Commenting on Gulf Coast Recovery Efforts

Analyzing Knight Foundation’s efforts in the Mississippi Gulf Coast, reporter Dick Polman writes,

Today, nearly three years after the storm, and with expenditures thus far totaling roughly $10 million, Knight Foundation can rightly point to a string of achievements – most notably, its crucial role in bringing world-class planners and architects to the afflicted region, and prompting citizens to chart new communities in ways they had never before imagined. Yet at the same time, political, cultural and financial obstacles have impeded recovery on virtually all fronts. In the words of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who is praised for his recovery efforts even by political foes, “It’s all been way too slow to suit me.”

Here’s a recent comment on the article by James W. Cromwell:

…After reading your article I have a different perspective of some of your good intentions that your foundation had for the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. But I think you have been hoodwinked by the business men of these communities into believing that your monies were being used to help the citizens when it was really being used to help big business…

Adele Lyons, Knight Program Director for Biloxi responded:

…A long-term recovery after a hurricane like Katrina takes many organizations working together. We have worked with several of the funders you noted including the Twenty-First Century Foundation, OxFam, Ford Foundation and Foundation for the Mid South. We work together as part of the Gulf Coast Funders for Equity. Several of us helped organize the Funders’ Forum for Sustainable Gulf Coast Transformation held in September 2007.

We wanted to know what happened after Katrina. In the first few days, Knight Foundation made emergency grants to the Salvation Army and the Red Cross totaling $1 million to help with the relief efforts. Relief was slow to reach the East Biloxi citizens. Additional emergency grants totaling $110,000 went to several small, local nonprofits. And, of course, many of our grantees continue to work in East Biloxi…

See the East Biloxi grantee list and both comments in their entirety here.

Find more of Knight’s “Stories of Transformation” here.