The RSA Catalyst Awards are in their ninth year and in our first round of 2022, we’re proudly announcing another nine exciting social innovation projects that have received Catalyst funding.
Through our Catalyst Awards, we award £100,000 every year to social innovation projects we feel will have the potential to create the greatest impact.
For our first funding round of 2022, we received 98 applications and awarded nine Catalyst grants. Five of these were £2,000 seed grants (awarded to early-stage projects in need of a financial boost) and the other four were £10,000 scaling grants (for growing projects that have already made a proven difference).
Read below to find out more about the work of these projects, and how they plan to bring their innovations to life.
Catalyst Awards seed grant winners
A Regenerating Odyssey: Ancient stories re-imagined in virtual reality for today’s mental health
In collaboration with IJAD Dance Company, the Regenerating Odyssey will create the prototype for a virtual reality experience to alleviate the mental health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic by developing art-based therapeutic interventions. The experience will show scenes from Homer’s Odyssey narrated and interpreted by the participants in project activities.
“I’m thrilled to have received this award which will benefit of individuals experiencing stress. There is no magic pill to keep a clear mind and an uplifted mood, especially at times of collective illness, fear, anxieties, and grief. Joumana Mourad and I hope to harness the power of performative arts, ancient poetry, embodied movement, and science to regenerate personal stories of tense wandering towards reaching a quieter self." - Irene Salvo, Project Lead
Development of suicide bereavement training for early years practitioners
Luna Foundation CIC will develop and pilot an interactive online training session for early years practitioners to provide them with knowledge and confidence to support children aged two to five years who have lost a parent to suicide to mitigate the risks faced by this high-risk group.
"We’re absolutely thrilled to have been awarded an RSA Catalyst Seed Award to expand our work to support children after parental suicide. This funding will enable us to develop and pilot evidence-based online suicide bereavement training for early years practitioners to prepare them to support these young children. This group is a priority for us as research has identified them as being particularly vulnerable to mental health and suicide risks in later life." - Anna Wardley, Project Lead
Everything Grows is a combination of a vertical planting system made from recycled building materials and a learning program for underserved communities. The permaculture-based project will build community resilience and resourcefulness by giving people skills to utilise existing physical and natural resources to improve their lives and environment.
“The goal of Everything Grows is to create a self-sustaining modular food-production system suited for use in any estate or urban community with limited space. It gives people a chance to not only grow their own food, but also provides a shift of understanding of the abilities of existing assets, turning building waste into a structural resource, household food waste into a garden nutrient, and rain into a watering source.” – Scott Burnham, Project Lead
Planet.Health is an exploratory incubator bridging expertise across global health, climate, governance, technology and the arts to explore how blockchain technology can be deployed for planetary health.
"We believe that innovation happens where fields and expertise convergence. Planet.Health aims to respond to our most pressing climatic and human challenges but is lacking adequate tools to manage complexity; blockchain has the potential to revolutionise technological, financial and sociopolitical processes but is yet to live up to its full potential. How might these disciplines in symbiosis move to respond to critical planetary challenges?" - Rita Issa, Project Lead
ReDesigners Reading is a creativity and design project by Design Nature CIC to support and empower young people to further participate in developing local climate action strategies and projects.
Design Nature CIC will support in facilitating local young people in defining the issues they care about and hold a ‘redesign workshop’ to develop ideas and actions collaboratively. The first area that will be considered is fashion and textiles.
“With this Catalyst Seed grant, we're excited to be able to creatively explore developing different ways for young people's views to be heard and to actively participate in designing potential solutions to the issues they care about in their local community, feeding into local climate strategy plans and action” - Erica Purvis, Project Co-lead
Catalyst Awards scaling grant winners
Ashton Circle is part of the Community Circles Charity, working in the Greater Manchester area of Ashton-in-Makerfield to create opportunities for people to come together to have better and more connected lives. Ashton Circle will take a whole community approach, working alongside local people, businesses, and schools to support people to connect with each other and demonstrate the impact the wellbeing of the community.
“Relationships are at the heart of our wellbeing, and we are delighted to be supporting people living and working in Ashton with opportunities for great ideas and connections through our Small Sparks grants and Two Hour Club.” - Cath Barton, Project Lead
Listen in at Roche Court
Using the process-driven and experience-based approach championed by the Roche Court Educational Trust, six podcast episodes will be created with young people interviewing significant contemporary artists exhibiting at The New Art Centre, Roche Court Sculpture Park. The students will take ownership of entire episodes, developing overarching themes through questioning and research relating to each artist’s work.
"The Catalyst Award Scaling Grant will enable us to build on the success of our first podcast series (supported by RSA Seed funding). In an educational landscape where arts subjects are increasingly marginalised, this project provides opportunities for young people from schools with a high pupil premium to interview practising professional artists, thus increasing their aspirations towards careers in the arts. In addition, the podcasts will be shared widely with other educational settings and lifelong learners. As one participating year 10 student stated, “We got to speak with a prominent artist who has work in collections such as the Tate and know why they did what they did.” - Laura Joy, Project Lead
Making Sense is a partnership project led by the South London Gallery and UAL, with support from Hauser & Wirth and A New Direction. Shaped and informed directly by teachers, young people and artists, Making Sense takes an iterative approach to address structural and racial inequalities, enabling teachers to embed habits of anti-racist inquiry within their unique context.
“We’re absolutely delighted to be receiving a Catalyst Scaling Grant to further develop Making Sense, which sets out to investigate how developing pedagogical practice through a decolonising lens supports progression for young people. This grant enables us to streamline key research questions and open up the project to many more exchanges through the public platform.” - Carey Robinson, Project Lead
No Smoke Without Fire
The SAFE Foundation's ‘No Smoke Without Fire’ initiative aims to expand upon their work teaching people in Wales and around the world to build and use cooking equipment that relies on solar power and thermal insulation.
The project will help widen the knowledge and skills base of participants about green energy cooking practices and reduce their cost of living. The SAFE Foundation will engage participants in training from local solar cooking experts. Groups from India, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Wales will all learn how to make a sun box cooker and a fabric residual-heat slow cooker. The hope is participants will adopt these new cooking methods, reducing their reliance on unsustainable fuel sources and increasing their income by building these cookers and selling them in their communities.
"We are so grateful to the RSA for helping us take this project to the next stage and bring access to green cooking solutions to our communities around the world!" - Angela Bettany, Operations Director at The SAFE Foundation.
Congratulations to all these outstanding projects. We’re looking forward to watching them grow with the support of Catalyst funding. The Catalyst Awards will be open again for applications in September 2022.
We’ve updated our application process with new funding and eligibility criteria. If you have an interesting idea for a social innovation project and want to apply to the Catalyst Awards, head to our dedicated Catalyst area for more information.