When it comes to accelerator and mentorship programs, there’s certainly no shortage of them out there.

From Fiverr to Apple, accelerator programs seem to be tailor-made for today’s startups, which seem to face insurmountable odds in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“By joining an accelerator program, startups are offered benefits like mentorship and educational workshops. At the end of it startups often compete in a pitch event or demonstration day (otherwise known as ‘Demo Day’),” says Tricia Levasseur, a former Bloomberg journalist, and current TechStars mentor. “The experience for founders is that acceleration provides a process of intense, rapid, and immersive education aimed at ‘accelerating’ growth by compressing years’ of learning into just a few months. For those that compete in a pitch event, cash prizes in the form of funding can be won.”

Clearly, the benefits of such programs are self-evident. And while these programs are nothing if not competitive, they’re certainly worth participating in, especially given the advantages that they’re able to uniquely offer their participants.

These three accelerator and mentorship programs have been on our radar this week — and if you’re applying for them, good luck!

2nd Annual Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab

For the second year in a row, the self-funded Hillman Grad mentorship lab — founded by CEO and Hollywood heavyweight Lena Waithe — will offer unique opportunities for 22 Black and POC filmmakers and industry creatives to connect across the platform. The goal, reads the press release, is to provide opportunities “to connect, grow and accelerate their careers in television and film.”

“As long as I can recall, my heart has always been about giving back to the next generation of storytellers, whether hosting writing workshops, coffee meetings on Saturdays to lend advice, or doing table reads on scripts,” said Waithe in the press release announcement. “The diversity of the Mentorship Lab is unlike any other room in Hollywood where all voices are welcome.”

Apple's Impact Accelerator

The Apple Impact Accelerator was launched in 2020 and was designed to provide what it’s calling “equity and opportunity” for Black-owned, Hispanic/LatinX-owned, and Native American/First Nations-owned businesses, according to a press release shared with AfroTech.

Now, they’re accepting applications for their latest impact accelerator, which can be found here.

“We cannot build a greener economy without building a more just one, where communities most impacted by environmental harms lead us toward solutions,” says Lisa Jackson, vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, in the announcement. “Our Impact Accelerator models the approach we need — bringing bold, innovative, and diverse businesses together to speed progress to a carbon-neutral future.”

DoorDash's Main Street Strong

In November 2020, in response to the crushing blow of the pandemic on local restaurants and other businesses, DoorDash announced its Main Street Strong program. This five-year, $200 million pledge to businesses continues to thrive to this day, with DoorDash announcing recent initiatives for both Black History Month and Women’s History Month.