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Fellows had been busy over the summer coming up with new social innovations as the August panel awarded support to ideas including: a temporary and low-cost sports space for inner-city estates; a platform for elders to influence community building processes; a part-shop part-technology lab; placements for young people to teach social media to small businesses; crowd-funding platform for post-graduate studies; services to transform empty homes; classes where un- or under-employed teach cookery.

Catalyst provides small grants and expertise to Fellows with an idea for a sustainable solution to tackle a social problem. Strong ideas – not only those that receive grants – are helped by the expertise available through the panel, RSA staff and, above all, by our Fellowship at large, for example through the RSA SkillsBank. Catalyst awards grants of £1,000 to £2,000 in the first instance – with additional £5,000 awards available for ventures that successfully deliver their first outputs.

The following ventures were awarded grants by the Catalyst panel in this round of applications. If you want to get involved with any of the projects, you can do so via RSA SkillsBank:

£5,000 to Bristol City Elders Summit – creating spaces for elders and changemakers to meet to make their insights available to city governance and community building processes

With £2,000, Fellows collaborated with Plymouth University, council and community organisations to hold conversations about how the planning process could better reflect the economic, environmental and social interests of residents. With this additional grant Alan Boldon FRSA leading the project will deliver a range of events in Bristol with partners such as Knowle West Media Centre, WOMAD Foundation and Bristol Green Capital Partnership to help deliver change in a city twice nominated Europe’s greenest.

£2,000 to 3-2-1-Ignition – science lab and shop with multifarious opportunities for community and young people’s engagement in science, technology, engineering and maths activities and learning

The Catalyst grant will contribute towards equipment and marketing to hold hands-on activities for young people and the general public to learn about cutting edge scientific research and technologies, much of which will be donated by partners from education and industry. The three-week pilot in Nottingham city centre runs from 15 October and includes the half-term break. Fellow leading the project, Rick Hall will work with Catalyst-funded Our Leicester Day who recently held their second annual event in Leicester’s main market square, to market it to local people. Rick is looking to collaborate with Fellows with marketing and communications expertise or with alternative science, technology, engineering or mathematics learning services.

£2,000 to Digital Reverse Mentoring – placing young people who are potential leaders and innovators in Fellow-led small businesses to mentor them in the world of social media

Having received a down-payment from Catalyst of £500 at a recent Fellows’ youth workshop, the full Catalyst grant will support a project designed to train and accredit BME young people. The pilot will find participants through RSA Fellow Emily Driuff of Peckham Space and will work with Fellows with small businesses, particularly in the cultural sector, in South East London – get in touch if your business wants to participate.

£1,500 to Leeds Empties – bringing together a range of organisations to bring more of the 5,500 long-term homes in Leeds back into use

The Catalyst grant will pay to oversee the delivery of services already pledged by 20 businesses for the transformation of one empty home as well as website development to help build further services. They plan to prototype different services, such as “Empty Homes Doctor” service, aimed in particular at “one-off owners” of homes, with a view to a full launch in April 2013. Rob Greenland FRSA leading the project wants to be matched to Fellows with expertise in housing, apprenticeship and social investment.

Two of this round’s grant awards went to Fellows that have recently became RSA Fellows through our newly-established partnership with Emerge Venture Lab an initiative of Oxford University’s Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Student Hubs. (For more about the RSA Fellowship’s partnerships read our blog). 

£1,650 to StudentFunder – through, anyone can provide a small loan or donation online to help admitted postgraduate students fund their education, reach new heights and pursue their dreams Catalyst funds will cover costs for a pilot with a partner university hosted on existing crowd-funding platform Buzzbnk. Students will raise funds first from their own network, then university alumni, then institutional parties and research bodies, and finally seek a loan for any remaining amount. Juan Guerra FRSA already collaborating with Fellowship Council member Ed Whiting, founder of WeDidThis. Juan is hoping to find Fellows with expertise in financial regulation and marketing.

£2,000 to Cooking with Mama – a cookery school where the classes are taught by dynamic unemployed/underemployed people, who have gained amazing culinary skills in their home

Catalyst grant will pay for venue space and marketing to help pilot the venture in London. Stephanie Wells FRSA, who co-leads the project, is looking to Fellows with legal expertise and for Fellows working with women’s groups, employment agencies, and the food industry.

Want to get involved?

If you would like to get involved in any of the above initiatives, please register in RSA SkillsBank and you will be matched to the project; please quote the name of the projects in the ‘interests’ section when you register.

Register your expertise to help other projects

If you want to help projects like those mentioned above, but none of them quite match your skills-set or location, we encourage you to register in the SkillsBank. After completing a short registration form we will endeavour to match you up with inspiring projects in need of your help.

Have you got an idea? If so, apply for a grant and help from Fellows for it

Visit to find out more about what support is available, what the criteria are for its award and how we help you collaborate with Fellows who have relevant expertise. The next deadline for Catalyst applications is Sunday 28 October.


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