Twenty years ago, a group of friends and I started HandsOn Atlanta in a bar by passing a beer mug for donations. I can still vividly recall the energy and excitement of dreaming up something new, of being a part of creating a way for people to participate. So it's a real thrill to be able to play a part now in supporting the development of the next generation of social entrepreneurs.
A few months ago, with generous support from the PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc. and Starbucks Foundation, Points of Light and Village Capital launched the Civic Accelerator – a 12-week boot camp dedicated to boosting early-stage ventures with missions that engage people as part of the solution.
Our goal in the year ahead: to invest in 30 organizations that will update – and possibly upend – what it means to volunteer.
The first 10 hard-driving entrepreneurs have just graduated from boot camp. They're an ambitious lot with great ideas and amazing tools at their fingertips.
UBELONG is working to radically change how people volunteer abroad. Generation Citizen aims to revolutionize civics education. And MoneyThink wants to be the nation's premier collegiate mentoring organization. No small goals here!
Each of the 10 start-ups was offered a $10,000 investment, and PGi donated terrific videos about each one. Two start-ups – Generation Citizen and UBELONG – were selected by their peers as "most ready to succeed." These two were offered $50,000 investments.
As the largest organization in the world dedicated to volunteer service, Points of Light has the honor and responsibility of seeding innovation in our field. The Civic Accelerator provides a great opportunity for those seeds to grow.
We're grateful that our founding corporate sponsors, the PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc. and Starbucks Foundation, have shared their deep experience and provided advisers and mentors to nurture the teams up to and beyond graduation.
Points of Light and Village Capital are now accepting applications for a second group of 10 entrepreneurs. The program will kick off this May. For details, visit the Civic Accelerator. If you have a big idea and are an early-stage for-profit or nonprofit organization that engages people to help solve a social problem, I hope you'll apply here.
CEO, Points of Light