Innovative Pilot Creates Jobs for Those Unemployed Due to Covid-19 and Supports Disproportionately Impacted Communities in Recovery
New Orleans, Oct. 6, 2020 – Today, Resilience Force – the national nonprofit working to transform America’s response to disasters by strengthening and securing the resilience workforce – is launching the New Orleans Resilience Corps, a new, diverse workforce development and jobs program. The Corps will help strengthen the city’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic while creating economic opportunity for those who have lost jobs over the last several months.
With funding from The Rockefeller Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and the Ford Foundation, and in partnership with the City of New Orleans, the Louisiana Department of Health, the New Orleans Health Department, and Delgado Community College, the pilot will train local residents to be Community Health Workers. These workers will perform critical functions in limiting the spread of Covid-19 including coordinating with contact tracers, conducting door-to-door canvassing and wellness checks, delivering food and other necessities, connecting residents with city and state services, and more. These jobs will serve as crucial public health infrastructure for the City of New Orleans while paying a living wage and creating pathways to further professional opportunities.
“We’re thrilled to have this program begin in New Orleans,” says Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Building a Resilience Corps will not only help our most vulnerable communities respond to disasters – from Covid-19 to the hurricanes that are becoming more frequent and more severe – but will also provide workers with stable jobs that are pathways to full-time careers, from which they can build their own more resilient futures.”
“Beating back this pandemic requires combining data with local insights to determine where and how to reach all citizens,” says Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “From prioritizing access to testing for the city’s most vulnerable communities at the start of the pandemic to launching this innovative effort to hire and train a new corps of Community Health Workers today, Mayor Cantrell’s leadership and commitment to the people of New Orleans has ensured that the city’s pandemic response is meeting the needs of the community.”
The Resilience Corps model is designed to be replicated in communities across the country, with the aim of bridging the “resilience divide” – economic and racial inequalities that exist because of the lack of support and resources local, state, and federal governments give to Black and Brown communities to prepare for and recover from disaster. The Covid-19 pandemic – which has disproportionately impacted these communities – is the most recent and dramatic proof that the resilience divide is an urgent national crisis.
“We’re proud to be building the first Resilience Corps in New Orleans. The Resilience Corps creates a path to long term careers for those hardest hit by Covid-19 and unemployment—and those who will be impacted by the climate disasters to come,” says Saket Soni, Founder and Executive Director of Resilience Force. “This pilot is an example of how communities facing disaster can get those who have been economically impacted back to work by providing them with the good-paying jobs that are essential to recovery – whether that’s as Community Health Workers who can address the public health needs of Covid-19 or rebuilders who fix homes after hurricanes. While the federal government fails to take adequate action to address these issues, the New Orleans Resilience Corps is an example of the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors joining forces with local government to step up and take action.”
“The people of New Orleans have always inspired me for their tenacity and their courage – no matter what the challenge, be it Covid or Hurricane Katrina,” says Open Society Foundations president, Patrick Gaspard. “The beauty of the New Orleans Resilience Corps is that it recognizes these characteristics and supports them in real and tangible ways by providing opportunities to essential workers who have been hardest hit by the economic crisis, and left out of federal relief. The fund’s designers have learned from the gaps laid bare, both by Hurricane Katrina and by Covid, in vulnerable communities across New Orleans, and seek solutions that are invested there. The fund will empower these communities, and build resilience both in terms of economic recovery and in response to man-made and natural disasters. We call on the federal government to take note. This is a model that should be replicated across the United States, and funded at the federal level.”
Members of the Resilience Corps will focus on supporting communities that have the greatest need for Covid-19 response including Gentilly, New Orleans East/Michoud, Hollygrove, The 7th Ward, Algiers, and Jefferson Parish. Further, these workers will surpass the $7.25/hour minimum wage and make $12/hour, with a path to attaining a wage of $18/hour or more if they continue working in the field.
In an era of increasing disasters, the resilience workforce is essential. Disaster preparation, response, and recovery make up the jobs of the future — and the future is already here.
About Resilience Force
Resilience Force is a national nonprofit focused on mobilizing and advocating for the workers who are essential to helping communities recover from disasters, from the construction workers who repair buildings and roads after hurricanes to the healthcare workers who are on the frontlines of the response to Covid-19. Resilience Force works with local municipalities and state governments to recruit, train, deploy, and protect these workers, providing quality employment opportunities to residents while meeting the urgent needs of communities facing natural disasters, public health emergencies, and other crises. The organization draws on these efforts to advocate for the creation of a national, federally funded resilience workforce that will ensure the country is prepared to respond to the increasing number of disasters we face. Resilience Force was founded by Saket Soni in 2019. To learn more about Resilience Force, visit resilienceforce.org or find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas, and conversations. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @RockefellerFdn.
About Open Society Foundations
The Open Society Foundations, founded by philanthropist George Soros, are the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights. George Soros opened his first international foundation in Hungary in 1984. Today, the Open Society Foundations support a vast array of projects in more than 120 countries, providing thousands of grants every year through a network of national and regional foundations and offices.