Youth and Education

If you're passionate about today's youth, you can make an impact while you're in New Orleans, and these organizations will show you how.   

Caps for Kids
Contact:Kathleen McCulla, National Executive Director

Caps for Kids, founded in New Orleans in 1993, now reaching pediatric cancer patients all across the United States and Canada. Caps for Kids provides celebrity autographed caps for children who have lost their hair from medical treatments. Suddenly, a hat becomes more than just a gift - it becomes a symbol of hope!

Choice Foundation - Exemplary Public Charter Schools
Operator of Lafayette Academy Charter School, Esperanza Charter School, and McDonogh 42 Charter School
Contact: Lynn Loewy 

The Choice Foundation operates tuition-free, open-enrollment elementary schools in the South Carrollton, Mid-City, and Treme neighborhoods. The schools give their students - of whom more than 90% receive free or reduced lunch - a rigorous academic education that is enriched by a variety of technology, fine arts, athletics, and social services programs. For their work improving public elementary education in the New Orleans Recovery School District, the schools have received awards and/or grants from the U.S. Department of Education, MetLife, and the Walton Family Foundation, among others.

The schools rely heavily on volunteers, and welcome volunteer assistance in almost any form. Immediate needs, however, include: help repainting basketball courts, volleyball courts, and classroom numbers; help developing the school libraries; help in the Esperanza Charter School garden; assistance with annual Book Fair; assistance with annual students' "Holiday Superstore"; and help with administrative filing in the Special Education Office.

City Year
Contact: Melissa Manuselis 
(504) 561-1290, (email is the best way to make initial contact)

City Year is a group of young people dedicating a year of life to service in New Orleans, as it
relates to recovery and education. We can help to identify opportunities for service and
coordinate activities at various locations around the city, including schools and other
organizations with needs. We do charge a fee per head to cover cost of equipment,
transportation, catering, etc. In addition, City Year annually recruits volunteers for large scale
community service days that celebrate National Make a Difference Day, Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr. Day, and Global Youth Service Day. For the academic year 2010-2011, City Year plans on
focusing primarily on the needs of the Recovery Schools District.

Contact: Alejandro Cardemil
(202) 464-6066,

KaBOOM! is the national nonprofit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in North America. Since 1995, KaBOOM! has used its signature community build model to bring together business, foundation and community interests to construct over 2,000 new play spaces and in communities where they are needed most. Benefits to working with KaBOOM!:
Involve 150 employees or more in a high-impact, engaging and rewarding service day
Showcase the unique philanthropic spirit of your company and its commitment to the communities in
which your employees live and work
Create proud, loyal, engaged employee teams through a unique, hands-on shared service experience
Strengthen key business and community relationships by engaging elected officials, key clients, VIPs,
community leaders, local media and more to help lead kick-off and ribbon cutting programs
Generate media coverage and create a strong PR story
Enable thousands of children to be smarter, healthier, happier and more social by building a great place
for them to PLAY!

KaBOOM!'s track record of creating playspaces and affecting social change is reflected in the following milestones:

  • Led 340,000+ corporate, Foundation and community volunteers to invest 2.7 million hours of their time
  • Built over 2,000 new, kid-designed playgrounds through our signature community-build process in the communities that need them the most
  • Winner of the Cause Marketing Forum's Golden Halo Award and the Director's Award from the
  • Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy Excellence
  • Channeled into communities $200 million of corporate financial resources from our Funding Partners

Our done-in-a-day playgrounds are inspirational, results-driven events that our Funding Partners come back for again and again. The community-build process kicks off with Design Day where local children help design the new play space, and adult volunteers from the community begin the planning process. Each week following the Design Day, a KaBOOM! Project Manager works with the planning committee (made up largely of community volunteers, along with representatives from the Funding Partner) to help them organize logistics for the day of the build. This 10-week planning period culminates in Build Day, where 200 community and corporate volunteers work side-by-side to build a shiny, new, kid-designed playground... all in a single day!
These KaBOOM!-led projects are proven models of how building a playground can strengthen people's faith in themselves and in their communities. Not only is a space transformed, but the people who made it possible also change because of the experience - and they walk away knowing that they have the skills to tackle other issues and make a difference in their communities. KaBOOM! It Starts With a Playground.

New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD)
Contact: Mary Jo Webster, Director
New Orleans City Hall

The New Orleans Recreation Department is the official department for youth programs.A majority of their parks and playspots were damaged in the flood. They are in need of volunteers to help clean up and restore parks and playspots. They are also in needs of youth sports equipment, playground equipment, uniform and sporting goods and supplies. 

Operation Hope 
Bill Norris

Operation Hope is a national organization that promotes financial literacy empowerment for youth and financial capability for communities. Operation Hope was founded in 1992 and has served more than 2 million individuals. HOPE has also directed more than $1.5 billion in private capital to America's low-wealth communities, maintains a growing army of 20,000 HOPE Corps volunteers, and currently serves more than 300 U.S. cities, as well as South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates. HOPE Inside is located in New Orleans and provides a 12 week entrepreneurial training program and individual financial counseling to help local businesses and entrepreneurs to launch and grow their business enterprises.

700 Credit Scores Initiative: Instant approval to clients seeking assistance, commit to the resolution of primary credit denial factors, and work to raise credit scores on average 120 points over 18 months of active counseling.

  •  Home Buyers Program
  • Foreclosure Counseling
  • Small Business Program

HOPE Inside provides the community with 3 ways to become active within the organization:

Serve: Go to to fill out an application.


Partner: Fill out an inquiry at if you are interested in partnership with HOPE Inside.

Give: Cash donations as low as $50.

ReNEW-Reinventing Education (ReNEW Schools)
Contact: Barbara Schuler

ReNEW Schools provides a rigorous, college preparatory education to historically underserved students. ReNEW transforms the city's lowest performing schools and reopens them as public charter schools serving the same students and families. Our three schools in the Irish Channel Neighborhood and two in New Orleans East have ongoing needs for volunteer groups large and small. Typical volunteer activities include leveling library books, assisting teachers and administrators, preparing progress charts and learning materials, gardening, and touch-up painting. To learn more about ReNEW, visit

Start the Adventure in Reading (STAIR)
Elizabeth Artigues

STAIR deals with a significant educational issue in the New Orleans area: children's literacy!
Children who can't read are more likely to fail academically and then drop out of school,
especially in our community. According to A Portrait of Louisiana 2009, "Research suggests
that if all adults in the state had at least a high school diploma about 85,000 fewer
Louisianans would live in poverty, median personal earnings would increase by more than
$1,700 per year, there would be 62 fewer murders, and 10,000 fewer people would be behind

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2010, STAIR has brought more than 300,000 hours of
dedicated volunteer service to its partner public schools to help nearly 6,000 students excel over
the years by providing free one-on-one after school tutoring in reading to at-risk, second-grade,
public elementary school students who are in danger of academic failure. STAIR continues to be
a successful children's literacy program in the Greater New Orleans area.

STAIR's mission is:

  • to increase the reading level of "skill deficient" children;
  • to increase each participant's sense of self-esteem by providing a program which expands each child's knowledge of self and the world of reading;
  • to provide a caring environment which will promote a more meaningful dialogue among multi-ethnic volunteers, children, teachers and parents.

Financial donations: Monetary donations can be made online at or mailed to STAIR, 1545 State Street, New Orleans, LA 70118.

Supply donations:

  • New #2 pencils
  • New 24 count boxed crayons
  • New 3x5 white index cards
  • New drilled white loose leaf paper
  • New dry erase markers
  • New glue sticks