Academy for Cause and Community Engagement Leadership


We at The Forbes Funds strongly believe that the training, tools, and mentorship in the ACCEL courses are more important now than ever. However, due to the continuing restrictions on larger public meetings due to COVID 19, we are currently working with our partners to revise the Spring and Fall 2020 ACCEL courses. In conjunction with The Benter Foundation and INFLUENCE|SG, we are working to redesign the courses to address the current climate in the sector, more details will be forthcoming soon. 

Please contact Dr. Hannah Karolak ( or Preston Carmack ( for additional information. 



Enhance your fundraising and marketing with the Academy for Cause and Community Engagement Leadership (ACCEL). The Forbes Funds and The Benter Foundation are offering advanced courses to help Pittsburgh non-profit leaders increase awareness and build their base of supporters. 

This year’s program includes increased opportunities for graduates to enhance their knowledge and practical application. Due to the unfolding crisis around Covid-19, we have adjusted dates and pushed the application deadline for all programs to May 15. 

Level I:  Fundamentals Of Effective Marketing and Fundraising

Promote your cause with research-backed fundamentals needed for effective, donor-centric marketing and fundraising. Level 1 participants form a learning cohort to develop messaging, digital engagement, design and multi-channel campaigns. 

Level I Course Dates - Spring 2020

Full Day Course Sessions

3 Full day sessions 9AM to 3PM on

Session 1:            Thursday                  June 4
Session 2:           
Thursday                  June 11
Session 3:           
Thursday                  June 18

Cost:  $250 per participant. Lunch and refreshments included. 

>  Apply to ACCEL Level I 

Features - Team-Based, Experimental Learning | National & Local Case Studies for Application | Flash Advising by Instructor & Peer Mentoring | Resource Rich Participant Site: Templates, Recordings & Presentations | Graduates Eligible for Level 2: Movement Building Practices, and Invitations to Participate in ACCEL Executive Roundtables


Level II Prep:  Prepare For Level II With Mentored Support (New for 2020!)

Individuals that desire advanced knowledge in fundraising, marketing, and movement building can prepare for ACCEL Level 2 with this newly added course. Level 2 Prep participants are introduced to ACCEL Level 2 material through a mentored and consultative approach. This course helps leaders reach a new level of readiness for advanced learning and application. 

Cost:  $650 per participant. Lunch and refreshments included. 

Level II Prep Course Dates - Spring 2020

2 half-day sessions from 11AM to 2PM

In-person Sessions:

Session 1:            Thursday           May 28

Session 2:            Friday               June 26

*Additional private mentor sessions will take place over the course of the program.

Cost:  $650 per participant. Lunch and refreshments included. 

>  Apply to ACCEL Level II Prep 


Level II:  Movement Building Practices To Build Larger Constituencies

Build a movement behind your cause with peer mentoring and one-on-one coaching by instructor Derrick Feldmann. Using Level 1 fundraising fundamentals combined with skills from Level 2 Prep, participants learn social movement theory, issue adoption and engagement, data and building movements.

Prerequisite: Applicants are required to complete ACCEL Level 1.

Level II Course Dates 

Course Sessions run 9AM to 3PM on the following days:

Friday, May 29

Friday, June 5

Friday, June 12

Friday, June 19

Mentoring Sessions run from 3 to 4PM on the following days:

Friday, June 5

Friday, June 12

Online Sessions run 12 to 12:30PM on the following dates:

Tuesday, June 9

Tuesday, June 16

Tuesday, June 23

Salon Session

Friday, May 29, 4-6PM

Wrap-up Session with Board Members - Friday, June 26, 3 to 5PM

Cost:  $1,000 per participant. Lunch and refreshments included. 

>  Apply to ACCEL Level II 

Features - Team-Based, Experimental Learning | National & Local Case Studies for Interactive Application | Coaching Hours & Peer Mentor Engagement | Resource Rich Participant Site: Templates, Recordings & Presentations | Graduates Eligible to Participate in ACCEL Salons


Apply to ACCEL

Application:  Login to the online grant system to apply to ACCEL Level I, Level II Prep, or Level II. Once logged in, click the apply button in the upper left-hand corner. Applications for all programs close May 15th. 

Location:  Course sessions take place at The Forbes Funds, 5 PPG Place, Suite 250, Pittsburgh PA 15222.

Scholarships and Credits: Participants may be eligible for professional development credits upon completion. Please contact Preston Carmack at 541-908-1696 or for additional information.


ACCEL Participant Site

Access the Participant Site 
Access ACCEL Resources



"providing non-profits like Bike Pittsburgh access to national fundraising expertise...completely transformed my fundraising communications strategy."

"I learned strategies to take our marketing and fundraising to the next level. The best part? These were strategies specifically designed for non-profits. Non-profits who are short on staff and hours in a day."

"All of the guesswork we had, all of that throwing spaghetti against the wall, it was now gone. I had the opportunity instead to focus all of my effort on creating the best campaign possible with the tools they gave us."

"I learned... how to talk less about the non-profit and more about the people we serve."

"We raised $20,000 more during our year-end campaign compared to the year prior."

"I joined [a cohort] with little to no knowledge of the best fundraising tactics, and left with a clear strategy. This program works."