Today, the world faces increasingly complex social problems with limited financial resources. Most traditional institutions – government, business and nonprofit – have to do more with less, creating a growing demand for engaging people in problem solving. To solve today’s complex problems, we need breakthrough ideas that are scalable, leverage technology and engage people in new and different ways.
Fortunately, entrepreneurs are stepping up to the plate. People are interested in solving social issues in new ways with 60 million Americans saying they care about the social and environmental impact of products, and a developing market with $2.7 trillion in capital focused on social impact investing. However, the lack of infrastructure, access to capital and support services makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to launch ambitious ventures. As a result, innovative ideas often dissipate before becoming real and meaningful solutions.
Enter the Civic Accelerator. To help ensure social entrepreneurs are armed with the resources they need to succeed, Points of Light launched the Civic Accelerator, in partnership with Village Capital and with funding from the PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc. and Starbucks Foundation. Civic Accelerator is the first start-up accelerator focused on “civic ventures” – enterprises that inspire, equip and mobilize people to create positive change.
The group recently graduated its first class of civic ventures. After completing an intensive 12-week boot camp focused on mentoring, peer support, networking and funding, two of the 10 participating start-ups were selected by their peers as the most promising and investment-ready ventures. Generation Citizen, a nonprofit aiming to revolutionize civics education and build a new generation of youth activists equipped to create change, and UBELONG, a for-profit that matches individuals with high-impact, international service opportunities, walked away with $50,000 investments. The other eight participating start-ups walked away with $10,000 investments.
The program will be run with a combination of in-person time in three cities across the United States (Atlanta, Washington DC, and one other) and lots of virtual time together, with our entrepreneurs back in your home locations. Along the way, multiple public events will give you a forum to promote your enterprise and gain support.
Eligibility for the program.
To be eligible, ventures must be US-based and in the startup phase and less than 5 years old (i.e., beyond the idea stage but before scale-up). For-profits and non-profits alike are welcome to apply! The ideal applicant’s venture will address a social or community problem by leveraging people as part of your solution. Ventures’ founding teams should be comprised of at least two members, and at least one member must be able to attend all three Civic Accelerator sessions and attend each weekly virtual meeting. There is also a $45 application fee. You will be directed to a Paypal site after completing the on-line application form. Failure to pay this application fee will result in disqualification from further consideration.
Civic Accelerator is accepting applications for its next cohort through March 18. Early stage start-ups that achieve a social mission by engaging people to drive the change can apply here.