Baton Rouge Area Foundation

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Baton Rouge Area Foundation
Baton Rouge Area Foundation (logo).png
Founded 1964
Founder The Foundation was founded in June 1964 by eleven civic leaders who wanted to use the Foundation as a tool for community development.
Focus Linking donors with nonprofits and conducting civic projects
  • Baton Rouge, LA
Area served
South Louisiana
Key people
John G. Davies, president and CEO; John M. Spain, executive vice president
Endowment $563 million at year-end 2012

Baton Rouge Area Foundation ("The Foundation") is a community foundation dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Louisiana's capital region, and is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit organization. Over the past 40 years, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation has responded to the wishes of its donors, the concerns of its members, and the community's needs by issuing grants totaling close to $200 million.

In addition to grants, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation has the flexibility to launch community initiatives without politics or other entanglements.[citation needed] Alarmed, for instance, at the rapid rise in new AIDS cases in Baton Rouge in 2002, The Foundation convened key stakeholders who formed the group Baton Rouge Citizens Against HIV and launched an awareness campaign known as Protect Yourself Baton Rouge. Since then, local testing has increased and the number of new reported cases has fallen.


In 1964, a group of 12 Baton Rouge business leaders created the Foundation to raise money and purchase land for the Gulf South Research Institute (GSRI) to locate offices in Baton Rouge. Since then, the nonprofit Foundation has pursued its work in two ways, connecting philanthropists to nonprofits across South Louisiana and some other parts of the world and taking on civic leadership projects, such as health and school reform, reviving downtown Baton Rouge and creating The Water Institute of the Gulf.

In assets, BRAF is now ranked among the top 30 community foundations in the country in an annual survey by the Columbus Foundation.

Highlights of the Foundation's work include:

Responding to Hurricane Katrina[edit]

The Foundation's grant making teams performed hundreds of assessments, identified pressing needs for displaced residents, and issued over $600,000 in emergency grants to aid organizations and shelters within 10 days of the storm. As the recovery process moved forward, The Foundation continued to help displaced residents in the areas of basic human needs, physical and mental health, education, and employment. Further, The Foundation played a key role in the planning process of re-envisioning the state of Louisiana and connecting south Louisiana in more productive ways for all.


Late in 2006, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation launched a mental health initiative in order to offer free and confidential counseling to the citizens impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The program is specifically and exclusively designed for people suffering from the after-effects of disaster. Developed by the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and adjusted to the unique population and culture of Louisiana, this program uses proven methods to help those affected cope.

Baton Rouge CityStats[edit]

A project launched by The Foundation in 2008 that uses indicators (statistics) to help measure the quality of life in East Baton Rouge. The goal of the project is to help created a shared vision among residents and to establish what is going well and what problem areas need to be addressed. The project uses a total of 50 quality-of-life indicators that measure categories such as economy, education, public safety, and health. CityStats is funded by the Foundation, its donors, and members.

Northshore Community Foundation[edit]

The Northshore Community Foundation was started in January 2007 with financial assistance from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. The Northshore Community Foundation is run be an independent board of representing St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, LIvingston and St. Helena parishes.

Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana[edit]

The Foundation also has a partner in the western part of Louisiana, the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana. BRAF provides financial support for the Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana, which is operated by an independent board. The Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana serves a total of five parishes - Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, and Jefferson Davis.

Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence[edit]

The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence is an annual literary award that recognizes the best work of fiction submitted by a rising African-American writer. The book award honors the accomplishments of Mr. Gaines, a Louisiana native and resident. Past winners include Attica Locke, Dinaw Mengestu, Victor LaValle, Ravi Howard, Stephanie Powell Watts, and Olympia Vernon.

New Schools for Baton Rouge[edit]

The Foundation and its donors created New Schools for Baton Rouge,[3] a nonprofit that is recruiting and providing resources to charter schools. NSBR is working to improve failed schools that were taken over by the state of Louisiana.


The Baton Rouge Area Foundation is governed by directors who are appointed for three-year terms. Members may serve two consecutive terms after which they must rotate off for at least one year. The Board has fifteen at-large directors elected by the members. The immediate past Board Chair serves as a member of the Executive Committee and member of the Board, as does the Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation. Founding Chair John W. Barton Sr. has a permanent seat as Chair Emeritus on the Board and its Executive Committee.

Members of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation provide the resources that drive the administrative activities and leadership programs they undertake on an annual basis. Without membership dues the staff could not continue to provide the support that they offer to both the nonprofit agencies and their donors.


The Baton Rouge Area Foundation unites human and financial resources to enhance the quality of life in South Louisiana.

To achieve the mission, The Foundation:

  • Serves donors to build the assets that drive initiatives and solutions
  • Engages community leaders to develop appropriate responses to emerging opportunities and challenges
  • Partners with entities from its service area, as well as with other community foundations, in order to leverage collective resources and create the capacity to be a stimulus of positive regional change
  • Evaluates their work and shares the results with its stakeholders.

Geographical Areas[edit]

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation serves eight parishes that make up the Greater Baton Rouge Area

Grant Areas[edit]

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Community Development
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Human Services
  • Medical/Health
  • Religion
  • Scholarships


Establishing a fund with The Foundation will allow donors to connect their philanthropic giving to the issues and nonprofits that interest them most. There are many different types of funds that can be established. There is also a tax deduction associated with a charitable donation.[4]

Types of Funds

Donor Advised Fund[edit]

Main article: Donor advised fund

A donor-advised fund is a charitable giving vehicle administered by the Foundation and created for the purpose of managing charitable donations on behalf of the donor. A donor-advised fund offers the opportunity to create an easy-to-establish, flexible vehicle for charitable giving as an alternative to direct giving or creating a private foundation.

Field of Interest Fund[edit]

A field of interest fund is a fund created to help a specific area, such as education, that the donor is interested in. Field of interest funds are managed by the Foundation and its board of directors.

Unrestricted Fund[edit]

Unrestricted funds, in the case of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, help the Foundation to pay for emerging opportunities that benefit the community as a whole. The donor places no restrictions on how their donations are used and decisions are made by the board of directors. Unrestricted funds allow the Foundation to have flexibility in funding large projects such as the Shaw Center for the Arts.

Scholarship Fund[edit]

Scholarship funds are established to assist college students with grants that help cover the cost of tuition, room, and board. The Foundation assists the donor in the selection process creation that finds worthy students for the scholarships.


Members of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation support and shape the future of Baton Rouge and South Louisiana. It is through membership dollars that the Foundation is able to work on long-term, major projects and Civic Leadership Initiatives, such as the building of the Shaw Center for the Arts and the development of a master plan for the LSU Lakes.[5] There are five different levels of membership, ranging from $100 to $10,000 and above.


  1. ^ Wold, Amy. [1], "The Advocate", 31 May 2013.
  2. ^ Charles, Lussier. "Education writer". The Advocate. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Charles, Lussier (20 May 2013). "Education writer". The Advocate. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Fund Information
  5. ^ Lane, Emily. "Baton Rouge Area Foundation seeking firms to craft LSU lakes master plan", "|The Times-Picayune", Louisiana, 25 April 2014.

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