Rally Announces Record Breaking Cohort

Local accelerator selects 11 social enterprises for round of mentorship and development

ORLANDO, Fla. – (July 21, 2021) – Rally: The Social Enterprise Accelerator, an initiative of Central Florida Foundation, introduces the next set of social entrepreneurs to participate in the summer 2021 cohort. These entrepreneurs come to Orlando from across the globe to participate in Rally and further develop their social enterprise.

Thanks to two new partnerships in 2021 with the City of Orlando and Orange County Government, Rally has expanded to invite a record number of social entrepreneurs for this cohort.

“I’m excited to share that this will be our largest cohort to date, thanks to new programs with Orange County Government and the City of Orlando,” said Rob Panepinto, founder and board president of Rally. “We look forward to supporting these social entrepreneurs that have come from our own backyard and around the world as we continue to build Central Florida as a hub for social enterprise.”

Orange County Government has invested $100,000 to support social entrepreneurs based in Orange County, Florida to help diversify the local economy. Five local fellows join the summer 2021 cohort.

“We are proud to sponsor Rally in their efforts to support social enterprises,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “Orange County has a growing and diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem and Rally is a key component.  We look forward to working with our local entrepreneurs to utilize technology innovations to help solve issues that our citizens face every day.”

As direct results of these partnerships, Blue Diamond USA LLC and MudGirls Studios, two participating ventures, will have the one-of-a-kind opportunity with the City of Orlando to address a local community challenge identified through the development of the city’s Future-Ready Master Plan. The City has invested $75,000 in Rally to support this effort.

“Innovation starts with one idea, and in order for those ideas to grow into a reality, we must continue to invest and engage our local entrepreneurs,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “Collaboration is key to advancing opportunities for all and ensuring our city is in the best possible position to take advantage of the innovative and technological advances coming our way.  We’re excited to partner with Rally and these local entrepreneurs to help transform their ideas into sustainable solutions.”

The entrepreneurs and their social enterprises include:

  • Ken Peach, founder of Care-A-Medix, from Orlando, Florida. Care-A-Medix is on a mission to disrupt at-home health enhancing the lives of patients with chronic health conditions.
  • Keeya Clayton, founder of iheartgarages, from Orlando, Florida. Iheartgarages’ purpose is to increase homeownership—and to improve its affordability—via accessory dwelling units (ADUs).
  • Monique Curry-Mims, founder of Empact Data Solutions, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Empact is a social enterprise that leverages data and community needs to measure and connect the impact being made by nonprofits, foundations, and institutions in a Software and Service (SaaS) marketplace.
  • Franc Kamugyisha, founder of Ecoplastile, from Kampala, Uganda. Ecoplastile transforms plastic waste into plastic timbers and timber saving roofing while creating economic opportunity for low-income households and slum dwellers.
  • Sterling Bates, founder of Step Research Corporation, from Orlando, Florida. Step Research integrates the power of software and behavioral science into people’s everyday lives to help them understand themselves, understand others and change their behavioral patterns to increase their life satisfaction.
  • Vijay Raghunathan, founder of Propel, from San Francisco, California. Propel digitizes education nonprofits led by local leaders in Latin America to scale their social impact. Propel’s human-centric digitization approach will boost the leaders’ confidence to embrace the use of data to improve their business processes and measure impact.
  • Joshua Footman, founder of Blue Diamond USA LLC, from Orlando, Florida. Blue Diamond USA produced the first ever mortar-less interlocking concrete block, a product that will allow unskilled labor to build on a construction site.
  • Dorrie Papademetriou, founder of MudGirls Studios, from Atlantic City, New Jersey. MudGirls Studios assists economically disadvantaged and at-risk women by providing artistic and entrepreneurial training and jobs to help them transition out of poverty and onto a pathway of self-sufficiency.
  • Sandra LaPlante, founder of Papaya Stem4All, from Miami, Florida. Papaya Tutoring Services LLC is a peer-to-peer learning platform for students with an interest in STEM careers.
  • Gordon Folkes III, founder of Archer First Response Systems, from Orlando, Florida. Archer is on a mission to equip 911 agencies with new tools capable of decreasing response times and increasing survival rates to/from Cardiac Arrest and other time-sensitive emergencies.
  • Torre Polizzi, founder of Sunken Seaweed LLC, from Escondido, California. Sunken Seaweed exists to create innovative solutions to coastal environmental issues. By using seaweed as a tool for bioremediation we can effectively remove pollutants and restore ecosystems.

“I’m eager to test our approach and business model against this intense process,” said Keeya Clayton, founder of iheartGarages. “Our goal is to increase our financial stability and to make affordable homeownership possible for low to moderate-income families in our region and beyond.”

To date, 32 enterprises and 54 entrepreneurs have completed the accelerator. Rally attracts more women and minority founders than traditional accelerators with 47% of these participants to date being women and 36% being minorities.

Past social enterprises to complete the Rally accelerator include Yaupon Brothers Tea Company, Rente, Mtindo Studios (Formerly MODO Collective) and EcoSPEARS, who have progressed to create impact around the world, raised funding to accelerate their efforts and developed meaningful international partnerships.


About Rally: The Social Enterprise Accelerator

Rally: The Social Enterprise Accelerator’s mission is to create positive social change by propelling qualified social entrepreneurs to build their ideas into self-sustainable ventures within our community. We work with social entrepreneurs in the early stages of developing their product or business who are looking for help or guidance. Rally was launched in 2017 by Central Florida Foundation, Entrepreneurs in Action, Crummer Graduate School of Business and Rollins College, Downtown Credo, Clean the World and City of Orlando. Learn more at rallysea.com.

About Central Florida Foundation
Central Florida Foundation stewards philanthropic dollars on behalf of individuals, families, and nonprofits. We partner with people who are determined to make a difference in their community. Knowing that true change demands more than dollars and cents, we foster collaboration, fuel ideas, and spearhead the innovation that will transform our region for good. Learn more at www.cffound.org.

About the Crummer Graduate School of Business and Rollins College
The Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College is a graduate school distinguished by its renowned faculty, intimate class size and applied approach to learning. It touts top MBA rankings from Bloomberg Businessweek and Forbes magazines and is among a select group of business schools carrying AACSB International graduate-level accreditation, including the first accredited Executive Doctorate in Business Administration program in the state. Founded in 1885, Rollins College is Florida’s oldest college. Located in Winter Park, near Orlando, Rollins is consistently ranked as one of the top regional universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report. Rollins serves approximately 3,200 degree-seeking students annually. For more information, visit www.rollins.edu.