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For Immediate Release
April 17, 2007

FRITZ INSTITUTE LAUNCHES BAY AREA PREPAREDNESS INITIATIVE

First Step Is a Collaborative, Solution-Focused Preparedness Study
of Community Organizations That Serve the City' s Most Vulnerable Residents


Hewlett Foundation Provides $1 Million Grant
Other Funding Sponsors Include the Walter and Elise Haas Fund,
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and The San Francisco Foundation

SAN FRANCISCO - In what is believed to be the first cross-sector disaster preparedness partnership of its kind in the U.S., Fritz Institute today announced the launch of the Bay Area Preparedness Initiative (BAPI), a comprehensive program bringing leaders from government, private industry, and the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors together to work in a structured, multi-disciplinary way to identify gaps in preparedness and collaborate in developing local evidence-based solutions that address those gaps.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has provided a $1 million lead grant to Fritz Institute to launch the multi-year initiative. The program will focus initially on a major research effort to assess the vulnerability of San Francisco' s most at-risk populations and the response capacity of the local community and faith-based organizations that serve them. Pacific Gas & Electric Company, The San Francisco Foundation and the Walter and Elise Haas Fund are also major supporters of the initiative.

The launch announcement was made by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Mr. Lynn Fritz, chairman of the non-profit Fritz Institute, a leader in enabling preparedness and effectiveness in disaster relief worldwide.

'"Those of us who live and work in the earthquake-prone Bay Area are the ideal candidates to take the lead in developing comprehensive innovative approaches to assessing and improving disaster preparedness in our community," said Newsom. "From the initial research assessment that Fritz Institute is undertaking, we hope to gain valuable insight into the disaster response capacity of our local nonprofit and faith-based institutions, and then develop models for solutions that can be used by them and hopefully every city in the country. We are extremely fortunate that Fritz Institute, which is one of the foremost organizations working to improve the effectiveness of relief efforts around the world, is based right here in San Francisco and has agreed to lead the way in conducting this extremely important initiative."

"Our ultimate goal," said Lynn Fritz, "is to work in partnership with government, nonprofit organizations, the local business community and philanthropy to establish processes and standards that will not only save thousands of Bay Area lives in the event of a disaster, but will greatly minimize suffering, enable local agencies to provide aid quickly and effectively to the most vulnerable, and serve as a model that can be adapted throughout the country. Although our work at Fritz Institute is primarily with relief agencies in other parts of the world, we' re greatly honored to have been asked to undertake this task for the city that is our home. We' re also extremely appreciative of the generosity, civic mindedness and foresight of our civic, philanthropic, and funding partners in this initiative."

As events have repeatedly shown, from the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the most vulnerable populations of our communities become even more vulnerable when their lives and communities are disrupted by disasters. For many of these individuals, community-based human service and faith-based organizations (CBOs) provide a vital safety net under ordinary circumstances; in disasters, they become a lifeline to survival, often the only source of support available for these populations.

It is vital that these critical assets of the community be nurtured and strengthened to respond in disasters. However, despite 50 years of social science research about disasters, there is very little information about the readiness and capacity of these organizations. Neither is there an evidence base that would provide a roadmap to effectively building their disaster response and recovery capacity.

To fill this gap, Fritz Institute -- working in partnership with the City of San Francisco, United Way Bay Area, and the American Red Cross Bay Area -- will kick-off the BAPI with a major research study on the disaster response capacity of community-based and faith-based organizations in San Francisco. The research will be led by Professor Kathleen Tierney, Ph.D., director of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado and one of the nation' s foremost experts on the social science aspects of hazards preparedness.

This research will lead to recommendations to government and philanthropic leaders about how best to support and ensure the response capacity of this invaluable group of civilian first responders. Fritz Institute also anticipates that the BAPI will serve as a catalyst for a national discussion on how the nonprofit and faith-based sector can more effectively partner with uniformed first responders and the city and state infrastructures in serving local citizens in disaster situations.

"We' re delighted to support the Bay Area Preparedness Initiative with our lead grant of $1 million," noted Paul Brest, CEO of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. "We've all learned from Hurricane Katrina and other such tragic events that the foundation for preparedness must start with our most vulnerable residents. We believe that Fritz Institute' s unique approach, encompassing the private sector, local government and philanthropies, represents a valuable step forward in disaster preparedness for San Francisco and we're very pleased to lend our support."

The advisory panel for the Bay Area Disaster Preparedness Initiative includes Julian Potter, deputy chief of staff to the mayor of the City and County of San Francisco; Anne Wilson, CEO of United Way, Bay Area; Dr. Sandra Hern´┐Żndez, CEO of The San Francisco Foundation; Arrietta Chakos, assistant city manager, City of Berkeley; and Henry Gardner, executive director, Association of Bay Area Governments.


About Fritz Institute
Fritz Institute is a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization working to enable preparedness and effectiveness in disaster relief in communities around the world. Founded in 2001, Fritz Institute works in partnership with governments, relief organizations, corporations and academia to professionalize disaster preparedness, response and relief through the creation and deployment of best practices, processes, systems, and standards. For additional information, visit www.fritzinstitute.org.
 
 
 
 
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