Before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2004, ‘The East’ community in New Orleans was an ethnically diverse neighborhood of African Americans, Vietnamese and Latinos and highly-divided. When Katrina struck and devastated the community, this once splintered neighborhood knew it had no choice but to come together to revitalize and rebuild.
To help catalyze the burgeoning community spirit, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation supported the formation of a community coalition to help find a unified voice and rebuild the neighborhood. Consisting of community leaders, concerned citizens and local students, the coalition worked together to tackle problems deeply affecting residents, including education and crime.
“We have built relationships across racial lines and are working together as a community,” Minh Nyugen, coalition member and executive director of Vayla-No said.
Word spread that an alternative school for at-risk students with disciplinary problems was to be built on the top floor of Sarah T. Reed, the local high school. Coalition members worried this alternative school would create an additional drain on the students and community residents already burdened with difficult circumstances.
The coalition, including many students, took it upon themselves to educate the community about the impending problems of an alternative school for at-risk youth by creating a video and asked supporters to sign a petition in opposition of the plan.
As a result of the coalition’s campaign, the superintendent cancelled the alternative school.