Accelerate Winners

Pictured above, from left: Bob Sferra, Shanina Knighton, Mollie Verdier, sponsor Bernie Moreno, Chris Webb
and overall winner Matthew Fieldman. (Courtesy Photos by Turben)

Accelerate 2015: A new model for change

And the winners are ...


Just the numbers are impressive: More than 450 attendees. Twenty-five presenters chosen from 64 civic pitch submissions. Nearly 100 Host Committee members, judges and volunteers. Five finalists who shared $25,000 in prize money, plus mentorship, to make their civic visions reality.

But behind those numbers is our own civic vision becoming reality, too, as Bernie Moreno Companies and Cleveland Leadership Center hosted the inaugural Accelerate 2015 civic pitch event on February 25, 2015. The high levels of energy, excitement and passion for Cleveland will accelerate our community's postiive momentum for the future.

Five creative and innovative ideas ultimately won the civic pitch competition. But all 25 creative pitches that were judged by panels of community leaders at the event can be game-changers for the region.

The judges selected finalists during breakout sessions organized by five categories. The finalist from each category then pitched to the full audience, which voted by cell phone on the overall winner. 

Matthew Fieldman (CBB 2012) was voted overall winner for his pitch, "Cleveland Codes" in the Economic Development category. He received $5,000 and mentoring from a CLC program alum to help bring his vision to reality. The runners up are:

  • Bob Sferra, LGBT Youth Culinary Creation (Community Change).
  • Mollie Verdier, Therapals: Pay it Forward Approach to Learning (Educating for Tomorrow). 
  • Shanina Knighton, Clean Hands Means Quality of Life (Quality of Life).
  • Chris Webb, If These Walls Could Talk (Transformative Arts and Culture).

Upon annoucnement of the winner, Bernie Moreno took the stage and increased each of the four, $2,000 runner-up prizes to $5,000 each. They also will be matched with CLC alumni as mentors who can help bring their vision to reality.

The event may have concluded, but the energy it sparked will carry our community forward. You can be part of the excitement. Read details about all 25 pitches and offer your time, ideas, connections or financial resources to help them along. Here are some other ways you can accelerate Cleveland's momentum:

  • Connect to the community through CLC's program offerings. Applications for Leadership Cleveland (late-career leaders) and Cleveland Bridge Builders (mid-career professionals) are due very soon. High School and college students can connect through unique summer programs. Civic Leadership Institute is a great way to gain new knowledge and connections in a short time. Learn more and apply now.
  • If you're already an alum of a CLC program, become a Partner or renew your Partnership today. It's a great way to connect with people, places and ideas that are building our region.

The category pitch competition was sponsored by Medical Mutual of Ohio. Bernie Moreno Companies provided overall support for the pitch prizes, with additional award support from Geis Companies, MetroHealth System and RPM International Inc.

Accelerate 2015, presented by Bernie Moreno Companies, was made possible because of support from the Host Committee, judges, sponsors and media partners.

Check back on the progress of bringing these exciting civic visions to life!

See news coverage of Accelerate 2015!

     Follow the finalists   Watch our winners   See Pitch Presenters   Accelerate 2015 Supporters