Greater New Orleans Foundation announces initial funding for The Water Institute of the Gulf to develop Resilience Lab

NEW ORLEANS – For generations, Louisiana has faced strong storms and an everchanging coastline which have periodically disrupted entire communities. Repeatedly, people have returned, rebuilt their lives, and protected their culture.

This historic resilience – the ability to survive and thrive in the face of physical, social, and economic challenges – is becoming much more difficult with our changing climate. In Louisiana, the Gulf region, and elsewhere in the world, these challenges also present opportunities for leadership, innovation, and economic growth.

In an effort to further develop solutions that can increase the resilience of coastal communities and to strengthen the position of entrepreneurs and researchers in Southeast Louisiana as global leaders in water management, adaptation and resilience, the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) today announced a $200,000 planning grant to The Water Institute of the Gulf for the establishment of a New Orleans-based Resilience Lab in collaboration with Tulane University’s ByWater Institute.

“Our work will be focused on how to best prepare communities for a rapidly changing environment and share this vast expertise in resilience we have developed over the years,” said Jeff Hebert, the Institute’s Vice President for Adaptation and Resilience. “The Resilience Lab will focus on community-based approaches and innovative tools that create a bridge between science and the communities most at risk.”

Utilizing the knowledge and lessons learned from coastal Louisiana as a foundation, the Resilience Lab will undertake research, outreach, capacity building, the development of best practices, and knowledge exchange focused on developing innovative solutions to the complex challenges confronting river and coastal communities.

“The need to create communities that are able to recover, renew and reimagine themselves in the wake of natural disasters and other environmental disruptions is more vital today than ever,” said Tulane University President Mike Fitts. “The knowledge and solutions discovered through the work of the Resilience Lab has the potential to empower coastal communities not only in the Gulf South but throughout the world.”

“In its short history, The Water Institute of the Gulf has developed an international reputation for the scientific rigor of its work on coastal land loss,” said Andy Kopplin, President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “We are proud to help propel their expansion into New Orleans as they seek to build on our region’s expertise in urban water management, adaptation, and resilience while also adding a new academic partner in Tulane University.”

“The Resilience Lab demonstrates how The Water Institute of the Gulf and the Southeast Louisiana Super-Region can be a knowledge center for the world. As long-time investors in the Water Institute, we are proud to be a part of this next chapter and to strengthen our partnership with the Greater New Orleans Foundation,” said John Davies, President and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

“I am proud of the innovations and advancements we have made over the years bringing the best science in the world to our work supporting the restoration and protection of Louisiana’s coast. Today we celebrate a new strategic focus on the human dimension and how we can help coastal communities adapt for more resilient futures and share these advancements with the world,” said Ambassador James Joseph, Water Institute Chairman of the Board.

“The Greater New Orleans Foundation is committed to ensuring that people in coastal communities, especially those who are most impacted by the changes in our region’s physical environment, are at the center of the solutions to the challenges that we face,” said Christy Brown, Chairman of the Board of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “We know that the development of these solutions are urgent, so we are glad to be investing in The Water Institute of the Gulf’s capacity to combine its scientific expertise with the resilience knowhow of Jeff Hebert and his team.”

This investment builds on the work already underway by the Institute and Tulane and compliments the investments in resilience and water management made by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, partnered with the significant investments in the Institute made by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, “As a city that has dealt with hurricanes, we understand the importance of water management and developing resilient solutions to help cities withstand environmental challenges. On behalf of the people of New Orleans, I am grateful for the partnership of the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the Water Institute of the Gulf to create a Resilience Lab in New Orleans to help coastal communities become stronger and more resilient. New Orleans is the nation’s most immediate laboratory for innovation and change and this lab positions New Orleanians and other Southeastern Louisianians to use our institutional and educational knowledge to have a real impact on other coastal communities and the world.”

The Resilience Lab will also connect to other centers for resilience around the world. Today, the Institute is also announcing a partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation’s newly announced Resilience Accelerator initiative together with Columbia University’s Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes. This partnership will further link Louisiana and New York which have been sharing solutions and lessons learned in the aftermaths of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and Superstorm Sandy. Both programs will become initial charter members of a network of resilience organizations around the world.

“Together, the Resilience Lab and Accelerator are committing to working together to help communities around the world rise to meet the challenges put forward by the 21st century. The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to continue our deep investment in New Orleans and to strengthen our partnership with the city and region in this new chapter of work.  And we look forward to building on the vital resilience work started by the city as part of their engagement with 100 Resilient Cities,” said Sam Carter, Director of the Resilience Accelerator.

About The Water Institute of the Gulf

The Water Institute is a not-for-profit, independent applied research and technical services institution with a mission to help coastal and deltaic communities thoughtfully prepare for an uncertain future. Through an integrated and inter-disciplinary approach, our work helps to create more resilient communities, thriving economies, and a healthy environment. For more information, visit

About the Greater New Orleans Foundation

The Greater New Orleans Foundation is one of the oldest and largest philanthropic organizations in the region. Its mission is to create a thriving community for all. Every day, GNOF joins other foundations, nonprofit organizations, community leaders, and government officials to address the needs of the community and build consensus for solutions. Together with a family of donors, the Foundation has invested over $100 million in the region since it opened its doors over 30 years ago to respond to community needs. For more information, visit


Media Contacts

The Water Institute of the Gulf

Amy Wold
(225) 227-2723

Greater New Orleans Foundation

Blathrae Gillen