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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.

Triple Bottom Brewing

Education Human Services
June 2024 $365,000 / 24 months

By combining a workforce development program with a community of practice for employers, Triple Bottom Brewing is testing whether providing both supply and demand-side supports can transform the hospitality industry into a supportive and sustainable employer for people impacted by violence, housing insecurity and the justice system. Individuals who have experienced these challenges often encounter disproportionate barriers finding and keeping employment upon return to the workforce, and most workforce development programs put the onus of employability solely on the employee, rather than the employer. Triple Bottom will anchor its workforce development program within a for-profit business, leveraging the credibility of an industry leader to create a seamless transition from apprentice to industry employee for participants. By focusing on often-overlooked populations and building both employee and employer capacity, Triple Bottom intends to break down barriers to employment while stabilizing the hospitality industry by meeting pressing needs for qualified personnel.


We Love Philly

Education Human Services
March 2024 $300,000 / 24 months

We Love Philly (WLP) intends to test whether by providing systemically marginalized young people at risk of not graduating high school with access to an alternative paid pre-apprenticeship program, and by building supportive networks and professional contacts with community leaders, they can increase graduation rates and create a pipeline to financially viable careers in growing industries like cyber security and solar software development. This first-of-its kind paid pre-apprenticeship program for high school students is a timely response to Act 158, which provides alternative pathways for students to graduate. WLP aims to serve as a model for others responding to this Act 158 opportunity. A “youth-first” nonprofit, WLP prides itself on listening to and centering the needs of students in developing its programming.


Deep Space Mind 215

Health Human Services
March 2024 $272,800 / 36 months

Restorative practice approaches to mental health care are generally only available after crises occur and in institutional settings that often harm community members in their operations and assumptions. However, these interventions hold great promise as preventative measures, and green spaces are naturally aligned with restorative practice work. By deploying restorative practice trainings, mental health education, and related programming for community members in local green spaces, Deep Space Mind (DSM) 215 intends to test whether facilitating access to community mental health care in third spaces (e.g. gardens, green spaces) makes neighborhoods more prepared to handle mental health issues within their neighborhoods as they arise, and less likely to require systems involvement to resolve them.


The Community Grocer

Health Human Services
March 2024 $400,000 / 24 months

Federal policy governing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allows individuals to use their SNAP benefits to purchase highly processed junk food but forbids the exchange of SNAP dollars for freshly cooked and nutritious hot food items. The Community Grocer (TCG)’s pilot location, in close partnership with neighborhood organizations and community residents, intends to test a new nonprofit retail store and workforce development kitchen model that will increase access to SNAP-eligible fresh food for vulnerable populations at local corner stores. At TCG, residents in Southwest Philadelphia will have access to fresh meal kits and the ability to trade unopened meal kits – at no additional cost – for hot prepared versions at the community kitchen next door, bypassing SNAP hot food restrictions. If successful, TCG would be a self-sustaining model that could be replicated in other communities throughout the country.


Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health

Human Services
September 2023 $400,000 / 24 months

Drexel University’s Dana and David Dornsife School of Public Health is partnering with the Community Research Review Board (CRRB) in the West Philadelphia Promise Zone Community to transform how traditional Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) review and approve their studies. This community-engaged approach to research will better ensure that researchers recruit residents and collect data to address the social determinants of health in the Promise Zone in the most trustful, community-engaged, ethical, culturally salient and scientifically rigorous way, while at the same time increasing the ability to generate data that leads to benefits for the community.

If successful, this practice has the potential for a strong community-led system of ethical oversight, research review and collaboration to solve the most pressing community crises. Such a methodology would be uniquely positioned to spread far beyond our region, promoting broader, systemic transformation of community research in promise zones and other under-resourced, highly researched communities.


Philly Joy Bank

Human Services
June 2023 $500,000 / 36 Months

The Philly Joy Bank is a bold pilot program that provides monthly guaranteed income and voluntary support services to pregnant Philadelphians throughout pregnancy and through their baby’s first year of life, with the goal of reducing racial disparities in infant prematurity.

Among the ten largest cities in the United States, Philadelphia has the unfortunate distinction of having both the highest poverty rate and the highest infant mortality rate—both of which feature profound racial disparities. Black Philadelphians disproportionately live in poverty, and disproportionately experience poor birth outcomes.  The Philly Joy Bank will improve financial stability during pregnancy, enabling participants to better address basic needs, improve their ability to access healthcare, and reduce prenatal stress. Based on evidence of clear links between cash transfers, improved parental and infant health, and birth outcomes, this pilot is positioned to demonstrate a path to decreasing the risks of prematurity in Philadelphia. The Philly Joy Bank has the potential to reveal maternal and child health impacts that would allow federal funding already earmarked for this population to be used as guaranteed income for families.



Pathways to Housing PA

Human Services
June 2023 $150,000 / 12 Months

To address a rising demand for junk hauling services in the community, Pathways to Housing PA created Good Haul, the region’s only nonprofit junk hauling service. It serves as a complementary program to the organization’s Philadelphia Furniture Bank (PFB), which provides no-cost furnishing to 1,400 homes for individuals and families exiting homelessness each year. Additionally, Pathways staffs its Good Haul operations with part-time, wage-paid employees from its Work First transitional employment program that supports individuals who are entering or re-entering the workforce after a significant break. Pathways takes a more coordinated approach than other peer resale or thrift shop nonprofits by matching donated items with nonprofit partners who can redistribute or reuse items to keep them out of landfills and put them in the hands of community members who most need them. Its innovative model simultaneously addresses sustainable waste stream management, gaps in employment opportunities for transitional workers, and a rising need for coordinated and community-based junk hauling services. Barra’s funding will help support the establishment of this novel social enterprise, position Good Haul to generate revenue, and outline a replicable model for other cities around the country interested in developing nonprofit junk hauling services.


VestedIn: Philly Rise

Education Human Services
June 2022 $350,000 / 24 months

Philly Rise is a five-year real estate accelerator program for emerging black and brown real estate developers designed to provide them with the training, affordable capital, technical assistance and networks they need to grow their companies. A cohort of 10-12 black and brown real estate developers will be recruited into Philly Rise each year with each developer receiving 14 weeks of high-level training, a committed pool of capital that they can promptly access for their projects, mentorship and coaching through the predevelopment and construction phases of their projects, and access to an ecosystem of developers, architects, contractors, and other residential development professionals in Philadelphia. The Philly Rise accelerator brings together a range of partner organizations (Black Squirrel, Urban Land Institute, Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation and AR Spruce) to provide developer cohorts with these resources.


Food Connect

Health Human Services
June 2022 $300,000 / 24 months

Food Connect is challenging the conventional wisdom underlying the traditional hunger relief model using effective data-driven designed technology. Funds will support the design and testing of a Partner Portal, that aims to address three critical problems plaguing the hunger relief network: lack of predictability, communication barriers and seamless collaboration. The Portal will enable large frontline hunger organizations, food donors and food donation recipients to easily communicate needs and availability to take advantage of the abundance of existing resources that are being massively underutilized. The Portal will act as a one-stop-shop for hunger relief organizations whose singular goal is to feed the hungry. This integrated approach to connecting food donors’ resources, recipient needs, and real-time transport has not been addressed in the field of hunger-relief.


Drexel University: Writers Room

Arts & Culture Human Services
January 2021 $300,000 / 24 months

The neighborhoods adjacent to the Drexel University campus – Mantua and Powelton Village – are rapidly changing. Part of a federally designated Promise Zone program created by President Obama that identifies them as high-poverty but also high opportunity, they are experiencing growth. This often means that existing residents have a difficult time remaining in their homes, due to rapid gentrification. Students also look to this area for more affordable housing options than in University City. In an attempt to ensure that the residents who live in these communities that surround this anchor institution can benefit from its growth, Drexel University’s Writers Room will develop and pilot an intergenerational co-living housing model. They will leverage their relationships with other neighborhood partners to include the voices of residents and students alike in shaping the pilot. Begun in 2014 at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, Writers Room is a university-community literary arts program that uses creative programming and art for social justice. Their mission is to develop inclusive, intergenerational, co-creative places that foster connection and community. Click here to learn more about the Second Story Collective or watch this recently produced video.

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