Kelly Orians

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Kelly Orians

2015 Black Male Achievement Fellow
Founder of RisingFoundations with Calvin Duncan

Kelly Orians 2015 Black Male Achievement Fellow

Bold Idea 

Stop the cycle of incarceration of black men in New Orleans through access to homeownership, gainful and stable self-employment, and financial services.



Over half of the people released from prison in Louisiana go back. RisingFoundations stops this cycle of incarceration by leveraging the education, accreditation, and work experience people can gain in the construction sector while in prison to create access to homeownership, gainful and stable self-employment, and financial services. We accomplish these goals through our transitional work program, our homeownership program, and our worker-owned cooperative incubator. By fostering independence and self-sustainability, RisingFoundations transforms the reentry experience into one that builds on the strengths and abilities of people coming home from prison to further community economic development in New Orleans and reduce mass incarceration.


Kelly Orians is a recent graduate of UCLA School of Law where she specialized in public interest law and policy, business law and policy, and critical race studies. While in law school Kelly focused on developing strategies to reduce mass incarceration through community economic development projects in low income communities of color. Prior to law school Kelly worked as a Project Coordinator at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana (JJPL) managing a statewide advocacy campaign to End Life Without Parole Sentencing for Juveniles (JLWOP). Kelly helped create public policy and impact litigation strategies, including the implementation of the Graham v. Florida decision in Louisiana, which made JLWOP unconstitutional in non-homicide cases. Kelly worked on the legal team that secured the release of the first two people in the country under Graham, drove them home from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, and continues today to assist them with their reentry. Through this work Kelly was exposed to the many barriers people and their families face when someone returns home from prison and began taking innovative approaches to combat the lack of reentry resources in New Orleans.

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