Café Reconcile Wins Pitch It! The Innovation Challenge

NEW ORLEANS – Café Reconcile won the first place prize worth $25,000 at Pitch It! The Innovation Challenge.

         Second place prize worth $8,000 was awarded to the National Alliance on Mental Illness St. Tammany and third place prize worth $5,500 was awarded to Committee for a Better New Orleans.

         Now in its third year, the highly competitive Pitch It! The Innovation Challenge was held on Friday, October 2, 2015, at the New Orleans Museum of Art. The three finalists who presented their pitches were selected from a pool of nearly 30 applicants who submitted a diverse range of innovative ideas to address community needs.

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         Kelder Summers, director of development for Café Reconcile, presented the winning idea, “The Reconcile Mobile Market & Kitchen,” to promote healthy food and eating habits among residents of New Orleans’ poorest neighborhoods. A double-decker bus will be converted into a ‘bus-taurant’ where there will be fresh food served on the bottom deck and cooking demonstrations and nutrition classes on the top deck.

         Second place presenter, Stacy Gilmore, outreach specialist with the National Alliance of Mental Health St. Tammany, presented the idea of a “Mental Health Smart Phone App” designed to give first-responders a directory of places where people in crisis can go to receive immediate support and treatment.

         Third place presenter, Kelsey Foster, campaign manager for the Committee for a Better New Orleans, presented “Big Easy Budget Game,” an online interactive game designed to allow New Orleanians to give their input on the city’s spending decisions.

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         “To flourish in today’s fast-changing society, a nonprofit organization has to be flexible, visionary, open to new opportunities—and, innovative,” said Albert Ruesga, president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

         “Because we’re turning more and more to nonprofit organizations to tackle our toughest social challenges, it’s important that they continue to rethink, reframe, and reimagine how they do their business.”

         Pitch It! The Innovation Challenge, a project of the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Organizational Effectiveness initiative in partnership with The Kresge Foundation, Chevron, Uber, and with contributions from the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Partners in Philanthropy annual campaign, supports breakthrough ideas in the nonprofit field by encouraging nonprofits to think outside the box to discover new and innovative ways to address our community’s needs.

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         This year’s judges were Leah Brown, interim manager of Policy, Government and Public Affairs for Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico Business Unit, Quentin Messer Jr., president and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance, and Michael Shaw, program officer for Human Services at the Kresge Foundation.

         The Greater New Orleans Foundation is one of the oldest and largest philanthropic organizations in the region. Its mission is to create a thriving community for all. Every day, GNOF joins other foundations, nonprofit organizations, community leaders and government officials to address the needs of the community and build consensus for solutions. Together with a family of donors, the Foundation has invested over $100 million in the region since it opened its doors over 30 years ago to respond to community needs.



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