Note: The Catalyst Fund is closed for 2024. Our next application cycle will begin in January of 2025. In the meantime, the staff is happy to discuss concepts throughout the year. To make an appointment or ask questions please contact catalystfund@lyrasis.org.

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. All Lyrasis members are encouraged to propose or become a reviewer and vote for which proposals are funded each year!

Catalyst Fund Values

The Catalyst Fund values are:

  • Community-driven projects and projects having community impact
  • Diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility
  • Open source, open access, open sharing of results and open infrastructure
  • Cross-institutional collaboration

Creative Concepts

The Catalyst Fund supports creative concepts that:

  • Serve the broad interests of the Lyrasis membership
  • Test-and-try new approaches to shared problems; and
  • Advance important objectives of libraries, archives, museums and complementary research communities.

The 2024 Catalyst Fund Cycle

 
Timeline
  • Applications for the 2024 Catalyst Fund will be available starting January 8, 2024.
  • The final submission deadline is February 23, 2024.
  • Funding decisions for the Catalyst Fund are announced in early June. 
  • Recipients will then have one year (July through June) to implement their projects.

Themes

For 2024, we are seeking proposals that fall under two categories: 

1. A traditional Innovation Theme — open to any institution that wishes to: 

  • Explore a new concept that will benefit the library, archives, museum or complementary research fields
  • Build from existing projects or programs for expansion, or 
  • Create partnerships with previous awardees to continue to develop their work.
2. A Public Library Theme, which centers around five issues. 

  • Accessibility. 
  • Expansion of services to rural areas.
  • Making banned books accessible. 
  • Addressing community engagement and impact.
  • Navigating the politics in rural communities, local cities, and towns. 
    • We know that public libraries face continuing concerns in their communities but are resolved to offer inclusive customer service despite political divisiveness across the United States and elsewhere. We are interested in supporting projects that will demonstrate how  public libraries are resolving these issues at a local level.
Successful models or projects that are already working can apply for continued funding. Pilot or demonstration projects are always welcome to apply as well.

Submissions

Submissions are accepted from any member of Lyrasis. 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.

The types of applications seen in previous years have addressed subjects and concepts as varied as AI, accessibility, climate change, copyright challenges, digital archiving, disaster preparedness/response, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), metadata transformation, open educational resources, professional education, open source and community-supported software development, scholarly communication, social justice work and virtual reality, just to name a few. However, don't let this list limit your creativity.

An applicant may submit no more than ONE proposal and ONE idea per year.

  • If submitting a proposal, you are requesting funds to pilot your own project. Funds will be awarded to your organization if the project is selected.
  • If submitting an idea, you are recommending an issue, problem, service need or solution that Lyrasis could investigate, test and address. If selected, ideas will be included in Lyrasis' Research and Innovation agenda for exploration, planning, program design and piloting. Your organization may have the option, but would not be obligated, to participate in the resulting program, service, or solution.

If you wish to submit a proposal or idea to continue work on a project previously funded by the Catalyst Fund, you may apply. Such applications will be judged by the same criteria as others in the competition. The work on the prior Catalyst Fund project must be completed and the final report submitted for consideration of a new grant award. In addition, the new Catalyst Fund submission must include a description of the previously funded project's accomplishments and what new activities are proposed.

If you'd like the staff to review your application prior to the final submission or to have staff comment on your concept, reach out to us at catalystfund@lyrasis.org.

Not planning to apply this year? Consider volunteering as a reviewer.

How to Apply

Applications for the Catalyst Fund will be accepted through midnight EST on February 23, 2024. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposed concept with Catalyst Fund staff prior to submitting a brief online application form and two-page PDF describing their proposal or idea.

Please review the Instructions and Selection Process & Criteria before submitting.

For Proposals:

For Ideas:

  • All prospective applicants should consider discussing their proposed concept with Catalyst Fund staff prior to submitting an ‘Idea’. Contact catalystfund@lyrasis.org to schedule a meeting.
  • Review the Instructions for Ideas.
  • Describe your idea. Use the template (MS Word format) to create your own document using the same outline. Your final proposal will need to be formatted as a PDF.