30 children to play outside.
Discretionary Grants
Backstreet Cultural Museum, New Orleans, LA - $6,000 supports the Mardi Gras Indian
– Native American Cultural Exchange Program. A delegation of eight adults and nine
children from the Fi Yi Yi Spirit of the Mandingo Warrior Mardi Gras Indians will
participate in a week long cultural exchange program with children from Apache, Hopi
and Navajo Reservations.
Efforts of Grace, New Orleans, LA - $11,025 supports the Ashe’ Cultural Arts Center
organize twenty-one summer camp drumming circles, targeting primarily middle and
high school students. These events aim to educate the children, teachers and
administrators about the cultural heritage and music unique to New Orleans and to spark
interest in the creation of drumming clubs and other youth cultural clubs.
House of Lordes, New Orleans, LA - $9,749 supports a youth based documentary
program that encourages preservation of the past, examination of the present and
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envisioning of the future. Documentary results will be integrated at the Spirit of
Humanity Festival, an arts-based celebration of renewal and rebuilding of New Orleans.
Hypersoul, Inc, New Orleans, LA - $26,000 enables the coordination of a series of
cultural events that include traditional Mardi Gras Indians, brass bands and drumming
circles for the New Orleans general public. The aim of these events is to create
community togetherness and bonding, helping New Orleans rich cultural heritage and
music survive.
International Arts Foundation, New Orleans, LA - $5,000 supports the Children’s
Global Playground education and cultural workshop. An estimated 500 children and
young people will explore the various ways to utilize world music to learn about diverse
cultures throughout the world.
Jackson County Children’s Coalition, Gautier, MS - $15,000 supports the Jackson
County Daycare Project as it creates a “one stop shop” for parents with children ages 0 –
5 to facilitate the process of finding appropriate childcare. In addition to hiring a Daycare
Program Manager, a website will be created and maintained to provide information to
parents, daycare establishments, schools and other vital agencies within the county.
Katrina’s Piano Fund, New Orleans, LA - $15,000 assists with the acquisition and
distribution of musical instruments to children who lost instruments in the storm. Mercy
Corps funds are specifically targeted for children’s instruments, whereas the entire
program seeks to help a total of 250 musicians.
Kingsley House, Inc,, New Orleans, LA - $20,000 helps support the Kingsley House
Summer Camp, providing a safe haven and nurturing environment for approximately 500
children ages 5 to 12. The program utilizes the evidence based programs Too Good for
and Too Good for Violence curricula developed by the Mendez Foundation.
Live Oak Writing Project, Long Beach, MS - $20,000 supports seven camps for
approximately 200 children in grades one through eight to use visual art and writing as a
creative outlet for healing. From these camps an anthology of the students’ visual art and
writing will be created. In addition, student writing will be submitted to local radio for
Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, Gulfport, MS - $10,000 supports the WINGS
Performing Arts Programs which provides arts programming and performances for
school children and community. WINGS offers monthly workshops and a performance
bases summer camp to children of the Gulf Coast. An estimated 540 workshop
participants and 515 performers will be engaged in this program.
Mental Health Association of Mississippi, Gulfport, MS - $10,000 supports the Comfort
for Kids Program by providing trauma training to parents and caregivers to help children
deal with post-traumatic stress. Parent and family workshops will be provided as well as
“resilience coaching” and counseling for those families needing additional support.
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Mississippi Space Services, Stennis Space Center, MS - $3,480 provides scholarships to
25 children, ages seven to 12 years old, to participate in week-long session of Astro
Camp. Astro Camp uses hands-on activities and experiences to increase youth interest in
science, math, engineering and technology - inspiring future generations of explorers.
New Orleans Center for Creative Arts Institute (NOCCA), New Orleans, LA - $20,000
helps off-set costs associated for NOCCA/Riverfront Second Intensive Instructional
Session, providing approximately 100 youth a five-week instructional session using the
creative arts for healing and recovery.
Operation REACH, Inc., New Orleans, LA - $20,000 supports the Gulfsouth Summer
Youth Action Camp for 300 middle-school youth. This six-week intensive camp
provides a holistic, youth leadership program that focuses on social justice, youth
empowerment, community diversity and service-learning.
Pass Christian Library, Pass Christian, MS - $14,920 enables the Pass Christian Library
Community Center to offer a safe, clean and welcoming environment for children’s
activities and programs. Mercy Corps funds purchase basic furnishings and children’s
library and program materials.
Save the Children, Long Beach, MS - $26,000 to support the initiative of the Jersey Fire
Fighter’s Mutual Benevolent Association to build a playground, benefiting an estimated
200 children in Bay St. Louis, MS. This project provides the first handicapped accessible
playground in Mississippi.
Shalom Zone Community, Inc., New Orleans, LA - $20,000 supports the Saturday
Morning Breakfast Club
for youth 13 to 18 years of age. This club provides
opportunities for participants to learn about the culinary arts, peer counseling, and share
their experience by writing scripts and producing a documentary of their life experiences.
St. Tammany 21
Century Community Learning Centers, Lacombe, LA - $15,000
supports the extension of preschool and after school programs that serve hurricane-
affected children. Mercy Corps funds are used for personnel and approximately 60 four
and five-year olds will be served.
St. Tammany Parish Schools – Preschools, Covington, LA - $10,560 provides a two-
day training for preschool teachers on how to support children through trauma. The
training will provide teachers the necessary tools to help children who are facing another
hurricane season while living in trailers or sub-standard housing during the summer
months. 80 teachers and approximately 1,400 students will benefit form this program.
Young Audiences of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA - $21, 050 supports the ArtsPartners
in local schools, integrating arts into their regular program and allowing
students new ways to learn and grow. Mercy Corps funds are specifically targeted to
increase exposure to the New Orleans culture of drumming.
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Quick Impact Grants
Bishop Perry Middle School, New Orleans, LA - $2,000 supports the replacement of
portable basketball goals, other physical education equipment, and appropriate storage
Boy Scouts of America Pine Barr Area Council, MS - $2,000 provides scholarships to
14 youth from Harrison, Hancock and Jackson Counties for participation in a week-long
summer camp program.
Central City Economic Opportunity Corporation, New Orleans, LA - $2,000 helps
purchases computer play equipment for the Head Start Program, which services 82
children between the ages of two and five.
Clara’s Little Lambs Preschool Academy, Inc, New Orleans, LA - $2,000 replaces a
fence was destroyed from the storm, enabling this child care organization to continue
services in a safe environment.
Covenant House New Orleans, LA - $2,000 purchases two evacuation cribs, four Basic
Supercycles and two Sliver Rider tandem trikes for the Child Development Center.
Discovery Kids Pre-School, New Orleans, LA - $2,000 helps purchase needed materials
such as changing tables, infant crib mattresses and high chairs to reopen this day care that
serves 47 children.
Dryads Street YMCA Early Childhood Education Center, New Orleans, LA - $2,000
helps purchase basic supplies for four classrooms that provide care to 40 children
between two and four years of age.
First Baptist Church Preschool, Long Beach, MS - $2,000 replaces music resources for
the preschool. 122 children between the ages one and four and thirteen teachers will
benefit from access to music.
Harrison County 4-H Clubs, Gulfport, MS -$2,000 helps offset costs for “Katrina’s
After View Day Camp” where approximately 100 youth ages five to 18 can recreate and
learn in a safe environment.
Harrison County 4 –H Clubs, Gulfport, MS - $2,000 helps offset costs for “4-H Mini
Society Camp” for up to 65 youth ages 13 to 18 to learn entrepreneurial, economic and
government skills.
Hope Haven Children’s Shelter, Bay St. Louis, MS - $1,800 purchases a new washer,
dryer and dishwasher for this children’s shelter that received severe damage during the
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Kay’s Montessori School and Day Care, New Orleans, LA - $2,000 purchases
playground equipment for this early childhood educational and after school care program
that serves 41 children, ages one to seven.
Louisiana Community Health Connection, New Orleans, LA - $1,957 helps replace
office supplies for this community health center that serves approximately 187 youth
between the ages of ten and eighteen.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Blossman YMCA, Ocean Springs, MS - $2,000 purchases
playground equipment for YMCA Before/After School and Summer Camps, providing a
safe place for children to play.
Mississippi Action for Progress, Inc, Picayune, MS - $2,000 purchases two pieces of
playground equipment – Springabouts and Springriders - for the Bay Waveland Center in
Bay St. Louis.
Miss Molly’s Developmental Center, New Orleans, LA - $2,000 helps replace essential
equipment such as infant cribs, storage cubbies, and creative toys for this child care
center, which will serve 34 children.
Slidell 21
Century Community Learning Center, Slidell, LA - $2,000 provides
recreational and cultural awareness by purchasing art materials and equipment for
physical activities.
Sophie B. Write Charter School, New Orleans, LA - $2,000 replaces learning resources
such as pencils, paper supplies and dictionaries for 273 students.
St. Mary’s Church Youth Program, New Orleans, LA - $2,000 purchases essential
office supplies, which enables the youth program to help 70 ten to eighteen year olds
develop job skills.
St. Tammany Parish Schools – Abney Elementary, Covington, LA – $2,000 purchases
100 uniforms for students in first through fifth grades, reducing stress on parents,
students and teachers.
St. Tammany Parish Schools – Covington Education Center, Covington, LA - $4,000
provides tutoring services for 64 homeless or displaced students who have attended
multiple schools throughout the year.
St. Tammany Parish Schools – Pre-K and Preschool Early Intervention, Covington,
- $2,000 purchases books for 95 preschool teachers helping them improve their ability
to effectively deal with increased stress and trauma among their student population.
St. Tammany Parish Schools – St. Tammany Junior High, Covington, LA - $2,000
purchases 100 uniforms for students in sixth through eighth grades, reducing stress on
parents, students and teachers.
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United Way of South Mississippi, Gulfport, MS - $2,000 supports the “Childcare as a
Business” seminar to recruit, train and prepares qualified childcare center owners and
directors, improving available services.

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