Like many cities, New Orleans, LA, has hundreds of organizations working to improve the lives of children and youth. Building on past collaborations and input from the city’s youth, city leaders united in 2019 to coordinate the efforts of those organizations, maximize the resources available to support children, and create a unified vision for positive youth development. The resulting Youth Master Plan—developed by the New Orleans Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families, New Orleans Children and Youth Planning Board, and New Orleans Youth Alliance—outlines a 10-year approach for improving the lives of the city’s children and youth from birth to age 24.

As the city’s leaders embarked on their visioning and strategic planning process, they realized it was essential to understand how money flowed into and through the city to support programs and services for kids. That’s when they partnered with us at Children’s Funding Project from 2019-2020 to develop the city’s first comprehensive child and youth fiscal map.

“We knew before we got too deep in [the Youth Master Plan work] that we needed to navigate the space where funding lived to really explain how our limited investment has yielded limited return,” says Karen Evans, executive director of the New Orleans Children and Youth Planning Board. “The fiscal map that Children’s Funding Project built for and with New Orleans helped us understand where the public dollar is being invested for young people and what percentage of that money is in positive youth development versus punitive lanes.”

Once New Orleans’ leaders had identified the city’s existing financial resources, they focused on aligning funding with the priorities identified in the Youth Master Plan. Leaders from the Youth Master Plan partner organizations first estimated the costs associated with the plan’s initial goals and identified potential sources of funding, with our coaching and assistance. Then they advocated for funding from the city’s general fund and American Rescue Plan allocation to meet the identified needs. The 2023 City of New Orleans Budget allocates nearly $7.5 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan funds to youth programming, according to Jack Shaevitz, deputy director of policy for the New Orleans Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families. Evans notes that the team’s efforts benefited from the coaching and strategic public financing resources Children’s Funding Project provided.

“We could enumerate the exact amount [of money] that we needed,” she explains. “We were able to point out the resource that was there, what amount could be pulled out for this cause, and that this cause represents a priority to the young people of the city.”

Since concluding their coaching with us in 2021, New Orleans’ leaders continue to implement the goals and activities of the Youth Master Plan. Additionally, the Office of Youth and Families has completed two additional iterations of the city’s child and youth fiscal map and plans to update it annually. The city’s annual investments in children and youth have increased from $40 million in 2020 to $53 million in 2022. Additionally, in April 2022, city voters approved a tax levy that will raise up to $21 million annually for early childhood education. With this new revenue, combined with state matching funds, New Orleans will be able to expand its early childhood education program starting in the 2023-2024 school year.

“The Office of Youth and Families had a great experience working with Children’s Funding Project,” says Shaevitz. “They provided crucial technical assistance to create tools that will shape the way policymakers, nonprofits, and city leaders make decisions that impact vulnerable families for years to come.”

For additional success stories and to learn more about our organizational impact, read our five-year impact report.

Featured photo provided by the New Orleans Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families.

Kristen Loschert is communications director at Children’s Funding Project.