NEW ORLEANS – Thursday, United Way of Southeast Louisiana and the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation announced the launch of Hospitality Cares, a crisis grant program offering emergency financial assistance to individuals working in the hospitality industry – one of the region’s largest employment sectors.

“I am proud to engage the hospitality industry to support our family of employees,” said David Blitch, LHF President and Co-Founder. “Hospitality workers are an integral part of the region’s economy. The economy suffers when the important services they provide are delayed or reduced due to external personal crises. But because our industry’s professionals are also our neighbors, friends and family members, we all struggle when they are ill, stressed, or overwhelmed financially.”

Hospitality Cares will award emergency grants to eligible employees at businesses running active United Way workplace campaigns in the hospitality industry. The funds will provide temporary assistance during times of crisis to cover basic financial needs, including housing, medical and utility bills.

Funds for the program’s crisis grants are generated through employee contributions to UWSELA hospitality workplace campaigns. Fifty percent of campaign proceeds will support emergency crisis grant allocations overseen by the LHF, and 50 percent will be dedicated to existing UWSELA education, health and financial stability programs and initiatives serving its entire seven-parish community, of which our hospitality workers are an integral part.

“Our foundation has provided hospitality worker crisis grants since 2008, and the new Hospitality Cares partnership will allow us to extend help to so many more people in our industry,” said Jennifer Kelley, LHF Executive Director. “Although the grants are a short-term solution, the beneficiaries will also have access to a plethora of additional resources through the various United Way programs available in the region.”

UWSELA identified the partnership with LHF as a new tactic in its fight to support the 43 percent of the population recognized as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE individuals and families live above the poverty line, but just one car repair, health emergency or harsh storm away from falling into poverty themselves.

Southeast Louisiana’s high costs of living – including housing, transportation and childcare – position many in the hospitality industry under the ALICE threshold and unable to save for emergencies.

“The region’s barriers to financial stability leave a significant portion of individuals working in hospitality one emergency away from not being able to make ends meet and falling over the edge,” said Michael Williamson, UWSELA President and CEO. “Hospitality Cares is an extraordinary opportunity to provide service industry professionals with the assistance necessary to ensure financial stability, career advancements and better, brighter futures for all.”

The program’s grants are only open to employees of businesses in the hospitality industry running active United Way workplace campaigns. New businesses interested in participating may contact for more information. There is no fee to participate in the program.

Detailed program and grant eligibility are available at


About United Way of Southeast Louisiana
For more than 90 years, United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) has been a leader and trusted partner in improving lives and making a lasting difference. We fight to eradicate poverty by preparing people for quality jobs, growing incomes, and affording better health and education opportunities throughout Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. We have a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and financially stable – and we have a plan. United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Blueprint for Prosperity guides all strategic investments in programs, initiatives, collaborations, volunteerism, and advocacy aimed at tackling poverty. For more information, please visit Find us on social: @UnitedWaySELA.


About Louisiana Hospitality Foundation
Founded in 2006, the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation’s mission is to strengthen Louisiana’s hospitality industry through support of individuals within the community. We do this by supporting workforce development programs directly related to our industry; providing access to culinary and hospitality education; working to ensure a positive perception of Louisiana’s hospitality industry; and providing financial assistance and/or guidance to people in the hospitality industry during times of crisis.

Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed over $1.5 million in support of its mission. Follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at, and for additional information visit

Media Contact:
Kirby Nagle, 501-697-0415,