RAND Gulf States Policy Institute Awards Grants for Regional Policy Research

For Release

December 17, 2007

The RAND Gulf States Policy Institute announced today that it has awarded $466,748 in grants to support four research projects on topics that will stimulate evidence-based policy direction for the Gulf States region.

The RAND Gulf States Policy Institute (RGSPI) is a partnership between the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, and seven universities in the Gulf States region. The Institute, with offices in New Orleans and Jackson, Miss., was launched at the end of 2005 following the massive destruction to the Gulf States region by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and their aftermath.

The RGSPI research awards were made possible by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts. The awards support significant policy research by faculty members at RGSPI's university partner institutions and RAND researchers. The selected projects are:

  • Denise Reed of the University of New Orleans for a project titled “Implications of Future Climate Change and Restoration Policy for the Gulf Coast.” One goal of this work will be to look at the potential changes in habitats and coastal ocean conditions on selected fishery species caused by climate change.
  • Felicia Rabito at Tulane University for the “New Orleans Environmental Health Study.” Rabito will generate data for respiratory and air quality surveillance, and address the impact of the environmental health on New Orleans residents following Hurricane Katrina.
  • Narayan Sastry with the RAND Corporation for “Research and Policy Analysis Using the Displaced New Orleans Residents Pilot Survey.” The project will identify the key factors shaping New Orleans citizens' decisions to resettle and stay in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
  • Andrew Zekeri of Tuskegee University for his project “Toward Strategies for Community Action and Economic Development in the Gulf Counties of Alabama after Katrina.” This project aims to identify the characteristics and problems of economic development strategies used in the hurricane recovery efforts.

“The support provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts helps strengthen the working relationships between the Institute and its university partner institutions,” said George Penick, director of RGSPI. “At the same time, it helps us develop valuable research and analysis that will aid policymakers as they make decisions that affect the future of the region.”

Additionally, two community education and outreach projects were funded through The Pew Charitable Trusts grant. They are:

  • Jamie D. Aten of the University of Southern Mississippi, who will lead the “Church Disaster Mental Health Project: A Gulf Region Training Network.” The project will provide outreach and education on disaster-related mental health topics to pastors and church leaders in the Mississippi Gulf region.
  • Charles E. Allen, III of Tulane University, who will conduct “Developing a Green Sustainable Lower 9th: A Demonstration Promoting Carbon-Neutral Neighborhoods.” The goal of this project is to increase the awareness of Lower 9th Ward residents of energy-efficient building practices and sustainable development.

RGSPI is engaged in policy research aimed at advancing regional recovery and growth. The Institute's work addresses social, economic, and human development challenges that confronted Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi even before the hurricanes and that persist in their aftermath.

RGSPI is a collaboration between RAND and seven universities in the Gulf States region: Jackson State University, Tulane University, Tuskegee University, University of New Orleans, University of South Alabama, University of Southern Mississippi, and Xavier University of Louisiana.

The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today's most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.

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