Who is eligible for the Civic Accelerator Program?

The Civic Accelerator is seeking applications from early stage for-profit and nonprofit ventures who are increasing the financial well-being and economic mobility of underserved populations.

Who is behind the Civic Accelerator program?

The Points of Light Civic Accelerator was founded with support from the PwC Charitable Foundation and the Starbucks Foundation, in partnership with Village Capital. Program sponsorship provided by Capital One, U.S. Small Business Administration, Vodafone Americas Foundation, Hilton Worldwide, Dentons and Singing for Change.

What is the relationship between Points of Light and Village Capital?

Both Points of Light and Village Capital are separate, stand-alone 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organizations. We have a shared mission around supporting social entrepreneurs which brought us together to launch the Civic Accelerator program.

Does the Civic Accelerator support both for-profit and nonprofit ventures?

Yes. We are agnostic to legal structure and instead focus on the mission and impact that a social enterprise can have on the world.

What are the terms for the $50,000 peer investment program?

At the conclusion of the Civic Accelerator program, two teams will be selected to receive $50,000 investments each, with the decision being made by the entrepreneurs themselves. If the team is a for profit, the investment will be made as an 8 percent convertible debt note, at a 20 percent discount or convertible to 8 percent equity after two years. If the team is a nonprofit, the investment will be made as a revenue share agreement tied to earned (unrestricted) revenue. All returns from these investments will be reinvested in future startups participating in the Civic Accelerator program. 

Does the Civic Accelerator cost anything?

No, the Civic Accelerator does not charge for participation.  A limited air travel stipend and hotel accommodations are available for selected ventures, and most meals during the program are provided by Points of Light.

What are the logistics for the Civic Accelerator program?

The Civic Accelerator is a 10-week program, bringing together two- to three-person teams from across the U.S. We plan to convene the entire cohort of 10 to 15 teams for three four-day sessions or retreats over the course of the 10 weeks. In addition, teams will be grouped based on their geography, paired with local mentors and required to meet weekly (through virtual mediums) during the times when they are not together as a single cohort. Find out more about the Civic Accelerator schedule.

How do I apply for the Civic Accelerator program?

Applications for the Spring 2017 Civic Accelerator program are due March 2, 2017 at 5:00pm EST. You can apply and find more information on our Apply page. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Requirements and Eligibility

You should be able to answer “yes” to the following questions before you apply:
  • Is your venture registered in the U.S.? Our current focus is on supporting U.S.-based start-ups, both for-profit and nonprofit, though your customer or user base can be anywhere in the world. We hope to expand our scope in future years to support global entrepreneurs. Learn more about our global work here.
  • Do you address the current economic mobility challenge?
  • Are you launching a “civic venture?” Does your startup achieve a social or environmental mission by engaging people as a core part of the solution? 
  • Are you in the startup phase? We do not select ventures at the idea stage. You should have a prototype or have completed a pilot program prior to applying.
  • Have you recruited a minimum of two to three people to join your team? We believe that most successful startups are not the product of a lone entrepreneur, but rather the collective work of small teams. We will consider teams of two or more people and are very reluctant to accept one-person startups.
  • If your venture is a nonprofit, have you developed a means to generate earned revenue? We are interested in nonprofits that plan to supplement traditional grant and sponsorship revenues with earned revenue models.
  • Is your venture a social enterprise? A social enterprise is an organization that applies business strategies to achieving social or environmental goals and can be structured as a for-profit or nonprofit.
  • If accepted, will you be able to attend the entire Civic Accelerator program? To be eligible, at least one of your team members must be able to attend each of the three sessions.


YOU SHOULD NOT APPLY FOR THE CIVIC ACCELERATOR PROGRAM IF:
  • If your venture does not answer or address the Spring 2017 challenge.
  • Your venture is past the startup phase. We typically define startup as less than five years old, and still experimenting with models for scalable and repeatable growth.
  • Your venture does not leverage people as a core part of the solution. Points of Light is the largest service and civic engagement organization in the world, and thus, our focus is on supporting early-stage startups who believe in putting people at the center of change.
  • Your proposal is for a faith-based initiative. We do not support ventures that are aligned with a specific religious institution or have been established to promote a specific faith.
  • You have no track record of raising or generating revenue.
  • Your venture is grounded in or focused on a specific political agenda or party.Points of Light has a 20-year history and bipartisan presidential support.