Accelerate accepting civic pitches to Dec. 3

Anyone invited to submit ideas to improve region

Individuals with visions to improve Northeast Ohio can apply before December 3, 2021, to be part of Accelerate: Citizens Make Change, a civic pitch competition presented by Cleveland Leadership Center in partnership with Citizens.

The annual competition provides funding and networking that bring ideas to reality. It will take place in person (health conditions permitting) on February 24, 2022, in downtown Cleveland. Details and the application are at

“For the last eight years, Accelerate has made it possible for anyone who cares about Greater Cleveland to make a difference,” said Jim Malz, President of Citizens, Ohio, and Co-Chair of Accelerate. “I invite passionate people with creative ideas to join Citizens and CLC in helping our community reach its potential.”

Pitches can be for one-and-done projects or ongoing efforts. Proposed ideas cannot be affiliated with an established business or nonprofit. Pitches will be accepted in six categories:

  1. Authentic Cleveland Experiences: Providing residents and visitors with immersive and emotionally impressive experiences that evoke the essence of Cleveland.
  2. Economic Prosperity: Strengthening individual pathways for employment and financial success.
  3. Education: Advancing access, readiness, and success for pre-k through college students.
  4. Health & Well-being: Promoting the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals and their communities.
  5. Quality of Life: Improving lives through art, culture, the environment, and community improvement projects.
  6. Social Change: Increasing equity, access, and opportunities within communities

Applying to Accelerate changed the life and career trajectory for Jowan Smith, who pitched different initiatives in 2017 and 2020. “Stepping out on faith and entering this competition was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” she said. “It opened the door for so many opportunities. I now have my own educational consulting firm and an amazing nonprofit, 1,000 Ties. It also gave me the courage to write and publish my first children’s book.”

The top prize winner will win $5,000, and runners-up each receive $2,000. Ideas that use technology for social good will be eligible for a $3,500 award from the Cleveland Foundation, which is supporting a Technovation Competition at Accelerate.

Other event sponsors include Destination Cleveland, Growth Opps, KJK, Lubrizol, MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network, Burton D. Morgan Foundation, Nordson, The NRP Group, Oatey, Oswald Companies, Thompson Hine, and Westfield.

Since 2015, individuals representing a broad diversity of age, race, gender identity, and background have submitted projects to Accelerate. Their impact can be found at

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Media contact: Michael E. Bennett, Vice President of External Affairs
Work: (216) 592-2426, Cell: (216) 408-3874,