The hardest part of owning a startup is always the beginning: the process of turning your idea into a company with a working business model and appropriate funding. Luckily, there is a multitude of accelerator programs in the South available to entrepreneurs who want to launch their startups quickly.

Accelerator Spotlight

In four years, the Points of Light Civic Accelerator has graduated six cohorts of civic ventures all focused on achieving a social or environmental mission. The Atlanta-based accelerator, the first of its kind to focus on civic ventures on a national level, currently is accepting applications for its seventh cohort to help address the current digital and financial inclusion challenge. The 10-week program, which includes an entrepreneur boot camp and investor fund, runs April 11 through June 18. Applications are due Feb. 26, and they’re looking for both for-profit and nonprofit ventures. The program itself is free, although startups do have to incur travel and lodging expenses during the program.

According to Jasmine Cato, senior program coordinator for the Civic Accelerator, the upcoming class will accelerate innovative, scalable ventures that increase opportunities for the underserved, underbanked and underemployed through solutions such as financial services, tech tools, digital skills, financial literacy and access. In exchange for working on these civic problems, the accelerator provides participants with education, peer learning, mentors and networks, as well as continued support post-graduation.

At the end of the program, the two most promising ventures, determined by the participants themselves at a demo day presentation, will each receive a $50,000 investment.

In its four-year history, the program has graduated 74 ventures—50 percent of them with female founders or cofounders. In addition to being sponsored by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, the Civic Accelerator also receives funding from the PwC Charitable Foundation, the Starbucks Foundation and, new this year, Capital One.

To apply or for more information, including frequently asked questions, visit

Accelerator Spotlight: Points of Light Civic Accelerator in Atlanta