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Catalyst Awards application criteria

About Catalyst

We award £100,000 annually, supporting Fellows to test needed social change innovations and scale the social impact of projects. We offer two levels of Catalyst Awards: £2,000 Seed Awards and £10,000 Scaling Awards.

To be eligible, you must be an RSA Fellow. Find out more about RSA Fellowship.


Seed grants (£2,000)

Seed Awards are grants for: early-stage projects in need of a financial boost, to help them develop into sustainable projects with the potential to deliver measurable social impact.

Seed Awards are intended to offer: the opportunity to test an idea, with a view to evaluating their project and actively collecting evidence of proof of concept. By proof of concept, we mean that there is documented evidence that the potential project, product or service can have a positive social impact.

Seed grants can be paid to: individual Fellows or a fundable organisation.

Scaling grants (£10,000)

Scaling Awards are grants for: established projects that have clearly demonstrated their proof of concept to help them scale and grow.

Scaling Awards are intended to offer: a financial boost to help projects become sustainable and/or replicable in order to increase their positive social impact, with strong plans in place to measure and evaluate impact.

Applicants should demonstrate a clear strategy for growth, including a clearly identified market, reasons why this audience will use and benefit from the project, service or product, and a clear understanding of the activities required to bring the project to its next stage.

Scaling Awards can be paid to: a fundable organisation aligned with the RSA’s charitable objectives, only.

RSA Funding Priorities 

We welcome all applications aligned with the RSA’s charitable aims, explored through our Impact Programmes (Future of Work, Regenerative Futures, A Learning Society) and projects. More information on our Impact Programmes can be found below.

We will prioritise applications:

  • broadly aligned with our Impact Programmes and projects, and
  • where RSA support is integral to the aim of the project.

By RSA support, we mean our people (Fellows and staff), networks, social media and communication platforms, our research and more.

We prioritise these projects because we believe that through aligned collaboration we will best achieve our ambitions of wider systems change. Strong applications will demonstrate the contribution their projects will make towards the broader visions of the relevant RSA projects or programmes. If your project doesn’t directly align with our current Impact Programmes or projects, please get in touch with the Catalyst Team to explore your project’s fit. We are always looking for strong, timely applications tackling a broad range of current challenges.

Our current programmes are:

1) Future of Work programme

Does your project contribute to ensuring good work for everyone, especially in an age of technological change?

By good work we mean work that allows an individual's wellbeing to flourish, enables growth in their capabilities, nurtures their sense of identity, grants them the freedom to live a larger life; and delivers the material security that allows them to participate equally in society.

Many people already enjoy good work – but many do not. If your project tackles barriers which get in the way of marginalised groups or communities in accessing good work, or navigates the challenges and opportunities of automation and AI, you’re likely aligned with our Future of Work programme.

Your project might relate to giving workers a stronger voice in their workplace or empowering workers around the data collected about them. Equally, we are interested in projects that try to build a more resilient safety net for workers and improve their learning opportunities.  If your project relates to the Future of Work in a different way, we are excited to hear about your ideas.

See our report ‘A blueprint for good work’ for more information about the RSA’s work in this area.

2) Regenerative Futures programme

Does your project contribute to creating a future that enables people and the environment to thrive together?

If your project affirms social and environmental outcomes as interconnected and part of a whole, and sees place, identity, democratic participation, and multiple perspectives as essential to success, you’re likely aligned with our Regenerative Futures programme

Your project might relate to climate change, circular and sustainable economies, restoring or revitalising communities and places. If your project relates to Regenerative Futures in a different way, we are excited to hear about your ideas.

Read our page, ‘Regenerative Futures’ for more information about the RSA’s work in this area.

3) A Learning Society

Does your project help to enable and recognise learning outside of traditional structures? Does your project work with learners of any age who have not thrived in formal education? Do you have a project that ties learning to the needs of the place you live?

Projects that align with the Learning Society programme will likely have a place-based focus and be learner centred. Your project might use innovative means to build eco-systems or communities of learning. There could be a strong digital element to the work, but it is not a platform or online-only solution.

Part of our aim is to build communities of practice and innovation capabilities within the lifelong learning sector, so we particularly appreciate projects with openness, transparency and collaboration baked into their approaches.

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Catalyst FAQs

One-stop shop for any questions and tips about the grants process.

Elif Shafak at the RSA

Become an RSA Fellow

The RSA has been at the forefront of significant social impact for over 250 years. We invite you to be part of this change.


Contact the Catalyst team

Any questions? Call us on +44 (0)20 7451 6895