How it works

Applicants are selected to pitch in one of six categories and a panel of judges drawn from community leaders select one finalist in each category. The six finalists pitch again to the full audience, which votes on the winner. The winner receives $5,000 and the remaining five finalists each receive $2,000 to help bring their ideas to life.

Click on the tabs below to learn more about the event.

See the 2021 presenters’ ideas and pitches >

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Additional details coming this fall. Click on the tabs above to learn more about the event.

Thank you to our category sponsors:

  • Destination Cleveland
  • Nordson
  • Thompson Hine
  • Westfield

Anyone with an idea to improve the Greater Cleveland community can apply. Proposed ideas cannot be affiliated with an established organization or business.

Application & Selection
Applicants submit proposals to pitch their idea at the event via an online form, through which you’ll address each of the following areas in 250 words or less.

  • A description of the initiative.
  • The community issue it addresses.
  • How it will benefit the community.
  • Why you are passionate about the issue.
  • How you will know if the initiative is successful.
  • How the prize money would help you achieve your goals.

An independent panel of reviewers selects 30 proposals (five from each category) to be presented at the event based on:

  • Potential for community impact and advancing NE Ohio.
  • How unique, creative and innovative the initiative is.
  • A realistic implementation plan that would be aided by the prize money.

Those selected have up to five minutes to pitch at the event.

Applications for Accelerate 2022 will open on November 1, 2021.

Authentic Cleveland Experiences
Providing residents and visitors with immersive and emotionally impressive experiences that evoke the essence of Cleveland.

Economic Prosperity
Strengthening individual pathways for employment and financial success.

Advancing access, readiness, and success for pre-k through college students.

Health & Well-being
Promoting the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals and their communities.

Quality of Life
Improving lives through art, culture, the environment, and community improvement projects.

Social Change
Increasing equity, access, and opportunities within communities.

See the 2021 presenters and watch their pitches >

Catch up with past Accelerate participants and hear how their ideas are coming to life and creating positive change.

  • 2021 Host Committee


    The Host Committee helps make Accelerate possible.

    A $350 Host donation included access to virtual Accelerate pre- and post-events, and a swag bag to enjoy along with the virtual competition. Donations at $500 and $1,000 received additional virtual admissions, as well as provided additional financial support to make the event possible.

    Become a host >


Updates from past presenters >