What is the Catalyst Fund?

The Catalyst Fund is an award program that provides support for ideas and projects that advance the mission and reach of Lyrasis member organizations. Initiated by the Lyrasis Leaders Circle, the Fund expands opportunities to explore, test, refine and collaborate on projects with potential for community-wide impact.

How much is available for projects?

While the amount of funds available changes from year to year, the Fund generally supports five projects annually and the average award over the past seven years has been approximately $24,000 per project.

Who is eligible?

All Lyrasis members are eligible to submit ideas or proposals and receive awards from the Catalyst Fund. In 2024, we are piloting a project to expand our applicant pool to reach additional library institutions, including public libraries. If you are a customer of The Palace Project, BiblioBoard or the Indie Author Project, you are eligible to apply but will be required to meet with Catalyst Fund staff prior to submitting your application. Reach out to catalystfund@lyrasis.org to schedule your meeting.


Can group agents apply for the Catalyst Fund?

Yes, a group agent can apply.

Can affiliates apply for the Catalyst Fund?

Affiliates or group participants are not members of Lyrasis and are not eligible to receive Catalyst Fund awards. They may be partners in a project sponsored by a Lyrasis Institutional or Group Agent Member. If unsure of your membership status, contact Member Support.

How many proposals and ideas can an institution submit?

Members may submit a maximum of one proposal and one idea per cycle. If multiple proposals or ideas are submitted by a member, Lyrasis will contact the individuals who submitted and request that they choose one to go forward for review. The proposal or idea that the institution defers may be re-submitted in next year's Catalyst Fund cycle. Alternatively, if there are other collaborating partners on one, or the other, another member institution may step forward as the lead applicant. For example, an institution may act as a lead on a proposal, and as a supporting partner on an idea application in the same year.

If my project or idea is funded this year, can I submit another proposal or idea next year?

Yes, past recipients can apply in subsequent years for new or continuing projects.

If applying for a second phase of a project that was already awarded Catalyst Funds, the required final report for the initial award must be complete and submitted to Lyrasis for sharing with the membership. Proposals or ideas for continued work should address the accomplishments of the previously funded project and highlight how new activities proposed build from the preceding project. If it is a new project proposing work in a different area unrelated to the preceding Catalyst Fund award, there are no prerequisite requirements.

What's the timeframe for implementing funded proposals?

Proposed projects should be no longer than 12 months.

Catalyst Fund recipients will be announced in early June. Projects should be planned around a July 1 start date.

For academic institutions that plan to hire student workers, a July start date can often complicate what is already a seemingly short timeframe. So careful and thoughtful planning when creating an implementation timeline is critical to the success of many projects. The staff at Lyrasis has a lot of experience in working on these grants and will be happy to speak with the staff as they design their project plans. Contact catalystfund@lyasis.org with questions.

What is the expectation around grant reporting?

Recipients of Catalyst Funds are asked to report on their results in two ways. The first is to provide a written report at the completion of their project by August 31 in the year after they receive their grant award. A template for the report will be provided. This written report for public posting is used to share outcomes, models and results with the Lyrasis community.

The Catalyst Fund Program Lead will also work with institutions to find additional ways to engage with Lyrasis members and the larger library, museum, archives and complementary research communities to encourage discussion, dissemination and the adaption or adoption of your project and to share what your organization learned. This secondary "report" could be as simple as a short online video interview. It might take the form of a series of social media posts; it could be a conference presentation, a longer publication, or something we haven't even thought of yet. Creativity and innovation in thinking about the audience for the project, and how best to get out the word are encouraged. Lyrasis staff will meet with institutions as the grant project is ending, to brainstorm what options might work best for an individual project and their second report.   

Do I have to implement the idea?

No. While proposals are to be implemented by the applicant and its partners, selected ideas will be implemented and maybe adapted slightly by Lyrasis staff for the benefit of the membership. Lyrasis may elect to implement the idea directly, work with additional members to plan or test the idea, or contract with a third party to do initial research and/or testing. Your organization's participation in design and testing of the idea submitted is completely optional and not a factor considered as part of the idea selection process.

Will Lyrasis review a draft?

Yes, Lyrasis staff will review draft applications up to two weeks before the application deadline. Drafts should be sent as MS-Word documents to catalystfund@Lyrasis.org. Drafts are not required but are highly encouraged. Comments provided will be suggestions only and do not imply any specific outcome from the review and selection process.

The staff will continue to work with institutions and provide feedback on drafts up to one week in advance of the grant deadline but may not be able to provide a written review.

How do Lyrasis members benefit?

Libraries, archives, museums and research organizations benefit by learning from  approaches and concepts developed and tested through the Catalyst Fund. The results of all Catalyst Fund projects are shared with the Lyrasis membership upon completion. Final project reports, links to project websites and open-source code repositories are made freely available to disseminate results and provide models for local adaptation. Information about completed projects is available here

If my proposal is funded, what terms are required of my organization?

If your proposal is selected for funding, the applicant organization agrees to:

  • Provide a final written report and presentation, openly accessible under a Creative Commons attribution license, for sharing with the community on the Lyrasis website.
  • Present on the project at a Lyrasis membership event either directly or through a Lyrasis-approved representative.
  • Make available any software products created with Catalyst Funds on a royalty-free basis according to the terms of an open-source license and in an open-source repository (such as GitHub).
  • Be financially responsible and use the funds specifically for the project as approved.
  • Communicate and/or meet regularly with an appointed Lyrasis staff member during the project period, as mutually agreed-upon at the start of the project.

​​Budget FAQ

How much can I request for a proposal?

The maximum you can request is $50,000. Note, that funding in the past few years has averaged $24,000, so a $50,000 request will need to be very compelling for serious consideration.

Can the budget include expenses related to project staffing?

Yes, staff costs (salaries and wages, benefits) may be included in your Catalyst Fund budget.

Will the Catalyst Fund cover overhead or indirect expenses?

No, the Catalyst Fund will not cover overhead costs or indirect expenses.

Indirect costs, also called overhead or "facilities and administrative costs," are defined as administrative or other expenses that cannot be directly tied or allocated to a specific program, project or activity. Instead, they are related to overall general operations and are shared among projects, programs and/or functions. Examples include expenses for executive oversight, accounting, utilities, shared technology and systems support, and facility maintenance. Some organizations may have a negotiated indirect cost rate with a federal government agency.

Can capital expenditures be included in the Catalyst Fund budget?

In general, the Catalyst Funds cannot be used for capital expenditures. On rare occasions we have funded some capital expenditures directly related to the work of the grant, however, this is a rare exception, and must be negotiated with staff prior to the submission of the grant request in order to be considered by Lyrasis.

Capital expenditures are expenses that result in the acquisition of longer-lived assets, those that have a useful life in excess of one year, such as property, buildings, equipment, furniture and fixtures. Expenses that are capitalized are amortized or depreciated over multiple years based on the expected life of the asset

Are there other budget exclusions?

Funds cannot be used to reimburse costs incurred prior to the award date or to support lobbying and political activity.

If you are unsure about the eligibility of a potential budget line item, contact us at catalystfund@Lyrasis.org.