Audience to vote on winner TONIGHT!

A creative plan to use interactive improv to educate people about the global refugee crisis is one of 25 civic pitches that will be presented at Accelerate 2018: Citizens Make Change, tonight Wednesday, February 21, 2018. The civic pitch event is presented by the Cleveland Leadership Center and Citizens Bank. Tickets are no longer available online, but you can register at the event! For additional details visit  The event begins tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Global Center for Health Innovation.

Nearly 80 people applied to pitch at this fourth annual competition. The 25 individuals who were each have unique visions of creating positive change in Cleveland. The improv theater idea, presented by Sean Seibert, is to have audience members experience displacement as they are directed to change seats, split up from their companions and make other choices during the interactive theater piece.


Another idea, from Kelley Hynds, would create dynamic educational videos to help people understand and better engage in pressing social and civic issues. Several other ideas involve websites or apps to reach under-served populations across Cuyahoga County. 

Panels of prominent community members will judge category competitions to select one finalist in each of five categories: Community Change, Economic and Workforce Development, Educating for Tomorrow, Health & Wellness, and Quality of Life. The finalists will make their pitches to a combined audience, which will vote to select the overall winner. The winning pitch receives $5,000, and the four runners-up each receive $2,000. 


Since Accelerate launched in 2015, it has been a catalyst for dozens of ideas to take flight and directly impact everyone from pre-kindergarteners to senior citizens (updates on past pitches are at

“Citizens Bank is committed to helping our communities reach their potential, and what better way than to provide a platform like Accelerate where individual citizens can share visionary ideas to make our region a better place,” said Ursula Cottone, Accelerate Co-Chair and an Executive Vice President of Citizens Bank, Ohio.

In addition to Citizens, the event is offered by Cleveland Leadership Center in partnership with Oswald Companies and Westfield Insurance Foundation presenting the Community Change category, Oatey Co. presenting the Economic and Workforce Development category, Nordson Corporation Foundation presenting the Educating for Tomorrow category, Cleveland Clinic presenting the Health & Wellness category, and Cuyahoga Community College and Thompson Hine LLP presenting the Quality of Life category. JumpStart is sponsoring a showcase of past Accelerate pitches that are being implemented and making a difference in Cleveland.


Event details         

  • What: Accelerate 2018: Citizens Make Change, presented by Cleveland Leadership Center and Citizens Bank
  • When: Wednesday, February 21, 2018
    5:30 p.m., Pitch category competition; 6:30 p.m., Networking reception; 7:00 p.m., Final competition
  • Where: Global Center for Health Innovation, 1 St. Clair Avenue NE, Cleveland, OH 44114
  • Cost: Advance sales – $35 public, $30 CLC Members, $20 Students. All tickets at the door are $40.
  • Information: Direct questions to (216) 592-2276 or [email protected]
  • Twitter: #AccelerateNEO, @CitizensBank, @cleveleads
  • Facebook: @CitizensBank, @Cleveland Leadership Center


Media contact

Michael E. Bennett, VP of External Affairs, O: (216) 591-2426, C: (216) 408-3874, [email protected]