Rooted School’s 2021 Green Balloon Fellowship Recipients Receive Jobs at Pioneering Tech Companies Right Out of High School

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Jun 17, 2021

The charter school’s 2021 graduates chose to work at top tech companies including Entergy, Ochsner and Lucid and attend universities such as Tulane, Villanova and Case Western Reserve 

  • Rooted School gives students an active role in their future careers by teaching skills that are in-demand for today’s most successful job sectors. It provides its high school graduates with a college acceptance in one hand, and a job in the other.

  • Companies that hired Rooted School graduates this year include Entergy, Lucid, Ochsner, Square Button, Revelry, Skilltype, Scale Workspace and Levelset.

  • Eight out of ten graduates earned at least one tech industry training credential, including in Autodesk Inventor, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, CIW Advanced HTML & CSS3 certification and inbound sales and email marketing programs.

New Orleans – June 17, 2021 — Rooted School announced that students in its inaugural class of high school graduates have accepted full-time entry level jobs at pioneering tech companies. Each of these students is a recipient of the Green Balloon Fellowship, a program that connects Rooted School graduates who have studied technical skills throughout high school, to jobs with pioneering companies across Louisiana. Eight out of ten seniors at Rooted School earned at least one industry training credential in the technology sector, including in Inventor Autodesk, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, CIW Advanced HTML & CSS3 Specialist, Inbound Sales and Email Marketing programs. 25% of the graduating class earned four or more certifications.

Rooted School began as a public charter high school in 2017 by Jonathan Johnson, a former Teach for America educator and community leader. As a first-generation college graduate, he understood how gaps in wealth and income equality disproportionately affect the lifetime wealth outcomes for Black and brown communities in the U.S.

“The American Dream is on its deathbed due to our generational wealth gap,” said Jonathan Johnson, Rooted School founder and CEO of the Rooted School Foundation. “This doesn’t have to be the case. We have Rooted School graduates entering into IT, energy, and healthcare careers, straight out of high school, with no educational debt,” he said.

Rapidly Reducing America’s Wealth Gap Through The Green Balloon Fellowship

In 2021, the average wealth for white families in America is $700K higher than the average wealth of Black and Brown families. Non-white families statistically have lower career earnings and higher debts. In a recent study, McKinsey found that Black workers are underrepresented in the highest-growth geographies and the highest-paying industries, but overrepresented in low-growth geographies and in frontline jobs, which tend to pay less.

In New Orleans, there is a $40,000 household income gap between white and Black families. The average local Black family earns $6,000 less than America’s living wage. 20% of Rooted School graduates are participating in the Green Balloon Fellowship program, and recipients also were accepted into colleges.

“Rooted School graduates will earn a living wage of at least $32,000 per year, which is more than the average family of the neighborhoods they live in,” said Johnson. “America has been dealt the best hand of any country. But not every child has a chance to play it. Giving students the option to shape their life is how you improve opportunity,” he added.

Rooted School partnered with Greater New Orleans, Inc, the regional economic development organization for Southeast Louisiana, to build partnerships with local companies interested in hiring young talent, including Entergy, Lucid, Ochsner, Square Button, Revelry, Skilltype, Scale Workspace and Levelset.

Rooted School 2021 Graduates Now Work At These Companies

Below is a sample of some of the 2021 Green Balloon Fellowship recipients from Rooted School New Orleans, along with their sponsoring company:

Entergy hires Vernell Cheneau III as a Shared Services Associate

“Entergy is pleased to partner with the Rooted School Foundation. We know firsthand that the pathway to financial freedom for members of the communities we serve can be directly impacted by our investments in workforce and economic development programs like the Green Balloon Fellowship,” said Taiwan Brown, vice president, diversity & workforce strategies at Entergy Corporation. “We welcome Vernell to the Entergy team, where he will play a role in powering life for our customers, employees, communities and owners, while supporting several of our shared services teams, including HR and Finance operations.”

Ochsner Health hires Jzayla Sussmann as a member of our Information Services Team

“Patients count on Ochsner Health to deliver innovative health and wellness solutions, and we excel due to our talented, mission-focused team. We proudly welcome Jzayla to Ochsner’s IS team,” said David Shapiro, director of IS Operations. “Rooted School taught her the technological skills needed to join our growing team. We look forward to building on those skills as she continues her growth and development in the IS profession.”

Lucid hires Cornelius Jeff as an Integrations Fellow

“Lucid is pioneering a technology solution that leads the way for anyone to make data-driven decisions inspired by the sentiments of real people. We’re able to further the reach of our tool through the integration solutions we create on our team,” said Dave Dupuy, senior manager of Learning and Development. “We’re excited for Cornelius to bring the technical programming skills he learned at Rooted School to our team and our customers.”

Revelry, Inc. hires Steven Calloway as a Revelry Marketing Fellow

“We are very excited to have Steven joining the Revelry team. Steven will be researching web development concepts, developing content marketing topics, and exploring technology as a service while assisting the marketing department in exploring new channels for growth marketing. His interest in marketing and technology were a natural fit for the role,” said Todd Malicoat, Revelry director of marketing. “The Green Balloon Fellowship, and Rooted School, are an excellent way to support opportunities for talented individuals to learn and understand the demands of the modern workforce, and expand their knowledge and experience in the process without the traditional (and often incredibly expensive) formal secondary education.”

Scale Workspace hires Zach Lebeau as a 3D Print Technician

“It’s exciting to see Rooted School’s vision come to life with the Green Balloon Fellowship. The program shows that our region has the capacity for excellence, but we need to reach for it. As a business owner, these fellows make me hopeful for the future of our economy and community,” said Lyle Leblanc, president of Scale Workspace. “Bringing Zach in is an easy call. I already know he can do the work and what to expect from us when he gets here. He’s going to be a great resource for us in our Additive lab.”

Skilltype hires Saidi Rodriguez and Marche Walter to the Sales & Marketing Team

“Our team at Skilltype is excited to partner with Rooted School as our company aims to grow after the pandemic,” said Tony Zanders, Founder and CEO. “As a New Orleans native and product of the New Orleans Public School system, it is a dream come true to provide career opportunities to our youth I never knew existed growing up. We welcome Saidi and Khalil with enthusiasm to our sales and marketing team, where we will be able to leverage their credentials with the HubSpot sales automation platform to help meet our revenue milestones this year.”

In addition to these hirings, Jacob Jones will be a Payroll Associate at Square Button, and another graduate will take an entry level position at Levelset.

To learn more about Rooted School and its mission, visit The website includes additional information about the 2021 graduates, partner companies for the Green Balloon Fellowship, and materials for families that are interested in enrolling their student at Rooted School New Orleans. Press may contact

About Rooted School

Rooted School is widely recognized as one of the most innovative high school models in the U.S. Its vision is to rapidly close America’s inequality gap by providing its high school graduates with a college acceptance in one hand, and a job in the other. With the right training, increased expectations, and access to opportunities, the U.S. can leverage talented teenagers to meet its increasingly demanding workforce requirements. Rooted Schools currently operate in New Orleans, Indianapolis, Vancouver, Washington and proposed in Clark County, Nevada. Graduates attend colleges such as Tulane, Villanova and Case Western Reserve, and work at Fortune 500 companies including Entergy, Ochsner and Lucid. For more information, visit our website and follow us on LinkedIn.

About Entergy

Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged in electric power production, transmission and retail distribution operations. Entergy delivers electricity to 3 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy owns and operates one of the cleanest large-scale U.S. power generating fleets with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including 7,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana, Entergy has annual revenues of $10 billion and more than 13,000 employees. Learn more at and follow @Entergy on social media.

About Lucid

Lucid is a research technology (ResTech) platform that provides programmatic access to first-party data. With respondents in more than 100 countries, Lucid enables anyone, in any industry, to survey online audiences and get the answers they need. These answers reveal the sentiments, motivations, and behaviors of target demographics – data that can be used to build business strategies, measure the impact of digital advertising, publish research, and more. Founded in 2010, Lucid is headquartered in New Orleans, LA with offices throughout the US, Europe, and Asia.

About Ochsner

Ochsner Health is a system that delivers health to the people of Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf South with a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate. Ochsner Health is a not-for-profit committed to giving back to the communities it serves through preventative screenings, health and wellness resources and partnerships with innovative organizations that share our vision. Ochsner Health healed nearly 900,000 people from across the globe in 2020, providing the latest medical breakthroughs and therapies, including digital medicine for chronic conditions and telehealth specialty services. Ochsner Health is a national leader, named the top hospital in Louisiana and a top children’s hospital by U.S. News & World Report. As Louisiana’s leading healthcare educator, Ochsner Health and its partners educate thousands of healthcare professionals annually. Ochsner Health is innovating healthcare by investing in new technologies and research to make world-class care more accessible, affordable, convenient and effective. Ochsner’s team of more than 32,000 employees and 4,500 providers are working to reinvent the future of health and wellness in the region. To learn more about Ochsner Health, please visit

About Revelry

Revelry is a venture fund, startup studio, and services team that provides software engineering development, tooling, and support for a wide variety of businesses.

About Skilltype

Skilltype is a talent management platform for libraries that helps them analyze and develop expertise. With customers in the United States, Canada, Singapore, and Australia using the software, Skilltype enables libraries, galleries, archives, and museums to use data to make more informed personnel decisions, while creating personalized learning plans for every employee. Founded in 2018, Skilltype is headquartered in New Orleans with a distributed workforce across the U.S.

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