The Catalyst Fund awards
small grants for early-stage, innovative, and unconventional ideas that address urgent challenges.

Big, Bold Ideas

We’re looking for ideas that challenge our thinking, that compel us to see a problem in a new light; and whose creativity and imagination redefine notions of what can be done and how.

  • The Catalyst Fund application process is currently closed as we revise the platform and process.

    It should be back online in early February 2019. Thanks for your interest and patience.

  • The Catalyst Fund makes grants between $2,500- $15,000. We don’t limit ourselves to any one issue, rather we search across issues to identify opportunities where innovation is needed to address an urgent challenge. The Fund accepts applications on a continuous basis with no deadlines. There is no limit to the number of projects we’ll support in any given year. From time to time we will post a request for proposals for a specific problem we find particularly compelling or underfunded.

  • Applying to the Catalyst Fund

    Anyone can apply. No one has a lock on a great idea. The Catalyst Fund has been created to source ideas from all corners of the globe.

    We are looking for individuals or teams who are unbound by convention; whose projects challenge our thinking; who compel us to see a problem in a new light; and whose creativity and imagination redefine notions of what can be done and how.

    You can be a seasoned social entrepreneur or a first- time changemaker. There are no disqualifiers. No prerequisites.

  • What we mean by big, bold ideas

    Bold ideas depart from the status-quo and require us to look at a problem and its solution in a new light. Big ideas have a high potential for large-scale impact and sustainable change. Combined, ideas that are big and bold hold the promise of substantively improving the conditions for those in need in new and unheralded ways.

    That doesn’t mean we’re looking for the fantastical or sensational. Even big and bold ideas need to be achievable and informed by relevant facts. Nor are we looking for one single path or “magic” solution. No one idea will solve poverty, income inequality, or hunger. Complex problems require novel approaches that can be scaled to meet the needs of the many. That is what we we’re looking for.

  • How can $5k change the world?

    We know that $5k, $10k, or $15k won’t necessarily be enough to launch a new product, build a great program, or even form a new organization. We also know that social change is messy and that there are no silver bullets.

    The goal of the Catalyst Fund is to help those of you who have an innovative idea for real change to take the first step in doing so. We want to find ideas from non-traditional sources that can be brought to light and given a chance to succeed. In an environment where ideas, even far-out ones, are valued and the unconventional is seen as the new normal, we believe we can foster the type of risk-taking, creative thinking necessary to tackle today’s most critical problems.

  • What ideas are a good fit?

    We are interested in innovative ideas that make a difference. A cutting-edge product, an experimental program, a new service, an invention, or an original game are all in our wheelhouse. The idea has to improve on what’s already out there and it has to have the potential for tangible, measurable impact. Ideas that can be replicated, taken to scale, or leverage existing infrastructure are a good fit. We also favor ideas that inspire others, build on partnerships (public and private), and that are inclusive of those they are intended to benefit.

  • What ideas aren’t a good fit?

    Projects that are small in scope, limited in scale, or are not innovative in some way are unlikely to be funded. If the problem you’re trying to address is too narrowly defined or if it’s not clear how your solution will lead to measurable change we’re going to pass. Movie scripts, TV shows, video projects, webisodes, or podcasts are not likely to be considered. Projects that are well on their way to completion are also not a good fit. Remember, we are looking to kick-start early stage ideas, pilot projects, prototypes, or establish proof of concept that with our support will be better positioned to receive additional funding, attract partners, and raise public interest in what you’re doing.

  • What is the process?

    1. In the first stage, we screen all applications to ensure that they meet the criteria for a Catalyst Grant. Proposals in this stage will be evaluated on a variety of factors including innovativeness, clarity, scalability, capability, and impact.

    2. Applicants whose proposals pass the first stage of evaluation will be invited to participate in a brief phone call with one of our team members.

    3. Proposals that pass the second stage of evaluation will be sent to a TRF committee for review. That’s it! If offered a grant, awardees will be required to sign a Grant agreement that includes timelines and deliverables.

  • How do I know if I and/or my organization is qualified for funding?

    If you have a great idea and think it’s an innovative approach to a serious global issue, then we’re interested. Please see what is a Good Fit and what is not a Good Fit to learn more.

  • Can I use the grant on indirect costs?

    While we do not restrict how you use the grant funds we tend to favor applicants who plan to use their grant for direct costs associated with their idea/project. We are less likely to fund parts of a monthly budget, complement existing salaries, or for a project that has an overall budget that is many millions of dollars more than what you’re seeking from the Catalyst Fund.

  • How do I apply?

    All applications must be submitted through our website. We do not accept applications or materials through the mail.

  • What is the process after I submit an application?

    Once submitted, every request goes through an evaluation process that generally spans 3-4 weeks. The process includes ongoing proposal reviews, a 30-40 minute phone call for select proposals who have advanced passed the first stage, and a final review (oftentimes with external experts) before a definitive decision is made. If you do receive a grant we will ask you to submit a 1-2 minute video of your ideas and issue it’s addressing.

  • How will I be notified of a decision?

    Applicants should receive an email confirmation of receipt of the proposal. All further communication will be done by email.

  • What are the deadlines for proposals?

    There are no deadlines. Proposals are accepted year round. Apply Now!

  • What are the sizes of Catalyst grants (i.e. how much should we request)?

    Requests submitted through the Roddenberry Foundation Catalyst Fund will range from $2,500 to $15,000.

  • If I have received a grant, can I reapply?

    Upon reviewing the final report of a completed grant, the Board of Directors may consider another request.

  • If I have been declined for a grant, when can I reapply?

    If you have a new or different idea you can reapply immediately. If your grant was not accepted please do not resubmit the same proposal.

  • What types of projects does TRF typically fund?

    Please see what ideas are a Good Fit and which are not a Good Fit to get a sense of what we’re looking for.

  • What types of projects does TRF typically not fund?

    In addition to seeing what is not a Good Fit, please be advised that we do not fund religious programs/projects/activities, fundraising events, organizations with a substantial purpose of influencing any political, legislative or regulatory cause, labor unions, or fraternal, veteran or labor membership organizations serving only the members of that organization.

  • Can I apply if I am not a 501c3 or part of a larger organization?

    Yes, anyone can apply.

  • Do I have to be in or from the United States?

    No, anyone, anywhere can apply.