The Pitch

RisingFoundations aims to stop the cycle of incarceration through homeownership, gainful self-employment, and financial services.


Visit RisingFoundations >

Kelly Orians & Calvin Duncan

Kelly Orians & Calvin Duncan

The Entrepreneur

Kelly is the co-founder and Executive Director of RisingFoundations. She is a recent graduate of UCLA School of Law where she specialized in public interest law and policy, business law and policy, and critical race studies. Prior to law school Kelly worked as a Project Coordinator at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana (JJPL) managing a statewide advocacy campaign to End Life Without Parole Sentencing for Juveniles (JLWOP). Kelly helped create public policy and impact litigation strategies, including the implementation of the Graham v. Florida decision in Louisiana, which made JLWOP unconstitutional in non-homicide cases. Through this work Kelly was exposed to the many barriers people and their families face when someone returns home from prison and began taking innovative approaches to combat the lack of reentry resources in New Orleans.

Calvin Duncan is the co-founder of RisingFoundations. In 1985, Calvin was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life without parole. He spent 28 1/2 years in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit and won his own freedom in 2011. While in prison, he was a jailhouse lawyer for 23 years. Upon released, Calvin continue to provide incarcerated individuals with assistance in gaining access to the court. In 2013, he was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship to help incarcerated individuals overcome procedural barriers that prevent them access to the court, and he is also the 2015 Echoing Green Fellow.


Rising Foundations provided case management services to 28 formerly incarcerated men over the course of the program and tackled systemic and infrastructural barriers to fully reintegrate those men into society. Rising Foundations also identified and are in the process of securing transitional housing for 25 formerly incarcerated men. They are currently providing 21 of their clients with direct legal services. They put together a legal strategy to resolve formerly incarcerated men’s municipal court attachments and suspended drivers licenses. So far, they have resolved 17 outstanding traffic tickets for four men, gotten $4202 in fines and fees from traffic court thrown out, and have resolved two municipal attachments. They are working with the Office of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Corrections on a new law allowing formerly incarcerated people to get “provisional licenses” for up to one year after incarceration while they resolve outstanding tickets, fines and fees.

Rising Foundations incubated 3 businesses that employ formerly incarcerated men: RAE Grooming Barbershop, First Friday Fish Fry, and Rise Construction and Maintenance. They supported RAE Grooming Barbershop with launching their business, paying for and securing a master barber’s apprentice license for one of the co-owners, setting up an accounting system and applying for (and winning!) PitchNOLA: Education. They set up First Friday Fish Fry that generated $600, and helped them get media attention that resulted in over $11,000 in donations. Rising Foundations also set up the LLC for Rise Construction and Maintenance, and secured 4 monthly mowing contracts and 1 property management contract. They also helped Rise Construction and Maintenance enter into a formal partnership with Harmony Neighborhood Development to hiring their formerly incarcerated men for a $12.1 million construction project that will begin in the spring of 2016.


2015 Startup Ventures




Press Coverage

News Posts

When we came to Propeller, we were two people with a lot of passion and years of experience working to get people out of prison and keep them out. We had a good idea and thought through what it would take to get [things] done. Unfortunately, we had no experience with how to actually run an organization. Working with Propeller allowed us to translate our passion into a plan for a sustainable organization.

Kelly Orians
Co-Founder, RisingFoundations (Ventures 2015)