Just yesterday, LifeCity received funds from the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) to continue and grow the Value Louisiana Initiative (VLI) with a full-time coordinator. As a catalyst for change in the region, GNOF recognizes the important role that backbone organizations play in community development. This grant mirrors another recent grant provided to the Water Collaborative to hire a full-time coordinator to develop a collective impact strategy for the water sector. The mission of the VLI (valuelouisiana.com) is to develop sustainable business leaders by strengthening the number of social enterprises as well as opportunities for social innovation in our community. “The Value Louisiana Initiative is here to help the business community understand its role in building a more sustainable New Orleans, while also helping non-profits understand new models of financing,” said Liz Shephard, CEO of LifeCity. “Ultimately, its about merging into a fourth sector that leverages social innovation that makes the most of our social, environmental, and economic resources. We are honored to work with such an important institution like GNOF to support this work.” The VLI is supporting the development of for-benefit organizations in the following ways as seen in the figure below (Figure 1). Many of these strategies are already being leveraged in our community, but we seek to provide structural support in order to accelerate progress. Through our partnership with GNOF, we will be measuring environmental improvement data achieved by these companies (in kwh, lbs. of waste removed, gallons of stormwater reduced, etc.) and recognize businesses who have the greatest overall impact and most improved impact through the upcoming 5th Annual Green Games Awards Ceremony. This event will create greater awareness of the benefits and value of aligning economic and social or environmental goals within a business. The grant will also provide funds to educate local leaders about social innovation and ways they can better support sustainable business development. Figure 1. Four Strategies to accelerate Sustainable Business Development. The VLI seeks to create structural support to develop social innovation and sustainable business development in our community. GNOF is particularly interested in building a more sustainable region and believes that the business community, alongside government and non-profit sectors, provides an important role in creating positive social and environmental change in our region. “As we grow a more sustainable region, we want to better understand how the business community can play a stronger role in solving social and environmental problems,” said Ella Delio, Director of Environmental and Regional Initiatives. This week, GNOF and LifeCity will be hosting a roundtable discussion with 10 sustainable business leaders to better understand how these organizations can be supported moving forward. LifeCity will be working hard over the next 6 months to raise the additional $25,000 needed to bring on a full-time coordinator.