After a natural disaster, private aid groups spring into action, helping Americans recover from tornadoes, floods and other calamities. But could these groups help long-term, post-disaster housing recovery more effectively?

This is one of the questions that Michelle Meyer, director of the College of Architecture’s Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, will investigate with a five-year, $535K Early Career Development Program grant from the National Science Foundation.

The grant is part of an NSF program which offers the foundation’s most prestigious awards to support early career faculty who have the potential to lead advances in their respective organization as academic role models.

Natural disasters are increasing in size and frequency, and disaster-related housing recovery costs are on the rise. Because governmental assistance and private insurance often are inadequate to ensure full recovery for all affected people, philanthropic resources, if used effectively and efficiently, also help disaster survivors.

However, philanthropic response to disaster is understudied, said Meyer. “Little is known about what makes these organizations’ operations more or less effective in promoting community recovery and resilience. This will be the first investigation of its kind.”

Meyer’s project will include the development and analysis of a new dataset of nonprofit disaster housing recovery operations using data from recent disasters.

When the data is in hand and analyzed, Meyer will test a training program for local nonprofit recovery organizations and foundations aimed at improving their disaster recovery resource management.

The program will be developed as part of the study by the Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service and the OneStar Foundation.

Aggie undergraduates from numerous disciplines will also have the opportunity to collect and analyze project-related data and present results, while project-associated graduate students will focus on honing their data management skills in internships with disaster recovery nonprofit groups.

Meyer, also a Texas A&M associate professor of urban planning, also studies environmental and community sustainability and the interplay between environmental conditions and the ability of varying socioeconomic groups’ recoveries from disasters.

For more information, contact rnira@arch.tamu.edu or doswald@tamu.edu.