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The Catalyst Fund

There are proven models and best practices that work. And then there are intractable and emerging problems that require a different approach, imagination and fresh, bold thinking.

The Catalyst Fund supports early-stage, novel approaches that have the potential to result in durable, transformative and equitable change, particularly in under-resourced communities.

These timely early-stage Catalyst Fund ideas should:

  • Address a precisely defined and timely problem or opportunity
  • Demonstrate a break from existing practice
  • Be informed by the people most affected by the issue being addressed
  • Create outsized impact for communities
  • Have the potential to inspire deep change in a field, sector, region or system
  • Address the needs of under-resourced communities and/or needs for a vibrant cultural sector in the Greater Philadelphia region
  • Stem from a shift in underlying assumptions, often built upon new or emerging evidence or arguments; or, a shift in cultural/social awareness
Our Definition of Innovation

The meaning of innovation is wide-ranging—it means different things to different people. At Barra, we define innovation as inventive and bold approaches that have the potential to lead to outsized impact. We do not want to “reinvent the wheel.” Our resources are intended to support catalytic innovation rather than incremental change or improvements. Our definition of innovation is grounded in the vision of our founder and the need for research and development (R&D) in the social sector.