Civic Accelerator: A platform for social entrepreneurship
Solving social problems requires innovative solutions and the 10 finalists in the Civic Accelerator program are prime examples of how engaging the public can lead to a better world. Helping promising civic ventures get off the ground, Civic Accelerator is a joint effort of nonprofit organizations Points of Light and Village Capital. The program provides an initial investment of $10,000, as well as mentoring, peer support and entrepreneurial education. Two winners will receive $50,000 in seed money.
The key to any strong community program is its people — helping them succeed as individuals and making them central to the project's success. The 10 finalists, chosen from 165 applicants, address a wide range of issues including financial literacy, democratic participation, small business financing, volunteerism, low-income housing and charitable giving. Each of these ventures galvanizes the public to act, whether by donating their time, money or deeper involvement in their communities.
For example, Generation Citizen addresses low civic participation among the nation's youth by showing them how to affect positive change in their own schools and communities. The program partners college students with high school classes to teach action-oriented civics lessons, challenging students to find issues they care about, then brainstorm solutions.
Teams from these 10 startups gathered in Atlanta for an intensive 12-week boot camp where they gained valuable knowledge, worked together with their peers, and networked. The program strengthens each venture with mentoring in critical areas like fundraising, marketing, social media and getting people engaged. The two winning ventures will be chosen by their peers.
Points of Light is a volunteer organization that helps people discover their power to drive positive change in the world and address critical needs within their communities through action networks, civic incubators and a number of specialized programs. Village Capital provides the model for the Civic Accelerator program, using the power of peer support to build enterprises that have a big impact. The Civic Accelerator program is also supported by partners PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc. and Starbucks Foundation.
S1: The Civic Accelerator is a joint venture between Points of Light and Village Capital that helps entrepreneurs successfully launch early stage, civic start ups. A civic start up is a venture that engages people at the heart of their solution. The ventures in Civic Accelerator are using breakthrough thinking in whole new models, to get to the heart of some of these really challenging issues we're facing as a society. They're grappling with how do we improve the quality of education? How do we improve access between financial resources and neighborhoods and communities.
Supporting social entrepreneurs, who are driving new breakthrough solutions, is what The Civic Accelerator's all about. Our three-month national program, includes a cohort of ten teams, both for profit and nonprofit and we'll help these start ups develop and prototype and test their business models. They have the opportunity to connect with mentors and potential partners and they receive a small seed investment. Also two of the most promising ventures receive a $50,000 investment by the end of the program.
S2: Village Capital operates business acceleration programs for early-stage entrepreneurs seeking impact all around the world. We make investments in the cohort through a radically democratic process. The entrepreneurs themselves decide who gets funding. So here in The Civic Accelerator, at the end, the entrepreneurs themselves will also be the investors. The peer investment model is critical to The Civic Accelerator, because it changes the dynamic between those with money and those with ideas. By giving entrepreneurs control over the investment process, they look at each other through the lens of an investor, which actually makes their own venture stronger.
S1: The Civic Accelerator's fortunate to have a number of corporate sponsors, that are working side by side with us, PWC Charitable Foundation, the Starbucks Foundation, PGI and so many others, that have brought their talent and their support to make this all possible. The Civic Accelerator brings together innovation, people as part of a solution, and working towards doing good, so that we are building communities and driving positive change around the world. People can find us at our website at pointsoflight.org, and we'd love for potential investors or partners or mentors to join us in this exciting work.