Meet the 11 groups selected for new accelerator program seeking fresh ideas

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Aviatra Accelerators and Transform Cincy are among 11 local nonprofits chosen for a new accelerator program looking to fund unconventional ideas.

Social Venture Partners Cincinnati, a local philanthropic group, selected the groups to participate in the inaugural Project XLR8 cohort, a new accelerator model that offers grants, hands-on coaching, training and collaboration to develop the ideas. One project will ultimately be chosen for further funding and support. 

In total, 31 nonprofits applied, per Chris Shroat, Social Venture Partners board chair. Social Venture Partners announced the program in June, with a deadline of Aug. 1.

Ideas were rated on innovation and equity, among other criteria. The nonprofits selected receive $1,000 and will take part in the first phase of the program.

“The submissions we received did not disappoint,” Shroat said in a release. “Our partners are eager to start collaborating with these organizations.”

The nonprofits selected include:

  • Aviatra Accelerators, for its female founder financial resource center, a business accelerator for female entrepreneurs.
  • Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, for public play, a new neighborhood engagement initiative to produce a community-created, place-based, immersive theater production.
  • Forever Kings, for Boyz II Kings, a program to empower and create a culture of brotherhood among young men of color.
  • Hearing Speech and Deaf Center, for a communications access bank to provide American Sign Language interpreting where Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations are not mandated.
  • Isaiah 55, for a mobile soup kitchen to improve access to nutritious foods for people with low incomes and provide job training in food preparation. 
  • Music Resource Center, for a low-cost afternoon music enrichment program for teens.
  • Refugee Connect, for a health navigator program to provide health care coordination for newly arrived refugee parents and their school-aged children.
  • Rise Up News, for multimedia content, including connections to resources, so people incarcerated in local jails can reenter society effectively.
  • St. Francis Seraph Ministries, for the “Stitched” training program to teach basic sewing and job preparation skills to under-resourced women at its Sarah Center.
  • School Board School, for a seven-month program to teach diverse leaders to engage with and participate on school boards.
  • Transform Cincy, for a program to provide free, curated clothing and accessories for transgender and gender non-conforming LGBTQ+ youth ages 5 to 25.

Overall, Project XLR8 spans eight months. During the first phase, Social Venture Partners will work closely with the chosen nonprofits to brainstorm and refine their ideas.

After 12 weeks, four to six nonprofits will advance to the next phase, a deep dive into business plan development. 

This 12- to 16-week phase will close with Social Venture Partners selecting one idea as the focus of a multiyear community investment. The funding will last up to three years, but SVP said its relationships are often sustained well past the funding period.

“Project XLR8 is intended to build even deeper relationships with our nonprofit collaborators and help them maximize their impact,” Shroat said. 

Locally, Social Venture has about 60 philanthropist partners, who have decades of expertise in finance, marketing, fundraising and strategic planning.

SVP Cincinnati is part of SVP International, a network of 3,500 philanthropists across 40-plus affiliates.