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Loyola University New Orleans Jesuit Social Research Institute Unveils New Project Focused on the Needs of Vulnerable Families in the Gulf South

Loyola press release - June 13, 2017

Generous grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will support important research addressing economic imbalances, racial inequity, food justice in Louisiana and Mississippi

Vulnerable families receive increased attention as the Loyola University New Orleans’ Jesuit Social Research Institute (JSRI) unveils a new project designed to engage communities and faith-based organizations in an effort improve child and family-centered economic security in Louisiana and Mississippi. JSRI has received a two-year $263,480 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support this important work.

“Poverty, racial injustice, education gaps, and food insecurity continue to be key issues facing families in Louisiana and Mississippi, two of the most economically poor states in the nation and with better information, our communities can provide better solutions,” said the Rev. Fred Kammer, S.J., J.D., executive director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute and one of the nation’s leading social justice advocates. “Through the Economic Security for Vulnerable Families project, and with generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, JSRI will further explore these imbalances, providing new data and research to help public officials, faith-based organizations, and residents better serve our nation’s most vulnerable.”

The Economic Security for Vulnerable Families project will expand the reach of JSRI’s research and education efforts in an effort to increase the number of faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, coalition partners, public officials, advocates, and members of the general public who will have access to better information about issues of economic, social, and racial justice and be empowered to work toward social and economic change. Through this critical work, JSRI will continue to explore racial equity addressing issues including family income, health insurance coverage, housing affordability, school segregation, wage equity, unemployment, education gaps and equity, and food insecurity. JSRI already addresses many of these issues through special reports such as the annual Just South Index funded by the Kellogg Foundation, and the new funding will help the social justice research and action center to widen its reach and continue to shine a light on the depth of these issues affecting families.

The Economic Security for Vulnerable Families project will also support development of continued and new hunger-specific research focused on Louisiana — outcomes of this research will be useful for organizations in the Greater New Orleans area that are working on issues related to food insecurity and food justice. Already, JSRI is engaged in valuable research regarding SNAP benefits in Louisiana, and the new funding will help to expand this work.

The Economic Security for Vulnerable Families project will also expand ongoing research and allow for new research on educational equity in Louisiana and Mississippi, two states that JSRI has found to rank low on social justice measures. JSRI will do a state-by-state comparison to see how states are meeting the educational needs of families, particularly families of color.

Funding will also allow JSRI to share research results more widely and effectively through a variety of media, including social media, web-based tools and the press.

The Jesuit Social Research Institute works to transform the Gulf South through action research, analysis, education, and advocacy on the core issues of poverty, race, and migration. The Institute is a collaboration of Loyola University New Orleans and the Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus, rooted in the faith that does justice. Work is primarily focused in the Gulf South, where JSRI works with various constituencies, including Church leaders, Jesuits, Catholic Charities, justice and peace advocates, others working on issues of race and poverty, and those involved with people on the move.