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Louis Rodriguez, Ph. D.

Louis Rodriguez knows a thing or two about stepping up. As Executive Director, Step Up for Better Living wouldn’t be where it is today without him. But when COVID-19 arrived in the South Bronx, Louis knew the organization could do more. Louis helped launch The Step Up Emergency Food Fund with one goal in mind: Getting food in the hands of families who need it. Since then, he’s been partnering with nonprofits, securing grants, and cultivating donors. And he’s not stopping any time soon. 

From the moment he began studying social work, Louis knew he wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. After years of dedicated work in the nonprofit organization management industry, Louis landed at Step Up in 2017. He implemented strategies to build fundraising capacity and expand our program model. He helped plan a roadmap to grow the agency and promote client access to services. And he developed a monitoring tool to measure how Step Up helps South Bronx families.

In spite of these successes, Louis knew Step Up could do more to combat food insecurity in his community. And the pandemic made a bad situation even worse. Up to a 200% increase in demand has caused long lines around food pantries, with clients waiting hours. Sometimes, food pantries do not have enough to meet the demand, forcing them to turn clients away. Shortages of volunteers and personal protective equipment continue to be a problem.

Since launching the Step Up Emergency Food Fund, Louis has been working harder than ever to help local food pantries. In the past three months alone, Louis secured a $45K Capacity Building Grant from a special initiative of the NYC Council, and raised money to help support food pantries run by BronxWorks, Part of the Solution, Morrisania Revitalization Corporation, and Willis Avenue Seventh Day Adventist Church.

So what motivates Louis to keep stepping up? He’s driven by a desire to help families improve their quality of life and ease their financial burdens. You can step up, too, by contributing what you can to address this dire need. No amount is too small. Join Louis, and step up for the South Bronx by clicking here.