Campus & Community

KSG pledges ongoing action in New Orleans, Broadmoor Project

3 min read

The Kennedy School of Government (KSG) recently announced that the Broadmoor Project is being launched to formalize the School’s existing relationship with residents of the New Orleans neighborhood that was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina. KSG students and staff will spend March 25-31 in New Orleans to continue the work of the ongoing project.

The Broadmoor Project: New Orleans Community Engagement Initiative formalizes a collaboration begun in 2006 when two dozen Harvard volunteers and six summer interns traveled to the neighborhood of Broadmoor to assist residents in designing a strategy for its recovery. Doug Ahlers, a New Orleans resident and a fellow at KSG’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, initiated the collaborative effort.

“In today’s world, the local is global,” said Ahlers. “The collaboration in Broadmoor creates not only a model for other New Orleans neighborhoods, but also a model for creative response to other communities in times of crisis. The concrete skills that the Kennedy School students are bringing to share with the residents of Broadmoor, along with financial support from private industry, demonstrate the potential of new approaches to broad-based civic engagement and new forms of public-private partnership.”

Henry Lee, director of the Belfer Center’s Environment and Natural Resources Program and faculty chair of the Broadmoor Project, said, “The collaboration with New Orleans’ Broadmoor community is a great opportunity for the Kennedy School to put into action the governance skills we teach in order to help bring back one of America’s great cities. The School and our students are also learning important lessons in designing and implementing policies at a grassroots level that will help future leaders.” He noted that enthusiasm for the Broadmoor Project resulted in nearly 40 student applicants for this year’s 18 volunteer positions.

A gift from Shell Exploration & Production Co. is helping make the Kennedy School’s Broadmoor Project possible. More than 1,000 of Shell’s employees in New Orleans were displaced after the hurricane. Shell – whose executive vice president, Marvin Odum, serves on the Kennedy School Dean’s Council – is making a sustained commitment to help the city rebuild.

Broadmoor is an economically and racially diverse neighborhood that experienced significant flooding as a result of the levees failing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. A National Historic District, the neighborhood faces concerns of historic preservation as well as redevelopment. In the months since the hurricane, the Broadmoor Improvement Association (BIA), a resident group, has taken unprecedented steps to demonstrate the vitality of the neighborhood and to define its future.

Kennedy School volunteers and interns will continue to put their classroom training into hands-on practice by working with the BIA to gather data, launch a charter school, open a public library, and continue to develop and implement a redevelopment plan. The Kennedy School’s multiyear commitment to the Broadmoor Project also includes executive education and training for 10 New Orleans residents at the Kennedy School; the sponsoring of community forums in New Orleans; and the funding of research grants for KSG faculty working on issues relevant to post-Katrina recovery.