New Points of Lights Civic Accelerator Class Announced

Whew! That title is a mouthful. I was lucky enough this year to be involved as a judge for this contest. Check out our full announcement below.

The Points of Light’s Civic Accelerator – the first national startup accelerator dedicated solely to investing in civic ventures – announced today the 13 startups selected to participate in its fall 2014 program, all of which focus on increasing economic opportunity for all. This will be the fifth round of the Civic Accelerator since its founding in 2012.

The Civic Accelerator operates with founding support from PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc. and Starbucks Foundation, and added support from Committee for Children, Blackstone Charitable Foundation, SAP and Official Hotel Sponsor Hilton Worldwide.

The 13 ventures will gather in Atlanta on Oct. 6 for the start of an intensive, 12-week startup boot camp that includes mentoring, entrepreneur education, peer support and networking. Points of Light will offer two of the most promising ventures – as selected by the entrepreneurs themselves – $50,000 investments following the conclusion of the program at the Dec. 17 Demo Day in Chicago.

Application and selection committees screened more than 200 social ventures and reviewed 67 formal applications before selecting the finalists. Additional criteria were included in this year’s selection process to identify new models and solutions addressing a design challenge: How might we create greater, more accessible pathways to economic opportunity across the U.S.?

Many of the models created by the entrepreneurs focus on disenfranchised populations.  Some deal with workforce readiness and financial access. Others help young people develop 21st century skills – from STEM to leadership skills.  Several use technology to increase accessibility to learning materials and equipment, address unemployment through cutting-edge innovations, and find new ways to build community.

“We are focusing our efforts on one, critical challenge — increasing economic opportunity for underserved groups,” said Ayesha Khanna, president of the Points of Light Civic Incubator. “With our great partners and the expertise they bring to the table, we are truly pushing the boundaries to help breakthrough innovations scale and make a difference.”

The startups participating in the Civic Accelerator’s fall 2014 program are from California, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Tennessee and Washington, D.C.

They are:

  • Akimbo (New York) – For-profit – – Akimbo connects individuals who face significant boundaries to employment with professional opportunity.
  • Community Farmers Markets (Atlanta) – Nonprofit – – Community Farmers Markets is preserving and growing the local food movement through sustainable marketplaces.
  • GreenWave (New York) – Nonprofit – – GreenWave transforms unemployed fisher(wo)men into restorative ocean farmers.
  • Gun by Gun (San Francisco) – Nonprofit – – Gun by Gun empowers people to remove guns from their communities through crowdfunded gun buybacks.
  • Hello Tractor (Washington D.C.) – For-Profit – – Hello Tractor supports African farmers through its innovative tractor co-sharing platform.    
  • Library for All (New York) – Nonprofit – – Library for All increases access to knowledge in the developing world by delivering locally relevant ebooks through a digital library platform.
  • MentorMe (Memphis) – For-Profit – – MentorMe is reinventing the way communities invest in their greatest resource – people.
  • Million Dollar Scholar (New Orleans) – For-Profit – – Million Dollar Scholar helps parents and schools guide their students through the process of making higher education affordable.
  • Project Scientist (Charlotte) – Nonprofit – – Project Scientist fosters today’s female scientists who will lead the world in solving tomorrow’s greatest challenges.
  • Quarterback (Chicago) – For-profit – – Quaterback is building the new wave of leaders for the impact economy.
  • SparkMarket (Atlanta) – For-Profit – – SparkMarket redefines community development through an online marketplace for business finance.
  • STE(A)M Truck (Atlanta) – Nonprofit – – STE(A)M Truck is a mobile makerspace that inspires youth to learn Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.
  • Union Capital Boston (Boston) – Nonprofit – – Union Capital Boston is a mobile-based rewards program that allows low-income families to get ahead by giving back.

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