5 Years of Propeller Social Entrepreneurs

A letter of thanks from Propeller’s Executive Director Andrea Chen and Propeller’s full 2015 Annual Report

11 July 2016

2015 was a pivotal year for Propeller and for New Orleans. As the world turned its eyes on our city and residents paused to reflect on the progress and challenges we have experienced in the ten years after Hurricane Katrina, Propeller entered its fifth year of supporting social entrepreneurs with the capacity to solve New Orleans’ most persistent issues.

This year marked the launch of our sector-specific accelerator programming, where we focused on offering industry-relevant resources and expertise to ventures working in food, water, health, and education—Propeller’s four key sectors where we believe social entrepreneurs have the highest potential to effect substantive change for underserved New Orleanians. Our new model allowed us to more than double the number of social entrepreneurs we work with, expanding from a single ten-month Accelerator serving 15 ventures to four concurrent accelerators in food, water, health, and education, supporting a total of over 30 ventures.

We recruited and selected our inaugural 2016 Growth Accelerator class and secured $50,000 in pre-committed equity investment for Growth graduates, the first time we have provided our ventures with direct investment. We led sector-based pitch competitions and events such as the Water Challenge Day and PitchNOLA: Living Well.  We increased our overall impact with 90 ventures supported through our accelerator programs. Today, our alumni ventures have generated over $65 million* in revenue and financing and created over 250 full-and-part time jobs for New Orleanians since graduating from Propeller’s programming.

Organizationally, we more than tripled our fundraising from 2014 and brought on new nationally recognized funders, such as the Economic Development Administration, Small Business Administration, Newman’s Own Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Walton Family Foundation, and the Case Foundation.  We have expanded from 10 to 19 full-time staff, now including seven AmeriCorps members.

These achievements were propelled by our brilliant, focused, and dedicated staff, Board of Directors, donors, and partners. You make it possible for us to continue our vision of building a critical mass of social entrepreneurs working together to solve systemic issues.  Like us, you believe in the power of entrepreneurship to solve the major inequities our city is facing.

These achievements are not just ours to celebrate. They are yours. 


Andrea Chen

Executive Director

2015 Annual Report