United Way’s Nonprofit Accelerator Returns

United Way’s Nonprofit Accelerator Returns

The Community Impact Accelerator provides funding and consulting services for nonprofits.

The Greater Twin Cities United Way’s nonprofit accelerator program is back for a second year.

Last week, the organization announced that it has begun accepting applications for its “Community Impact Accelerator” through Feb. 14. The program provides funding and consulting for nonprofits that work in the United Way’s five main focus areas: housing, food security, economic opportunity, early childhood development, and workforce readiness.

This time around, United Way will be accepting applications from any nonprofits working in the nine-county Twin Cities metro. During the program’s inaugural run in 2018, the organization only considered nonprofits that had already received United Way funds.

“We’re casting the net a little bit wider so we can engage more organizations in the community,” says Leslie Wright, director of external engagement for the Greater Twin Cities United Way. “We want all innovative ideas, not just ones from the organizations we fund. That’s the major difference this year.”

This year, nonprofits will vie for a piece of a $125,000 grant package. The first-place winner will receive $75,000 and consulting services from Boston Consulting Group, while the second- and third-place nonprofits will each take home $25,000. To qualify, an organization must be registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and have an annual budget between $500,000 and $5 million.

United Way and Boston Consulting Group will narrow the list of applicants to six nonprofits, who will make a pitch before an audience at an event on May 7. Audience members will pick the top three winners.

For the United Way, the accelerator program helps plan for future work, Wright says.

“One of the big things we’re focused on is keeping our nose to the ground and being aware of what’s happening in the community,” she says. “The accelerator allows us to find out what’s going on in the community, what the new trends are, and where nonprofits may need assistance.”

During the accelerator’s first run in 2018, Minneapolis nonprofit Appetite for Change Inc. took first place. The nonprofit focuses on providing fresh food in north Minneapolis.