Land Use and Education Leads Social Innovation Trends in Propeller’s New Fellows Class

Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013 marked the exciting start of Propeller’s 10-month Social Venture Accelerator. The new class of Accelerator Fellows is comprised of a diverse group of 15 social and environmental ventures working on economic, educational and environmental issues.

4 September 2013

The L’s take this year’s prize: Land and Learning

Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013 marked the start of Propeller’s 10-month Social Venture Accelerator. The new class of Accelerator Fellows is comprised of a diverse group of 15 social and environmental ventures working on economic, educational and environmental issues.

Land use and education are the two most predominant themes in this year’s class. Nearly one-third of the new ventures are committed to returning blighted land to community usability in ways that promote positive outcomes for health and fitness, fresh food access and community interaction. These ventures include NOFFN’s Farm City Initiative, FitLot, Our NOLA Garden and Urban Lands Initiative.

“This intersection of land use and community-building has also been evident in many of the proposals we've received for previous PitchNOLA competitions,” said Propeller’s Executive Director, Andrea Chen.

Education-related ventures continue to see last year’s successes. E.g. the The Healthy School Food Collaborative, which brought over 1 million healthy school meals to 20 percent of all public schoolchildren in Orleans parish. In this year's class, TrueSchool fosters innovation by teachers, Gradient focuses on better outcomes and tracking for students with disabilities, iSTEMNola seeks to reform the education landscape by diversifying the pipeline of youth interested in STEM industries, Griffin Law helps eligible students with disabilities access social security benefits, and Limited Times is developing a software tool that would democratize access to copyright information and research, allowing for more widespread use of creative material in educational institutions.

“We see great potential for collaboration among the new Fellows and tenants in our Incubator facility—Students for Education Reform, Whetstone Education, and Stand for Children, to name a few,” said Propeller’s Executive Director, Andrea Chen.

Propeller’s Social Venture Accelerator will begin with a six-week intensive period, based on the Lean Startup Model. Ventures will focus on connecting with their potential clients and target populations to determine the most effective business strategies for the following months.

The 2013-2014 class of Propeller Accelerator Fellows:

  • Crescent City Connections (Zach Cheney, Monique Labat, Teddy Nathan) creates valuable community impact opportunities for socially responsible businesses.
  • NOFFNs Farm City Initiative (Sanjay Kharod), NOFFN’s 500-lot project intends to help communities citywide that want to start farms, grow gardens, and create spaces where neighbors can interact.
  • FitLot (Adam Mejerson), a nonprofit organization committed to building outdoor fitness parks in communities across America, is founded in the belief that every individual can and should enjoy the health benefits of a more active lifestyle.
  • Gradient (Brandie Burris, Alex Gallagher), an online platform for writing and tracking high quality goals for students with disabilities that also allows school administrators to evaluate the programmatic success of special education and intervention programs. (Formerly LEO)
  • Griffin Law Group (Robyn Griffin) provides children with mental and/or physical disabilities with the tools they need to make connections with others and lead healthy lives by receiving proper medical treatment, SSI, and Medicaid benefits.
  • I Heart Louisiana (Katrina Brees) provides a model of economic, ecological, and cultural sustainability through parading.
  • iSTEMNola (Deborah Anderson, Howard Conyers, Jaime Wright) bridges the gap between young people and the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) industries by exposing, inspiring, and motivating them to pursue opportunities in this burgeoning New Orleans economy.
  • Limited Times (Elizabeth Townsend Gard, Ron Gard), a Tulane spin-out social venture company that is developing the Durationator®, a software tool that will allow users to easily and affordably determine the copyright status of works worldwide.
  • Our NOLA Garden (Ica Crawford, Hilary Ervin, Jarlyn Johnson, Zane Kenney) increases access to and the affordability of locally grown, fresh, organic foods, and provides agricultural and environmental skills and technique training to at-risk youths and marginalized populations in under-served New Orleans Communities.
  • Pelican Bomb (Amanda Brinkman, Cameron Shaw), a hybrid arts organization dedicated to increasing New Orleans' cultural capital and sustainability by cultivating multiple platforms for contemporary art discourse, engagement, and education.
  • Social Vaccine Strategies (Richard Witzig) discovers treatments and prevents transmission of important Infectious Diseases (IDs) through medical and social vaccine (SV) technologies.
  • TrueSchool (Amy Vreeland) creates new, hybrid roles in schools—part-teacher, part-innovator—through design and innovation studios and ongoing training.
  • Urban Lands Initiative  (Bridget Kelly) builds healthy, safe and resilient neighborhoods by offering protection of urban land in perpetuity to community-led efforts to preserve open space.
  • Werkly (Eric Bernstein, Alix Keller, Kristie Weatherford), an online community marketplace where you can find, hire, and pay local labor.
  • Where Y’art (Catherine Todd, Collin Ferguson), unites our local art community and expands infrastructure for independent artists, craftsmen, and designers by being a curated digital gallery, a social shopping marketplace, and an educational resource, driving sales and furthering entrepreneurial efforts for the unique crop of talented artists and creative professionals in the greater New Orleans area.

PROPELLER: A FORCE FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION drives social, environmental, and economic impact in New Orleans by incubating early-stage ventures that have the potential to solve our city’s most pressing issues. Propeller’s Accelerator program is a 10-month fellowship that connects changemakers with the resources and support they need to make change happen faster. Through our Accelerator program, we give creative solutions the support they need to become operational, reach financial sustainability, and achieve far-reaching, long-term impact. For more information, please contact Julia Stewart (, 504-345-9946).