Skip Navigation

How to Apply

The Catalyst Fund provides early-stage funding to organizations aiming to test or launch novel ideas with the potential to create durable, transformative and equitable change, particularly in under-resourced communities.

What We’re Looking For

Ideas and initiatives should provide significant impact for communities and should have the potential to inspire change in a sector, field, region or system.

  • Funds can be used to explore, test or launch innovative ideas, organizations or initiatives.
  • Projects will typically be early-stage, meaning less than three years old, although the applying organization can be more mature.
  • Projects should fall within one or more of our four interest areas: Arts & Culture, Education, Health, and Human Services.


How to Pitch Your Idea to Barra

If your idea is a strong match with our mission, we want to hear about it.

Complete an Online Letter of Inquiry (LOI) Form

At the LOI stage, we are trying to determine if your proposed idea meets the Catalyst Fund’s innovation criteria. In the LOI, we want to understand how your idea is different from existing approaches and its potential to be transformative. In addition to understanding the uniqueness of your approach, we look for other elements including: a clearly defined problem or opportunity and the timeliness of your idea. We also think that leadership is an important factor in identifying, nurturing and sharing innovation. Projects should build upon a strong organizational and/or individual leadership track record.

Click here to submit an LOI for consideration.

The Barra team reviews LOIs on a rolling basis, with the goal of responding to all inquiries within 45 days and notifying organizations as to whether or not they are invited to submit a full application. Staff will follow up to ask clarifying questions if we have them. You will receive an email to let you know whether or not you are invited to submit an application.

If the team decides that your LOI should move on to the application phase, you will be notified by email and invited to submit a full application. Proposals that are determined to meet the Catalyst Fund criteria will be considered at a quarterly Barra board meeting in March, June, September or December. The process from LOI submission to grant approval typically takes four to six months.


Review Stories & Ideas, Current Grants and Past Grants to learn more about our approach and priorities.

See current grants and past grants