Catalyst Fund Application & Eligibility

Applications are no longer being accepted for the 2020 Catalyst Fund. The prize process is temporarily suspended as we shift resources to address the COVID-19 crisis.

The Catalyst Fund, developed and managed in partnership with the Aspen Institute, recognizes ventures at critical junctures on their path to impact. Building on the success of the McNulty Prize, the Catalyst Fund was announced by Anne Welsh McNulty at the 2017 Resnick Aspen Action Forum, and has since raised over $1.2 million.

Annually, 3-5 ventures are selected to receive awards of approximately $15,000 each. In addition to financial support, recipients benefit from non-monetary support depending on their needs. Benefits may include opportunities at and scholarships to the annual Resnick Aspen Action Forum, leadership or organizational development consulting, coaching and community building, as well as opportunities for storytelling, visibility and networking. Recipients are announced on a rolling basis.


Eligible applicants for the Catalyst Fund for developing ventures should be at a critical juncture and have critical need. Typically at an earlier stage of development than McNulty Prize candidates, all Catalyst Fund candidates should exhibit high potential to deepen or widen their impact, with significant early momentum. Key criteria include impact, creativity and sustainability. See below for more details.

To qualify, applicants must be AGLN Fellows with a venture or Action Pledge two years active that is poised to continue for the foreseeable future. Submissions must be, or have substantially evolved from, what was designated the Fellow’s leadership venture. They can be non-profit, for-profit or hybrid structures, provided that social benefit is the key priority.


Applicants are asked to make a written statement of their venture, describe the critical juncture that it is at, and address its impact, creativity and sustainability and present supporting materials. Entries are judged on each of the following criteria:

Narrative Statement (200 words maximum)

Include 1) your venture mission, 2) when, and why the venture began, detailing the need your venture addresses, and 3) your title and role in the venture’s achievements.

Success to Significance (150 words maximum)

The McNulty Prize celebrates the boldness and impact of AGLN Fellows using their entrepreneurial spirit and private sector or professional platform to address the world’s toughest challenges. How are you uniquely positioned to address this issue? In what way is the venture or Action Pledge an outcome of your fellowship experience?

Critical Juncture (200 words maximum)

Describe the critical juncture your venture is at. What milestones have you achieved in the last year, and what milestones do you anticipate in the next year? We want to understand the narrative of your venture’s journey and trajectory—where are you coming from and where are you going? Critical need is a key criterion for the Catalyst Fund—how would funding and/or recognition make a difference for your venture at this specific stage in its development?

Impact (250 words maximum)

Describe the impact of your venture on individuals and/or the community, including any key early metrics you track. What evidence shows that the venture has been or will be accepted and embraced by those it benefits? How are you poised to grow or deepen your impact, and how will you know when you are successful?

Creativity (200 words maximum)

How does the venture reflect entrepreneurial approaches to addressing the need? What distinguishes it from others?

Sustainability (200 words maximum)

What is your vision for the future of the venture, and the next steps? How is the venture funded now, and how do you envision it will be sustained over time?

Not sure if you should apply to the Catalyst Fund or the McNulty Prize? Consult our cheat sheet here.

If your venture is more mature, with an effective model for change that’s now focused on scaling, deepening or institutionalizing, you might be ready to apply to the McNulty Prize. Follow this link to learn more and apply to the Prize.