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Catapult Fund Class of 2016

Catapult Fund Class of 2016

Catapult Fund Class of 2016

A restaurant owner in the Holy Cross section of the Lower 9th Ward, a praline maker in LaPlace, a military chef with dreams of serving healthy food from a fleet of food trucks and a baker specializing in vegan and gluten-free desserts are just a few of the members of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s Catapult Fund Class of 2016.

The Catapult Fund Class of 2016 was seated on June 29, the starting date for a series of instructional sessions on how to run a small business. Classes will continue through October.

The Catapult Fund is a program of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation to provide business training and grant funds to entrepreneurs in the arts. Four partner organizations are collaborators on the initiative: Capital One Bank, the Louisiana Small Business Development Center, the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation and the Ashé Cultural Arts Center.

During the business training – which consists of 17 classes on topics that include accounting, human resources, insurance and marketing – the participants also will write business plans and develop their “pitch” to potential funders. Those who complete the program successfully also will receive grant funding.

This is the second phase of a two-phase pilot program. During the first phase, in 2014, 11 business owners from a wide variety of arts disciplines completed the training and shared a pool of $50,000 in grant funding that was provided by the Jazz & Heritage Foundation.

In the current phase, the program was narrowed to the culinary arts – the food industry. More than 70 business owners from around Louisiana submitted applications; 23 were interviewed before the final 12 class members were chosen. Capital One Bank has added $25,000 to $50,000 from the Jazz & Heritage Foundation, increasing the total pool of grant funding available to the 2016 class members to $75,000.

“We provide more than $600,000 each year to nonprofits through our Community Partnership Grants,” said Don Marshall, Executive Director of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. “We wanted to do something to support the entrepreneurs whose role is so important to the cultural economy. The Catapult Fund is a big step in that direction.”

The Catapult Fund hopes to distinguish itself from other entrepreneur assistance programs in New Orleans by combining rigorous training with access to funding, and by reaching deeper into the community to provide support to small business owners who might otherwise not have such an opportunity.

Over the next few months, the 12 members of the Catapult Fund Class of 2016 will receive training in an array of topics that include:

Writing a business plan
Finance, credit and managing debt
Insurance and risk management
Business structures
Accounting and record keeping
Cash flow and budgeting
Sales, marketing and customer service
Marketing and social media
Human resources
Food safety and health
Customer development and retention
Menu development
Local and organic food sourcing
Healthy food options
Food sales in an outdoor environment

The Catapult Fund classes piggy-back on the success of “Getting Down to Business,” a program launched by Capital One in Houston in January 2009. They also are modeled on similar classes for food industry entrepreneurs that the Louisiana Small Business Development Center recently completed for those operating stands at the Roux Carré business accelerator and food court in the Central City neighborhood.

The Catapult Fund was designed for aspiring business owners like Shantrise Sykes, who is a few years from retiring from her position as a military chef in the Louisiana Army National Guard. She also works in the culinary department at Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the Smoothie King Arena. She recently purchased a truck that she is converting into a mobile catering kitchen. And she has big dreams for the future.

“I applied to the Catapult Fund because I wanted to better myself and to become a successful chef,” she said. “And I want to help people eat better and live longer. I want to have a few food trucks, a brick-and-mortar restaurant and I want to sell prepackaged seasonings – fresh, not dried – and different international flavors of seafood boils.”

For Fred Henry, who owns Café Dauphine in the Holy Cross neighborhood of the Lower 9th Ward with his wife Tia Moore-Henry, he wants to improve conditions in the “food desert” of the area where he grew up. A graduate of St. Augustine High School who also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Dillard University and a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of New Orleans, he worked for the Orleans Parish School Board and Nunez Community College before launching a career as a carpenter and contractor. The Henrys opened Café Dauphine in 2012 “because I wanted to reinvest in my own neighborhood and aid in the revitalization of the area.”

Although they had no restaurant background, Tia Moore-Henry had previously run a catering operation from their home. The restaurant has become successful “by trial and error along the way.” But, he added, “We lack crucial tools necessary for the long-term success of Café Dauphine. The Catapult Fund boot camp offers skill-building in the areas where we are weak.”

The Catapult Fund Class of 2016 members are:

• Fred Henry, co-owner of Café Dauphine, a restaurant in Lower 9th Ward
• Kris Babylon, co-owner of St. Coffee on St. Claude, a coffee shop that has ambitions of becoming a restaurant
• Becky Wasden, a partner in Two Girls One Shuck, which caters raw oysters for special events
• Hayden Aley, owner of Girls Gone Vegan Baking, which specializes in vegan and gluten-free desserts
• Brandon Wiley, owner of Jazz City Café, a restaurant in Chalmette
• Lesley Turner, co-owner of Dirty Dishes, a restaurant and caterer with a stand in the St. Roch Market
• Ethel Williams, co-owner of Cocoa & Cream Mobile Foods and Catering, a food truck and caterer
• Desi Jones, co-owner of Southern Fixings, which makes specialty pralines in LaPlace
• Christopher Case, chef and co-owner of Old School Eats, a food truck and fine dining caterer in Slidell
• Shantrise Sykes, owner of Five Star Creole Dishes, a food truck and caterer
• Tracy Kish, a partner in The Crepe Cart, which sells freshly made crepes from a mobile cart at the French Market and other locations
• Nicole Bordley, owner of The Puddin' Shop, which makes individual servings of bread puddings to sell at retail stores

The Catapult Fund is a program of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Presented by Shell. The Foundation uses the proceeds from Jazz Fest, and other raised funds, for year-round programs in education, economic development and cultural enrichment. For more on what we do, and to make a tax-deductible contribution, please see

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.