In partnership with the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, Beveridge Family Foundation, Human Service Forum, and the Employers Association of the NorthEast, Innovation Accelerator teaches nonprofits how to develop, test, and deploy new mission-aligned, revenue-generating programs. Alumni have launched pilot programs that are generating revenue, securing funding, and promoting key employees.
How It Works
We teach organizations to apply the scientific method to innovation so they can rapidly come up with new ideas, break them into testable hypotheses, and then go out to gather conclusive evidence. Along the way, teams are mentored by veteran business & nonprofit leaders from a diverse range of sectors.
Revenue: Pilot projects generating revenue within months of graduation.
Foundations: “We now have relationships with the executive directors of foundations we’ve never been able to reach before.” - Riverside Industries
Alternative funding sources: “I’ve been introduced to entirely new sources of funding outside of the traditional government/foundation world.” - TechFoundry
The press: Coverage on MassLive and in BusinessWest.
Professional Development: Team members are earning promotions because of their abilities to…
Confidently create & deliver high-stakes presentations.
Deepen relationships with board members, constituent groups and current customers by getting out of the office and into the field.
Rethink existing programming to increase impact.
Funding: Over $500,000 in seed funding for pilot projects raised in 2018. Three teams impressed the mentors so much that at graduation they were told to apply for funding.
Founder & Lead Instructor
Before founding Innovation Accelerator our lead instructor, Paul Silva, co-founded Valley Venture Mentors (VVM), an organization dedicated to helping entrepreneurs turn their dreams into scalable for-profit and nonprofit businesses. In 2017 The Global Accelerator Network recognized VVM as one of the top 100 programs of its kind in the world.
Paul also leads the River Valley Investors, a network of executives and entrepreneurs who invest in innovation.
Classes consist of up to six innovation teams coming from a variety of nonprofits helping each other:
Generate new mission-aligned ideas to earn revenue by leveraging your organization's assets.
Gather concrete evidence that there are real customers who will pay for one or more of these ideas.
Work alongside veteran executive mentors to build a business model.
Create a pilot to test their ideas with actual potential customers.
Present everything they’ve learned to a panel of the most innovation-minded funders in the region who, if impressed, can write (and have written) checks.
Classes meet one half-day every two weeks over a period of 6 months. The course runs twice a year: Fall (Late September through March) and Spring (April through early September).
The course costs $12,000 per innovation team (nonprofits may enroll as many innovation teams as they like). Nonprofits that meet the below criteria can apply for a grant to cover up to 50% of the tuition. There are a limited number of these grants available and they are issued on a first-come-first-served basis.
Grant criteria: Nonprofits must have proof of 501(c)(3) status, been in operation for at least 3 years, and the bandwidth to participate fully in the course.