It's good news that RSA Catalyst has launched a new grant offer. Catalyst funding helps FRSA projects get started but that's not the whole story - collaboration and our Fellowship are how good ideas can really take off.
It’s an exciting time for Catalyst. Since 2010 we’ve helped hundreds of Fellows bring their innovative ideas to light, from Plan Zheroes food recycling charity to Student Funder’s loan platform helping further education be more financially attainable.
Now, after five years with a fixed offer we’ve launched a larger £10,000 scaling grant. The first winner selected from several well deserving projects is Swarm Apprenticeships, led by Robert Ashton FRSA.
Four other FSRA projects were successful for the start-up grant award, each receiving up to £2000. Our funding will support projects in a scattering of fields associated with key areas of RSA engagement.
£20,000 spread across five different projects may not seem like enough funding to be impactful. There are certainly larger opportunities out there, but Catalyst continues to be popular, often oversubscribed by 8 to 1; so why the enduring appeal?
It’s really about more than the money! Seed funding is always essential, but Catalyst brings other gains. Our endorsement can leverage additional investment, but the unique value of Catalyst is connectivity with our Fellowship. Our 27,000 Fellows have joined the RSA’s Fellowship to be part of a progressive community. They generously give their time, expertise and networks to many of the projects that shine through Catalyst. The power of our Fellowship to create inspiration and change is one of the reasons why the RSA is offering a larger grant for scalable projects.
Swarm aligns to the RSA’s aim to stimulate enterprise in new spaces. Their apprenticeships are rigorous and ahead of the curve because they partner with front line services like housing associations and give employers more control on funding, goal setting and training. Their collaborative model already works to the government’s policy for 2017 outlined in this week’s autumn spending review.
In fact, the best ideas coming out of Catalyst are true to the collaborative quality of Fellowship, always ready to grow opportunistically. The RDI led Helen Storey Foundation’ Can We Live Like Orchids? won £1,900 to support its feasibility study for an installation at Chelsea Flower Show which will act as a curriculum resource for partnered schools to study environmental vulnerabilities and adaptability. The foundations many interventions blend creative practice with STEM learning.
They are also working with RSA Academies (RSAA) for their Catalytic Clothing Series. Students learn that common articles like their own clothes can help to purify air pollution (shocking, even teenagers’ jeans can clean air). Out right now is their Dress for Our Time exhibition at St Pancras, London, marking the COP21 UN climate change conference in Paris.
Collaboration is not just a nod to creativity , it works well across different sectors. Healthy relationships: healthy society has been awarded £2000 to develop a toolkit helping communities identify and overcome risks of child sexual exploitation (CSE). The tools, guidelines and training package will be developed through community workshops with key stakeholders. Catalyst’s endorsement also leveraged £500 match funding from NHS England National Safeguarding.
From this small sample we see how the diversity of our Fellowship is a rich breeding ground for connection and innovation, and certainly “chance favours the connected mind” (Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson). Our responsibility as Fellows is to give these ideas room to test and grow in an impactful way for the betterment of society. We can’t do that alone as funders or thinkers, but by working together with a generosity of spirit for investigation and application that is true to the RSA’s heritage and our Fellowship.
If this inspires you have a look at some of the work we do to support out Fellow-led projects and get in touch. There are many ways the RSA can help to cultivate connections and impact.
The next Catalyst funding round is open, follow this link for more information, (closing date Monday 11th January 2016).
Would you like to be a partner or mentor for any of our projects? Contact: [email protected]
Follow these links below to connect with Catalyst’s latest projects:
How Alison Kwan FRSA, winner of RSA Catalyst Seed Grant, is using the Grant to create an innovative, sustainable way to empower Women in Central Vietnam to be independent farmers.