Pro Bono Publico Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder supports public education in New Orleans, especially charter schools. It was formed by the Rex Organization, has strong Mardi Gras ties, and awards grants once per year.

FUNDING AREAS: Public education in New Orleans

IP TAKE: Access to good public schools is what this funder is all about.

PROFILE: The Pro Bono Publico Foundation (PBPF) was established by members of the Rex Organization after they returned to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. This organization’s history dates back to 1872 when it gave the city a “monarch” to rally around and a parade to kick off its Mardi Gras celebration. Rex is a legend of historical fiction that embodies the spirit of “King of Carnival” and "Monarch of Merriment.” This was a time in New Orleans when local leaders wanted to attract more tourists to boost the economy. Pro Bono Publico means “for the public good,” and this is the grantmaking arm of the Mardi Gras focused organization.

The focus of PBPF has been to support the reform of failed public schools in New Orleans. It makes grants to schools on an annual basis. In a past grant cycle, it made $1 million in grants to the local education community, which was spread across 63 groups. Total foundation giving exceeds $5.5 million.

This foundation gets its spending money largely from donations from Rex members and fundraisers. This money goes towards funding successful schools and their supporting organizations. In New Orleans, over 60 percent of students attend charter schools, and that percentage continues to increase. Rex members serve on most charter school boards and this is where the bulk of foundation funding goes.

Funding has gone to national groups that help make a difference in New Orleans, such as Teach for America and KIPP. Local organizations, like New Schools for New Orleans, the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, have also received grants. You can learn more about past grantees here.

This foundation awards grants annually, and the application deadline each year is June 30. Announcements about new grantees are typically made in November. PBPF uses the Common Application Form and Grant Proposal Format that was prepared by Southern Louisiana Grantmakers. Most of the grants awarded by this funder are under $25,000, and only groups serving the greater New Orleans region are welcome to apply.

Applications must be sent in via mail, as there is no online application process yet in place. Grantseekers can get in touch with the foundation by emailing info@probonopublicofoundation.org. You can keep up with annual grantmaking news posts about new grantees in the foundation’s newsroom.

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