10 Community Solutions Vie For $10K At PitchNOLA

NEW ORLEANS – Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, Tulane University's Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching and A.B. Freeman School of Business have announced the 10 Semi-Finalists who will pitch their ideas at PitchNOLA 2015: Community Solutions, a live business pitch competition for community members to voice solutions to local challenges.

         The competition takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., at Tulane University’s Freeman Auditorium in the Woldenberg Art Center.

         Since 2009, PitchNOLA has contributed more than $50,000 in seed funding to 15 early-stage local ventures, who’ve since created measurable impact. This year’s competition reflects Propeller’s commitment to the areas of workforce development, children and families, social justice, and the environment.

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         The event’s keynote features two internationally successful social entrepreneurs, Matt Flannery and Jean Claude Rodríguez-Ferrera Massons, founders of KIVA and Puddle.

         “For us, PitchNOLA is more than a competition,” Propeller Executive Director Andrea Chen said. “It’s a key strategy for expanding the pipeline of community members who bring viable entrepreneurial solutions to our city’s greatest challenges.”

         Historically, the competition has awarded a single first place prize. This year, $10,000 in seed funding from the Lang Family Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will fund three ventures. First place receives $5,000 and technical assistance from Propeller; second place receives $3,000, and third place $2,000. A text-in vote by the audience determines the “Audience Favorite Award,” funded by the sum of audience donations.

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         “There is a lot of interest at Tulane University focusing around social entrepreneurship activities,” Lina Alfieri Stern, Director of Operations of the Levy-Rosenblum Institute for Entrepreneurship at the Freeman School of Business, said. “We are happy to once again partner with Propeller to bring this pioneering New Orleans community pitch event to campus.”

         Prizes will be awarded by a panel of judges comprised of Matt Flannery, founder of Kiva and Puddle; Leslie Jacobs, CEO of the New Orleans Startup Fund and founder of PowerMoves NOLA; and Victor Alvarez, Director of Alvarez and Marsal and founder of Lucky Tree. 


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         Introducing the PitchNOLA 2015: Community Solutions Semi-Finalists (alphabetically, by sector):


Workforce Development/ Children & Families


         NOLA Code

         (Charlie Barnes)

         NOLA CODE is an initiative between non-profits that connects community centers with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers to create after-school enrichment programs for underserved children in New Orleans.



         (Eric Lavin)

         A tool for students (and their advocates) to de-mystify and navigate in-demand middle skill professions and the pathways to get there.


         Uncommon Construction

         (Aaron Frumin)

         Uncommon Construction (uCC) is a values-based construction- and character-skills development program that will prepare high school students for the post-secondary path of their choice through hands-on training, certifications, and scholarship.





         Disaster Map

         (Ezra Boyd)

         DisasterMap.net aims to provide users with near complete situational awareness in real time as disaster events unfold.


         Gator & Crane

         (Emily Gaddis)

         Gator and Crane incentivizes healthy and sustainable living by exchanging food waste for nutritious groceries.


         Greenman Dan, Inc.

         (Dan Johnson)

         Greenman Dan, Inc. captures rainwater to prevent urban flooding and simultaneously make the captured rainwater a useable water source for landscape irrigation systems resulting in lowering the end-user's water bill.


         Grounds to Ground

         (Yvette Tablada)

         A New Orleans start-up that recycles coffee waste in 100% natural pest repellents and soil conditions for your garden.



Social Justice



         (Larry Irvin)

         BE2T's mission is to close the achievement gap for at-risk students by inspiring and incentivizing men of color to choose education as a career starting in New Orleans.


         Center for Restorative Approaches

         (Troi Bechet)

         CRA provides schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces with training, consulting and facilitation of dialogue circles which improve communication, build relationships, reduce violence and allow those most impacted by conflict and wrongdoing to develop their own solutions for justice and wellbeing.


         Community Plates

         (Lauren Rudzis)

         Community Plates is dedicated towards ending food insecurity in New Orleans by using technology and a volunteer platform to rescue and directly-transfer nutritious fresh food.


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