LOOP NOLA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide positive, life-changing outdoor experiences for children and youth in Greater New Orleans. LOOP NOLA addresses the lack of opportunity for urban children to experience the outdoors. We nurture students' connections to nature by developing a sense of wonder at the natural world along with their social, technical and academic skills through repeated exposure to outdoor adventures over multiple years.
Through an expeditionary learning program, students participate in hands-on learning and multi-disciplinary programs. LOOP NOLA partners with schools and community organizations to engage small groups (10-30 students) in a series of academically linked, adventure based activities. Programming begins with in class workshops and is followed up with adventures into local outdoor environments.
- Conflict Resolution
- Water Safety
- Place-based Workshops
Who We Serve
We serve K-12 students in Greater New Orleans with fun, safe and dynamic outdoor adventures. We work with private and independent schools, but prioritize public schools with a majority of their student population receiving free or reduced school meals. Our programming includes team-building and leadership activities, canoeing lessons, fishing lessons, orienteering lessons, hikes, and camping outings led by the LOOP NOLA staff. The LOOP NOLA programs and activities are critical for students who lack experience with the natural world and especially those who are affected by violence, poverty and a lack of positive outlets for coping with these issues.
Where we came from
Our Founder, Dan Forman
1965 - 2012
From Bob Marshall's article, “Dan Forman, Creator of Outdoor Programs for New Orleans Children, Dies at 46,” The Lens, February 9, 2012
“A Rhode Islander who fell in love with the music and culture of New Orleans, Mr. Forman believed the lessons children learned in outdoor sports could help them avoid the cycle of dysfunction and violence that plagues the city's poor. That belief was based on his own experiences as a troubled youth who found the right path during Maine outdoors camps, and the degree he earned in social work at Temple University.
In 1997, Mr. Forman transformed a nascent NORD program, building outdoors clubs across inner-city schools with an operating budget of just $5,000. Children first spent time in classrooms learning environmental education before gaining basic outdoor skills while canoeing, hiking and fishing in city parks. Students then could advance to daylong trips in nearby wetlands and weekend outings on regional creeks and rivers.
In 2004, frustrated with city administrators, Mr. Forman planned to leave the city. Landrieu, then head of state parks as lieutenant governor, recruited him to develop a similar program at the state level. The result was the Louisiana Outdoors Outreach Program, or LOOP.
Mr. Forman built LOOP into a model of outdoor education. Curriculum subjects such as math, history, science and language arts were incorporated as part of the learning experience on outings. Meanwhile, the physical activities -- including a ropes course in City Park -- were designed to teach important social skills such as teamwork, conflict resolution, problem-solving and self-esteem.
Mr. Forman called the concept "expeditionary learning," indicating the program was a long-term journey, not a single experience.
The rise of charter schools post-Katrina proved a boon to the program, with more educators receptive to the role LOOP could play. That support helped spur the creation of a nonprofit support arm, Friends of LOOP, to help with funding as state budgets declined.”
We remember Dan fondly every day, and we are continuing to work for and with the youth he cared so much about.
From 2004 until 2015, the State of Louisiana had been LOOP’s primary funding source. At its peak, LOOP served over 2,400 participants annually. Due to state budget cuts, LOOP was virtually defunded by the Office of State Parks in 2015. As state funding began to decline, supporters of the program formed an advisory committee, Friends of LOOP, to support the program and to create a vision for transitioning LOOP to a more sustainable future as a nonprofit entity. In 2015, LOOP NOLA was born after members of the Friends of LOOP incorporated the organization as a 501c3. LOOP NOLA plans to serve 1,000 New Orleans students with outdoor programming including canoeing, hiking, teambuilding, ropes courses, fishing and camping during the upcoming 2016-2017 school year.
Since Dan died in 2012 we have maintained the same mission—to provide underserved youth with opportunities for positive social-emotional growth. The model has also remained the same. We primarily partner with public schools, offering age appropriate school-day programming to students. We are looking for support from individuals, corporations, foundations and advocates to keep LOOP NOLA, and Dan Forman’s vision, alive.
Please consider a donation, and contact us if you or your organization is interested in a partnership.