Our Small Business Incubator

New Orleans currently ranks second in the nation for income inequality, with 52% of African American men currently unemployed. This massive unemployment rate is due largely to disproportionate contact with the criminal justice system. Nationally, there is an 80% unemployment rate amongst workers with a prior felony convictions, and of those workers who are able to find employment 90% are earning wages below the poverty line.


 Because discrimination against people with felony convictions by employers is largely legal and unregulated, in our unique workforce development program we foster self-sufficiency through self-employment and small business development enabling our clients to bypass discrimination by employers. Our small business incubator empowers formerly incarcerated people to develop small businesses to (at first) supplement their income while they continue working low-wage jobs, with an overall goal for these businesses to grow to provide full time employment for themselves, and eventually other formerly incarcerated people.

Our small business incubator looks very different from the traditional incubator. Most of the folks who participate in our incubator have a long history of making money through illicit means - that is to say, we work with a lot of former drug dealers. We lean heavily on this prior experience and entrepreneurial spirit to help guide them in developing their new, legal, hustle. However, despite this prior experience with business, most of our members have never had a checking account, created a household budget, created a cash-flow statement for their business income, obtained an occupational license, signed a contract, or gotten their EIN. Our incubator addresses both personal development and business development by meeting people where they are at, respecting their strengths and experiences, and identifying needs.

We currently have 10 small business owners and seven businesses in the incubator - all 7 businesses are earning revenue, and four are creating jobs for other formerly incarcerated men and women.  Our incubator is coordinated by our program coordinator, Derrick Perique.

Finalists named for Innovation Challenge pitch contest Finalists named for Innovation Challenge pitch contest

September 05, 2017

Three finalists have been chosen to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges on new ways of doing business in the nonprofit sector. Luke’s House Clinic, Rising Foundations and the YMCA of Greater New Orleans are set to present their ideas in the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Pitch It! The Innovation Challenge.

The contest will be held Oct. 5 at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz and Heritage Center at 1205 N. Rampart St.

The initiative will fund a novel approach, an innovative product, a new process or an innovative service that supports a new way of doing business in the nonprofit sector. The top prize is $25,000, with second and third place winners receiving $7,500 and $5,000.

Not Going Back to Prison: A Rising Foundation in New Orleans

September 26, 2017

 The more than 50 winners of the Richard Cornuelle award, named for the writer who coined the term independent sector, have addressed challenges as diverse as teaching English to new immigrants, building facilities for charter schools, helping older Americans “age in place,” developing science and engineering curricula for high schools, and helping African-American college students continue through to graduation. Most are supported entirely by private philanthropy. This is the third  of four columns in which I’ll profile this year’s winners of the Cornuelle award.

Rising Foundations wins Richard Cornuelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship!

September 25, 2017

The Institute also annually presents Richard Cornuelle Awards for Social Entrepreneurship to as many as four nonprofit organizations that directly serve the public. The Cornuelle Awards nurture private solutions to difficult public problems and include a cash award of $25,000 to the winning organizations.

These awards recognize the creative energy of the nonprofit sector by highlighting new ideas and mature organizations led by social innovators.

StoryCorps Justice Series: Growing Up In New Orleans

July 29, 2017

Kendell Morgan and Henry Byous grew up on the same New Orleans block. These lifelong friends talk about their experiences with the criminal legal system, rebuilding their lives after incarceration, and the challenges they face raising young black men.

Prison to prosperity! The tale of 2 barbers and the music mogul who discovered Katy Perry & Kid Rock

August 04, 2017

Jerome Morgan and Daniel Rideau run a barbershop. hey've known each other for years.  They met when they were teenagers. They did not meet in this joint.  They met in "the joint." They were bunk mates serving life sentences for murder at Angola, the Louisiana State Penitentiary, the "Alcatraz of the South." WGNO News with a Twist features reporter Wild Bill Wood says Jerome and Daniel are in the barbershop business because of Jason Flom, the CEO of Lava Records.  You've heard some of the music makers Jason discovered.

New Orleans Advocate - 'Help, not punishment': John Legend lends his support to local advocates for criminal justice reform

February 19, 2017

On Saturday, at the Perdido Street office of Rising Foundations, a New Orleans business incubator program for former convicts, Perique was able to show his small custom eyeglasses operation to singer-pianist John Legend, the multiple Grammy Award-winner who is headlining the halftime show of the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday.

Washington Post - Breaking out of the Prison Cycle

September 19, 2016

Breaking the cycle requires a new approach to employment—before and after .... Another example is RisingFoundations, of which public defender Kelly Orians is the co-founder.

St Charles Avenue Magazine - Youngbloods

January 01, 2017

The Rising Foundations organization provides resources to help formerly incarcerated persons achieve gainful employment, financial stability and affordable housing access. To bypass the issues with traditional employers, Rising Foundations encourages former inmates to start their own businesses. The organization’s unique small business incubator encourages clients to rely on existing skills (or develop new ones) and become an income-generating entrepreneur. By addressing the barriers to employment that contribute to the cycle of incarceration, the Rising Foundations organization is helping their clients reenter the workforce in a dynamic, powerful way.

Semi-finalists for the 2016 Pitch NOLA! Education Competition

October 20, 2016

 Propeller and 4.0 Schools announce the 10 semi-finalists for PitchNOLA: Education, a pitch competition for ideas to reduce or eliminate education disparities for at-risk and underserved New Orleanians. Semi-finalists will compete for a total of $10,000 in start-up funding provided by the Walton Family Foundation. The competition will take place from 6:00–8:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 3, 2016 at the Propeller Incubator (4035 Washington Avenue). Tickets are free and open to the community on Eventbrite.

2nd Place Finish at Pitch NOLA! Education Competition!

November 03, 2016

Way to go Derrick Perique! Second place at the annual PitchNOLA education venture competition! And a $3000 prize for our small business incubator! Wow. Wow. Wow. Thankful. thankful. thankful.  And we are so proud to have had the chance to stand alongside Electric Girls and Overcoming Racism and all of the other amazing organizations fighting to make education more equitable in New Orleans.

Times Picayune - 5 Education Starts Ups to Watch!

December 01, 2016

New Orleans continues to gain national recognition as a hotbed for innovation in education. This fall, five local ventures are working on solutions to improve educational access from birth to adulthood. The startups shared their ideas Nov. 3 as part of PitchNOLA: Education, a business pitch organized by Propeller, an incubator focused on growing sustainable socially minded ventures.

Electric Girls won the $5,000 first place prize. RisingFoundations took home $3,000 and Overcoming Racism was awarded $2,000. Here is a look at the five finalists and their ideas.

August 01, 2016

Getting out of prison it's hard to find a job. Why not help ex-prisoners start their own businesses?

Practicing our craft, helping eachother out. #BlackLivesMatter

July 09, 2016

In the news this week there have been so many negative and tragic images of Black men. Black men as murder victims in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Houston; Black men as (falsely accused) suspects; Black men as perpetuators of murder. We have once again been left heartbroken, angry, and frustrated by these events.


So, today, we came together to take care of each other. We had the privilege to work with Gregory "Slim" Bright to make some crucial repairs to his house. Not only were we able to help a brother out, this project also allowed the members of our small business incubator to practice their skills doing a full scalle HVAC install, and electrical rewiring. Thanks to the cooperation of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court, a couple of our members at several hundred dollars worth of court fees waived for volunteering their time and expertise.


Although our work today will not save a life, or bring our brothers back, or even make an impact on the way we are seen and judged by people who do not know us, it will give our friend Slim a safer and more comfortable place to live. For that, we are thankful, and we are still here.‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬

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RisingFoundations is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Your generous donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. 

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