26 May 2016
On Wednesday, May 25, 2016, 10 semi-finalists took the stage at the Propeller Incubator for PitchNOLA: Living Well, presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, to pitch their entrepreneurial solutions to reduce or eliminate health disparities for at-risk or underserved residents in New Orleans.
Following a keynote address from Dr. Corey Hébert, Medical Director of the State of Louisiana Recovery School District, Propeller and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana awarded a total $10,000 in funding to three public health solutions, selected by judges including Hébert, Christy Ross, Program Director for Health Grants with Baptist Community Ministries, and Dr. Joseph Kanter, Medical Director of the New Orleans Health Department.
First place and $5,000 went to Garden on Mars, a project that has converted four formerly vacant lots into urban teaching gardens for the Lower 9th Ward community, all while growing fresh produce to buyers including Mariza, Dryades Public Market, and the new Ace Hotel. In their teaching gardens, Garden on Mars provides local families with “kitchen boxes” to cut down on monthly grocery bills and increase access to fresh produce, while teaching them how to earn sustainable income growing and selling produce to restaurants, markets, and florists.
Second place winner Project Peaceful Warriors took home $3,000 to bring trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness strategies to the classroom. With trauma as the second most powerful predictor of academic failure (behind SPED placement), the project aims to help students and educators cope and heal in order to maintain focus and increase classroom and personal performance.
Third place and $2,000 went to High Level Hearing, a speech and hearing clinic based out of Harahan, LA. High Level Hearing’s pitch also earned them the Audience Favorite Award of $500, determined by a live audience text-in vote. The clinic addresses a gap in local health services in New Orleans, where few providers serve the 400,000 children and adults in the GNO area suffering from hearing and speech issues, and even fewer accept Medicaid or Medicare insurance plans. High Level Hearing plans to put their winnings towards a van to increase the reach of their mobile clinics, with the goal of serving 10,000 additional patients over the next 6 months.
PitchNOLA: Living Well is a part of Propeller’s PitchNOLA series, a string of issue-specific business pitch competitions that in five years has contributed over $100,000 to more than 30 social ventures.
PitchNOLA 2016: Living Well Winners:
1st Place – $5,000
Garden on Mars (Jeanette Bell & Erin Zimmer)
2nd Place – $3,000
Project Peaceful Warriors (Chelsea Hylton)
3rd Place – $2,000 & Audience Favorite Award – $500
High Level Hearing (Dr. Lana Joseph)
About PitchNOLA: Living Well: PitchNOLA: Living Well 2016 is presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, with support from IBERIABANK and Urban South Brewery, and event partners the Louisiana Public Health Institute, Tulane’s Prevention Research Center, Ochsner Health System, Market Umbrella and the Institute for Mental Hygiene.