ReNEW Accelerated Service Trip: Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum

Once again, our own Eliza Fields checks in from her post at ReNEW Accelerated High School with some recent news… Although this was my last service trip with ReNEW Accelerated High School, it left a great impression with me! Literally, the best trip was saved for last! As I was scrambling to find service projects for June, my friend Becca—a spoken word artist and curator of the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum—offered to host a service project at her museum. Given that a large percentage of our students are from the Lower Ninth, it made perfect sense to do a […]

Staff spotlight: “The Fresh Prince of New Orleans”

Now this is a story, all about how, a life got flipped, turned upside down… Prince Holmes was meant to be a college student, living away from home in the dorms.  To borrow one more line from his favorite TV show theme song, “chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool.” Sometimes though, destiny dictates different.   While Prince is indeed a cool college student, there’s no maxin’ and relaxin’ in some far flung dorm for the Algiers native these days.  As Assistant Construction Manager at Youth Rebuilding New Orleans, it’s just a lot of juggling job and school.  Fortunately, YRNO’s REbuild youth […]

Fields Report: ReNEW Accelerated High School

Our own Eliza Fields checks in from her post at ReNEW Accelerated High School with some recent news… My job as the Youth Engagement Coordinator at ReNEW Accelerated High School has allowed me to create interesting events for the high school students, such as a celebration for Dia de los Muertos. Dia de los Muertos or “Day of the Dead” is a holiday from Mexico that allows a community to remember loved ones who have passed away and to celebrate their lives. It is celebrated from October 31st to November 2nd following All Saints Day. Our Day of the Dead […]

Staff spotlight: Kyle Cousans

He loves football, hockey, earth science, Big Brother, Pearl Jam, Harvard Dangerfield and plays Barbies. Of course, we’ll let the suspense build on that last one. Kyle Cousans is the latest hire at Youth Rebuilding New Orleans, our new Program Analyst. The 25-year-old had been interning in the YRNO office for several months—working on projects such as a virtual timecard system and an update to our volunteer handbook—when both parties decided he would be an excellent fit for an unfilled AmeriCorps position. Unlike most AmeriCorps members in New Orleans, Cousans is actually from the area, growing up in Metairie and […]


Another Project HOMEwork success story! On October 3rd, Youth Rebuilding New Orleans sold its 9th house in the program to Sci Academy biology teacher Ben Ifshin. Project HOMEwork (Housing Opportunities for Metro Educators) helps teachers buy affordable houses, simultaneously employing local youth. After purchasing blighted homes, YRNO rebuilds with volunteers and then sells the houses to deserving teachers at below market prices in exchange for their continued efforts to educate the city’s youth. A Washington, DC native and University of Vermont graduate, Ifshin moved to New Orleans almost five years ago to work for the Gulf Restoration Network—an environmental nonprofit […]

William Stoudt: The “mayor” of (Youth Rebuilding) New Orleans

It has been a very good year at Youth Rebuilding New Orleans. For that, you need look no further than the Executive Director, William Stoudt. Since last December, YRNO has been honored by the NOCDC as an Outstanding Citizen Diplomat and by USA Today as one of the 10 best family volunteer vacations.  The organization has won grants from BCM, the Starbucks Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Brown Foundation and the Edward Wisner Donation.  Most importantly, two completely renovated homes have been sold, with two more soon to follow. And on a personal note, William married his longtime […]

Meet our new Youth Engagement Coordinators

Parlez-vous francais? For one of YRNO’s two new Youth Engagement Coordinators, the answer is a definite “oui,” although not without a lot of hard work to get there.  Eliza (pronounced Eleeza) Fields is borderline obsessed with French language and culture dating all the way back to her 5th grade French class with Mrs. Milk.  “She did something,” according to Eliza.  “I remember the pencil was called ‘un crayon’ and I was like, a crayon?  I was so excited.”  Excited enough to keep studying the language through high school and college, despite not being very good at it.  She eventually studied […]

Staff spotlight: Sam Stephens

He’s been hit in the head by a hockey puck and he’s taken a job at Youth Rebuilding New Orleans. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope those two things are unrelated. Sam Stephens is YRNO’s latest hire. Last month, the 24-year-old resigned from the organization’s board to accept a newly-created staff position as Program Manager. Basically, he’s now a “utility player,” helping out both in the office and on YRNO construction sites. Stephens is a St. Louis native, but his mother’s side of the family is from New Orleans, so he has a long connection to the city. He spent a […]

Giving thanks: Angelle Caffery

During this week of giving thanks, we spotlight Angelle Caffery, the first person to benefit from YRNO’s Project HOMEwork initiative back in 2010. Three years later, the art teacher at St. Mary’s Dominican High School couldn’t be more grateful. We contacted her recently for an update on how she’s doing, and here’s what she wrote back… YRNO has made an incredible impact on my life. At the time I moved in I could not find housing that I could afford for myself and my daughter. It was through the generosity of Bob Whitman, Jean and Irvin Barousse, Mary Shoemaker, William […]

Meet our Youth Engagement Coordinators

Does working at Youth Rebuilding New Orleans qualify as a “really awesome adventure?”  Ask Abby Hall, because she would know.  The 23-year-old Memphis native is new to the Big Easy this spring after taking a year to travel to exotic locales such as Alaska, Hawaii and Thailand, and she just started as one of YRNO’s three new AmeriCorps Youth Engagement Coordinators this month. After graduating from the University of Tennessee in 2012, Abby was ready for some new experiences and traveling was something she loved.  “So I got a seasonal job working right outside Denali National Park in Alaska,” she […]