How Accelerate works

The following pitches will take place in each of the six Accelerate categories. A panel of judges drawn from community leaders will select one finalist in each category. The six finalists will pitch a second time to the full event audience which will vote on the winner. The overall winner will take home $5,000, the finalists from the remaining five categories will each get $2,000 to help bring their ideas to life.

For the Technovation competition, a panel of judges will select the Technovation winner who will receive $3,500.

Learn more >

The 2022 presenters

Click on each of the tabs below to learn more about the presenters and their ideas.

  • Authentic Cleveland Experiences

    Authentic Cleveland Experiences is presented in partnership with Destination Cleveland and KJK. 

    LI: Michael Bustamante

    Connecting Cleveland is an interactive traveling diversity and inclusion exhibit that aims to spark a lifelong journey of cultural humility. The exhibit will foster empathy and connection by guiding attendees through a self-examination journey exploring intrapersonal and interpersonal social beliefs, cultural identities, and diversity, equity, and inclusion topics.

    The project seeks to unite traditional exhibition elements with more immersive and self-reflective activities through virtual and/or augmented reality that engage participants in perspective-taking.

    The exhibit will be hosted by organizations that support historically marginalized and underrepresented communities, as well as organizations seeking innovative ways to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within their enterprises.

    My Why
    “I have more than ten years of dynamic experience working at non-profit and community-based organizations, government offices, and higher education institutions. I hold a master’s degree in cross-cultural studies with concentrations in ethnic/racial and women, gender, and sexuality studies. I am deeply passionate about diversity and inclusion, and am a firm believer that intercultural exchange aids in fostering understanding and appreciation.”


    LI: JT Thomas  |  FB: JT Thomas

    Great Lakes Hall of Fame will be the ‘Transformative Hub’ in Cleveland’s lakefront that highlights and celebrates people and organizations that have helped shape and grow the Great Lakes region from the Past, Present, and Future.

    Connecting NE Ohio’s rich history with the new proposed Airport, Rock Hall, Science Center, with branding/events unlocking a new billion-dollar industry in tourism/entertainment creating thousands of new jobs.

    Four divisions…
    Creating TV bio content and business and educational forums, (awards shows, podcasts), and 3D printing merchandise.

    Potential inductees include: Rockefeller, Steve Harvey, Halle Berry, Peter B. Lewis, Garrett Morgan, Russo Brothers, Michael Symon, Dolans, Sherwin Williams, and Goodyear, etc.

    My Why
    As the former official Rock Hall videographer for 10 years and producer of syndicated TV programs for New York Big Media TV airing in 30 countries around the world and traveling and covering these events throughout the U.S. and internationally, that light-bulb went off and I saw what was missing in Cleveland lakefront entertainment and airport branding. Enter the ‘Great Lakes Hall of Fame District.’ Unlocking a new billion-dollar industry in the entertainment and tourist industry creates thousands of jobs while also enhancing the other lakefront entities.

  • Economic Prosperity

    Economic Prosperity is presented in partnership with Lubrizol and MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network.

    IG: @alyshalellis  + @ignitewithlight  | FB: @IgniteWithLight  |  TW: @alyshalellis

    IGNITE with Light is a collaborative partnership to strengthen the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem by connecting business leaders and entrepreneurs with local organizations and collegiate groups that support and serve small businesses and entrepreneurs.

    The focus will specifically be to create pathways of equitable opportunities for minority and youth/student owned businesses and entrepreneurs by connecting them to information, resources, education, and capital.

    IGNITE with Light will establish spaces for creators, entrepreneurs, and innovators to connect through in-person and virtual opportunities, such as: a bi-annual one-stop-shop event, networking meetups, workshops, social media, and digital connectivity to the ecosystem.

    My Why
    “My entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to seeing the community and city healthy from all aspects of life has driven me over the years. I believe by creating spaces for us to unite and amplify our voices we ultimately unlock our fullest potential, discover our purpose, and strategically build together. I chose to pitch at Accelerate because we are making a sustainable and positive impact in our city and region.”


    LI: India Hobbs

    Inner City Trades is an initiative to increase social equity, opportunities, access to capital, and sustainability for members of underserved communities by providing them the knowledge and access to earn income through trading stocks.

    The program will teach community members essential stock knowledge terms and strategies that leverage tools readily available, such as their cell phone, to help them build a basic trade portfolio.

    Inner City Trades will provide citizens with the necessary tools and resources to create additional streams of income which will ultimately lead to increased well-being, sustainability, and community value and equity.

    My Why
    “I believe in being the change you want to see in the community. I am a compassionate thought leader and lover of all things, and love inspiring change and giving back to the community. I enjoy nature, animals and walks along the lakeshore, and spending time with my family and helping children.”


    NEO Summit for Design Business Acceleration is a multi-day design symposium to attract new businesses to Cleveland across various design industries, such as automotive, graphic, advertising, materials, furnishings, theatre, and fashion, etc. By bringing industry leaders from the top 200-300 firms in the world to Cleveland for the symposium, these businesses and professionals would be introduced to the character and quality of Cleveland and its institutions. The goal is to leverage our region’s existing resources as incentive for these leaders to see Cleveland as a place to expand and enhance their growth and success.

    My Why
    “I am an architect, educator, and local politician. I retired from a large architectural firm in 2012 to pursue the application of my skills, knowledge, and experience for the benefit of the community. Therefore, I discovered architects don’t retire, they redesign. In this regard, I am committed to making Cleveland a leading community in accelerating its place as a global center for design and manufacturing.

    Design is the vehicle that is critical to controlling our destiny and expanding our manufacturing base. As a creative person, I understand the nexus between developing the product and then producing it. Cleveland has resources fundamental to this endeavor. My motivation is to be part of the policy and promotional effort to bring this to the region. My proposal is based upon a strategy that can result in a game changing trajectory for greater Cleveland.”


    IG: @thejackieoshow  |  LI: Jackie Oh  |  TW: @thejackieohshow1  |  WEB: Jackie-O show archives

    The Jackie-O Show is a talk and live reporting event show that highlights the economic and social initiatives across NEO. The show would tell Cleveland’s story to boost social morale and confidence throughout the region and to brand Cleveland “abroad” as a favorable and likable place to live and work.

    Currently run under ALC-TV, the City of Avon Lake’s public access cable channel, “The Jackie-O Show,” reports on topics such as mayoral races and voter issues, community events and celebrations, business initiatives, and social issues. The goal is to establish The Jackie-O Show, LLC and move the show from a voluntary platform to a for-profit enterprise.

    My Why

    “I am a joyful, adventurous, and outgoing community television talk show host, reporter and producer at ALC-TV in Avon Lake, Ohio. I am a lover of new experiences, of travel, and of championing others to “reach for the stars.” Jackie Oh’s talk shows have won awards at the Philo Festival of Media Arts, and I chose to pitch to Accelerate 2022 in order to turn a dream into a reality by helping to put Cleveland on the map in the TV and film industry!

  • Education

    Education is presented in partnership with Nordson.

    Cleveland Youth 4 Youth Mentoring teaches youth (ages 8-18) skills in research, advocacy, photography, and other forms of visual storytelling as an essential strategy for tackling inequities for our youth. These skills allow them to collect information on issues affecting their lives, health, and well-being, to create a platform to meaningfully express their voices, and to empower them to address the issues they face.

    One such example is a 2019-2020 Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) project in which African American youth in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood collected data on the health and well-being of young people in their community.

    Our Why
    Symphony: “I am a 20-year-old African American LGBTQ+ Female. I am currently attending Cuyahoga Community College for music performance, and I heavily identify as a nerd. I am looking forward to presenting because as a minority, I can see how certain things that others may not see as a privilege can get overlooked as something that should be an equal opportunity.”

    Alexis: “I am a 19-year-old non-binary African American. I currently attend Cuyahoga Community College for Psychology. I think of myself as an introvert and I love music. I am looking forward to presenting because I believe our ideas can have a great impact on the education of kids in Cleveland.”


    FB: @BHDaycare

    Mobile Sensory Bus is a project to convert a 23-passenger bus into a mobile sensory experience for students who receive weekly therapy for autism spectrum disorders. The bus would provide space for exploration through Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy and would be a one-on-one experience for the children with an ABA therapist.

    My Why
    “I have been in early care and education for 20+ years. Bedford Heights Daycare has been serving families for 48 years, over 3,000 children and 1,500 parents! We chose to pitch to Accelerate because we have an amazing platform that will help our children on the Autism Spectrum and many other schools in Northeast Ohio.”


    IG: @brightsideedu  | LI: Marina Palomino-Bach  |  FB: @BrightSidePartners 

    We Teach CLE is an initiative to establish and grow a statewide network of National Board-Certified educators who can serve as guides, mentors, and coaches for the educational system. These experts would provide consistent, virtual, and multimodal mentoring, coaching, and other professional learning opportunities to educators, especially those in high-need schools. These experiences would be supplemented with additional in-person region-specific curriculum development, networking, and programming opportunities.

    We Teach CLE would foster deep and lasting professional growth, combat inequitable education and the teacher retention crisis, and improve educational outcomes by empowering educators, especially those serving previously under-supported schools and districts.

    My Why
    “I believe great teachers know great teaching. As a mom, teacher, and engaged citizen, I hope to create a space where all of the great educators across Northeast Ohio and beyond can learn from and further develop with one another – especially as we enter a new era of educational reform. Because families across the city, state, country, and world send their young people to us every single day – and they deserve nothing less.”


    IG: @peoples_purse  | LI: Samuel Thompson 

    The People’s Purse is an innovative educational and social change web platform that informs middle and high school students within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District about the various governmental departments, empowers them to vote on a “proposed federal budget,” and encourages them to take civic action in their community.

    The web application is complemented by a curriculum component designed to facilitate learning within and outside of the classroom by prompting discussion on different public issues and encouraging action.

    The project also promotes equity in the discussion around tax policy by addressing knowledge gaps regarding government spending.

    My Why
    “My why is to educate, empower, and inspire the next generation of citizens to learn about the functions of their governing bodies; to foster connections between future citizens and civic leaders; and lastly to promote civic actions within learner’s communities.”


    LI: Shane Winnyk + Courtney Smith

    Grayter Cleveland aims to increase the number of People of Color and women in STEM careers, particularly the tech field, by pairing a Black employee and a White employee together to give brief presentations in schools (remotely or in-person) about what it’s like to work in technology.

    These presentations provide students with an example of someone who looks like them, and someone who doesn’t, working together in a field that requires an interest and acumen in STEM. The program is designed to interest students in STEM and technology, as well as demonstrate that we’re better together.

    Our Why
    “Over two decades, our work together has ranged from human services to technology. The presentation of our Grayter Cleveland idea is a culmination of our experiences, our friendship, our lessons, our failures, our successes, relationships, and resilience. All for the benefit of the next generation, who they hope to inspire to work together, no matter their differences.”

  • Health & Well-being

    Health & Well-being is presented in partnership with Construction Employers Association and Oatey Co.

    Stand UPP for Mental Health promotes mental and physical health and well-being for youth ages 10-19 through stand-up paddle (SUP) boarding. The program teaches teenagers (ages 15-19) to stand-up paddle and develops skills that promote physical and mental wellness. Younger youth (ages 10-14) are paired with these teen mentors who teach them how to SUP and share the skills they learned for developing their physical and mental well-being.

    The program includes weekly SUP boarding at various Metroparks locations, and a curriculum focused on health, mindfulness, body awareness, and social and emotional skills, as well as training in CPR, swimming, and lifesaving.

    Our Why
    “We are a husband and wife team, Cleveland Residents, and a psychologist/paramedic duo. Our jobs are full of exposure to stress and trauma and stand-up paddleboarding has brought us together from the start as a couple and continues to be the way we decompress and support each other. We want to share this passion to support the mental health and well-being of young people in our community.”


    Project C.H.A.N.C.E. (Choosing Health Awareness Never Choosing Epilepsy) offers emotional support to children ages 5-14 living with epilepsy and to their parents through virtual and in-person engagement events and creates ongoing support groups.

    My Why
    Alesia: “I’m a mother, philanthropist, author, and student of life. I chose to pitch at Accelerate to involve my daughter, Amari, in life changing efforts. I want her to understand the importance of turning her trials into triumphs and being a light to others. We both enjoy giving back to the community and networking so an opportunity like this is the perfect fit.”


    IG: @bee_awesome1  | LI: Amalia Haas  |  FB: @Bee.Awesome1

    Bee Brave aims to help youth understand and deal with anxiety by engaging them in what is an anxiety provoking activity for most – beekeeping. The program teaches participants to remain centered in the presence of anxiety as they move through the complex steps of hive assessment. Participants learn to be increasingly focused and capable while examining a hive and come to understand that they can ‘bee brave’ and apply these skills to other complex challenges in their lives.

    My Why
    “Accelerate is a platform to raise awareness about initiatives that can heal and strengthen our city. Cleveland thrives when every individual in our city is able to move with courage toward their dreams, even in the presence of their anxiety. My project trains participants to be in right relationship to their anxiety, noting it but not letting it run the show. When Clevelanders practice this skill on the bees, they can apply it to other areas of their lives, and our community will benefit.”


    IG: @raisekings  |  WEB: 5pillarsinc.org

    5 Pillars INC is a program designed to help young Black boys ages 9-13 develop an overall sense of wellness – mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially – through an afterschool program. The program is designed to give hard-working parents a well-developed and emotionally managed child through anger management exercises, life skills courses, sports skills, and games that support financial literacy.

    My Why
    “I’m an inspiring actor turned non-profit director who’s realized that my best role in society is to take my lessons in life and help the youth of today.”


    IG: @ericatiptonart  |  FB: ericatiptonartist  |  TW: @ericatiptonart

    If children are the future, mothers are the foundation of it.

    The Write to Heal is a support group for mothers struggling with addiction and mental health issues that aims to change their mindset from being the victim to being the survivor through art and journaling.

    This project will create a safe place for mothers to find their worth, share their stories, and finally be heard. It will help mothers find a way to better themselves and provide closure to their children in real time, in their own words, building compassion and potentially breaking the cycle in which, many children tend to get lost.

    My Why
    “There is a divine purpose in all of us. I believe this is mine.”

  • Quality of Life

    Quality of Life is presented in partnership with Growth Opps and Thompson Hine.

    IG: @chardon5057

    Home Won Foundation International will mass produce tiny houses to serve as transitional housing, initially for the homeless, veterans and ex-offenders, and eventually for domestic violence victims, aged out foster youth, and those under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    The communities will serve as a hub of local resources and programs, such as financial literacy. They will include outdoor spaces that encourage residents to spend time outside being active and will be monitored by drone security.

    The goal is to eliminate blight by using vacant lots, save landfills by using recycled materials, and solve the housing crisis, addressing three problems at once.

    My Why
    “I am a two time graduate of EDWINS Restaurant & Leadership Institute. I was a civil engineer in the USAF and am now a Bricklayer Local 5. I love Cleveland.”


    Lake Erie Action Days (LEAD) is a community-corporate matchmaking and environmental responsibility program that empowers business, communities, and employees to reduce litter and improve the water quality of the lake.

    LEAD recruits and coordinates volunteers from businesses that want to grow and expand their social and environmental responsibility to assist communities and organizations with neighborhood cleanups.

    Through these efforts, single-use plastic contamination in the sewer and water systems is reduced and Lake Erie’s water quality is improved, the communities can take pride in their streets, and employees can feel like they made a tangible difference in the community.

    My Why
    “I am a case and project manager who helps young adults connect with employers and job training programs. I believe that the future of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County is in empowering people to improve their communities and neighborhoods in ways that matter to them. I have an associates degree in Business Administration from Eastern Gateway Community College and a BA from Edinboro University in Political Science. I am a Cleveland Leadership Center alumnus and presented at the 2019 Accelerate Competition.”


    Second Chance is a revolutionary start-up recycling tracking service developed using an expansive database of UPC and QR product codes that informs consumers of the recycling status of an item based on the regulations of their area. Through a sophisticated app, consumers can learn all they need to know about recycling policy, pick-up date changes, their personal/municipality’s greenness rating, staying sustainable, and keeping their carbon footprint as low as possible.

    Our Why
    “We are students at Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights. Over the past few years we’ve become incredibly aware of the challenges that face our school and local communities when it comes to recycling. Our planet is struggling and we think we can help and we love that Accelerate can give us the opportunity to spread awareness about this real issue and the solution we have.”


    LI: Gelise L. Thomas  |  FB: Learn-to-Play-CLE-108058315050515  |  TW: @LearntoPlayCLE

    “I always wanted to learn how to play an instrument…” Have you ever heard someone say that before? Learn to Play CLE will connect people who want to learn to play an instrument (or revisit an old one) with intergenerational music instructors. Instruments will be provided to those who make a one-year commitment to lessons and practice. Learn to Play CLE will ensure seamless connection to resources to access internet and an electronic device capable of asynchronous and synchronous audiovisual interaction.

    The Learn to Play CLE app will allow trainees to practice fundamentals, receive automated correction, and learn music theory between live lessons. The app will also facilitate community-building where people can learn and play together.

    My Why
    “I love people, shared experiences, and learning. My experience with music performance on flute – from grade school through adulthood – provided a blueprint for what positive energy channeling could look like. I am pitching at Accelerate because I saw an opportunity to share the idea that we can all find outlets, like playing a musical instrument, to help improve our quality of life.”


    IG: @queeniamcrown_  | FB: @Iamqueencrown

    Queen in Quarantine provides creative, fun, and engaging opportunities for young ladies ages 7-17 through a curriculum centered around four core themes: financial literacy, college and career readiness, health and wellness, and service learning.

    Workshops, hosted in collaboration with women throughout the city, are designed to teach young queens their value and self-worth through interactive, engaging activities. These workshops provide young ladies a space where they are exposed to opportunities that spike curiosity and creativity, and where they are respected and appreciated for being who they are.

    My Why
    “I founded Queen IAM in 2016 to empower, enrich and educate young ladies everywhere by promoting and encouraging self-love, self-respect, and self-understanding. Queen IAM’s goal is to encourage young queens to know their self-worth, so they will grow into strong, confident, and beautiful women. I decided to step out on faith and pitch at Accelerate to share with Cleveland more of Queen IAM’s goals of exposing young ladies to future possibilities while supporting and guiding young queens through the daily challenges of being a young lady.

    I am a Graduate of the Neighborhood Leadership Development Program and was recently awarded the Outstanding Young Adult Philanthropist award from Soul of Philanthropy, Cleveland. A live exhibit of my contributions and efforts to the community is located in the Cleveland Public Library main branch.”

  • Social Change

    Social Change is presented in partnership with Oswald Companies & Westfield.

    Healthy Communities Collaborative aims to unite past, present, and future youth focused Accelerate projects under one umbrella and build a community where all children have access to programs needed to be healthy, happy, and flourish. This centralized system will not only help match students with the diverse programs they need but also collectively address common barriers such as access to funding, resources, and facilities.

    Under this umbrella, students will participate in Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR), where older youth (14-18) will mentor younger youth (8-13) through tutoring, sports, arts, and music programs in a safe and secure environment; ultimately aiding their social-emotional growth.

    Our Why
    “We are serial volunteers and have noticed a pattern with Accelerate pitches that focus on youth. Many of the programs have great impact, yet little sustainability. Through our Youth Participatory Action Research programming we have seen the amazing potential in our youth while experiencing first-hand the difficulties of navigating the systems alone. We hope to create a collaborative that allows us to build on our strengths and develop pathways for change and sustainability.”


    LI: Benjamin Colas

    Ascend is a unique benefit employers can offer employees to assist them in their parenting journey through coaching, consulting, and resources so they can thrive as parents and employees.

    Employees receive customized coaching around academics/schooling, child development, and proven ways to foster attachment, security, and build lifelong memories.

    Ascend will start by serving local nonprofits that have challenges competing with the private sector for employees. Ascend will help employees feel more supported as individuals and empowered as parents, reduce the stress that gets brought into the job, and provide children with greater opportunities and the support needed to lay the foundation for success.

    My Why
    “There’s no role as rewarding (or challenging) as being a parent. Between the pandemic, Great Resignation, and new models of schooling and learning, the opportunity and need to support parents has never been greater. As a parent and former educator and education entrepreneur, I look forward to sharing my vision for Cleveland employers to serve as a model of what good looks like in supporting employees to thrive as they raise their children.”


    IG: @jikooparks  |  TW: @JikooParks

    Intended to mimic the Metroparks, but on a smaller scale, Jikoo is a system of public spaces developed into “smart parks.” Each park provides a unique and full outdoor experience, as well as wireless high-speed public internet, and amenities like solar/wind/kinetic energy, projectors/screens/monitors, charging stations, etc. The parks will be developed on vacant lots in neighborhoods that have typically been neglected by development and investment. Lots will either be purchased or donated from the land bank.

    My Why
    I’m a technologist and creative that’s been focused on digital justice. I’ve spent the last 10yrs, or so, working to lower the bar to entry for innovation and technology and help bring “cool stuff” to neighborhoods that typically don’t get it. I’m hoping this pitch to Accelerate helps bridge the digital divide, brings cool stuff to Cleveland’s communities, and helps foster equitable development.”


    LI: Lynn Tramonte | FB: @lynn.delabarrera | TW: @tramontela

    #ReuniteUS connects people who were deported from Ohio during the previous Presidential administration (or pre-emptively left before likely deportation) with volunteers to bring Ohioans back home. The project includes a WhatsApp group, immigration case database, and publicity campaign. A legal team is being developed.

    #ReuniteUS wants to create a YouTube channel that broadcasts videos from deported individuals and their loved ones regularly. The videos will feature people sharing messages about their lives and hopes for returning to the U.S. Viewers will have a window into people’s pain as well as the beautiful moments, like when someone finally comes home. Participants will receive small stipends.

    My Why
    “Ohioans’ lives are uprooted by inhumane U.S. immigration policies every day—and no one talks about it! Abolishing systems that were created to protect white supremacy must include overhauling the current immigration legal framework.

    Deportation is an EXTREME consequence for a civil infraction. I am bringing #ReuniteUS to Accelerate to get this issue on your minds and in your mouths. Join us in demanding a right to return for people who were deported, and a reset to the way our government carries out immigration law.”

  • Technovation

    Technovation is presented in partnership with the Cleveland Foundation.

    LI: Michael Bustamante

    Connecting Cleveland is an interactive traveling diversity and inclusion exhibit that aims to spark a lifelong journey of cultural humility. The exhibit will foster empathy and connection and unite cultures by guiding attendees through a self-examination journey exploring intrapersonal and interpersonal beliefs and cultural identities.

    The project seeks to unite traditional exhibition elements with more immersive and self-reflective activities through virtual and/or augmented reality that engage participants in perspective-taking.

    The exhibit will be hosted by organizations that support historically marginalized and underrepresented communities, as well as organizations seeking innovative ways to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within their enterprises.

    My Why
    “I have more than ten years of dynamic experience working at non-profit and community-based organizations, government offices, and higher education institutions. I hold a master’s degree in cross-cultural studies with concentrations in ethnic/racial and women, gender, and sexuality studies. I am deeply passionate about diversity and inclusion, and am a firm believer that intercultural exchange aids in fostering understanding and appreciation.”

    Michael is also pitching in the Authentic Cleveland Experiences category.


    IG: @alyshalellis  + @ignitewithlight  | FB: @IgniteWithLight  |  TW: @alyshalellis

    IGNITE with Light is a collaborative partnership to strengthen the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem by connecting business leaders and entrepreneurs with local organizations and collegiate groups that support and serve small businesses and entrepreneurs.

    The focus will specifically be to create pathways of equitable opportunities for minority and youth/student owned businesses and entrepreneurs by connecting them to information, resources, education, and capital.

    IGNITE with Light will establish spaces for creators, entrepreneurs, and innovators to connect through in-person and virtual opportunities, such as: a bi-annual one-stop-shop event, networking meetups, workshops, social media, and digital connectivity to the ecosystem.

    My Why
    “My entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to seeing the community and city healthy from all aspects of life has driven me over the years. I believe by creating spaces for us to unite and amplify our voices we ultimately unlock our fullest potential, discover our purpose, and strategically build together. I chose to pitch at Accelerate because we are making a sustainable and positive impact in our city and region.”

    Alysha is also pitching in the Economic Prosperity category.


    IG: @jikooparks  |  TW: @JikooParks

    Intended to mimic the Metroparks, but on a smaller scale, Jikoo is a system of public spaces developed into “smart parks.” Each park provides a unique and full outdoor experience, as well as wireless high-speed public internet, and amenities like solar/wind/kinetic energy, projectors/screens/monitors, charging stations, etc. The parks will be developed on vacant lots in neighborhoods that have typically been neglected by development and investment. Lots will either be purchased or donated from the land bank.

    My Why
    I’m a technologist and creative that’s been focused on digital justice. I’ve spent the last 10yrs, or so, working to lower the bar to entry for innovation and technology and help bring “cool stuff” to neighborhoods that typically don’t get it. I’m hoping this pitch to Accelerate helps bridge the digital divide, brings cool stuff to Cleveland’s communities, and helps foster equitable development.”

    Adam is also pitching in the Social Change category.


    Second Chance is a revolutionary start-up recycling tracking service developed using an expansive database of UPC and QR product codes that informs consumers of the recycling status of an item based on the regulations of their area. Through a sophisticated app, consumers can learn all they need to know about recycling policy, pick up date changes, their personal/municipality’s greenness rating, staying sustainable, and keeping their carbon footprint as low as possible.

    Our Why
    “We are students at Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights. Over the past few years we’ve become incredibly aware of the challenges that face our school and local communities when it comes to recycling. Our planet is struggling and we think we can help and we love that Accelerate can give us the opportunity to spread awareness about this real issue and the solution we have.”

    Marianne and Lauren are also pitching in the Quality of Life category.


    LI: Gelise L. Thomas  |  FB: Learn-to-Play-CLE-108058315050515  |  TW: @LearntoPlayCLE

    “I always wanted to learn how to play an instrument…” Have you ever heard someone say that before? Learn to Play CLE will connect people who want to learn to play an instrument (or revisit an old one) with intergenerational music instructors. Instruments will be provided to those who make a one-year commitment to lessons and practice. Learn to Play CLE will ensure seamless connection to resources to access internet and an electronic device capable of asynchronous and synchronous audiovisual interaction.

    The Learn to Play CLE app will allow trainees to practice fundamentals, receive automated correction, and learn music theory between live lessons. The app will also facilitate community-building where people can learn and play together.

    My Why
    “I love people, shared experiences, and learning. My experience with music performance on flute – from grade school through adulthood – provided a blueprint for what positive energy channeling could look like. I am pitching at Accelerate because I saw an opportunity to share the idea that we can all find outlets, like playing a musical instrument, to help improve our quality of life.”

    Gelise is also pitching in the Quality of Life category.