Thanks to The Walmart Foundations’s support, SBP is driving lasting impact in communities suffering the most from climate change, disasters, and structural racism
By Reese May
Walmart’s disaster response program was born on the same day as SBP’s: August 29th, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. Both our organizations saw firsthand the toll that disasters take on vulnerable, low-income populations across America. We also saw wide variation in the effectiveness of state and local governments in serving these vulnerable communities. In 2015, our organizations came together to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with one common purpose: to take the lessons learned from our experiences in disaster response and build a better strategy for the future.
Since the beginning of our partnership, SBP and Walmart have aligned on the belief that the disaster response industry has much room for improvement. Over the years, The Walmart Foundation has generously supported SBP’s preparedness initiatives, AmeriCorps program, and post-disaster activities. In 2019, this partnership took another step forward in improving the disaster recovery industry through SBP’s Leadership Practitioner course, which aimed to improve the 65% failure rate of recovery programs around the country. Program failure means that under-resourced people languish for years, waiting for help to rebuild their homes. Through SBP’s Leadership Practitioner Course (LPC), a first-of-its-kind training program that provides state grantees with the opportunity to learn about best practices for free, 498 public administrators from 22 states programs have been trained in running successful recovery programs.
April 7 marks the announcement of a new investment from The Walmart Foundation — one that will make an even more measurable, replicable, and scalable impact in some of America’s most vulnerable communities. As part of the Walmart Foundation’s Gulf Coast Cohort, SBP will be introducing the LPC 2.0 and launching the SBP Recovery & Resilience Fellows Program in the Gulf South, which will drive direct, lasting impact in communities suffering the most from climate change, the increased frequency and severity of disasters, and structural inequities within America’s framework for disaster recovery.
As a result of the LPC 2.0, socially vulnerable residents in select communities, starting along the Gulf Coast, will have access to more tools and resources to prepare for and recover from extreme weather. SBP will reach public administrators — before and after disasters — to drive resilience/mitigation and recovery planning that prioritizes the protection of low-income communities. In continuing its close work with state and local officials charged with planning and implementing programs, SBP will ensure that disaster resilience and recovery systems produce more equitable outcomes for low-income communities.
SBP’s Resilience & Recovery Fellows will launch in Lake Charles, Louisiana and expand to a second community in early summer. Fellows will add much-needed capacity to government offices in underrepresented communities, allowing local governments to listen to a diverse set of stakeholders more effectively and lead planning efforts that will effectively position the community to access federal and philanthropic resources needed to achieve local long-term resilience goals. The program is a scalable solution that can work in small to medium-sized communities — the heart and soul of America.
We’re incredibly excited that this partnership allows us to focus on rural, low-income communities that often lack adequate capacity and resources to engage in meaningful mitigation and recovery activities. Inadequate capacity makes it impossible for communities to compete for federal grants — resulting in limited access to federal funding to support local community resilience priorities (FEMA, BRIC, CDBG-MIT). We know that families from these communities are most at risk of losing everything when the next disaster happens, and public investment in climate resilience is more urgent and available than ever before. The Walmart Foundation’s investment will put real people in real places to drive real projects forward. Together with our fellow grantees, we’re excited to use The Walmart Foundation’s visionary investment to drive impact and protect more Americans from the worst impacts of disaster.