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Catalyst Fund

“As a recipient of a Catalyst matching grant, we are able to leverage funding to secure local grants we would not have received otherwise. With the support of the Catalyst Fund, our local funders can be proud of how meaningful their investment will be alongside the additional funds of a matching grant.”

— Young Women United

“With Groundswell’s matching grant, we increased our fundraising capacity and income and were able to hire a director of client services. This has enabled us to increase access to desperately needed legal services for our community and to improve the leadership development pipeline through which clients and others directly impacted by our work can build skills and grow their involvement as volunteers, decision-making members, and leaders.”

— Sylvia Rivera Law Project

Groundswell’s Catalyst Fund resources the nation’s strongest reproductive justice (RJ) organizing led by women of color, low-income women, and transgender people. In 2018, the Catalyst Fund granted $2.9 million dollars. The Catalyst Fund docket features the stories of 68 grantees working in 47 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. to advance reproductive justice. This includes 8 new grantees and 38 returning grantees, as well as 7 grantmaking partners and their 23 subgrantees. In 2017, the Catalyst Fund launched multiyear grants, awarding 10 of the strongest RJ organizations two-year grants for the first time. In 2018, the Catalyst Fund is proud to award multi-year support to 7 additional grantees.

Download the 2018 Catalyst Fund Docket

The Catalyst Fund supports organizations that are using grassroots organizing to advance reproductive justice policy and systems change. It centers efforts led by women of color while also supporting work led by low-income white women and transgender people, who together make up the constituencies who experience the greatest reproductive health disparities and the largest barriers to reproductive freedom in the U.S. 

Catalyst awards grants directly to grassroots organizations, including matching grants designed to bolster organizations’ efforts to raise new money from other sources. Particular attention is paid to organizations building cross-movement alliances between reproductive justice efforts and other social justice organizations, including labor, environmental and economic justice. Catalyst also awards matching grants to public foundations and women’s funds who make grants to organizations led by women of color and transgender people of color. Catalyst grantees are the main participants in Groundswell’s two flagship capacity building programs aimed at boosting the grassroots power of the field: the Integrated Voter Engagement Program and the Grassroots Organizing Institute. Catalyst has a strong track record of galvanizing new money for RJ from foundations and individual donors. Since Groundswell’s first RJ grants were made in 2008, grantmaking partners and grassroots organizations receiving matching grants have catalyzed $41 million into primarily women of color-led RJ work.1

“Support from Groundswell’s Catalyst Fund furthers our ability to seek support from current and prospective institutional funders . . . We leverage Groundswell’s longstanding support to invest in community-based reproductive justice organizations led by women of color.” — New York Women’s Foundation

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The Catalyst Fund has one primary grantmaking round in the fall of each year.

When identifying groups to support through the Catalyst Fund, Groundswell looks for organizations with:

  • A highly engaged and growing membership/constituent base comprised of people directly impacted by the conditions that they seek to transform;
  • Organizational leadership that reflects the diversity of this base;
  • Clear mechanisms for leadership development;
  • The ability to mobilize a base to win concrete policy changes;
  • A strategic direction with clear goals and objectives that are driven by the membership/constituency;
  • Ability to forge inter- and cross-movement alliances and to work well in coalition;
  • Innovation in framing and thought leadership;
  • A clear timeline for achieving goals and objectives and organizational capacity to achieve these;
  • An integrated racial, gender, and economic justice analysis;
  • Connections to intermediary support organizations that build the capacity and collective power of the RJ movement;
  • A strong track record of policy wins or strong strategy towards future wins; and
  • System for measuring the impact of the work, including clearly defined benchmarks for success.

Groundswell Fund defines strong grassroots organizing capacity as organizations with:

  • A grassroots base of at least 50 volunteers who can be consistently mobilized to take action in-person (not counting online actions);
  • Clear goals and systems for tracking the growth of their relationships with their base, leaders, allies and elected officials;
  • A sophisticated analysis of the political landscape, including clear power maps that inform strategic campaign plans;
  • A functioning leadership ladder;
  • Leadership in key coalitions; and
  • A demonstrated ability to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of policy decisions on their communities.

Catalyst provides the following types of support: General operating grants, capacity building grants and project grants, with grant sizes ranging from $20,000-$200,000.

To apply: Proposals are by invitation only. However, interested organizations are encouraged to contact Groundswell at info@groundswellfund.org with a brief summary of their work and when appropriate, staff will schedule a call to discuss.

1 The Catalyst partners referred to here include: Grantmaking Partners (public foundations and women’s funds that receive matching grants from Catalyst, fundraise from donors to raise the match, and then re-grant dollars to women of color-led RJ organizations) and direct matching grantees (grassroots organizations who receive matching grants directly from Catalyst and raise a dollar for dollar match). 

2018 Current Catalyst Fund Grantees

Catalyst Fund Grantmaking Partners