Helping your civic ideas come alive

Do you have an idea that has the potential to create a more just, equitable, or democratic society, but you need help bringing it to life? Or are you a professional with first-hand knowledge of pressing challenges and a BIG idea for societal impact, but no place to refine and test it? If so, apply to CivicXcel.

CivicXcel is a six-month, part-time program designed for civically engaged professionals looking to further civic ideas and gain hands-on training in design thinking, prototyping, startup methods, and the development of digital technology. You’ll turn that spark into impact.

Let's take your idea to the next level

There are few things more frustrating than having a BIG idea about how to solve a pressing problem that you’ve experienced first-hand, but not having the tools and methods to design, test, and build it.

Civic Hall Labs' new program, CivicXcel, is designed to help innovative thinkers bring their ideas to life.  As an ideas accelerator, it’s focused on closing the gap between having a civic idea and advancing it into a well-researched, user-tested, viable prototype. By the end of the program you will be on your way to becoming either a Civic Entrepreneur - someone who will be able to build an organization out of their idea - or a Civic Inventor - someone who has created a solution that needs a home, and with the right partner institution, has the ability to be game-changing.

If you identify with the descriptions below, we invite you to apply

  • You have professional or personal experience with the problem you are trying to solve.

  • You have a civic idea that will contribute to making our society more just, equitable, or democratic.

  • You have a civic idea that uses technology or data as a part of your solution.

  • You have an idea you’d like to work on part-time either as a passion project or on behalf or your organization.


You will gain design-thinking and prototyping skills, as well as learn how to develop your concept into an early stage startup or a pilot through a curriculum developed for the unique challenges of developing solutions within the public realm.

The first phase of the program, you'll work side by side with experts in design thinking, ideation, and prototyping from around the country, a brain trust who will help you create a user-tested prototype that takes your idea to the next level.

In the second half of the program, you will work alongside successful entrepreneurs to identify a revenue model for a start-up or a strategy for a pilot. Some ideas may become stand alone organizations, while others reach impact more directly as an internal project of an existing organization. We’ll work with you to determine the best outcome for your civic idea and how it can have an impact.

As a participant in the program, you’ll develop your ideas alongside the civic innovators who won NYC BigApps 2017.

Our Expertise

The Civic Hall Labs team is comprised of experts working with public stakeholders and end-users, domain experts, impact investors and early stage teams. We know how to collaboratively create the conditions for impact and success for civic innovators like you. Check out our work powering this year’s BigApps 2017 competition and advising the NYC BigApps 2015 winners.

Addicaid is so much more than a product after Civic Halls Labs. They helped us turn our app into a structured company with clear near and long-term strategies.

This program gave us the framework for approaching a variety of efforts, from product to fundraising. We came to office hours with concrete deliverables, and we left with confidence in those refined deliverables. More than that, the personalization and investment was one of the best experiences for our team. They came to meet us where we were.

We could not have been more pleased to work with Civic Hall Labs. It was our first experience with an accelerator and their mentorship and sage advice brought us to a whole new level. Their experience in both technology and civic-minded ventures is incomparable.


Additional Benefits of the Program

  • Online curated curriculum covering a wide variety of topics and tools

  • Online and offline access to mentors from a variety of industries and specialties including design thinking, prototyping, interaction design, user research, usability testing, and agile development

  • Direct support with research, ideation, prototyping, and usability testing

  • Facilitated feedback sessions from the cohort and expert mentors

  • Access to the 1776 Global Innovation Network and online platform with an invaluable trove of startup resources

  • Flexible schedule built around your needs. This part-time program has workshops on nights and weekends with plenty of time between modules to apply the tools and methods

  • Hands-on experience with customized curriculum to bring your idea to the next stage via the Civic Inventor and Civic Entrepreneur tracks

  • Two months of individualized 1:1 advising with entrepreneurs that have a proven track record

  • Alumni access: After the program you and your team still maintain access to our mentors, 1776 platform, and anything else granted to you by this course


The early application period has ended. However, we are accepting rolling applications until August 5th. With only a dozen spaces open, we encourage you to apply as soon as possible.

Cost & Scholarship

Through our interdisciplinary course, you and your team will develop, test, and refine your civic idea. You are guaranteed to leave with a user-tested proof of concept, and a direction for where to take it next. The cost for the program is $1200 a month per team, with up to 3 people per team.  

In select cases, highly qualified applicants will receive scholarships, so no matter your financial situation, you should make sure to apply!