Accelerate: More Than Just Prize Money

Each fall, Clevelanders can submit innovative ideas in one of six categories at Accelerate, the Cleveland Leadership Center’s annual pitch competition. Finalists are then chosen to pitch in front of a panel of judges at the Accelerate event in February, presented in partnership with Citizens

At the event, a winner is chosen to receive $5,000 to fund their initiative; the remaining finalists receive $2,000 each.

Accelerate is about much more than the prize money, however.

Past presenters and other participants have been surprised to find out how extensive and beneficial the entire process of Accelerate is from application to the event and long after. Finalists receive a tremendous amount of support, professional development, and additional networking opportunities. 

Preparing to Pitch: Training Sessions

Leading up to Accelerate, presenters are given the opportunity to take part in three separate training sessions to help them prepare to pitch in front of an audience:

  1. The first training session covers the basics of creating a prize-worthy presentation.
  2. The next is a practice pitch session where the presenters will receive feedback from local leaders and entrepreneurship students to refine their pitch. 
  3. The last training session is a “how-to” on being a dynamic presenter.

Shining a Light: Promoting Ideas

Once selected, presenters are promoted across social media, the Cleveland Leadership Center blog, and various local media outlets. The goal is to not only build awareness and excitement for the February event, but also for the presenters’ ideas. 

Something as simple as a LinkedIn post or as involved as a television interview can connect the presenter to potential supporters and important contacts across Northeast Ohio and beyond.

The Big Event: Connections, Collaboration & Support

Besides competing for the coveted $5,000 prize, Accelerate gives presenters the opportunity to have their ideas heard by hundreds of local leaders, which can then lead to connections, resources, and other funding — regardless of the outcome.

There are seemingly unlimited chances to network with other idea leaders and influencers at the event which can lead to alternative and/or additional sources of collaboration and support. 

Get Started: Apply to Pitch

Above are just a few past presenters who took advantage of the many opportunities that Accelerate offers. Why not add your name to the list?

If you have an innovative idea for Cleveland, submit your application to pitch today. What happens next could make your idea a reality in more ways than one.