‘Just Huge’: Groups Big and Big Dare to Dream Big with Gayle Benson’s Planned Endowment | Saints


The unveiling of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans succession plan, along with the billions of dollars in regional charitable donations that will one day come from it, have community groups excited about a sum of money they hope to be spread so far and wide to New Orleans someday.

Ochsner Health President Warner Thomas said Thursday that his hospital system, which received $ 25 million from Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson and her late husband Tom to build a state-of-the-art cancer treatment center, serves as the A piece for the power of such large gifts.

A multi-part series on the future of Saints and Pelicans

The donation, made in two parts in 2015 and 2017, allowed Ochsner to treat tens of thousands of patients from all 50 states, recruit doctors across the country, and access the latest therapies, research and diagnostics available for fight cancer.

“I think the impact (this) can have on the people of this region is just huge,” Thomas said.

Meanwhile, leaders of nonprofits who didn’t partner with Benson dared to dream that their impact could grow exponentially too, if ever a grant of the same size was given to them.

Bahiy Watson, founder and executive director of the 1881 Institute, which runs in-school and after-school workforce training programs for students, said his organization had been able to place 13 locals in well-paying jobs in the tech industry, with around $ 36,000 awarded to him. by the Greater New Orleans Foundation earlier this year.

At the end of Gayle Benson’s reign over the Saints and Pelicans, the teams will be sold, according to new exclusive interviews.

He said a giveaway, even in the lowest of the seven figures, would amplify the effects of his group’s work in ways he’s never seen.

“It would be exponential,” Watson said.

Watson and Thomas’ remarks came a day after Benson and her advisers publicly explained what will ultimately happen to the sports teams she inherited.

According to a succession plan created by Tom Benson, after the death of Gayle – who has no heirs – the teams are expected to be sold. Then, through a foundation, the expected multibillion-dollar profits generated from those sales would be donated to charities and nonprofits focused on the New Orleans area.

For nearly four decades, the New Orleans Saints have been owned by a Benson. For most of that time, it was Tom, a son of the 7th ward who c…

Gayle Benson, 74, remains healthy. But in planning for the eventual succession, she has already selected some of the beneficiaries. Saints president Dennis Lauscha, who will be responsible for selling the teams in an effort to keep them in New Orleans, will chair a foundation that will distribute the rest over time.

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It’s a pot of money that is expected to run into the billions of dollars, they said, which means it could go on indefinitely.

New Orleans land use attorney Michael Sherman, who has been consulted on a number of large donations by family foundations with combined net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars, said that Louisiana had simply never seen philanthropy at this level before.

Typically, foundations like the ones Sherman consults aim to donate 5% of their total value each year, due to regulations governing nonprofits.

But in Benson’s case, if all goes according to plan, the full value of a billionaire’s estate is essentially pledged in one region.

“When you do the simple math on a fund of this size, the amount of money that comes in each year runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars,” Sherman said. “It’s not the millions of dollars we’re used to seeing, for the most part.”

Growing up catching crayfish in Jean Lafitte National Park and hanging them on his local playground, Marrero native Dennis P. Lauscha never …

Over the past decade, the foundation that Saints legend Steve Gleason established to help other ALS patients, various prominent Roman Catholic institutions and the Second Harvest Food Bank have joined with Ochsner to receive some of the biggest donations from Bensons.

Second Harvest President Natalie Jayroe said people are not exaggerating when they call such a gift “transformational.” Jayroe shared how Second Harvest was able to turn a $ 3.5 million giveaway from Gayle Benson in 2019 into a new facility that equips the group with the capacity to distribute 70 million meals a year – double what they could before.

“Without this gift, we just can’t do this, period,” Jayroe said. “But she did that.”

Now, Rashida Ferdinand, executive director of Sankofa Community Development Corp. who created a wetland park and nature trail in the Lower 9th Ward, said she was optimistic the succession plan set out by Benson’s Camp could allow a wider sphere of nonprofits to develop oneself.

Ferdinand said his group had never received a seven-figure giveaway, but if he did, he could expand the wetland park and nature trail while implementing plans to complete the style trade corridors. main street on St. Claude Avenue and Florida Avenues.

“I hope this is an opportunity for our philanthropists to step out of their space and the community they know and go to places they might not be familiar with,” Ferdinand said.

WVUE-TV’s Natasha Robin and Steve Wolfram contributed to this report.

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