Social Impact Accelerator: Chapter Launchpad


Program Dates: January - June 2020 | July - December 2020
Location: Online training, local projects, and conference (tentatively January 2021)
Application Deadline: May 31, 2020

The Social Impact Accelerator is designed for emerging leaders who are poised to take their ideas for a better world and push them forward. We are looking for individuals and teams who have big ideas and who will benefit from joining a community who will support their growth and are excited about learning about new tools and resources.

Sound like you? Take the Chapter Leader Eligibility Quiz!


What is the Chapter Accelerator?

Chapters will become the foundation of community-based programming and act as “hubs” in the greater VIA ecosystem. They connect emerging leaders with peers and local organizations and become a launchpad for action. The Accelerator is a 6-month training program for new chapter leadership teams. The Accelerator includes virtual trainings with other chapter teams across Asia and the US, independent team projects, and an in-person training sprint session. The Accelerator will culminate in a conference with other chapter representatives, where everyone will share about their community, projects, and impact. Through the Accelerator chapter leaders will receive training and guidance from VIA staff on how to design their chapter, identify their community and project goals, recruit members, create events, workshops, and programs, and implement impact evaluation. Chapter leaders will also act as peer mentors and thought partners with other members of the Accelerator cohort.

Why Start a Chapter?

To connect with passionate peers across the world, make a positive impact in your community, take action to support sustainable development, and learn VIA’s unique approach to experiential learning to inspire and train others.

What does it take to start a chapter?

  • Logistics
    • At least three leaders per chapter
    • Chapter leaders are in the same geographic area and able to meet regularly (in-person or online)
    • Each leader can commit at least three hours per week to participate in accelerator activities and attend monthly virtual all-cohort meetings
  • Interests
    • Interest in VIA’s mission and approach to experiential learning (experience with VIA is beneficial)
    • Interest in addressing local challenges related to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
    • Interest in developing leadership, facilitation, and collaboration skills
    • Interest in collaborating locally, internationally, and across disciplines
  • Abilities
    • Demonstrated experience or strong potential as a collaborative leader
    • Demonstrated experience or strong potential to create buy-in and inspire a shared vision with collaborators
    • Demonstrated experience or strong potential to actively recruit and involve others, including individuals and potential partner organizations
    • Comfortable with learning, discussing, and presenting in English

Click on the text or (+) symbol of the blue bars below to learn more!

Chapter leaders receive:

  • Training and support from VIA staff and advisors
  • Coaching in team-building and chapter development
  • Peer mentorship from other chapter leadership teams
  • Access to an online platform and training resources
  • Opportunity to apply for a travel grant to attend an in-person network conference in Asia, covering most transportation, lodging, and meal costs (in-person conference will only be held if it is safe to travel)
  • Post-accelerator project support

Chapter leaders contribute:

  • Enthusiasm and commitment to launching a chapter community that will thrive and grow to act as a “hub” in the international VIA ecosystem
  • Peer support for other chapter leadership teams
  • At least three hours per week for chapter development, February – June 2020 (spring cohort) / July – December (summer cohort)

Application Period

  • April – Application Opens
  • May 31 – Application Deadline
  • Early June – Application Review & Team Discovery Calls
  • Mid-June – Selection Results

Accelerator Course*

Spring Cohort

  • January – Initial Orientation Activities
  • February – Team-building
    • Themes: leadership, team structures
  • March – Communication
    • Themes: Interpersonal communication, conflict management and constructive problem-solving
  • April – Ideation & Needfinding
    • Themes: UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs), objective analysis
  • May – Project Development
    • Themes: Theory of Change and project development frameworks
  • June – Conference Prep
    • Themes: Defining learning outcomes and facilitation

Summer Cohort

  • July – Initial Orientation Activities
  • August – Team-building
    • Themes: leadership, team structures
  • September – Communication
    • Themes: Interpersonal communication, conflict management and constructive problem-solving
  • October – Ideation & Needfinding
    • Themes: UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs), objective analysis
  • November – Project Development
    • Themes: Theory of Change and project development frameworks
  • December – Synthesis
    • Themes: Defining learning outcomes and facilitation
  • January – Network Conference

*The accelerator course will include monthly synchronous online sessions with the entire cohort and individual team assignments through an online platform. Originally, the accelerator was also designed to include a local in-person ‘sprint’ session with an advisor and participation in the network conference, but in light of the global pandemic, these in-person activities will be implemented only if and when it is safe to do so.

Virtual Meeting Schedule

Meeting US Pacific Coast Japan China / Philippines / Singapore Thailand / Indonesia (Jakarta) Myanmar
Orientation Calls June 26 – July 3 June 27 – July 4 June 27 – July 4 June 27 – July 4 June 27 – July 4
All-cohort Call 1 July 21 @ 6 PM July 22 @ 10 AM July 22 @ 9 AM July 22 @ 8 AM July 22 @ 7:30 AM
All-cohort Call 2 Aug 18 @ 6 PM Aug 19 @ 10 AM Aug 19 @ 9 AM Aug 19 @ 8 AM Aug 19 @ 7:30 AM
All-cohort Call 3 Sept 22 @ 6 PM Sept 23 @ 10 AM Sept 23 @ 9 AM Sept 23 @ 8 AM Sept 23 @ 7:30 AM
All-cohort Call 4 Oct 20 @ 6 PM Oct 21 @ 10 AM Oct 21 @ 9 AM Oct 21 @ 8 AM Oct 21 @ 7:30 AM
All-cohort Call 5 Nov 17 @ 5 PM Nov 18 @ 10 AM Nov 18 @ 9 AM Nov 18 @ 8 AM Nov 18 @ 7:30 AM
Final Presentations Dec 8 @ 5 PM Dec 9 @ 10 AM Dec 9 @ 9 AM Dec 9 @ 8 AM Dec 9 @ 7:30 AM

Before beginning your application, you can take the eligibility quiz to see if this is the right opportunity for you at this time.

Online Application

Part 1: Personal Information

  • Full name
  • Contact information
  • Current city of residence
  • Current occupation
  • VIA experience (if applicable)

Part 2: Deeper Questions

  • Why do you want to become a chapter leader?
  • Please describe your relevant experience, including experience working with a team.
  • What is your potential vision for this chapter? What do you hope the chapter will accomplish?
  • Chapters will work to address the Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) within local communities. Please describe your interest and / or experience with the SDGs. Which are you most interested in addressing in your community?
  • If you already have potential team members, please list their names. Each team member must complete their own application.

Discovery Calls

  • Selected teams will be invited to a discovery call with VIA staff. The goal of the discovery call is to get to know you and your project better, and also give you an opportunity to get a better sense of what to expect during the accelerator. Part of the discovery call will be a discussion about sustainability. The purpose of this discussion is for us to get a sense of your current understanding and thoughts on sustainability, and how it relates to your project.

Ready to get started on your application? Click the blue APPLY button!

Frequently Asked Questions

How will chapter leadership teams be selected?

VIA will select chapter leaders based on their experience, qualifications, vision for the chapter, and potential to build a resilient chapter community that will continue to grow. It is possible that not all applicants from the same area will be selected as leaders for the first round, but all applicants will have the opportunity to join the chapter as members.

How long will leaders serve?

We expect the initial leadership team to participate in the accelerator for 6 months, followed by serving one year as a leader. After the one-year term, team leaders should decide if they want to continue, or transition to new leadership members. There is no “term limit” for leaders.

Is there a participant age limit?

No, we do not have a participant age limit. We have participants that are in university, graduate school, that have just started working, and others that have been working for some time.

Who is best suited to join the accelerator?

We are looking for people who desire to make an impact on your community and who have the time to participate in the accelerator. We also ask that participants are comfortable communicating (reading, writing, listening and speaking) in English. However, you do not need to have perfect English.

Do team members need to be VIA alumni?

No, you do not have to be a VIA alumni. We welcome everyone to apply.

Do I need to have experience with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to participate? 

No, you do not need to have experience with SDGs to participate. However, we encourage you to explore the topic of sustainability if you are interested in applying to the accelerator. Visit the United Nations website to learn more about the SDGs.

Should I have a project idea before joining?

You do not need to have a fully developed project idea, but you should have an idea of the kind of impact you want to make on your community. The accelerator program will help you and your team develop your idea.

What is the time commitment?

You should expect to spend an average of 3-5 hours per week on accelerator assignments and team meetings.

How many teams are accepted from each country?

We don’t limit teams by country. We will only accept 5-6 teams in total. If you are from the same country and your team has a project goal that is similar to another team, we might ask you to consider joining each other. However, we do try to have a diverse representation of countries and project themes.