BR Area Foundation Grants $47 million, New Board Members Elected

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s donors contributed $47 million to their charitable funds in 2017, and the Foundation granted $46 million to nonprofits last year. Grants were $9 million more than in 2016.

The Foundation manages charitable funds on behalf of its donors, which includes investing the money, handling the paperwork, providing advice on issues and nonprofits, and measuring the impact of grants.

The Foundation shared financial information with donors and members at its annual meeting Wednesday evening at the Center for Coastal and Deltaic Solutions, the new levee-top building on The Water Campus near downtown. As well, members elected new directors and the Foundation announced its nonprofit management award winners. 

Foundation’s assets rose 6% to an unaudited $656 million in 2017 from $616 million the year before. Assets climbed on the strength the stock market and real estate portfolio.

Elected to their first, three-year board terms were Charles W. Lamar III, Todd S. Manuel, Jennifer Eplett Reilly and Nick Speyrer. Donna D. Fraiche was elected to a second, three-year term.

Lamar is chairman and CEO of Woodlawn Investments and president of Charles Lamar Family Foundation. Manuel is director of organizational health and diversity for Entergy Corp. Eplett Reilly is founding chair and board member of New Schools for Baton Rouge and co-founded City Year. Speyrer is founder and president of Emergent Method. Fraiche founded the New Orleans and Baton Rouge offices of Baker Donelson.

Mark C. Drennen was named the third winner of the Marcia Kaplan Kantrow Baton Rouge Visionary Award, which was established independently by friends and family of the late Ms. Kantrow, who was the first director of programs for the Foundation. As  head of the division of administration for Gov. Mike Foster, Drennen led the consolidation of state offices in downtown and helped to build The Shaw Center for the Arts. Both projects were instrumental in the revival of downtown Baton Rouge.

A highlight of the meeting was announcement of John W. Barton Sr. Excellence in Nonprofit Awards winners. They are Myrtle David of DeBose Foundation and Chris Meyer of New Schools for Baton Rouge. Dustin LaFont won the Barton Rising Star Award.

In their 17th year, the Barton awards are a tribute to the late Mr. Barton, who led a group of civic leaders that formed the Foundation in 1964. Donors with charitable funds at the Foundation nominate nonprofit executives for the award, and former Foundation chairs choose up to three winners each year.