Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans
Co-Chairs Bonita Robertson and Chandler Nutik
Cheryl Gerber Photograph
Emerging Philanthropists of New Orleans (EPNO) is an organization that encourages young professionals to cultivate a lifelong passion for philanthropy. New leaders work on fundraising and grant making practices to positively affect the New Orleans community.
A 504-ward Dine Around event germinated the idea for EPNO: an organization of young professionals who raise their own funds to and give to local nonprofits. Since 2009, EPNO has hosted a yearly group of aspiring philanthropists. Currently each class has spots for 40 members, and an application process helps locate engaged participants.
Each class is split into teams that focus upon Arts & Culture, Youth Development, Healthcare and other pertinent areas. With funds raised from the class and board members, as well as matching funds, each class team has approximately $10,000 to put into grants.
Next, the teams decide on funding allocation. Given its growing renown, EPNO’s attentions have been sought by many local organizations. In fact, this past class received 164 letters of intent for donations.
After reviewing the applicants, each team pares down their choices and asks some organizations for full applications, followed by site visits. With advice from past alumni who help guide the decision process, the current class decides how to donate its grant money.
Following their class year, EPNO alumni can enjoy special events, a newsletter and even the opportunity to advise future classes. They may opt to join EPNO’s all-alumni, all-volunteer board. Furthermore, some become board members of the organizations they helped during the grant making process.
EPNO hosts an award ceremony to spotlight its grant recipients. The teams present big checks to their grant recipients, who are given the opportunity to speak about their programs. This event serves as a celebration of each class’s hard work and dedication to bettering the New Orleans community.
“You see a lot of light bulbs come on for people. They’re figuring out how important nonprofits are,” says co-chair Chandler Nutik. “You see a lot of passion in this program.”
And EPNO’s impact is growing. “A lot of people are referred to us from past classes,” co-chair Bonita Robertson says.
With its network of dedicated volunteers, each EPNO class is certain to inspire young professionals to develop a lifelong passion for philanthropic giving.
To learn more about EPNO, visit EmergingPhilanthropists.org