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Become an Accelerator Fellow

Are you an entrepreneur with a bold idea to improve education, income or health in North Texas?

Do you need support to get your social venture off the ground, or transform your big ideas into reality?

Learn more about the United Way Social Innovation Accelerator and how to apply for our next cohort.

Program Details

The Social Innovation Accelerator empowers social entrepreneurs to refine their business plan, build capacity and scale their ventures to drive impact in education, income and health across North Texas. 

Each year, we invite up to 10 organizations to become fellows of the Accelerator. The program includes three components:



You’ll receive intensive expert instruction to refine your business plan, then set and work toward key milestones that strengthen your venture, advance your goals and increase your impact.



Your organization will benefit from one-on-one mentoring and coaching from a team of professionals who are leaders in the North Texas business and/or philanthropy sector. Meanwhile, you’ll gain access to valuable connections and resources through the United Way network that can benefit your organization for years to come.


The culminating competition

At the end of the Accelerator, we select five fellows to compete at The Pitch. These finalists receive social media training and strategy support, supplemental mentoring and networking opportunities, and increased visibility—as well as the opportunity to win hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional seed funding.

Fueling Nationwide Expansion

When AES Literacy won Social Innovator of the Year in 2022, the nonprofit was serving around 20 adult learners each year. Today, the organization has more than tripled its impact, and founders ShaKimberly and Jermaine Cooper are launching creative programs to positively impact thousands of people—not just in North Texas but across the country.

Program Benefits

Participating in the United Way Social Innovation Accelerator provides you with the resources, connections and funding to strengthen your organization and scale your impact.


Professional guidance and personalized mentoring from local business and philanthropy experts empowers you to refine your business plans and create a roadmap for growth.

Credibility and credentials

Affiliating your organization with United Way is a “stamp of approval” that lends credibility to your organization and offers credentials that open doors for additional partnerships, funding and more.


Gaining access to the United Way network fosters powerful business, civic and community connections both during the program and long after. You’ll also become part of our thriving Social Innovation Lab alumni network.

Seed Funding

The Accelerator provides vital funding to resource your work—and high-performing fellows get the opportunity to receive significant additional funding at The Pitch, the program’s culminating event.

Increased visibility

Our fellows benefit from media coverage, participation in community-wide events and digital community engagement.

United Way support

Our staff works directly with you to establish short- and long-term goals, providing accountability and creating forward momentum for your organization.

Cafe Momentum exists because United Way believed in us when no one else did.

“Our organization was truly birthed through the support of United Way. Having United Way show their support and commitment to our program created a ripple of validation that allowed us to build the foundation for the program we have today. I can never say it enough times: Cafe Momentum exists because United Way believed in us when no one else did.”
— Chad Houser, Founder of Cafe Momentum, 2014 and 2015 Accelerator Fellow

Tapping into a Broad Network

“One of the biggest benefits of going through the Accelerator has been being able to tap into our mentors’ network, to really help us understand how best to scale the program out in the community and create partnerships. The other thing that really happened that we hadn’t even really intended was to home in on our core value proposition.”
— Shireen Abdulla, Founder of Yumlish, 2022 Accelerator Fellow

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience

“For someone who hasn’t had an opportunity to go through the Accelerator program, I would say it was hard work, very rewarding and I would do it all over again if I had the opportunity.”
— Courtney Hamilton, Founder of Tech Savvy DFW, 2024 Accelerator Fellow

A Stamp of Approval

“United Way has given me street cred. My relationship with them has allowed me to have a bigger impact than I could have imagined, simply because when I can tell people United Way is one of my biggest partners. Having gone through the Accelerator, it’s like people are more apt to listen to you and work with you.”
— Curtis Corbins, Founder of Southern Dallas Link, 2020 Accelerator Fellow

Business-Building Support

“The mentors and the milestones [were the most beneficial parts]. The milestones helped me to focus and get into planning mode. And having mentors along the way to help me and connect me with people that can assist me in my milestones, that was such a huge benefit. It is priceless.”
— Prinscilla Moore, Founder and CEO of Delighted to Doula, 2024 Accelerator Fellow

Doubling Their Impact in Two Years

Cheri Garcia, founder of Cornbread Hustle —the 2020 Social Innovator of the Year—says the organization has both expanded and deepened its impact since going through the Accelerator. Garcia and her team have launched new initiatives and formed strategic partnerships, enabling them to more than double the number of individuals they serve in just two years.

Program FAQs

Who is the ideal candidate for the Accelerator?
The Accelerator is designed for social entrepreneurs with an established non-profit, for-profit or hybrid organization that leverages an innovative approach to solve pervasive issues in education, income or health in North Texas. Most organizations in the Accelerator have an annual operating budget of less than $1 million. Some of our fellows do have an annual operating budget of more than $1 million, but they are less common in the Accelerator and might be too mature to get the most out of the program. Most of our fellows are early-stage operations looking to scale their existing innovation, but we also occasionally accept established organizations seeking to scale or implement a new venture or program
What is the program’s time commitment?
The Accelerator is a rigorous, nine-month-long program. The first six weeks of the program are dedicated to an intensive, 40-hour curriculum. Next, the Milestone Accelerator comprises five months of concentrated coaching. Finally, top-performing fellows are invited to compete at The Pitch, which requires additional preparation time.
I have an innovative idea but haven’t developed a business plan. Is this program right for me?

The United Way Social Innovation Incubator may be more beneficial to you. The Incubator is a 14-week organizational and leadership development program exclusively for early-stage ventures led by women and people of color. The program includes development and validation of a business plan, and it is designed to funnel fellows into the Accelerator once their ventures are more established.

How much funding does the Accelerator offer?

Fellows are guaranteed $25,000 in seed funding to accelerate their impact work. Those who are chosen to compete at The Pitch have an opportunity to secure an additional $250,000.

What kinds of organizations have gone through the Accelerator?

Dozens of social impact organizations have completed the Accelerator, each with its own unique mission, strategy and goals. Some of our fellows have joined soon after establishing their organizations, while others have been operating for years. Despite their unique characteristics, they all have one thing in common: Their missions align with our Aspire United 2030 goals and they are working to improve access to education, income and/or health in North Texas. Click here to view our full list of Accelerator alumni.

Who are the sponsors of the Accelerator?
We are proud to partner with leading corporations and foundations to drive community wide progress through the Accelerator. Our supporters include prominent local, regional and national organizations, each of which is deeply committed to our mission to improve access to education, income and health so all North Texans can thrive.
The Social Innovation Accelerator is supported by some of our region’s most successful, impactful and innovative corporations, each of which is committed to building a brighter future for North Texas by fueling progress in the areas of education, income and health.
“The Accelerator fellows represent the best of North Texas—each with a unique mission and drive, but all bound by selfless dedication to help North Texas be the best it can be for all people.”
— Jorge Corral, Dallas Office Managing Director, Accenture