Accelerate is the Cleveland Leadership Center’s annual civic-focused pitch competition in which contestants compete in distinctive categories for a chance to win funding to make their innovative ideas for enhancing and advancing Cleveland a reality.
The pitch categories are:
- Authentic Cleveland Experiences
- Economic Prosperity
- Health & Well-being
- Quality of Life
- Social Change
- Technovation, a separate pitch opportunity
Do you have ideas to share at Accelerate 2022? Applications are open until Friday, December 3.
Not sure where to start?
Check out the following overview of the different pitch categories — including examples of ideas that were pitched at past events.
Authentic Cleveland Experiences
Our first pitch category is all about the City of Cleveland and the experiences you may find within it. This category mainly focuses on providing visitors and residents of Cleveland with immersive and emotionally impressive experiences.
Past ideas and pitches include immersive experiences, such as a tour focused on Black History in Cleveland, a traveling art installation highlighting Clevelander’s grit and resilience, and even a rail-riding experience through Northeast Ohio’s forests and wildlife.
The second pitch category looks for ideas to strengthen the local economy, specifically by strengthening individual pathways for both employment and financial success.
Past contestants have pitched ideas ranging from teen entrepreneur pop-up shops, coding boot camps, and even a community fundraising event supporting regional charities.
The third pitch category asks the question, “What can we do to improve education in Cleveland?”
The education category looks for ideas that advance access, readiness, and success for students of all ages (Pre-K through College).
Former contestants and winners have pitched ideas from creating workshops for families to navigate the college application process, providing access to school supplies in underserved schools, to a program providing internships to young males to help address the reading achievement gap for young Black male students.
Health & Well-being
The fourth pitch category focuses on the promotion of mental health, physical health, and emotional well-being. Past Accelerate contestants have pitched ideas such as a program to promote breastfeeding among Black mothers, boxes to help youth express emotion, and even a powerlifting program for teenagers.
Quality of Life
The fifth pitch category dives into the concept of how to improve the lives of those in Cleveland. This category focuses specifically on how to improve lives through art, culture, the environment, and community involvement projects.
In this diverse category, pitches have ranged from sustainable food programs to casual music education and traveling art programs.
The final Accelerate pitch category is about social change and how your ideas can create an impact within the community.
Pitches in this category should focus on increasing equity, access, and opportunities within communities. Past ideas include a resource center for victims of violent crimes, an initiative designed to reduce assault by firearms, and a storytelling platform for conversations about diversity.
Technovation is a separate contest for ideas featuring a technology component. A $3,500 prize will be awarded to the most innovative technological idea.
Applicants may apply to pitch in one of the six categories Accelerate categories and in the Technovation competition. Applications for Accelerate and Technovation are evaluated separately.