Over the past several years, New Orleans has seen tremendous upgrowth in publicly, privately, and federally funded initiatives to support trauma-informed school-based training, behavioral health services, research, and educational advocacy. Although the upgrowth is relatively recent, Hurricane Katrina figured prominently throughout the interviews. The failure of the levee system during Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath of the disaster was repeatedly referenced during the interviews. The disaster was an instigating event for many organizations to form or shift focus to fill in gaps in care created or revealed by the disaster.

During the 2022 - 2023 school year, 79 public schools served over 47,968 children. Though schools have worked tirelessly to support children and families during COVID , the young people of the Crescent City are still experiencing significant challenges that impede their ability to be present, learn, and grow at school. Several organizations are answering the call for assistance in caring for youth and adults in our schools through direct services, staff education, and educational advocacy.

With funding from Baptist Community Ministries, the Coalition for Compassionate Schools conducted a mapping project to identify trauma-informed school-based initiatives in the areas of training, service delivery, research, and educational policy. The project provides an analysis of the current landscape of existing trauma-informed services available to New Orleans Public Schools, especially mental and behavioral health supports. Many of our community stakeholders cited these areas as a key to the success and resilience for educators and students. Future analyses will provide information on redundancies and gaps in the collective work of the various organizations, common facilitators and barriers in their work, and the impact of their work.

 members of the coalition for compassionate schools | photo credit: ©Tulane University | Paula Burch-Celentano
project goals
The goals of the mapping project were to:

Identify organizations focused on:

Building the capacity of schools to adopt trauma-informed policies and practices through training, research, and/or advocacy.

Providing trauma-informed services to promote well-being and address mental and behavioral health concerns among students and educators.

Clarify the nature of the work of each organization, including their constituencies and priorities.

Identify redundancies and gaps in the collective work of the various organizations.

Identify common facilitators and barriers in their work.

Generate a shared set of impact indicators.

Organizations were selected for participation if they:

Had an explicit focus on trauma-informed and/or healing centered training, research, advocacy, or service delivery.

Were co-located or directly relevant to K – 12 schools.

Focused on students, families, and/or educational workforce.

In this, our first attempt to map school-based, trauma-informed and healing-centered organizations, we have undoubtedly overlooked some organizations doing great work. We acknowledge that our inclusion criteria were not always easily discernible, and we are committed to improving our ability to identify relevant organizations and programs to include in future mapping efforts. We used what is referred to as snowball sampling for this project, where we asked known trauma-informed organizations to identify other organizations and programs that should be included in the mapping project. Snowball sampling is a relationship-based sampling method that is well-suited to the decentralized nature of New Orleans public schools. In the absence of a central source of information on school-community partnerships, the organizations themselves are a good source of information. However, the potentially competitive and siloed context of a decentralized system also makes snowball sampling an imperfect method because organizations may not be aware of other organizations doing similar work.

We would love your help in growing our list of organizations and programs. Please use this link to nominate an organization or program to be considered for our next round of mapping.


Ace Educator Program

New Orleans Children and Youth
Planning Board

Overcoming Racism


Institute of Women and Ethnic

PLAAY @ Center for Resilience

Beloved Community

Jewish Family Services

Project Fleur de lis

Brothers Empowered to Teach

LA Center for Children’s Rights

Project Peaceful Warriors

Children’s Bureau of New Orleans

Louisiana Public Health Institute

Special Education Leadership

Center for Evidence Based Practice

NOLA Public Schools

Training Grounds

Center for Resilience

Navigate NOLA

Trauma and Grief Center

Center for Restorative Approaches

NOLA Youth Alliance

Up2Us Sports

Center for Youth Equity




Tiers of System
Supports (Figure 1)

Continuum of
Services (Figure 2)

 members of the coalition for compassionate schools | photo credit: ©Tulane University | Paula Burch-Celentano
phase 1


In what ways did participating organizations see themselves as trauma-informed and/or healing centered?


SAMHSA: to realize the impact of trauma and understand potential paths to healing and recovery, we must have a foundational understanding about trauma and how it affects individuals, families, and communities.

The individual and collective nature of trauma, secondary traumatic stress, & their impacts on people’s brains, bodies, and behaviors.

The individual and collective nature of resilience and healing.

The intersection of systemic inequity and trauma, including racial trauma.

Our own place in traumatization as victims, survivors, and perpetuators of trauma.

“When people understand the science of what happens to a person’s brain when they’ve experienced trauma, it gives [them] so much more patience to  deal with [others] and to be much more trauma-informed.”

-Training Grounds

"Taking an anti-racist approach to trauma-informed care... [means] that we are not pathologizing people for systemic circumstances..."


"Its... important to be intentional about this work... increasing awareness around how people's behavior can traumatize young people."


"I don't think we talk enough about healing, honestly."



SAMHSA: to recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in students and staff.

The signs of trauma and secondary traumatic stress

The need for schools to respond

The signs of resilience and healing

"We have done a really, really bad job acknowledging the presence of trauma in our children.... We've missed it before on a host of different levels...Its our fault that... young people are carrying a weight that we did not release them from and isn't theirs to carry."


"If [schools] are not really examining how the service delivery approach is supporting kids or not doing it in a thoughtful way, more bodies is not always the answer."


"How do we encourage folks to become heroes of their own story? What we need to do is adopt more language of strengths, where we grow through what we go through."



SAMHSA: to respond effectively, a system must apply acquired knowledge of trauma in the continuous design, implementation, and evaluation of operational policies, procedures, and practices that aim to provide a physically and psychologically safe environment.

Supporting emotional regulation for students and teachers

Focus on supportive relationships (recognition of mutuality, collaboration, peer support)


Culture-bound (recognition of empowerment, voice, and choice) collective remembering as restoring culture and community building

"...an openness and a willingness and upright prioritization of... emotional behavioral learning that I don't think many schools have the resources or time to [do]... You can teach kids as much algebra as you want. If they're dissociated, they're not going to get it."

-Jewish Family Services

"It's not telling [folks] how to interact, it's telling them why different people may interact the way they do."

-Training Grounds

"Can we take a step back as adults and see how well these kids can take the lead... be their own experts? When we step back, we continue to support and... care for and we do it in a way that is culturally responsive, meeting kids where they're at."


"We fully believe in storytelling as a healing process, not just telling your story, but having your story be heard. And also listening to the stories of your peers and even the adults in the room."



There can be an institutional inertia to simply continue with the practices and policies that are in place, but when we realize that those practices have caused harm, we are obligated to change the thinking and doing that got us here in the first place, swimming upstream until the current shifts with us.

SAMHSA: beyond individual interactions, resisting retraumatization requires changes in organizational policies and practices.

Dismantling systems that create and maintain trauma (e.g. exclusionary discipline)

Creating new systems that allow children and educators to thrive, including creating the conditions for organizations to adopt healing-centered, trauma-informed approaches, policies, and practices.

An interrogation of doing things “the way they’ve always been done,” and a tendency toward innovation.

Expanding beyond individual organizations to the networks of youth-serving organizations in the community.

"We keep throwing individualized supports at systemic problems. We need to treat it like, how do we change our system... to meet the needs of these kids instead of how do we change this individual kid to meet the needs of our system? That playbook has been done all the way through and it has never worked."


"I have had the pleasure in New Orleans public schools to work with some extremely thoughtful, talented, committed, hopeful people in very broken systems. And you can have the right people in the room but if the system is broken, then you're likely not going to get the results that you're desiring… I personally believe that the training is inconsequential if it's not aligned with the revision of system structures, practices policy."

-Overcoming Racism

"So we live in a burden society where we want right now to care about our carjackings, right, so we need that to stop. But we don't understand that if we don't do something with the two month old, let's add that crime scene... it's as if we live in a society where you can't do two things at the same time."

-Navigate NOLA

"Okay, we understand what it means to be trauma informed in the school, but like, what does it mean to be trauma informed when families are going through the Municipal Court... how do those practices translate into the other spaces where our students and families have touchpoints across the city?"


The map


The following table maps organizations providing System Supports for trauma-informed practices in schools. System Supports are resources that build the capacity of schools by increasing awareness and skills through professional development and advocacy, fostering installation and adoption, and strengthening research-practice loop.

“For the educator or for school personnel or partners, it's looking at building their capacity to understand how trauma shows up, and then how also they can create context where there is more compassion and safety for young people.“ - IWES

Trauma-Informed Practices

Restorative Practices

Racial Equity

MTSS Components

Classroom post-it note | SSNOLA
The map

and Services

The following table maps Trauma-Informed Programming and Services that support or deliver direct service provision in schools and related settings to ensure the well-being of students, families, and educators.

“We’re really conscious of operating in a city in a state that’s missing so many interventions and services and placements along a true continuum.” – Center for Resilience

Early Childhood Well-Being

K-12 Student Well-Being

Youth Aged 16-24

Educator & Professional Well-Being

 members of the coalition for compassionate schools | photo credit: ©Tulane University | Paula Burch-Celentano