Better Baton Rouge

BETTER is a model that engages fervent partners, committed to improving the quality of life for residents in urban communities. Public agencies, businesses, nonprofits and education institutions collaborate to surmount complex issues affecting the growth and progress of urban communities. This collective is able to rapidly and clearly understand emerging need, mobilize stakeholders and respond with coordination and innovation. Each group has the ability to be intuitive, recognize patterns and construct ideas that have impactful meaning. In Baton Rouge the BETTER model, branded BETTER Baton Rouge, currently has four initiatives underway:

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Asset Mapping

Asset Mapping was created to map valuable community assets to create vibrant networks and to train community members to effectively utilize such networks to improve outcomes in areas of healthcare, education and civic engagement. The City Key website, a site developed to house the aforementioned networks, launched an updated version in early August 2014. The new interface reflects the input of multiple focus groups and community partners and strives to make the site both easier to use and aligned with the original vision for the platform. The new features generated through community input include the ability to click between data, maps, community forums and events all within a particular neighborhood, and a health dashboard that allows the public to view the status of key health indicators for the city, particularly those which align with the priorities of Healthy BR. Click here for more information.

Capital Area Med-LAW

Capital Area Med-LAW (Legal Assistance for Well-being) Partnership, Inc., formerly Medical-Legal Partnership, brings together professionals in the medical and legal fields to provide assistance to children and families. Capital Area Med-LAW integrates lawyers into the healthcare setting to address the legal needs of vulnerable patients. Our goal is to improve the health and well-being of low-income and underserved families by providing legal intervention and assistance.

Our Schools…Our Excellence

Our Schools…Our Excellence is a community- led movement of MetroMorphosis with a single purpose: to create an informed community demand for excellent educational and life outcomes for children in North Baton Rouge. We realize in order to engage our community to become active in the well-being of students, change must come from within. Secondarily, an informed community demand is necessary to build long-term change in urban education.

In 2013, over 80% of North Baton Rouge public and charter schools received a D or F performance rating. Further, of the 11 ‘A’ schools in East Baton Rouge Parish School System, two are located in North Baton Rouge; and of the 13 ‘B’ schools, two are located in North Baton Rouge. The poor performance of schools in North Baton Rouge is a result of the ineffectiveness of the system’s education construct.

Our philosophy is that every child, regardless of location or socioeconomic status, deserves an excellent education. Further, the best way to have a real and measurable impact on student achievement is for community members, parents and students to develop shared goals and work together to create a comprehensive strategy that is specific to the needs of North Baton Rouge.

Click here to find out more.

Pay Day Lending

The Pay Day Lending cluster is designed to create a neighborhood-owned, self-sustaining, micro-loan investment fund that would initially offer an alternative to payday loans and grow into an enterprise fund for economic development and neighborhood improvement. In 2013, the Louisiana Budget Project, a partner of the Pay Day Lending cluster, completed a 10-year pro forma that serves as a model to discuss partnerships with financial institutions. The LBP study has helped identify target neighborhoods and shown the need for an alternative to payday loans in Baton Rouge, which has one of the largest markets of payday lenders in the nation. In 2014, the Pay Day Lending cluster worked to develop a self-sustaining loan fund through forming partnerships with financial institutions and soliciting financial support from the community it serves. This work has continued into 2015.