When the executive director of a New Orleans nonprofit dedicated to helping people after they leave prison asks for grant money, she sometimes hits a snag. Potential donors will tell her they can’t give money to a group that’s staffed by the formerly incarcerated. One even rescinded an offer that already had been made.
“It sort of felt like: What along the way made you not realize who we are?” said Kelly Orians, the executive director of Rising Foundations. But Rising Foundations and its better-known sister organization, the First 72+, received a vote of confidence last week from two big names. On Monday, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative announced that the New Orleans groups are among the finalists for a $1 million grant. By the end of the year, the two mega-donors will select 10 out of the 20 finalists to receive the seven-figure sum.
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