SENO Announces 2011 PitchNOLA Finalists

PitchNOLA 2011: Innovative Ideas for Social Change is a New Orleans social innovation “elevator pitch” competition featuring 10 Finalists who have financially sustainable ideas to solve a social and/or environmental problem.  The event, a collaboration between SENO and Tulane University, will feature a panel of judges giving real-time feedback to the social entrepreneurs. The audience will also participate by providing feedback and voting for a crowd favorite.

Judges for the final round are Nishith Acharya, Executive Director of The Deshpande Foundation, Eric Shaw, VP of Policy and Programs at the Foundation for Louisiana, and Leslie Jacobs, Founder of Educate Now! and Chair of GNO Inc.  Awards include a $3,500 cash prize for first place along with additional mentorship and consulting services provided by Trumpet Group and Baker Donelson.

The final pitch competition will take place on October 6th, 2011 starting at 6 p.m. at Tulane University. Seating is limited and SENO is encouraging attendees to register online. Refreshments will be provided after winners are announced. The ten finalists selected to participate in the day’s events are:

PitchNOLA Finalists

AMPS: Submitted by Douglass Jacobs, Kevin Morgan, & Stephanie Stefanski
AMPS are sustainable, environmentally friendly, food production systems that are easy to ship, set-up, and operate. These self-sustaining farms can provide a constant source of organic food for a local grocery store, restaurant, or remote villages as a substitute for food aid.

Big ClassSubmitted by Doug Keller & Kim Karels
Public school students in Greater New Orleans are isolated from a world that requires creative, innovative thinking, yet most school reform is based solely on academic achievement.  Big Class facilitates project-based collaborations between public schools and the outside world to provide opportunity and appeal to individual creativity.

Future Prep NOLA:
 Submitted by Casie Reiss
Future Prep works in New Orleans public middle schools to simplify and facilitate the high school admissions process. We empower students and families to make informed decisions about educational choices by providing services to schools in the form of mentorship, community information events, and application tracking. 

Kayak New Orleans Wetlands: Submitted by Lindsay Pick & Marie Gould
Kayak New Orleans Wetlands (KNOW) is an idea for an outdoor excursion company that will give educational kayak tours of area wetlands. The mission of KNOW is to increase the awareness of coastal land loss by bringing the public face to face with both the beauty and the peril of Louisiana’s wetlands.

Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Foods, L3C: Submitted by  Thaddeaus Prosper & Tamara Prosper
Fresh food is difficult for most low-income, minority New Orleanians to access. We plan to remove the barriers of distance, high prices and unfamiliarity by growing fresh food in underserved neighborhoods. In order to be financially sustainable we will also grow and sell specialty foods to local restaurants.

TakeashineSubmitted by Sarah Baird
Takeashine is an online crowdfunding platform for underprivileged students in New Orleans who risk missing out on higher education because they cannot meet their college costs. Using the proven crowdfunding method, Takeashine allows students to close the gap between their “demonstrated” and true financial need.

The Well: An Integrative Medical Practice: Submitted by Arwen Podesta, MD, FASAM & Sarah Mason, RN, S-FNP
In New Orleans, there is a socially detrimental lack of unified comprehensive outpatient mental and physical care. To address this need, we envision a multi-modal clinic focusing on addiction, anxiety, cardiac dysfunction, chronic pain, depression, endocrine disorders, post-traumatic stress, somatic disorder and other health issues endemic to South Louisiana.

Urban Renewal Redefined: We Paint Change: Submitted by Tuere Jones, Sunni Patterson, Tiffany Burns, Ayanna Molina-Mills, Kendra Harris, & Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes
Broken into 9 week increments, 15 students at a time who are interested in visual art will submit their work for an opportunity to participate in beautifying their community! These artists are sure to redefine their urban landscape one brush stroke at a time! Led by New Orleanian visual artist, Jessica Strahan, artists will learn: 1. The basis of becoming skillful visual artists, 2. How to properly construct a mural, 3. The importance of using art to revitalize your community, 4. How visual art can be used as an instrument for change.

YardShare NOLA: Submitted by Shlok Vaidya & John Robb
New Orleans faces a dearth of readily available, quality, and affordable food. Efforts to counter this are not yet widespread enough. YardShareNOLA seeks to not only transform the small yards that have been relegated to ‘concreteness’ into shared food production spaces, but also underpin an ecosystem of that can even create jobs.

Black Pearl Apiary: Submitted by Andrea Maurizio & Alton Torregano III
We want to alleviate two problems with one solution: a local apiary. The secret death of bees has plagued the produce and agricultural sectors.  We seek to combat the disaster while reducing unemployment and crime. Through our apiary, we will train and employ those vulnerable to high unemployment.

Green The Gras Finalists

Green The Gras is another competition taking place in conjunction with PitchNOLA. Read about Green The Gras here.

CicloGRAS: Submitted by Jennifer Ruley
Ciclovia is a Spanish word and popular trend that describes replacing cars on streets with people walking, bicycling, and dancing for their health. The merging of ciclovia and the traditional Mardi Gras parade to promote public health and a better environment is a concept we call CicloGRAS.

Throwbacks: Submitted by Sarah Myers
Mardi Gras throws are almost exclusively manufactured in China from plastic. We propose locally manufactured beads made from glass recycled in the area, which will both reduce the carbon footprint of these throws and create a sorely needed market for glass.

Arc of Greater New Orleans: Submitted by Margie Perez
Parade spectators love to throw beads back. If some Krewes would allow a trailer with a Bullseye and a sign saying “Throw us Something!” to follow the parades, Arc would be able to collect even more beads than the 90,000 lbs we collected and recycled last year.

Verdi Gras, Inc.:
Submitted by Holly Groh
Trash associated with Mardi Gras, which goes to the landfill or clutters our trees and landscape, is a social, economic, and (even perhaps) health problem to New Orleanians. VerdiGras, Inc. proposes a one day, six block, recycling and educating, pilot project during Mardi Gras.

Beadcycle: Submitted by Rehone Gozly
Beadcycle allows individuals to recycle their beads to booths or tents and receive a token. The tokens will basically be coupons to local restaurants and bars. Not only will this motivate Mardi Gras goers to recycle but there will be less waste and local restaurants and bars will receive more business.