Funding Collaboration Results in $1.5 Million in Preparedness Grants for Texas

U.S Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations provide support to communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Beaumont, Texas on August 30, 2017. (CBP photo by Donna Burton)

As Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast and made its way inland on August 25, 2017, private philanthropic dollars began to flow into the state to support the thousands of individuals whose lives had been severely affected. These philanthropic dollars were donated for the purpose of immediate response and – in the case of both the Rebuild Texas Fund and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund – to support mid- to long-term recovery efforts throughout the affected areas. Those of us who focus on the long-term effects of this disaster quickly realized that, though there was a generous amount of private philanthropic support, there was still a significant gap in the funding needed to address all the recovery issues throughout the state. As a result, we’ve joined forces to share data, information, assessments, and opportunities for funding in order to best leverage our finite resources and provide Texans the greatest chance at a full recovery.

The program officers from the Rebuild Texas Fund, Cristina Cornejo and Chris Hensman, have worked closely with the CDP Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund Director Sally Ray to creatively address many of the needs that we are all seeing along the Texas Gulf Coast. All of us try to meet with potential grantees together, fund projects collaboratively, and brainstorm ideas as we are traveling throughout the state. We believe this helps grantees in a number of ways including: saving them time, offering different ideas and perspectives on potential projects, and providing better opportunities to match grantees with the appropriate funder.

During one of our brainstorming sessions prior to the start of the 2018 hurricane season, we realized that we were working to support communities that had barely begun to recover from what happened the previous August. How could they possibly be prepared for what could come from another natural disaster this year? What would happen to the progress made if another storm hit the same area? How many additional families would need assistance? How could we, as funders, help mitigate some of the potential problems that could arise if Texas suffered another devastating blow this hurricane season?
With some quick research, we learned that the National Institute of Building Sciences found, on average, six dollars can be saved in disaster recovery for every dollar invested in disaster mitigation.

That’s when we realized that we could help build the resiliency of the Texas coast if we were able to successfully invest our philanthropic dollars in preparedness and mitigation efforts. From this discussion, a collaborative funding effort was born.

The Rebuild Texas Fund and the CDP Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund announced a request for proposals for the Harvey-affected areas of Texas in May. With a total commitment of approximately $1.5 million (increased from an original plan to spend $1 million), the focus of this funding partnership was to support preparedness, mitigation and resilience projects in any of the 41 counties of Texas where the federal government had declared the results of Hurricane Harvey damage were significant enough for a federal-level response. In less than a month, we received more than 160 grant applications!

After a thorough and thoughtful review and a stringent due diligence process, we are pleased to announce that 30 grants have been awarded to organizations, agencies, cities, counties and municipalities throughout the affected region.

Here are the projects that have been funded:

There are two additional projects that have been awarded grants but still require some additional documentation before they will be funded.

Many of the projects that were not funded by this grant program were referred to other potential funding sources including: state and/or federal government grant programs, other philanthropic organizations, or potential future funding opportunities with the Rebuild Texas Fund or CDP.

The need for funding preparedness, mitigation and resiliency projects is great, and the benefits for Texas in funding them is clear. It goes well beyond protecting property. There is a real potential to save Texas lives – which is always our overarching goal.

Cristina Cornejo

Chris Hensman

Sally Ray

Sally Ray

Director, Domestic Funds

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