Three Solutions Tie for First at Inaugural $10,000 Education Pitch

For the first time in PitchNOLA history, judges surprised with a three-way tie for first. College Bridge New Orleans, RAE Grooming Barbershop, and NOLA Go! each took home $3,000.

6 November 2015

NEW ORLEANS, LA (November 5, 2015) On Wednesday, November 4th, ten semi-finalists took the stage in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Propeller Incubator to pitch their ideas to increase equal education outcomes for all New Orleanians.

Following a keystone address by Michael Stone of New Schools for New Orleans and an original poetry reading by 11th grade Edna Karr High School student Angel Hayes, PitchNOLA: Education partners Propeller and 4.0 Schools awarded a total $10,711.55 in seed funding, provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and audience donations, to the evening’s four Finalists, selected by a judging panel of Kathleen Padian, Forrest Collins, Amanda Kruger Hill, and Deirdre Johnson Burel.

“What stood out to me was the desire to uncover key challenges and be really creative about finding solutions,” said PitchNOLA judge Amanda Kruger Hill, Executive Director of the Cowen Institute. “What I saw tonight was this vision for youth success, for a city not only where every child has access to excellent education pre-K to 12, but where every young person has access to a job that they love and access to high-quality education beyond high school.”

Judges surprised the audience and semi-finalists with a three-way tie for first. “We’re unconventional New Orleans judges, so we’re shaking things up,” said judge and former deputy superintendent of the Orleans Parish School Board Kathleen Padian. 

In a first for PitchNOLA competitions, judges opted to readjust the distribution of cash prizes, splitting $9,000 three ways between first place winners College Bridge New Orleans, RAE Grooming Barbershop, and NOLA Go!, and awarding the remaining $1,000 to second place winner The Southern History Project.

College Bridge New Orleans helps New Orleans public school graduates to enroll and succeed in college. Nationwide, 9% of low-income high-school students earn a bachelor’s degree by age 25. With PitchNOLA funding, College Bridge seeks to expand their services to two partner high schools, impacting 200 more students in the transition to college.

RAE Grooming Barbershop prevents youth in the juvenile justice system from entering a cycle of incarceration through a barbering and grooming apprenticeship that provides young men with an opportunity to continue learning while building a pathway for long-term employment. “How do we know it will work?” exonerated entrepreneurs Jerome Morgan and Daniel Rideau asked the crowd. “Because it worked for us.” Over the next year, they will launch a pilot with 4 youth, beginning while they are in custody and ultimately resulting in access to apprenticeship scholarships and stable, gainful employment.

An initiative of the New Orleans Kids Partnership (NOKP), NOLA Go! connects at-risk New Orleans high school students with a citywide network of free public transportation and a coordinated system of free and low-cost youth services, including the New Orleans Public Library, recreation centers and after-school programs. With the $3,000 prize, NOLA Go! will pay for the core costs to launch a five-month pilot for 50 students starting in January.

Second place winner The Southern History Project is reimagining social studies curricula, trading rote memorization for engaging units like human migration, voting rights, and global sources of and responses to poverty. The goal is to increase the number of students entering the fields of law, advocacy, and public policy, starting at New Orleans Charter Math and Science High School with aims to expand across the American South.

College Writing Buddies took home the Audience Favorite Award of $711.55 for their idea to bridge the writing achievement gap by digitally connecting university and low-income public school students. The prize was funded entirely by audience donations and determined by a live text-in vote from the audience. 

All PitchNOLA: Education semi-finalists will have access to follow-up coaching and programming from Propeller and 4.0 Schools. 

Applications are now open for PitchNOLA: Community Solutions, Propeller’s original, all-call pitch competition. The deadline to apply online is December 9th. Selected semi-finalists will pitch live at the competition, taking place January 28th at Tulane University.

The deadline to apply for Essentials with 4.0 Schools in New Orleans, happening December 17-19, is November 13. Essentials is a three-day program that provides coaching, user testing, and a supportive community for early stage entrepreneurs actively working on an idea for a product, company, school model, or service.

About Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation
Propeller drives social, environmental, and economic impact in New Orleans by incubating ventures that have the potential to solve our city’s most pressing issues. Our vision is to build a critical mass of entrepreneurs tackling key challenges in our issue areas of food security, water management, healthcare, and educational equity in order to make significant change for underserved individuals.

About 4.0 Schools
4.0 Schools is a New Orleans based non-profit incubator for early-stage education startups and new school models that supports teachers, technologists and entrepreneurs as they create bold solutions that reimagine the way we teach and learn.

Ventures mentioned in this post

YEP Design Works

YEP Design Works

Alberta Wright

Areas of focus: Education