Accelerate accepting civic pitches

Deadline November 30 to submit ideas to improve region

Individuals who have great ideas to improve the region can submit those ideas to compete in Accelerate: Citizens Make Change, a civic pitch competition scheduled for Wednesday, February 27, 2019.

The annual competition, presented by the Cleveland Leadership Center in partnership with Citizens Bank, provides seed funding and broad exposure to help people bring their ideas to reality.

Pitch submissions are being accepted November 1-30, 2018. Any individual with an idea to improve the community can enter. Proposed ideas cannot be affiliated with an established business or nonprofit and should be for compelling, innovative and even wild ideas that address a community issue. Pitches can be for one-and-done projects or sustainable, ongoing efforts. Details and a short application can be found at

Pitches will be accepted in six categories:

  • Authentic Cleveland Experiences: Initiatives that provide residents and visitors with immersive and emotionally impressive experiences that evoke the essence of Cleveland. Sponsored by Destination Cleveland.
  • Community Change: Initiatives that make a meaningful change in people’s lives and neighborhoods. Co-sponsored by Oswald Companies and Westfield Insurance.
  • Economic & Workforce Development: Initiatives that stimulate economic growth, promote economic self-sufficiency, encourage neighborhood development or address poverty. Co-sponsored by Oatey Co. and The Lubrizol Corporation.
  • Educating for Tomorrow: Initiatives that advance pre-kindergarten through college education, including literacy, numeracy, access, readiness, and success. Sponsored by Nordson.
  • Health & Wellness: Initiatives that promote the physical and behavioral well-being of individuals and their communities. Sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic.
  • Quality of Life: Initiatives that create positive life experiences through arts, culture and social services. Co-sponsored by Cuyahoga Community College and Thompson Hine LLP.

Pitches selected for the event have a chance to win the top cash prize of $5,000, runner-up prizes of $2,000, and exposure to potential supporters.

Since 2015, individuals representing a broad diversity of age, race, gender identity, and background have submitted projects to Accelerate. Their pitches address a variety of issues, including kindergarten readiness, workforce training, STEM education, caregiving, healthy eating and exercise, career prep, neighborhood beautification, and supporting those with special needs or who represent marginalized communities. To see the impact of previous pitches, visit

“Citizens Bank is committed to strengthening the communities we serve, and what better way than to give voice to individual citizens who have great ideas to benefit the community,” said Ralph Della Ratta, Co-Chair of Accelerate 2019 and President, Citizens Bank, Ohio. “We are proud to be affiliated with Accelerate and the Leadership Center to tap the potential to make our community even better.”

Ira Kaplan, Cleveland Leadership Center Board Chair and Co-Chair of the event with Della Ratta, said the event furthers the Center’s efforts to provide experiences that engage and inspire people to transform Cleveland. “Presenters will connect not just with financial resources, but with civic leaders who can help them make things happen,” said Kaplan, who is Partner and Executive Chairman, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP.

Event details

  • What: Accelerate: Citizens Make Change, presented by Cleveland Leadership Center and Citizens Bank
  • When: Wednesday, February 27, 2019
    • 5:30 p.m. – Pitch category competition, 7:00 p.m. – Finalist competition
  • Where: Global Center for Health Innovation, 1 St. Clair Avenue NE, Cleveland, OH 44114
  • Information: Direct questions to (216) 592-2289 or
  • Twitter: #AccelerateNEO, @CitizensBank, @cleveleads
  • Facebook: @CitizensBank, @cleveleads
  • NOTE: Pitch submissions accepted November 1 – 30, 2018.

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About the Cleveland Leadership Center (CLC)

The Cleveland Leadership Center’s mission is to build a continuum of civic leaders committed to our community’s excellence by serving as a catalyst for civic engagement. The Leadership Center inspires and connects people to transform Cleveland by developing leaders of all ages through learning and community engagement opportunities.

 Media contact

  • Cleveland Leadership Center: Michael E. Bennett, Vice President of External Affairs
    Work: (216) 592-2426, Cell: (216) 408-3874,