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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Capital One Financial Corporation
recently announced $3 million in grants to charter school initiatives in New Orleans as well as a wide variety of non-profit organizations that are working to rebuild and revitalize New Orleans and other communities in Louisiana. The grants include a $1 million gift to help establish the Capital One/University of New Orleans Charter School Center, $1 million to New Orleans-area nonprofit organizations, and $1 million to a variety of community organizations across the state.

The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana and Whitney National Bank
plan to build 150 homes for low-income, first-time buyers in Central City. The diocese aspires to join other faith-based groups after a modest start of five houses. Once those homes have been sold, proceeds will be plowed back into new sites via a $20 million revolving fund created by Whitney. The bank also will make construction loans and permanent loans to qualified buyers under the program.

Pfizer Corporation
has committed $500,000 to Xavier University to help revitalize Xavier's chemistry and pharmacology buildings after Hurricane Katrina. The pharmaceutical giant is donating $300,000 to fix up the Xavier campus and provide scholarships for students and faculty retention initiatives, along with $200,000 in computers and lab equipment. Pfizer also will provide summer and academic-credit internships for Xavier students and summer research opportunities for Xavier faculty.

The Nagin Administration
sidetracked a $7 million grant put together by Tulane University two years ago to give the metropolitan area cutting-edge technology for "interoperability" in times of crisis — one that could have improved communications and saved lives during Hurricane Katrina. Mayor Ray Nagin's chief technology officer, Greg Meffert, says one proponent of the plan had a conflict of interest, which is disputed. Conflict or not, there was enough time in the year before Katrina to get a system in place.

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