Accelerator Program


The Social Innovator Accelerator works to create a community inclusive of nonprofit and philanthropic leaders, and other change agents seeking to build a more equitable nonprofit sector in the region.

The Accelerator program provides participating nonprofit organizations (Social Innovators) with support and resources to deepen and expand their work and impact in Eastern Massachusetts. This two-year program offers in-depth consulting, executive coaching, presentation advising, access to unrestricted grants, and more. These offerings will help them raise their organization’s visibility, expand their networks, and connect with philanthropic and in-kind resources in order to increase and deepen the impact of their work.

After the completion of the Accelerator program, Innovators can continue to access support and services through the SIF Alumni & Nonprofit Network.

How are Innovators selected?

A cohort of small to midsize community-led nonprofits is selected each year through a thorough evaluation process that brings together a diverse range of stakeholders, including funders, practitioners, and subject matter experts with both lived and learned experience.

What’s the criteria to become an Innovator?

Your organization needs to:

  • Be a 501(c)(3) or use a fiscal agent that is a 501(c)(3)
  • Address a specific social need as described in at least one of our social issue tracks and bring their own perspective and innovation to the topic.
  • Work in Eastern Massachusetts representing communities such as in Boston, Worcester, Lowell, Lawrence, New Bedford, Fall River, etc.
  • Have been delivering programs or services for at least 3 years
  • Have a minimum of 1.5 paid FTEs (full-time equivalents—counting full and part time staff, not volunteers)
  • Have an annual operating budget of $100,000–$2 million

Typically, a strong Social Innovator applicant:

  • Uses an innovative approach. As we define it at the Social Innovation Forum, social innovation is the process of finding, testing, and honing impactful and potentially transformative approaches that are responsive to the needs of community members, disrupt systems, and/or bring about systemic change.
  • Engages in reflection and continuous quality improvement.
  • Has goals, ideas, and/or plans for the next 2-3 years.
  • Works collaboratively with community partners and stakeholders.
  • Leadership and decision-making reflect and are accountable to the community served.
  • Has or is working towards having concrete fundraising goals and has the organizational capacity to take advantage of SIF’s fundraising supports, including network-building.
  • Is at a point in its trajectory where it is seeking to engage in capacity building to deepen, shift, and/or expand its work and has interest and capacity to participate in the Accelerator program.
  • Leaders are open to new ideas and coaching.
What are the Social Issue Tracks? 

We're seeking applicants who are working on the following issue areas:

  • Addressing Health-related Social Needs and Building Thriving Communities (at least two Innovators will be selected on this track)

  • Advancing Access to the Arts 

  • Building Financial Resilience

  • Pathways to Climate Resiliency  

Visit our Social Issue Tracks page to learn more about the specific guidelines.

What are the benefits to the organization?

Participating nonprofit organizations (Social Innovators) receive:

  • Six months of consulting and graphic design services focused on developing written materials, visual materials, and presentation skills for a funder/investor audience
  • Presentation and networking opportunities with funders/investors, including at the Social Innovator Showcase in May 2025 (usually has an audience of 300 of local business and philanthropic leaders), Lunch & Learn in the spring of 2026, and various other events
  • Membership in a cohort with other small to midsize community-led nonprofit organizations
  • Five months of executive coaching to focus on promoting professional growth for the leadership team
  • Minimum of $30,000 cash upon completion of the consulting engagement
  • Support from SIF’s in-kind partners (e.g., legal, graphic design, PR, technology)
  • Ongoing support through the Alumni & Nonprofit Network program
What’s the organization's commitment?

Innovators select one “lead” Innovator to participate in Accelerator activities, which is typically the Executive Director or Program Director. Some Innovators select one to three other staff members to support the consulting engagement and participate in executive coaching.

The “lead” Innovator is required to devote: 

  • 6-8 hours per week from December 2024 through May 2025. This time includes meetings with the consultant, review of the deliverables’ drafts, presentation practices, and attendance of the following meetings:
    • Orientation - December, In-person, SIF Boston Office
    • Innovator cohort meetings - January, February, March, May, June, In-person, SIF Boston Office
    • All day presentation and storytelling workshop - January, In-person, SIF Boston Office
    • Presentation practices - April, Two in-person; one virtual, SIF Boston Office
  • 6-8 hours per month from June 2025 through December 2026
How do I sign up for an Information Session?

We will be hosting two virtual Information Sessions:

How do I apply?

The online application can be found here. The application deadline is Thursday, August 8, 2024.

Application Process and Timeline

  • Applications Due: Thursday, August 8
  • Site Visit Invites Issued: Mid-Late September/Early October 
  • Site Visits (only for selected finalists): Monday, October 7 - Tuesday, November 5 
  • Selections Made: Friday, November 22 
Frequently Asked Questions

How does SIF define social innovation?

We define social innovation as the process of finding, testing, and honing impactful and potentially transformative approaches that are responsive to the needs of community members, disrupt systems, and bring about systemic change. We believe that organizations that utilize and promote social innovation work collaboratively with community partners and stakeholders and their leadership and decision-making reflect and are accountable to the community served.

Is it possible to apply as a program or initiative within an organization? 

Yes. Any program or initiative with an operating budget between $100,000 and $2 million may apply. In these cases, the Program Director as well as a representative from the parent organization must be committed to participating in Accelerator meetings and events. In addition, the entire application must refer to the program, not the parent organization (budget numbers, performance metrics, etc.). 

If applying to more than one social issue track, must an organization submit more than one application?

In general, yes. Each track has its own set of evaluators who are experts on that particular social issue. While a fair amount of information may be copied and pasted from one application to the next, we ask that applicants apply to no more than two tracks and tailor their answers to some of the more thoughtful, paragraph-response questions to demonstrate their “fit” with each of those tracks. Our evaluators like to see that applicants have thought about how their organizations address specific social issues and what makes them innovators in those spaces. 

What is the application process for those who applied during a previous cycle of the Social Innovator Accelerator and were not selected? 

The application itself changes from year to year. In order for us to have consistent information across applicants,  all applicants for this year’s cycle must complete a 2025 application. However, it is often possible to copy and paste responses from a previous application into corresponding sections of the current year’s application. To assist you, we are happy to provide copies of your past application(s) upon request. 

What is the Social Innovator Showcase? 

The Social Innovator Showcase is an event focused on highlighting the Social Innovators to potential investors, as well as sparking conversations on the best approaches to developing and spreading innovation. Each lead Innovator presents a five-minute presentation, accompanied by PowerPoint slides, to an audience of more than 200 business, government, and philanthropic leaders from Eastern MA at this event. The Social Innovator Showcase will be held in May 2025 (exact date TBD).



Call at 617.649.1518 or email with any questions about the application process.

Additional Resources

If Breaktime were a tree, SIF would be the seed, fertilizer, and forest that helped it grow and make it thrive.


Connor Schoen

Co-Founder and ED, Breaktime

SIF has been an amazing partner to The Loop Lab, providing invaluable support in a myriad of ways. In addition to the capacity-building expertise and network-building, I am delighted that SIF has shown up as a true partner with us on our fundraising work. I cannot express enough how much of a real partner they have been to us through our growth these last few years.


Christopher Hope

ED, The Loop Lab

SIF was a transformational process to help MTW level up our messaging, materials, value proposition and pitch... and then they actually convened a crowd of people to put it all to work, allowing us to share our mission and engage folks. Beyond that, I was able to build relationships and work alongside inspiring leaders of other organizations who were part of my cohort, which is not something we get to do enough of in this sector.


Jodi Rosenbaum

Founder and CEO, More Than Words

Stats as of Summer of ‘23: 

100% of the Social Innovators said they would recommend the Accelerator to another organization

94% of the Social Innovators found the program extremely useful or useful for:

  • Improving the organization’s ability to communicate their work externally
  • Increasing their confidence as a representative of the organization
  • Improving their leadership skills
  • Promoting personal and professional growth