New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane Premieres IDEApitch Competition at NOEW

This year the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) welcomed the New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University as a presenting sponsor alongside its main event, the IDEApitch Winter Showcase, as recently announced in a Tulane University press release.

This inaugural IDEApitch Winter Showcase is a free virtual event that is open to the public with a live broadcast of the event taking place at Commander’s Palace, and it includes exclusive interviews, fireside chats, and its namesake, IDEApitch, a pitch competition featuring three top-notch local business founders competing for a $50,000 investment prize for their individual emerging startup.

The event is produced by The Idea Village, a New Orleans-based 501(c)3 nonprofit, whose mission was “founded on the principle of supporting regional startups and the big thinkers that power them.” David Barksdale, the chairman of The Idea Village, remarked on the enticing mainstage event by saying, “IDEApitch is an annual snapshot of the incredible up-and-coming startups in our region, and we’re excited to support these founders in 2020 by pivoting to a virtual, live-streaming format. We look forward to seeing what these companies have built to date and awarding the winning company an investment prize of $50,000.”

In addition to its competition that’s spiritually similar to ABC Networks’ Shark Tank, The IDEApitch Winter Showcase will also feature an exclusive interviews with Walter Isaacsson and Steve Case. Isaacson is the Leonard Lauder Professor of American History and Values and a co-chair of the New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University.Isaacson will be interviewed as well as internet pioneer Steve Case who is Chairman and CEO of Revolution LLC, co-founder of AOL (American Online) and the author of The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future.

 Following the interviews, viewers will be privy to the 2020 IDEApitch taking place in the courtyard of Commander’s Palace with the three presenting companies being in position for rapid growth in the greater New Orleans region. These three businesses presenting an 8-minute presentation of their business are DOCPACE, Gilded, and Unlock’d, and all three had been selected from The Idea Village’s VILLAGEx 2020 accelerator program.

 In addition to the enticing interviews, there will also be a fireside chat with Ti Martin, co-proprietor of Commander’s PAlace on how the landmark New Orleans culinary institution pivoted during the COVID-19 crisis. In a similar pivot, the NOEW, which was supposed to be held earlier in the year, back in March, had altered its plans to be a December-based virtual event. This change from the annual, week-long in person event to a virtual one was done so that The Idea Village could ensure that the three participating founders in the IDEApitch Winter Showcase would still have the opportunity to do so before 2020 ended, thus keeping the spirit of competition alive.

Just before NOEW opened its live-streamed gates, The New Orleans Book Festival had begun the weekend prior to NOEW, and due to the fact that both iconic New Orleans events shared an overlap in incredible thought leaders, the partnership between the collaboration between the two was a natural fit.

Founder of The New Orleans Book Festival and co-chair of The New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University, Cheryl Landrieu told Tulane Press, “The New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University is delighted to partner with NOEW for this exciting IDEApitch experience. The mission of our book festival is to connect quality authors on a variety of topics to the local and national literary communities.”

In addition to this Winter Showcase, The New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane has set its 2021 dates for March 18-20, with the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week following on March 22-26, 2021.

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Tulane Introduces Louisiana Promise Program

Louisiana high school students attending Tulane University next year from low and middle-income families will be doing so without the burden of student loans, with the introduction of the Louisiana Promise Program, as reported by Article from WWLTV.   

These students admitted to Tulane as full-time freshmen will be meeting the school’s “full financial need,” a program with an income threshold of $100,000 in adjusted gross income. However, this is not simply to say that Tulane University, the New Orleans-area private research institution, will be giving each freshman who meets the threshold a “full ride.” Instead, this achievement traditionally means that the families of those qualifying will only pay the amount determined by FAFSA, the Free Application For Federal Student Aid.

The amount that families of those applying will be expected to pay is determined by the family’s income, as each year families fill out the FAFSA, listing their adjusted gross income, obligations, and assets. A formula determines the amount that a family can afford to pay toward a college tuition, with the cost being as low as $0 in some cases.

However, starting with next year’s incoming class, these families will be paying toward their freshman’s education without applying for or taking out student loans, which many in the state rely upon.

Louisiana Promise No Loan Assistance Scholarship is the name of Tulane University’s comprehensive plan to make higher education institutions more accessible to all Louisiana students. In addition to the financial aid commitment, the initiative also establishes a new college prep center in New Orleans as well as access to Pre-College Summer Programs. Said programs provide 50 full scholarships to select students who have been nominated by a counselor, teacher, or community-based organization to attend the two-week residential program.

Applicants to the Louisiana Promise program need only be Louisiana residents who have graduated from a Louisiana high school and whose families make less than $100,000 a year. Those applying will have to first be admitted as a first-time, full-time freshman for a Fall Semester, beginning in Fall 2021, and they’ll need to qualify for Tulane need-based Scholarships by April 15th.

In addition to the scholarship aspects of the program, Tulane University is also expanding its reach in the New Orleans metro area by establishing a new college prep center aimed at engaging first-generation students as well as those who have been underrepresented, never considering attending Tulane or other selective universities as a viable option for them.

This center will run a free program directed at teaching students about the college application process, navigating the financial aid process, and preparing students to take standardized tests, such as the ACT and SAT. The center will also educate interested parents about the university application process while connecting them to other families who are new to the process and well-versed in what is required.

Highlighting the program’s mission, Tulane President Michael Fitts said, “Louisiana Promise is a commitment to our state and community to make higher education more accessible, if a Louisiana student’s dream is to come to Tulane, we don’t want financial concerns to be a barrier for them to become a part of the Tulane family. These programs will help keep the state’s best and brightest students in Louisiana.”

As only 11 percent of all Tulane undergraduate students come from Louisiana, the program is also an effort to raise that number by expanding the school’s reach to new demographics.

New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell celebrated this effort made by Tulane to bridge the gap between the University and low income Louisiana students by saying, “I want to applaud Tulane University for its launch of the Louisiana Promise program, which will create pathways for Louisiana high school students to attend Tulane. This builds upon their investment that I have the honor of committing to through the Mayoral Scholarship program.”

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Tulane Donation Drive Raises Over $1 Million in 24 hours

For the past three years, Tulane University has hosted an annual “Giving Day,” but this year’s event was certainly for the record books as fundraising records were broken by nearly 45% when thousands of donors came together to celebrate the historic university. As detailed fully in a press release from the university, the 24-hour “Give Green: A Day for the Audacious” was an event held on June 25, after having been postponed twice by the university out of respect for the challenges faced by members of its community.

This year, over $1.1 million was raised from a collection of more than 2,700 gifts, according to the preliminary numbers. In the recent history of Tulane university, the “Giving Day” event stands as a celebratory watermark for the school, but with such a challenging year as 2020, many perceived the event as an outstanding achievement and a powerful vote of confidence in the Tulant institution at large.

“Given the uncertainty of the past few months and the multiple postponements of Give Green, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the astounding generosity of our Tulane community. I know that Tulanians everywhere have dealt with extraordinary challenges this year — so to see them come together in support of the university was even more powerful than in the past,” said Jenny Nathan Simoneaux, executive director of Annual and Leadership Giving at Tulane.

Contributions for this year’s “Give Green” event were from all reaches of the country and world as the gifts came from all 50 states and from 12 countries during this remarkable 24-hour event. Donor momentum was kept high during the day thanks to over two dozen challenges and matching gifts that further boosted the impact of generosity to schools, units, and initiatives all across the university.

On Give Green Day, the grand prize, The Carol Lavin Bernick Big Green Grand Prize, lightly takes advantage of the “winning nature” of Tulanians near and far, fostering friendly rivalries between schools and participants by offering bonus funds for the highest number of gifts donated. Tulane Athletics, Newcomb Institute and the School of Professional Advancement each won an extra $5,000 because they received the highest number of gifts in their respective categories. Tulane Law School, the School of Liberal Arts and the Center for Public Service won $2,000 each. The A. B. Freeman School of Business, the School of Science and Engineering, and the Tulane University Marching Band also received a bonus $1,000.

Alumni with reunions in 2020 (those whose graduation years end in 0 or 5) were also offered a special challenge — the largest one this year — with an anonymous reunion celebrant matching up to $50,000. Overall, those classes more than tripled that challenge — bringing in $234,317 toward their class totals.

The event was a resounding success across various social media platforms throughout the day as Tulanians shared their excitement about the university with friends, family and colleagues.

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Tulane Research: Fighting the Epidemic

Researchers stemming from various areas of study at Tulane University have been crucial factors in the effort to combat contagious disease epidemics around the world. In the exhibit OutBreak: Epidemics in a Connected World, the extensive efforts of the researchers are chronicled. The exhibit, which is co-sponsored by The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, is a part of the Smithsonian’s Outbreak project. As the world’s population increases, interactions between humans, animals, and the environment also increases. Hence, this project aims to increase awareness of human, animal, and environmental components that influence contagious disease epidemics. By gathering global partners to work together, the project aspires to stop outbreaks before they even have the chance to occur. The diseases featured in the Outbreak exhibit include cancer, the common cold, Ebola, HIV, leprosy, and Yellow Fever.

In response to the exhibit, vice president of research, Dr. Laura Levy, says, “From its inception, Tulane has been a leader in the fight against infectious diseases. This is an opportunity to share that story with those who may not be familiar with some of the groundbreaking advances that have happened right here in New Orleans at Tulane.”

The exhibit begins with the history of Tulane University, which was founded in 1834 by seven doctors who yearned to fight the spread of Yellow Fever, malaria, and smallpox. From that premise, the university went on to be a center of innovative research for issues of global contagion. Some of the most prevalent breakthroughs affiliated with the university are the discovery of the linkage of cigarette smoking to lung cancer, the development of tests to guarantee the safety of polio and measles vaccines, and the isolation of the common cold virus by Dr. William J. Mogabgab in 1955. The development of the first single-lens binocular microscope is also linked to Tulane. With the development of this microscope came the first documented study of cholera.

Some of the more modern-day research at the university includes the study of gene therapy in primates to assist children with genetic disorders, the development of an improved diagnostic test for Lyme disease, and continued research of diseases such as HIV and Ebola. Consequently, when the Ebola epidemic emerged in Sierra Leone, Tulane researches were of the first to respond.

The exhibit’s research was led primarily by Sally Baker, a MD/PhD graduate student in the School of Medicine. As a young ambassador for the American Society of Microbiology, she collaborated with the Office of Communications and Marketing at Tulane to put the exhibit together. When asked about the basis of the exhibit, Baker said, “Today, we continue to struggle with epidemics, such as the current measles outbreak. I thought it was important to highlight some of the work that Tulane has done in the field of infectious disease, particularly working to develop better vaccines and prevent outbreaks. We wanted to bring that knowledge to the public in an exhibit.”

Tulane University’s Outbreak exhibit is described as a regional version of a larger-scale endeavor. In 2018 – the 100thanniversary of 1918’s Great Influenza pandemic – The Smithsonian unveiled a national Outbreak exhibit in Washington, D.C. This national exhibit spans at 4,250 square feet and will remain open until February of 2021. The exhibit is fueled by the premise of the connectivity of virus and seeks to maintain that in order to suppress outbreaks, people from several different fields must band together to carry out “coordinated detective work.”

Tulane’sOutBreak: Epidemics in a Connected Worldopened on May 1 and will run until July 31, 2019. The exhibit is free-of-charge and is located in the Diboll Gallery of the Tidewater Building, 1440 Canal Street.

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