eligibility & fit

How do I know if the Breakthrough Accelerator is right for me or if I am a good fit?

We are looking for individuals/teams that align with the core values of the Breakthrough Accelerator. We prioritize centering the experiences of individuals from marginalized and underserved communities, so we are looking for teams that serve those populations and use their innovations to advance equity. Breakthrough is also designed with a liberatory design approach, which means we are continually creating, testing, and refining—with equity at the core; this requires flexibility and adaptability. If you’re ok with that, then you’re a great fit for Breakthrough.

What qualifies as an eligible innovation for Breakthrough?

An eligible innovation can encompass a wide range of possibilities, including programs, products, services, and more. Ultimately, it should aim to improve the sexual and reproductive health of young people. Funding requires that the innovation is based in the U.S. and is serving U.S. participants.

Our innovation isn't targeted directly at youth but impacts youth. Can we still apply?

Absolutely! As long as the innovation ultimately impacts the health of young people, it is eligible for this accelerator.

Are you open to innovations focused on positive youth development and related risk factors, or are you specifically seeking teen pregnancy prevention innovations?

We recognize that teen pregnancy prevention is multifaceted, and there are many ways to support young people. We are absolutely open to funding broader ideas beyond pregnancy prevention. In line with our values, we welcome ideas that address root causes in adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

What type of organization is eligible for funding?

Anyone with an interesting idea is eligible for funding, regardless of organizational size or type. This includes non-profit organizations, community-based organizations, state agencies, and more. Funding requires that all team members and organizations that they are affiliated with (if relevant) are based in the U.S.

Do I need experience or expertise with human-centered design (HCD) or liberatory design to apply?

No, you don’t need any formal experience or expertise with HCD or liberatory design! Throughout your time with Breakthrough, you’ll learn about HCD and how to apply its principles to your work. The key component we’re assessing in applications is whether you have gathered feedback from your end users to any degree, as this is fundamental to HCD. For more information on HCD or liberatory design, check out this page.


What do I need to apply?

First, you need to have an innovation (e.g., a product, program, or service) focused on adolescent sexual and reproductive health that has been developed and tested and has some evidence that it works. The evidence does not need to be elaborate, but you need at least some data to show that it’s worth putting more resources and time into further development. Second, you need a team of three individuals who will work together to refine and improve the innovation.

Can my team include people from different organizations?

Yes! Your team can consist of individuals from the same or different organizations. You can even have youth on your team. You are encouraged to have your end user represented on your team as well.

For the video submission in the application, how should we film the video if our team members are not in the same location?

There are several options for creating your video if your team is not in the same physical space. The easiest option might be to record a virtual meeting using platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or any other video conferencing tool you prefer. Another option is for each team member to record their portion of the video individually using their phone or other computer software. These individual recordings can be compiled and edited together to create the final video submission. Regardless of what option you choose, remember to upload it to YouTube and share the link with us on your application.

When do I need to submit budget materials?

Teams that are selected to advance to the second phase of the application process will be asked to submit a budget outlining how they would use the $100K award during their nine months with us. We will provide clear guidance and instructions for how to submit a budget along with a deadline for submission. We are requiring teams to share a budget with us to help facilitate timely contracting and fund allocation for teams that are officially selected to join Breakthrough.

If we still need more support after we finish the accelerator, can we reapply?

Yes, teams can reapply in subsequent years. Reapplying teams will be considered alongside other applicants in the general pool, but they are encouraged to reapply. Additionally, teams at specific phases in their innovation journey (such as applying for federal evaluation funding) may have the opportunity to participate in an add-on program tailored to their stage. Further details will be provided at a later date.

accelerator structure

What will we do during the 9-month accelerator?

The Breakthrough Accelerator is built around four pillars: Establishing a Foundation; Measuring Your Impact; Growing Your Impact; and Keeping It Going. During the accelerator, teams will gain knowledge and skills across each pillar. Teams will receive a variety of training and technical assistance over the 9-month period, including 1:1 coaching, peer sharing/learning, two in-person workshops, tools and templates, presentations and webinars from other experts, and much more.

Does all the funding need to be spent within the program period?

Yes, all funding needs to be spent within the 9-month program period.

What is expected of teams that join the Breakthrough Accelerator?

Great question! Each team will be expected to commit 8-10 hours per month to work on their innovation. This will include 4-5 hours per month on structured, hosted events like 1:1 coaching, peer learning sessions, and other training and technical assistance activities; and 4-5 hours per month working independently as a team to advance their innovation. To enjoy the full benefits of the Breakthrough Accelerator, we expect teams to be highly engaged, responsive to communication, and committed to sharing and learning with the other teams. Click here to learn more about expectations of teams.

Is there an opportunity for a learning community?

Yes, peer learning is a cornerstone of Breakthrough. We know that a lot of learning and support comes from peers navigating similar challenges and have built in many opportunities for teams to work together and learn from each other.

How many teams are you looking for each year?

We hope to select up to 6 teams each year.

When and where will the in-person meetings be held?

The first in-person meeting will be held in the Washington D.C. area in September (specific dates coming soon). Locations for the second in-person meeting and Demo Day may vary based on convenience for the teams; dates are currently being finalized and will be announced as soon as possible to give teams time to plan.

Do all three team members need to attend the in-person meetings?

Yes, all three team members are required to attend the in-person meetings. If there are circumstances that do not allow for this, please reach out to us. The Breakthrough team will intentionally curate these workshops to be engaging, practice-based, and productive, so that teams walk away better equipped to move their innovations forward.

Will I get additional funding to travel to the two in-person workshops and demo day?

No. Teams should plan to use the $100,000 funding that they receive to cover the costs of travel (transportation, accommodation, and other costs associated with traveling) to attend all in-person events.

How will non-in person meetings be scheduled?

We will work to accommodate the schedules of teams as well as accelerator staff to find a time that works best for everyone.

What happens after I leave the accelerator?

Once you leave Breakthrough, you will join a diverse network of other innovators and Breakthrough alumni. Our team will help you stay connected with your cohort and with others.

Will this accelerator happen again?

Yes! The Breakthrough Accelerator will have four total cohorts that each start in the fall (e.g., the first cohort will start in Fall 2024 and the last cohort will start in Fall 2027). If now is not the time for your innovation, we encourage you to apply in subsequent years.

support & questions

Who is on the Breakthrough Accelerator team?

We have a diverse team with ample knowledge, skills, lived experience, and expertise—not only in adolescent sexual and reproductive health, but in human-centered design, equity, rigorous evaluations, commercialization, and youth engagement. Click here to learn more about our team.

What do I do if I have questions?

Email us at BreakthroughAccelerator@childtrends.org and we will get back to you within 3-5 business days.