Social innovation competition focuses on health in New Orleans

By Naomi Englar

(Photos courtesy of Rush Jagoe,

A New Orleans program providing health services and screenings to children at school won first place during a citywide pitch competition this April.

At Propeller’s annual PitchNOLA event, 12 local entrepreneurs pitching their health-focused businesses, programs, products and services to a room of their peers and a panel of three judges. While some of the pitches focused on expanding existing work or products, others were new ideas the entrepreneurs are looking to launch.

Psychologist Chrissy Stabler successfully won first prize in the competition for her program Coordinated Care for the Whole Child, which is housed at the Childhood and Family Learning Foundation. The program facilitates in-school health screenings and multidisciplinary team meetings to review at-risk children. The program then teaches schools how to bill Medicaid so that the schools can recuperate money spent and have a sustainable method for providing the health services.

"We are so grateful for the PitchNOLA opportunity," Stabler said. "The response we have received from the community makes me optimistic that a cultural shift in New Orleans schools, from one of strictly academic focus to a holistic approach, is on the horizon. By looking at health, social, and medical facets of these children’s lives, we can provide an optimal learning environment for our children. However, addressing the needs of the whole child can do more than impact their academic performance, it can ultimately change their life trajectory.”

The first place prize money of $5,000 will allow the Coordinated Care for the Whole Child program to embed services directly into additional schools so that they can identify and address critical health issues that may otherwise go undiagnosed or misunderstood, said Connie Bellone, Chief Operating Officer for the Childhood and Family Learning Foundation.

"We know that this work is changing the lives of children in our community, and we're just so proud that the judges in the PitchNOLA contest saw the potential our program has to make a difference," Bellone said.

The second place prize of $3,000 was awarded to Just Bee Cause, a Lower 9th Ward raw honey producer. The third place prize of $2,000 was awarded to wellness services provider Treaux North Wellness. The fourth place prize of $1,000 was awarded to Your Nutrition Delivered, which sells healthy meals through vending coolers at offices and worksites. The Lower 9th Ward Market, a new fresh food market, won $500 for being voted as the audience favorite.

Propeller planned the pitch competition with the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as a way to foster enthusiasm and engagement in the creation of a healthier city. The Tulane Prevention Research Center was one of many local partners that supported the competition through technical assistance and consultation to Propeller.

“We believe in the power of entrepreneurial solutions in the food access and public health arena," said Julia Stewart, Programs Manager at Propeller. "We were so impressed by the solutions presented by our semi-finalists and hope that their courage and innovation will inspire more entrepreneurs to move the needle on some of New Orleans’ biggest health challenges.”

For information about PitchNOLA: Living Well and Propeller’s social innovation programs, visit

(May 2014)

Topics:   obesity , nutrition , physical activity , community health , early childhood health

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