Civic pitch: Applications open for eighth annual Accelerate Pitch competition

Do you have an idea that could improve Northeast Ohio? The judges at the eighth annual Citizens Make Change, a civic pitch competition presented by Cleveland Leadership Center in partnership with Citizens,want to hear your thoughts.

The annual competition provides funding and networking that bring ideas to reality. It will take place in person (health conditions permitting) on Feb. 24, 2022, in downtown Cleveland. Applications are due by Friday, Dec. 3.

The top prize winner will win $5,000 and runners-up each receive $2,000. Ideas that use technology for social good will be eligible for a $3,500 award from the Cleveland Foundation, which is supporting the Technovation Competition at Accelerate.

“For the last eight years, Accelerate has made it possible for anyone who cares about Greater Cleveland to make a difference,” president of Citizens, Ohio and co-chair of Accelerate Jim Malz said in a statement. “I invite passionate people with creative ideas to join Citizens and CLC in helping our community reach its potential.”

High school principal Sara Kidner had the winning pitch in the 2021 Accelerate competition, taking home $5,000 for her “Read Like Me" literary program  to improve literacy among young Black male students and promote teaching as a career field for Black males.

Jowan Smith, who pitched different initiatives in 2017 and 2020, says Accelerate provided her with the inspiration and courage to write and publish a children’s book.

Pitches can be for one-and-done projects or ongoing efforts. Proposed ideas cannot be affiliated with an established business or nonprofit. Pitches will be accepted in six categories:
  1. Authentic Cleveland Experiences: Providing residents and visitors with immersive and emotionally impressive experiences that evoke the essence of Cleveland.
  2. Economic Prosperity: Strengthening individual pathways for employment and financial success.
  3. Education: Advancing access, readiness, and success for pre-k through college students.
  4. Health & Well-being: Promoting the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals and their communities.
  5. Quality of Life: Improving lives through art, culture, the environment, and community improvement projects.
  6. Social Change: Increasing equity, access, and opportunities within communities
Since 2015, individuals representing a broad diversity of age, race, gender identity, and background have submitted projects to Accelerate, and they have made an impact in Northeast Ohio. Their stories and best practices can be found here. To apply for Accelerate 2022, click here.