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What is a Policy Accelerator?

Learn about our model and how it works.

03/01/2021 | Silverado Policy Accelerator

Silverado’s policy accelerator model is designed to grow new policy initiatives from the ground up. But what is our model, and how does it work?

Silverado Policy Accelerator grew out of a question: how can non-profit organizations not only generate new policy ideas but also facilitate the implementation of real policy solutions? From our experience in Washington and the private sector, we know that there’s no shortage of smart and important policy ideas percolating throughout policy circles. What these ideas often lack, though, is a detailed plan to guide their implementation. As a result, too many good ideas wither on the vine.

Our solution: the novel policy accelerator model. But what is a policy accelerator, and how does it work?

At its most basic, a policy accelerator combines the content expertise that you’d expect from a traditional think tank with the procedural dynamism of venture capital investment. The primary goal of a policy accelerator is to discover creative solutions to policy challenges and to provide them with the strategy and support that they need to become concrete policies.

When designing Silverado’s accelerator model, we drew inspiration from the world-class vineyards along the Silverado Trail, our organization’s namesake, in Napa Valley, California. Like excellent wines, durable policies need care and attention to develop. The three stages of Silverado’s accelerator model grow action-oriented policy initiatives from the ground up, like the soil, water, and sun that grow delicious Napa grapes.

Step 1: Cultivate. Successful policy solutions don’t typically start as fully-formed proposals; they start as the seeds of a new vision. At Silverado, we convene roundtable discussions that bring together diverse and bipartisan groups of lawmakers, policy experts, and industry and civil stakeholders to spur difficult discussions and generate productive disagreement over critical strategic challenges. Importantly, these discussions aren’t just gripe sessions. Rather, they’re a place for us to identify points of convergence that could serve as the seeds of new and actionable approaches to complex strategic challenges.

Silverado’s search for good ideas isn’t just limited to our roundtables. In the coming months, we plan to host our first Ideas Competition, where we’ll select a policy challenge that is ripe for new solutions and pose that challenge to you — the public. We’ll be looking for novel and creative ideas that fit the Silverado model — solution-oriented, actionable, empirical, and bipartisan. Silverado will then work with the winner to incubate and accelerate their idea. Outside of our Ideas Competitions, Silverado also welcomes unconventional policy proposals that address challenges in our three areas of focus. To learn more about how to share a proposal, please visit the “Ideas” page on our website.

Step 2: Incubate. You can’t make wine without smashing some grapes, and that’s exactly what the second stage of our accelerator model is designed to do. The Incubator Stage will leverage the policy expertise of Silverado’s team and Strategic Council, composed of policy experts in our three areas of focus, ranging from former government officials to industry and labor leaders to non-governmental advocates. Our Strategic Council members come from different political backgrounds and different disciplines, but they share one thing in common: they know their stuff, and they’re willing to put it to good use.

During the Incubation Phase, members of the Strategic Council will help to vet proposals, be they ideas that the Silverado team has developed or proposals that we’ve cultivated through our roundtable discussions or Ideas Competition. The vetting process gives our team of experts the opportunity to subject proposals to scrutiny from all possible perspectives and points of view, ensuring that our ideas are strategically sound, technically savvy, and contribute to long-term prosperity and competitiveness.

By the end of this phase, the seeds of our ideas will have begun to sprout.

Step 3: Accelerate. This is where the rubber meets the road. Following the vetting process, Silverado will leverage the expertise of our Strategic Council, technical team, and campaign partners to develop step-by-step plans to guide proposals through the proper channels of implementation, be they statutory, regulatory, or at the agency level. To broaden a proposal’s impact and scale its implementation, we’ll also build strategic partnerships with other stakeholders and groups looking to achieve the same policy outcome.

Working hand-in-hand with these partners and the individuals or organizations who provided the seed ideas for our campaigns, Silverado will then work to execute our implementation plan. Depending on the issue, the Acceleration Stage phase could include targeted, short-term work or multi-year campaigns.

Join Us!

Silverado’s Accelerator Model is designed to expedite policy outcomes, but not to rush them. Most importantly, the accelerator model relies on your input and participation. Have a creative policy idea that you’re dying to share? Send us a link to your paper, article, report, or study at info@silverado.org, or Tweet us @SilveradoPolicy, and we’ll follow up with you.

We’re looking forward to working with you to forge new relationships, building new bipartisan coalitions, and achieving the results we need to allow America and its allies to thrive in the 21st century.

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