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Candlelight vigil honors domestic violence victims

Domestic Violence Activist Kim Sport Weighs in on NFL Action - Fox 8 Live

On Common Core, BESE is right to fight: Editorial

Coalition United Against Domestic Abuse Rejoices Governor Jindal Signs Sweeping Statewide Reform Bills into Law

Tougher domestic violence bills sent to Jindal

Senators kill proposal to raise minimum wage

Bill to cap payday loans advancing in the Senate

Domestic violence bills backed by House committee

Opinion: Senate Bill helps victims of domestic violence

Legislature takes up domestic violence bills

Editorial: Laws needed to help prevent domestic violence deaths

House takes a big step toward protecting domestic violence victims: Editorial

Bill to bar domestic abusers from owning guns passes Louisiana House: Snapshot

A package of domestic violence bills passes the House

Victims say House bills on domestic violence will give them more protection

Legislators grabble with higher education, Common Core: CABL

Education bills top agenda Wednesday

Cheers and tears as anti-domestic violence bills sail through Louisiana committee

New Orleans lawmakers take aim at Louisiana domestic violence problem.

Legislators must strengthen protections for domestic violence victims: Editorial

Commentary: Domestic problems

Ostroske Honored on Senate Floor




United Way committs to supporting legislation for Domestic Violence that will increase support for victims and their families. At the Public Policy Committee request and that of our DV Collaborative Partners, Rep. Helena Morena has prepared several pieces of legislation that have been pre-filed. Sen. J.P. Morrell introduce companion legislation in the Senate as well.

Sign the Petition

Domestic Violence Advocates Support Proposed Legislation
[from Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence Press Release]
The Policy Committee for the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, is leading the efforts to create reform. They have been working for months with a broad group of allies to gain support for the legislation. The relationship between UWSELA and domestic violence advocates was forged last year when the UWSELA were critical supporters in fighting the budget cuts to domestic violence programs. Those cuts were eventually averted by the legislature. [more]






United Way supports Louisiana's Common Core State Standards and the aligned assessment, PARCC. because all children in Louisiana have big dreams they want to achieve.  Unfortunately, education standards in Louisiana have been so low that 34% of  students have to take remedial courses when they get to college, and those who choose to enter the workforce lack the skills needed to get good paying Louisiana jobs that will allow them to support and raise their family in the place they call home.



Advocating in Washington [l to r, Todd Battiste, Kim Sport, Michael Williamson, Norma Grace, Yvonne VonderHaar, Charles Rice, Carol Wise, Jamene Dahmer and Beth Terry.

United Way advances the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. Our focus is
on education, health and safety net: financial stability - the building blocks for a good quality of life.

United Way recruits people and organizations who bring the passion, expertise and resources
needed to get things done. We invite you to be part of the change.

You can give. You can advocate. You can volunteer.





United Way CEO Michael Williamson, Louisiana Rep. Helena Moreno, United Way COO Charmaine Caccioppi, Orleans Parish CDC Judge Bernadette D'Souza, United Way Public Policy Chair Kim Sport and N.O. Family Justice Center ED Mary Claire Landry.
United Way of Southeast Louisiana along with our Public Policy Chair, Kim Sport, and our

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Charmaine Caccioppi, were honored at the New Orleans Family Justice Center's Unmaksing Domestic Violence Soiree for our work with Domestic Violence Legislation during the most recent Louisiana Legislative Session. View more images at




2014 Public Policy Committee Wrap-Up


2014 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

History was made this Legislative Session with several bills signed into Louisiana law aimed at stopping domestic violence. These bills make up the most aggressive package ever introduced and passed by the state legislature to address the issue. [read more]


United Way of Southeast Louisiana Creates Year of Domestic Violence Legislation

June 2nd was the last day of the 2014 legislative session. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed seven bills into law aimed at stopping domestic violence. The United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) Public Policy Committee Chair Kim Sport, along with UWSELA Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Charmaine Caccioppi; Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence Executive Director Beth Meeks and New Orleans Family Justice Center Director Mary Claire Landry, worked as a team “United Against Domestic Violence”. [read more]


Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families 2014 Session Report

The Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families continued its legislative focus this year on early childhood care and education. The Partnership’s position for the 2014 Legislative Session was defensive - not introducing bills, but monitoring and significantly amending bills introduced by others, and working with a coalition to kill one piece of legislation that we felt would be extremely detrimental for children and families in Louisiana. We would like to thank all the coalition partners, and especially the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, for their advocacy on these issues. [read the report]


2013-2014 Advocacy Public Policy Committee

Review a comprehensive listing of Coalition Support, Collaborative Partners, local and state wide media hits and more. [review the list]

Statewide and Nationwide Media/Editorials - Domestic Violence


2014 Public Policy Agenda Available

2014 Public Policy Recommendations approved by the United Way Board of Trustees

[view Legislative Advocacy Agenda Recommendations] pdf


Listening Sessions

United Way's Public Policy Committee, supported by a resource team of collaborative experts, is hosted five two-hour “Educational Sessions” have been scheduled for the month of October.



Last Minute Change of Course on Common Core & Rigorous Testing A Mistake for Louisiana

Louisiana Fair Pay Task Force Report [pdf]

*Omnibus Appropriations Bill Summary*: Surprising Funding Updates on EIH Programs! by United Way Worldwide [review update]

Education Commission of the States' High School Database P-16/P-20 Councils [learn more]

REPORT: Domestic Violence Study Group Report 2013 Legislative Session by DCFS [review report] pdf

REPORT: Parents and the High Cost of Child Care 2013 Report [review report] pdf

Supporting Children and Families through Investments in High-Quality Early Education- Full U.S. Senate Committee Hearing [watch the hearing]




2013 Agenda

United Way advocates for sound policies affecting education, health and safety net: financial satability - the building blocks for a good quality of life.


Help Save 2-1-1

Help Save 2-1-1 by donating a portion of your TAX Refund to the Louisiana Association of United Ways. [learn more]

Get help and learn more about 2-1-1.


Know Your Officials

Register To Vote

LA 2-1-1

United Way Worldwide Advocacy Center

Sign up for United Way Worldwide's Advocacy Connection newsletter, click here.



Do Health and Education Agencies Share Responsibility for Academic Achievement and Health? A new report provides compelling evidence of the interrelationship between health and academic achievement. This report has implications for policy-makers within our nation’s agencies responsible for education and health as well as changes in practice for those who provide health care and education. This new evidence, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, is the result of a comprehensive review of 122 studies published in scientific peer-reviewed journals from 1985 to 2010. [read the full report]

Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity

Louisiana Children’s Cabinet Advisory Board - The purpose of the Advisory Board is to provide information and recommendations from the perspective of advocacy groups, service providers, and parents. The board consist of 42-45 statutorily authorized representatives from state agencies, advocacy groups and the community. Members of the board are appointed by the Governor.

2013 Early Childhood Letter of Support - As advocates for quality early care and education, we the undersigned extend our support to those engaged in the task of implementing the Early Childhood Care and Education Act, Act 3 of the 2012 Legislative Session, in ways that will accomplish the law’s purpose. We commend the important work that our state government is doing...[read on]

Common Core - The Common Core State Standards are nationwide English and math goals developed by individual states and backed by the National Governors Association. Adopted by 45 states, including Louisiana, the standards now are fully in place across the state and nationally with testing set to begin next school year. While visiting this site: please go to the Forums page, create an account, and tell us what's on your mind about any of the topics. If you want to be anonymous, you can be that and still participate. 



United Way Worldwide's Income Strategies and Approaches Over the past twenty years, the cost of living in the United States has increased by almost 90 percent, while average incomes have only increased 25 percent. In addition, more than 40 million Americans work in jobs that pay low wages and do not provide basic health and retirement benefits. At the same time, governmental budget cuts at the national, state and local levels have reduced the safety net services and supports that many low-income families depend on during difficult times. [read the report]




We partner with strong community NGO’s who share our passion and vision - these include but are not limited to:





United Way 0166 (2)Charmaine Caccioppi
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Charmaine is responsible for the development and implementation of United Way’s government relations strategies related to its three goal areas (Education, Health, and Safety Net) through the development of relationships with key internal and external constituents. These relationships result in funding and legislative support and strengthen the organization’s visibility and image throughout the public sector.

Her career with United Way of Southeast Louisiana has included successfully advocating for:

  • Enactment of the first ever EITC [Earned Income Tax Credit] state match
  • Passage of the Child Care Tax Credits
  • Implementation of the statewide high quality Early Child Care Rating System
  • Funding for the Louisiana 2-1-1 Information Referral and Crisis Management Service
  • Securing millions of grant dollars to ensure the successful expansion of community impact programs serving citizens throughout Louisiana

Charmaine served as president of the Louisiana Association of United Ways for several years where she provided statewide leadership and secured grants totaling over $3.5 million. She also successfully secured a $90,000 grant from United Way Worldwide to establish a Gulf Coast United Way Collaborative and currently serves as the lead staffer. She has been appointed to the Child Poverty Prevention Council; currently serves as President of the Board for Education’s Next Horizon; serves as a Board member of the Louisiana Budget Project; and is an Advisory Council Member of the Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families.

Recognized as a Distinguished Graduate Fellow of Loyola University Institute of Politics, Charmaine also attended Nicholls State University. Her professional career has included such distinguished positions as State Director for United States Senator J. Bennett Johnston and U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Economic Development with the New Orleans Regional Chamber of Commerce and MetroVision. You can reach Charmaine by email at



Todd A. Battiste
Vice President for Education

Todd coordinates and manages staff and programs that contribute to the United Way’s mission ‘to increase the organized capacity of individuals to be independent and self-sufficient.’

In addition, he provides leadership and support to United Way Community Impact Initiatives:

  • Success By 6 - a multi-sector collaborative that is research-based, data driven and outcome oriented.
  • School to Career - a collaboration with individual organizations to help children reach their potential and prepare the future workforce through schools.

In 2006, with a host of other partners, Todd convened a team of advocates to support what is now Louisiana Quality Start - the rating system for child care providers. Subsequently, in 2007 Todd rallied additional advocacy for the School Readiness Tax Credit.

Todd currently chairs the Child Care Block Grant Advisory Council. He is the Past President for the Louisiana Association for the Education for Young Children and the current VP for Public Policy and is a member of the National Association for the Education for Young Children. He has served on the Advisory Committee on Licensing of Childcare Facilities and Child Placing Agencies; Louisiana’s Quality Rating System for Early Childhood Programs Steering Committee and presently serves on the Louisiana Advisory Council on Child Care and Early Education, Delgado Early Childhood Education Advisory Board, and is a member of the Up2Us and 504Forward organizations.

A native of New Orleans, Todd graduated from Southern University with a bachelor in Psychology, Xavier University with a Masters in Business/Industry Counseling, and University of New Orleans with a Masters in Public Administration. He has spent most of his career in the not for profit and education arena where he has held positions as Program Director for the Volunteers of America, implementing programs to reduce recidivisms, Director with New Orleans Public Schools developing strategies to decrease violence and with Total Community Action - Head Start/Family Center creating a one stop facility for children and families. He is the proud father of two sons, Todd II and Dillon. You can reach Todd by email at




Melisse Meza
Vice President for Health

Melisse, a native of New Orleans, began her social service career with a year of service with City Year Boston in 1996. After this she completed her Bachelors of Science degree in Social and Juvenile Counseling from Our Lady of Holy Cross College.

Shortly after, she became a graduate of Southern University of New Orleans’ School of Social Work Master’s Program in 2001 while working for a domestic violence shelter as residential counselor and later as a case manager for a local youth program.

Desiring a better understanding of the administrative aspect of nonprofits, Melisse began working at United Way of Southeast Louisiana in the development department prior to moving to New York City to continue her work in development. In late 2006, she returned to New Orleans as Vice President of Community Impact for UWSELA where she incorporates her programming and development backgrounds.

Melisse is a regular guest lecturer in program evaluation at SUNO as she has a great appreciation for numbers and how they can be used not only for program measurement, but also for fundraising. You can reach Melisse by email at


Odessa Adams-Payne, MSW
Director for Income

Odessa heads our Financial Stability work, which includes the Individual Development Account (IDA) Project for United Way of Southeast Louisiana and the VITA Program, and is responsible for the direction, management, and day-to-day operational quality of these initiatives. She is one of the primary organizers and Chairperson of the Asset Building Coalition of Southeast Louisiana (ABC-SELA) and serves as the Co-chair of Alliance for Economic Inclusion’s Financial Education and Asset Building Steering Committee.

Odessa was instrumental the strategic planning process for Safety Net: Financial Stability for Hard Working People and Those in Crisis impact Area at United Way. She earned a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration and Master of Social Work Degree from Southern University at New Orleans.