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Catalyst Fund Grantees

Read descriptions of these timely, early-stage projects that are aiming to shift practice in the social sector.

Temple Contemporary

Arts & Culture Education
March 2016 $180,000 / 26 months

Through “Symphony for a Broken Orchestra,” Temple Contemporary seeks to answer the question “How can we get more music back into the schools?” in a creative, sustainable way. In support of and in partnership with The School District of Philadelphia (District), this project will teach music teachers in the District how to repair some of the District’s 1,500 broken musical instruments, returning them to the classroom and the hands of children. How-to videos will be created and music repair kits will be provided to all District schools with music programs. Opportunities will also be provided for the public to learn more about the District’s music programs and instrument repair. The program has the potential to spark a chain reaction in other cities facing financial challenges in providing music education by creating a low-cost, replicable, school-centered and sustainable model.

December 2015 $185,000 / 36 months

Tiny WPA’s Building Hero Project provides design, leadership and entrepreneurship skills to individuals ages 16 and up who want to be part of a diverse community of civic change agents. The Project harnesses the enthusiasm of those interested in the maker movement by providing deeper learning and connections to a trade. The Project centers on an 8-week training program where participants acquire the design and fabrication skills needed to create products and the know-how to undertake neighborhood revitalization and design-build improvement projects for the community. Using lessons learned from national models, Tiny WPA will build the Project into a sustainable social enterprise that provides fabrication services by Building Heroes to the design and manufacturing sector.


Widener University

Arts & Culture
September 2015 $210,000 / 15 months

The City of Chester is one of the most economically distressed municipalities in the region.  In recent years, key arts, business, city government and non-profit organizations have been collaborating to revitalize and heal the city. That work coalesced as “Chester Made,” a participatory urban planning process. Widener proposes the Boundaries and Bridges project, which will utilize civic arts methodologies to build on the momentum generated by Chester Made to identify and bridge community-university boundaries to strengthen and support collaboration in Chester. This approach to civic engagement can serve as a new model for other schools looking to positively engage with their partner communities.



Arts & Culture
September 2015 $120,000 / 12 months

Cultural organizations regularly collect data around their work, however, due to an ongoing capacity gap in terms of knowledge, skills and resources, they often do not effectively use this information to tell their story and analyze their work. DataArts will integrate an online, on-demand educational curriculum designed to build arts professionals’ data fluency into its well-established and widely-used data gathering platform. By providing this information and training across the cultural sector, the curriculum has the potential to significantly influence and improve how arts professionals do their work.


Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture

Arts & Culture Education
September 2015 $60,000 / 24 months

Northeast Philadelphia is a rapidly changing community and its neighborhood high school, Northeast High School (NEHS), is a unique microcosm of the growing diversity. NEHS is the largest public school in Philadelphia and one of the most diverse high schools in the nation, serving over 3,000 students, with 56 languages spoken and 750 English as a second language students. Currently, there are few opportunities for channeling this level of diversity in positive ways. Al-Bustan will engage NEHS students, parents, faculty and staff in a multi-faceted arts program that will use deep exploration of cultural identity and connectedness to further important conversations about diversity at NEHS and in other schools and neighborhoods. This work has the potential to promote understanding of and have a deep impact on communities that are often overlooked and, therefore, misunderstood.


The 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education

Arts & Culture Education
June 2015 $150,000 / 9 months

Philadelphia has a rich cultural sector that provides informal educational opportunities for youth. These are often disconnected from the needs of the city’s schools. The Greater Philadelphia STEAM Initiative will explore how to bring together the cultural and education sectors to facilitate a more robust and academically purposeful relationship between the two sectors to create an integrated STEAM curriculum. A planning process that engages key stakeholders from each sector will aim to determine how to leverage the valuable programs of the cultural community to better support schools. If planning efforts are successful, subsequent phases of the Initiative will include creating a full curriculum and piloting it in three high schools.


The Clay Studio

Arts & Culture
March 2015 $175,000 / 36 months

Through HandCrafted, The Clay Studio will use collaborative, low-commitment, social experiences to acquaint new audiences with their work and highlight how ceramic art is part of day-to-day life. This creative approach to audience engagement provides an accessible entry point for new visitors to learn more about a typically niche art form and is a gateway to expanded opportunities like workshops and collecting. HandCrafted will be replicable by organizations looking to creatively link art and experiences.


Mural Arts Advocates

Arts & Culture
March 2015 $100,000 / 12 months

Open Source, a project of Mural Arts Advocates, will consider Philadelphia’s diverse urban identity through the works of 14 artists from around the world. These artists will work within the community to broaden the conversation around topics including mass incarceration, education, youth development and economic challenges. The project will culminate in a series of talks, tours, visual documentation and direct engagement with the artists in October 2015. These forums will provide an opportunity for Open Source to spur dialogue and catalyze social change.


Philadelphia Young Playwrights

Arts & Culture
December 2014 $75,000 / 16 months

Philadelphia Young Playwrights will undertake the 1219 Vine Project to activate new levels of partnership with the Asian Arts Initiative and Mural Arts Program to create a model for deep and lasting collaborative work. The project harnesses the momentum of transformation in the Chinatown North neighborhood and will culminate in one or more community-centered events and/or artistic works. By integrating their resources and skills for the purposes of the project, a model for collaborative practice may be established that can be adopted and adapted by other organizations nationwide and inspire innovative thinking around other creative placemaking efforts.

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