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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.

Center for Architecture

Health Human Services
December 2015 $175,000 / 24 months

Healthy Rowhouse Project, a collaborative hosted by the Center for Architecture, aims to tackle the barriers preventing Philadelphia from repairing rowhouses at scale in order to improve the health of residents and preserve critical affordable housing. They aim to improve 5,000 houses per year—thousands more homes than any other U.S. city has been able to repair—at an average cost of $10,000 per home. Building from their preliminary research and with the support of their multi-disciplinary coalition, in the next two years Healthy Rowhouse Project will develop a new home repair infrastructure, including an organized network of service delivery partners, new program designs and creative financing for property owners and investors. This grant was originally made to the Center for Architecture, the initial fiscal sponsor of Healthy Rowhouse Project, but was transferred to Clarifi, Inc. when the project relocated.


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.


Jounce Partners

June 2015 $190,000 / 36 months

Based on evidence that demonstrates teacher effectiveness is the most important factor in student success, Jounce Partners seeks to improve student learning through a new model of professional skills development for educators that provides targeted support and an easy to follow structure. Jounce Partners will further develop its unique school leader and teacher coaching model that employs extremely high-frequency feedback, high-repetition practice of key teaching skills, and very specific criteria for execution of those skills.



June 2015 $96,200 / 12 months

Inglis has designed a new service delivery model called LIFE that will enable their clients with significant disabilities to live more independently in a community setting, rather than in an institutional environment. The LIFE center will be in the new complex and will offer enhanced medical services, adapted computing, education and other opportunities for community engagement. To implement the LIFE program and support the transition of residents from Inglis and other nursing homes into a newly constructed community facility, Inglis plans to employ Pay for Success (PFS) financing, an emerging social finance tool. The grant will support Inglis’ efforts to hire experienced consultants to oversee the PFS initiative’s implementation, including deal structuring and evaluation.


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.


Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project

Human Services
March 2015 $125,000 / 24 months

Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, led by two Echoing Green fellows, will achieve shorter and fairer sentences for youth facing adult criminal charges through their innovative sentencing advocacy intervention. Their long-term goal is to use their experience and evidence to inform efforts to change how the city and state’s adult criminal justice systems treat children, by humanizing the sentencing process for youth.


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.


Pathways to Housing PA

Human Services
December 2014 $150,000 / 24 months

There is currently no system in place to help staff of charitable organizations provide furniture to homeless clients who are moving into new homes. Searching for and delivering low-cost or free furniture creates a bottleneck in housing placements and prolongs the time that people live in an emergency shelter or temporary housing. For hundreds of nonprofit organizations, this approach costs precious staff time and scarce resources. To solve this problem, Pathways to Housing PA and its partners will launch a large-scale, tech-savvy system to redistribute cast-off furnishings at no cost to families and individuals in need: Philadelphia Furniture Bank.


Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia

Human Services
December 2014 $150,000 / 24 months

Habitat for Humanity ReStore sells new and gently used donated building supplies and home goods to the public. 850 ReStores across the U.S. generated $89 million in net profits in 2013, covering the costs of 898 Habitat homes. Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia’s ReStore offers a unique and significant opportunity for the organization to increase revenue and, in turn, build and repair more homes for Philadelphians living in poverty. Despite a strong business model and success in other cities, the local ReStore has struggled financially.  Determined to diagnose the problem and turn the fledging business around, Habitat enlisted professional counsel on retail management and real estate and determined that the store’s location was dramatically hindering its potential. The Barra grant will allow Habitat to relocate their enterprise to a competitive new location, deliver improved marketing, and secure the financial strategy services of Nonprofit Finance Fund.


Bethesda Project

Health Human Services
December 2014 $75,000 / 12 months

Bethesda Project is developing a new model of care for chronically homeless individuals, Bethesda Beacon. Their goal is to make available within one building a seamless process for people to transition from living on the streets, to engaging in social services, to receiving and recovering from medical care, to living in permanent housing. The “step-up” model includes a welcoming café, medical respite care for 30 people and 50 units of permanent housing—all under one roof. The Barra grant will support Bethesda Project’s first phase of planning, which includes examination of the design’s feasibility and financial sustainability.


The Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia

December 2014 $80,000 / 6 months

PhillyGoes2College, a project of The Mayor’s Office of Education, launched Connect2College (C2C), an initiative featuring a web-based app and text messaging tool that provide users with college access information. The online and mobile tools supplement and enhance C2C’s work with community-based organizations to provide on-site college planning information. This new approach utilizes scarce resources more efficiently to provide citywide access to information and to foster a college-going culture.

Update: Through C2C, The Mayor’s Office of Education has strengthened 24 organization’s capacity to offer college access resources and services. Awareness of C2C has grown and more residents are accessing C2C through the website, the texting platform, at partner sites and through one-on-one appointments with C2C staff. From the launch in January 2015 through October 2015, the website had 6,962 users, the texting platform had 428 subscribers, the Facebook page had 1982 likes and there were 242 new Twitter followers demonstrating the reach of C2C’s message.

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