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Apply Now: 2018-2019 Systems Change Accelerator!

Friday, July 20, 2018

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Social Venture Partners Los Angeles (SVPLA) is excited to open the application process for the 2018–2019 Systems Change Accelerator, a nine-month intensive program designed to accelerate the growth and impact of a cohort of systems change initiatives in Los Angeles County. The Accelerator blends workshops, coaching, peer learning, and 1:1 mentoring to support nonprofit leaders in strengthening their infrastructure, increasing relationships and resources, honing and amplify their voice, and integrating core values of equity and innovation. We’ve found that supporting these foundational elements uniquely accelerate an organization’s ability to create systemic community impact.


We define systems change as work that tackles the root causes of pressing social problems. Systems change efforts (1) acknowledge the complex, interrelated political/social/economic factors contributing to a social problem, as well as the applicant organization’s role in this ecosystem, and (2) seek to address the underlying policies, processes, relationships, behaviors, and power structures that are contributing to the problem.

We see an opportunity to create exponential positive change in Los Angeles through this focus on root causes, by channeling the unique skills, networks, and expertise of the cohort and our SVP Partners (our donor volunteers with deep experience in private sector, government, and nonprofit leadership) in support of these endeavors. 

The program will run from October 2018 to June 2019, and will include participation in SVP’s signature Fast Pitch Program. All participating organizations will receive an unrestricted seed grant of $10,000 and will be eligible for additional cash prizes through the Fast Pitch portion of the program. 

See the 2017 Accelerator Co-hort here.

  • Phase I: Infrastructure (Oct - Dec 2018): Focusing on aspects of organizational infrastructure. Will include sessions on human-centered design, racial equity, and operations.
  • Phase II: Fast Pitch (Jan - Mar 2019): Participants will each be supported by two SVP Coaches to hone a 3-minute pitch, culminating in a 600-person event in March.
  • Phase III: Network/Capital Building (Apr - Jun 2019): SVPLA Partnership will support through connections to potential funders and other influencers.


Application Guide


Organizations must meet all of the below criteria in order to apply for the Accelerator: 

  • Nonprofit organization – Applicants must have a designation from the IRS as a 501(c)3 organization, or proof of fiscal sponsorship.
  • Location – We have a strong preference for LA-based organizations. If you are a part of a national organization or are headquartered elsewhere, you are still invited to apply. Be sure to tell us how your program significantly impacts LA County.
  • Systems Change Focus - Applicant’s organization or initiative must have a systems change focus.We define systems change as work that tackles the root causes of pressing social problems that produce inequitable outcomes. Systems change efforts (1) acknowledge the complex, interrelated political/social/financial factors contributing to a social problem, as well as the applicant organization’s role in this eco-system, and (2) seek to address the underlying policies, processes, relationships, behaviors, and power structures that are contributing to the problem. We are looking for organizations that are working to alter the status quo by transforming systems, and rethinking the boundaries of what is possible. Click here to learn how we define systems change. 
  • Early Stage Endeavors - The program must be in the early stages of growth and development, but must have some proof of concept. Larger, established organizations may apply to the program only if their participation in the Accelerator would focus on a new, innovative program being developed or implemented by their organization.
  • Organization Representative – The individual participating in the Accelerator on behalf of their organization must hold the title of Executive Director, CEO, or equivalent position with significant organization-wide decision-making responsibility, and should have at least six months of tenure with the organization. Participants should work or live in LA County in order to utilize the coaching resources available. We also invite additional organizational leaders to participate in some of the workshops.
  • Organization Size, Years in Operation – There are no restrictions on size of organizational budget, staffing, or years in operation.
  • Program Cost – There is no fee to participate in the program. Participants will spend between 6 – 20 hrs per month over the course of the nine-month program.
  • SVPLA Fast Pitch Alumni – Fast Pitch semifinalist organizations (those who did not present on stage) are eligible to apply. Fast Pitch finalist organizations (those who presented on stage) are not eligible for this program.



A team of SVP Partners will prioritize applicants that demonstrate strength in each of the following:

  • Social Problem – The program/initiative addresses the root of a pressing social problem in L.A. and demonstrates a deep understanding of the problem.
  • Innovation – The approach to solving the social problem has unique potential for impact. The innovation seeks to address systemic issues that lead to more significant long-term results than more conventional models or practices. 
  • Openness to Learning & Sharing – The leader applying for the program demonstrates a thoughtful approach to the work, a proximity to the challenge they’re addressing, and a willingness to learn, share, and grow their leadership and organizational impact.



Selected participants will:

  • Be deeply committed to the Accelerator during the program timeline (October 2018 - June 2019).
  • Embrace a culture of learning in a feedback-rich environment, ready to receive as well as provide feedback to/from peers, coaches and mentors.  
  • Participate in all of the below workshop sessions. We strongly encourage you to hold the below dates in your calendar when applying. If you know you will not be able to attend two or more of the dates, please consider reapplying to the next program, or contact Sharon Stratton ([email protected]). Workshop venues & times TBD. 



Workshop 1                                   Tuesday, October 16th (10am - 2pm)

Workshop 2                                  Tuesday, November 6th (1pm - 4pm)

Workshop 3                                  Tuesday, December 4th (9am - 5pm) 

Workshop 4                                  Wednesday, December 5th (9am - 5pm)



Workshop 5                                  Tuesday, January 15th 

Workshop 6                                  Tuesday, January 29nd 

Workshop 7                                  Tuesday, February 12th 

Workshop 8                                  Tuesday, February 26th 

Workshop 9                                  Tuesday, March 12th 

Fast Pitch Event                           Thursday, Mar 21st 

Workshop 10                                 Tuesday, April 9th

Workshop 11                                  Tuesday, May 7th

Workshop 12                                 Tuesday, June 4th 

Culmination Retreat                   Tuesday, June 18th



  • Download the Word (.doc) version of the application HERE. You must submit your application using the online portal below. We strongly suggest that you complete your answers in this document offline before applying. The online application form does not allow for you to complete the form partially, or save responses and then come back to complete it later. You must enter all information & submit your application in one sitting. Do not refresh your browser or click 'back' while submitting the form.
  • Submit the online application by clicking "APPLY" below. Applications must be submitted through our website by Tuesday, August 14th, 2018 at 5:00pm PST
  • We will notify you by email when we have received your application, and will let you know if you’ve been selected into the program by Friday, September 7th, 2018. We may request participation in follow-up conversations/activities prior to our final selection.                                                           

Join us for an optional, informational webinar on Tuesday July 17th, 2018 at 12:00pm PST, to learn more about the Accelerator and how to apply. SVPLA staff will be available to answer any questions during a Q & A session following the presentation, and a recording will be made available via the SVPLA YouTube channel afterwards. 

We welcome you to email us if you have any questions about eligibility, program participation requirements, or the application.


CONTACT: Sharon Stratton, Social Venture Partners | Email: [email protected]