Three entrepreneurial finalists focused on improving educational outcomes in New Orleans schools split $9,000 in startup funding after tying for first-place in PitchNOLA 2015 business pitch competition.

First-place winners College Bridge New Orleans, RAE Grooming Barbershop and NOLA Go!, split the bulk of the money.

Second-place winner The Southern History Project, which aims to steer more students into the fields of law, advocacy and public policy, took home $1,000 in the competition mounted by Propeller and 4.0 Schools and sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The competition, held Wednesday night, sought to address obstacles facing educational equity, including solutions for funding early child care and vocational education and also reducing absenteeism and poor academic performance.

Ten semi-finalists competed in front of a standing-room-only crowd.

The top winners described tackling various issues: College Bridge New Orleans assists public school graduates with enrolling and succeeding in college; RAE Grooming Barbershop teaches hair-cutting and grooming skills to young people who may be at-risk of falling into a cycle of incarceration; and NOLA GO! is an initiative of the New Orleans Kids Partnership that connects at-risk high school students with a citywide network of free public transportation and free or low-cost youth services.

In addition, College Writing Buddies won the Audience Favorite Award of $711.55 for its idea to bridge the writing achievement gap by connecting university and low-income public school students.

Applications are now open for PitchNOLA: Community Solutions, Propeller’s original, all-call pitch competition. The deadline to apply is Dec. 9. The competition is Jan. 28.