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In partnership with the Beveridge Family Foundation, Employers Association or the Northeast, Human Service Forum, and the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation, 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

Organizations are taught 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.

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.

Training Sequence

Orientation will be Thursday September 26th. Regular classes will begin on Tuesday October 8th and will run every two weeks on Tuesdays through April 7th.

Classes meet one half-day every two weeks over a period of 6 months. Classes consist of up to six innovation teams coming from a variety of nonprofits helping each other:

  1. Generate new mission-aligned ideas to earn revenue by leveraging your organization’s assets.

  2. Gather concrete evidence that there are real customers who will pay for one or more of these ideas.

  3. Work alongside veteran executive mentors to build a business model.

  4. Create a pilot to test their idea with actual potential customers.

  5. Present everything you’ve learned to a panel of the most innovation-minded funders in the region who, if impressed, can write (and have written) checks.

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 will be 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.

Reserve a Spot in the cohort!
“All of us nonprofits are struggling to find different ways to accomplish our mission in changing environments with tightening budgets – just like entrepreneurs! There is a lot we can learn from each other. We have found Paul to be an enthusiastic teacher, coach and partner.”
— Ruth Banta, Executive Director of Pathlight (Innovation Alum)


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