CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a story published on February 19, 2021.
This competition gives Greater Clevelanders the chance to win up to five thousand dollars to help launch ideas that will make our region better, and this week, 31 individuals will be competing virtually.
Jing Lauengco is among them, competing with her creative storytelling initiative, Other Brown Girl.
"[Other Brown Girl] started as a digital experiment. I'm a brand strategist and a designer and I wanted to be able to share stories that looked like us and sounded like us," she said. "So Other Brown Girl" really blends pop culture, brand culture, and female cultural identity and it's really about multicultural modern women entrepreneurs, and creatives and where we connect and how can we collectively elevate voices and visibility for the next generation."
As a young brown girl with a colorful imagination growing up in rural Ohio, Jing says she saw the power of cross-cultural connections. She is not only a first-generation Filipina, she is also a "comeback cancer thriver," and says her journey has inspired her to connect with Other Brown Girls, to re-imagine cultural identity, diversity, storytelling, meaning, beauty and belonging, right here in Cleveland.
Jing says that preparing for this year's Accelerate competition helped her to map out her initiative, and as an accelerate alumni myself, I believe it. In fact, hundreds of dreams have intertwined at Accelerate throughout the years, and these cohorts often continue to inspire one another.
"One of the greatest things that I really enjoyed about this adventure with Cleveland Leadership Center is all the stories that I'm hearing from the entrepreneurs," Lauengco said.
And this competition that’s all about community takes a community. With yearly support from Citizens Bank and countless corporate partners; many roads intersect to ensure that each year continues to support the projects that Clevelanders are passionate about.
Jing says she's excited about the opportunity and has already been inspired by her fellow finalists.
"It's like activism through optimism. I've been so inspired by the presenters of this year - I've looked back in the archives and all these incredible stories and how they've evolved and unfolded their Cleveland stories and I'm so grateful to be part of this pitch class of 2021 at Accelerate," she said. "I'm delighted to be here."
Accelerate 2021 runs Monday, February 22 through Thursday, February 25th. Thursday's Finalist Competition is hosted by 3News' own Mike Polk Jr.
Tickets are still available here and are on a Pay What You Can basis. Last year, tickets were $35 per person. This year, you and your entire family can attend all four days of Accelerate for one purchase!