MyMaryland.net Wins $10,000 and a Spot in the Civic Accelerator Program

A new website designed to connect Maryland citizens with their elected officials wins one of ten spots in Points of Light’s inaugural Civic Accelerator program. The win includes $10,000 and three months of intensive training and mentorship.

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MyMaryland.net Founder Ben Simon and Co-founder Natalia Cuadra-Saez are awarded the grand prize check at UMD's 2012 Social Enterprise Symposium.

The Civic Accelerator should help us refine our product and drive users onto the site as we prepare for launch.

College Park, MD (PRWEB) October 31, 2012

Points of Light recently announced the organizations accepted into their first ever Civic Accelerator program. MyMaryland.net, a non-profit tech start-up that aims to connect Maryland citizens with their elected officials, was one of ten new, civic-focused ventures admitted into the accelerator. As a member of the program, MyMaryland.net will receive $10,000, a three-month mentorship, and a chance at winning an additional $50,000.

On October 11 and 12, the MyMaryland.net team, led by 22-year-old founder, Ben Simon, flew down to Atlanta to compete against other finalists in the Civic Accelerator competition. Of 170 initial applicants, only 20 were selected as finalists to present in Atlanta.

Points of Light’s Civic Accelerator, created in association with Village Capital, aims to support early-stage, innovative civic ventures that mobilize people and foster positive change. The program is broken into four phases: learning, testing, refining and pitching.

As members of the program, the MyMaryland.net founders will attend three retreats to meet with mentors, network with their peers and attend workshops. The program will culminate on January 28, 2013 in Seattle where the ten finalists in the cohort will participate in a final showcase of their work.

“Points of Light is a well-renowned organization with a lot of influence and expertise,” said Simon. “The Civic Accelerator should help us refine our product and drive users onto the site as we prepare for launch.”

According to Simon, the $10,000 awarded by the Civic Accelerator program will go towards web development costs and launching the site. MyMaryland.net has already raised $55,000, in part by participating in other social entrepreneurship competitions.

Earlier this month, the Sunlight Foundation, a large organization that advances the open government movement, also awarded MyMaryland.net a $5,000 grant to help the civic start-up.

MyMaryland.net anticipates a private site launch in the next few weeks, where around 50 elected officials and stakeholders will be granted access. The beta site is on track to launch to the general public by the end of 2012.

The MyMaryland.net team has met with 55 Maryland elected officials and has received extremely positive feedback. Simon said the goal behind improving access to Maryland elected officials is to improve participation, transparency, and responsiveness in representative democracy. If the tool proves to be successful in Maryland, the team eventually hopes to expand the site to voters across America.

MyMaryland.net is a new non-partisan, nonprofit website that connects Maryland residents with their elected officials to improve participation, transparency, and responsiveness in representative democracy.