Introducing Propeller and 12 new social innovators of 2012

This seems to be the year for New Orleans’ social entrepreneurs, as the Social Venture Accelerator Program is about to kick off  the 2012-2012 season with a new brand identity, support of 12 emerging companies, and the opening of a new incubator HUB NOLA in the fall.

Formerly known as the Social Entrepreneurs of New Orleans, the non-profit’s new name, Propeller: A Force for Innovation, certainly states the group’s mission with confidence.  Evoking ideas of acceleration, drive, inspiration, and influence, Propeller’s new brand conveys the organization’s main goal of assisting early stage social ventures – companies that use business principals to solve social and environmental problems.

“This change represents the powerful forward movement that we continuously strive to achieve at Propeller,” says executive director Andrea Chen of the new identity. “The ideas, of individuals, of groups of people, whose collective energy around issues such as coastal restoration, healthy food access, and economic development for marginalized communities are making a powerful impact.”

And the impact already has been significant. Last year’s accelerator class was comprised of nine companies that collectively generated 40 new jobs and $2.2 million in external financing and revenues, in addition to the social and environmental changes they’ve achieved with their ventures.

This year’s class includes 12 New Orleans-based companies, all in the early stages of development and eager to work with one of the region’s most prominent business resources to fulfill their social goals. Through the 10-month business accelerator program, participating fellows will receive consulting, technical assistance, peer learning, and mentorship to help them increase long-term financial sustainability and systemic social impact.

Meet Propeller’s 2012-2013 Accelerator Fellows, and stay tuned for more profiles and updates from the city’s rising social innovators.

AMPS, Douglas Jacobs & Kevin Morgan-Rothschild:

AMPS designs, builds, and operates aquaponic and hydroponic farms that sustainably grow greens and other vegetables, onsite for grocers, educational institutions, and community groups. (Read about their business and recent work with Rouses Markets here.)

Birthmark Doula Collective, Latona Giwa & Dana Keren:

Birthmark Doula Collective supports, advocates for and empowers women and families by providing birth and postpartum doula services, teaching classes and providing access to water birth.

BreakOUT!, Wesley Ware:

BreakOUT! targets LGBTQ youth who are directly impacted by the criminal justice system,  and works for concrete policy changes to build a safer and more just New Orleans.

Derrell Talent, Ashley Cash & Dustin McMahon:

Derrell Talent increases diversity in the public education leadership pipeline by providing direct coaching, skill development, and networking opportunities for educators of color at points where they are most likely to leave the field.

The Fine Arts & Wellness Center, Latoya Cantrell & Emily Wolff:

The Fine Arts & Wellness Center is a community cultural center devoted to providing access to arts enrichment and improving the mind and body of all who live, work, worship, and attend school/programs in the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans.

Gay It Forward, Kevin Farrell & Nicholas Vivion:

Gay It Forward is a locally-driven gay tithing movement that builds a strong, healthy and supportive LGBT community through a series of events and online discussions, and that pairs funds with those in need.

Global Health Services, Yaye Fatou Sarr:

Global Health Services provides oral health care services to disadvantaged children and senior residents of New Orleans.

Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana (JAC), Ameca Reali & Adrienne Wheeler:

JAC’s mission is to tackle deficiencies in the post-conviction phase of the criminal justice system while creating a supportive and collaborative space for attorneys and advocates.

Louisiana Lost Lands Environmental Tours, Marie Gould & Lindsay Pick:

Louisiana Lost Lands Environmental Tours provides educational boat and kayak tours to show visitors and policymakers the beauty and destruction of the Louisiana coast.

Nola Tilth, Megan Webbeking:

NOLA Tilth is a flower and community-supported agriculture farm utilizing vacant and blighted land to provide the residents of New Orleans with healthful produce and beauty.

VEGGI Farmers Cooperative, Daniel Nguyen & Khai Nguyen:

VEGGI Farmers Cooperative works with local Vietnamese farmers to sell and market local produce to restaurants and markets in the New Orleans area.

The Well Integrative Medicine, Sarah Mason & Arwen Podesta:

Using a team approach, The Well Integrative Medicine unites psychiatry, primary care, behavioral health, and evidence-based complementary medicine (i.e. massage therapy, acupuncture, and nutrition), housed in a space specifically designed to foster wellness and support healing.

For more information on Propeller or the Venture Accelerator Program’s participating companies, visit, or stay tuned for more profiles and updates.