Accelerator Spotlight: BreakOUT!

Here’s the second installment in our blog series, featuring BreakOUT!‘s founder Wes Ware discussing the recent recognition they’ve received from the community and the role the Social Venture Accelerator has played in BreakOUT!‘s recent progress.

13 December 2012

“To have a place where you can feel like you can be yourself, you can’t put a number on that. You really can’t.  Just to feel safe and comfortable with who you are…there’s no price….You can’t put anything on that.”   -BreakOUT! youth member

“BreakOUT!, for me, is really home right now.  A lot of the stuff that we’ve done has really evolved my sense of thinking of what organizing means and what community means.”    -BreakOUT! youth member

These are the words of BreakOUT! members, an organization dedicated to ending the criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth in New Orleans, LA and a 2012 Propeller Fellowship recipient. 
BreakOUT!, a 2012 Propeller Fellowship recipient, has enjoyed both local and national recognition recently and is celebrating the end of the year with the receipt of our 4th award in just three months!

With all the recent recognition and support, we are beginning to see firsthand that it truly takes a village.

Since LGBTQ youth are disproportionately represented among homeless youth, youth in the foster care system, truant youth or youth who have dropped out of school, and youth at risk for violence, it shouldn’t be surprising that LGBTQ youth are also disproportionately represented among youth and young adults in the juvenile and criminal justice system.  BreakOUT! is a membership based group of LGBTQ youth, most of whom are African American transgender girls and young women ages 13-24 with experience in the system who want to work towards a brighter future for our city and its young people.

With the support of Propeller, BreakOUT! has made great strides since our founding just one and a half years ago.  We’ve celebrated victories with our “We Deserve Better” campaign to end discriminatory policing in New Orleans, have trained a number of youth-serving agencies in New Orleans on issues affecting LGBTQ youth, and are working to develop the leadership of our youth membership!

We are closing out the year as a recipient of the Justice for Youth Award from the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, the Out in the Silence Award for Youth Activism by the PBS Documentary of the same name, the Hell Yes! Grant Award from Resist, Inc., and the Malala Youth Leadership Award from the Social Change Film Festival and Institute.

Our success and recognition would not have been possible without the support of Propeller and all of those in the community who have supported us.  Specifically, Propeller’s Social Innovation Accelerator has provided us with the support to become a healthy and sustainable organization, offering a consultant to help us set up our back office, finalize our Advisory Board, find a fiscal sponsor to hold us over until we apply for our 501c3, write our policies and procedures, and offer all kinds of moral support and advice!

We’ve also met with a pro-bono accountant to help us get our finances and books in order and an executive coach to help us develop fundraising strategies and plan for long-term sustainability.  Plus, Propeller has provided networking opportunities for us with potential funders or partner organizations and workshops to teach us how to better communicate the importance of our work.  This has meant increased capacity for our organization and allowed our youth membership to focus on their campaign organizing and leadership development work.

With 4 awards under our belt, along with some campaign victories, media coverage, and a special appearance in front of New Orleans City Council, we’re set for big things in 2013.  Keep following our progress here and stay tuned as we build the power of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans, work toward a safer and more just city, and end the criminalization of our communities!

-Wesley Ware

Check out BreakOUT!’s website at

Ventures mentioned in this post



Wesley Ware

Areas of focus: Social Justice