How it works

Twenty five applicants are selected and five in each of the pitch categories present before event attendees and a panel of judges drawn from community leaders. The judges select one finalist in each category. The five finalists take the main stage to pitch their ideas to the combined audience, which votes on the winner. The winner receives $5,000 and the remaining four finalists each receive $2,000 to help bring their ideas to life.

Pitch Categories

Community Change
In partnership with Oswald Companies and Westfield Insurance Foundation
Initiatives that make a meaningful change in people’s lives and neighborhoods.

Economic & Workforce Development
In partnership with Oatey Co.
Initiatives that stimulate economic growth, promote economic self-sufficiency, encourage neighborhood development or address poverty.

Educating for Tomorrow
In partnership with Nordson
Initiatives that advance pre-kindergarten through college education, including literacy, numeracy, access, readiness and success.

Health & Wellness
In partnership with Cleveland Clinic
Initiatives that promote the health of individuals and communities by addressing access, lifestyle and recreation.

Quality of Life
In partnership with Cuyahoga Community College and Thompson Hine LLP
Initiatives that create positive life experiences through arts, culture and social services.

Special thanks to Jumpstart, Inc. for helping to accelerate past presenters’ projects. 

  • Eligibility, Applications & Selection


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

    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 25 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. Pitch applications for Accelerate 2018 will open November 1, 2017.

Get inspired and apply!

Accelerate provides not only the chance to win money to help launch your idea, it also provides a unique opportunity to network with top leaders and community members who may have connections or resources to help your idea take flight.

Still not sure if you should apply? Check out last year’s ideas, read about some of the advancements past Accelerate presenters have made, and watch Jeremy Langham’s winning 2017 pitch below. You can see the other four 2017 finalists’ pitches, as well as pitches from past years on CLC’s YouTube Accelerate playlist.

Accelerate 2018 will take place on Wednesday, February 21 at the Global Center for Health Innovation. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for event updates and alerts when applications open.