Accelerator applications are now closed.

The Accelerator partners with innovative, early-stage organizations to transform vision and passion into successful Jewish social ventures. Learn more about the Accelerator program here, and read about the application process below.

Application Process:


Intake Webinars:

Have questions about the Accelerator application process? Wondering if your organization is the right fit? UpStart hosted Intake Webinars in December and January to review the criteria, provide insight into the program’s requirements, and answer your questions about the application process. 

Missed the webinars and want to learn more?

Selection Criteria:

Each year we select the top organizations from a competitive pool of applicants. Please review the following Selection Criteria and guidance to ensure the highest odds of receiving an invitation into the selection process.

  1. Meets a Need: You’ve started to gain traction beyond the initial people who jumped on board right away. Your ideas and programs are starting to stick, and you’re fielding more demands for your work. We want to learn how your experience running and testing your ideas has proven that you’re filling a need, and that there’s a bigger market and funder appeal for what you’re offering.
  2. Makes a Unique Contribution to Jewish Life: Your organization’s mission contributes to the continued growth and vitality of Jewish life, using an innovative approach. We want to know how your organization is bringing something different to the Jewish communal landscape, and how your unique model will make a lasting and profound impact on Jewish life.
  3. Has Potential for Growth: Your organizational strategy includes a vision for maximizing the impact of your organization and taking it big. Your team might not know how to get there exactly, but the goal is to do something that has the capacity to transform the community. We want to learn not only about your vision, but about why your organization has a high likelihood of inspiring others to commit the financial and human resources needed to succeed.

Participation Requirements

Attendance and active engagement in all Accelerator learning labs, coaching sessions, and events.
Annual $1000 Accelerator membership fee per year.
Participation in the UpStart evaluation processes, including providing key impact metrics, required by UpStart and its funders.
Enthusiasm for learning, openness to risk-taking, and investment in your peers.
Commitment to making your organization/project your top priority for the next 3 years.

2017-2018 Program Dates and Commitments*


*These dates are only for the first year of the program. Dates for subsequent years are TBD.


Non-profit and for-profit organizations both acceptable.
Establishment of 501(c)(3) status not required.
Organizations can be based inside or outside the U.S. but require the ability to receive funding in the U.S..
Participants must be 18+ years-old.


If I applied for the Accelerator in the past, may I reapply?
If you are interested in reapplying, we highly suggest speaking to a member of our Program Team to ensure eligibility and alignment for the 2017-2018 program year. Please email to set up a time to connect with an UpStart staff.

I am a full-time student or employee of another organization. Can my organization still apply?
The UpStart Accelerator supports organizational leaders who are committed to the success and growth of their venture. Over the years, we have found that the most successful organizations are those who have a leader dedicated to the long-term success of the venture and active, consistent participation in the Accelerator. While there is no requirement that Accelerator participants serve as full-time employees of their organization, it is expected that participants will make their organization a foremost priority during the time of the Accelerator.

I am an interfaith organization with a specific focus on the Jewish community. Am I eligible?
Check out our selection criteria above regarding “Makes a Unique Contribution to Jewish Life” – we welcome you to apply, as long as your mission aligns!

I am not located in Chicago or the Bay Area, can I still apply?
Absolutely – UpStart’s national Accelerator (based out of the Bay Area) is open to all applicants outside of the Chicago area.

I’ve read all of the information in the application and I’m still not sure if my proposal meets your criteria. How can I get more information?
UpStart will be hosting Intake Webinars in December and January to review the criteria, provide insight into the program’s requirements, and answer your questions about the application process. Click here to RSVP for a webinar.

I’m having technical issues with the application. How can I get help?
If you have a technical problem when submitting your application email Applicants receive quick and attentive service M-F 9am to 6pm Central. Weekend support is also available but may not be as quick. Questions about application content should be posed to