How it works

Thirty 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 six 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.

Accelerate takes place in February each year. Follow CLC on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for event updates.

Accelerate 2019 will take place on February 27. Applications will be open from November 1 – 30, 2018.

Pitch Categories

Authentic Cleveland Experiences
In partnership with Destination Cleveland
Initiatives that provide residents and visitors with immersive and emotionally impressive experiences that evoke the essence of Cleveland.

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. and The Lubrizol Corporation
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 physical and behavioral well-being of individuals and their communities.

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.

Get a feel for the event and see its impact:

  • Eligibility, Applications & Selection


    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 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.

    Applications for Accelerate 2019 will be open from November 1 – 30, 2018.