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Grants and In-Kind Support to California Nonprofits
to Improve Health Care for Disadvantaged Groups

Catalyst Program

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Center for Care Innovations (CCI) and Blue Shield of California Foundation (BSCF)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

11/19/21 5:00 PM


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Grants of $6,000 and in-kind benefits to California nonprofit organizations and health care safety net providers partnering with nonprofits to improve care for underserved groups. Applications must be submitted by at least three individuals representing qualifying organizations and partner organizations, as well as one team sponsor. Selected teams will participate in a six-month virtual skill-building program offered to organizations that will apply human-centered design thinking to support the recovery and renewal of California communities.

Design thinking is an approach to problem-solving that is rooted in understanding people’s needs and experiences, and it requires that innovators get comfortable in deepening their understanding of the problem before jumping into solutions. In the Catalyst program, the focus is on advancing equity through the exploration of power dynamics, leading with humility, and community “co-design” where those most affected by the problem – whether they are clients, caregivers, staff, or community members – play a pivotal role in creating the solution. 

In partnership with Blue Shield of California Foundation (BSCF), the Center for Care Innovations (CCI) is growing a community of innovators who lead strategic efforts to transform the systems that support historically underinvested communities. Catalysts become change agents in their organizations — discovering and testing new ways to address challenges, partnering with colleagues across their organizations, and collaborating with diverse stakeholders in their communities. They will develop expansive mindsets, combine creative, analytic, and design research methods; and push projects beyond conventional thinking to transformative possibilities.

This year’s Catalyst program will be virtual and will apply design thinking to support the recovery and renewal of California communities. The COVID-19 pandemic is a global emergency that continues to impact all social determinants of health (economic stability, education, social and community cohesion, health and health care, neighborhood and built environment).

During this six-month capability building program, Catalysts learn and practice “design thinking,” also known as “human-centered design,” to explore strategic challenges within their organization. Innovation methodology and design thinking skills are a powerful complement to training in Lean, Six Sigma, process improvement, and adaptive leadership. 

Catalyst is a curriculum-based program that provides teams with the training, tools, and protected time necessary to cultivate an innovative culture and an approach to problem-solving that is human-centered, collaborative, and creative. In addition to in-depth, virtual training, ongoing coaching and support to reinforce participants' skill development are provided. CCI also hosts an online resource library and a peer learning community to support continued learning. Project milestones help pace activities and sustain team momentum. 

Program offerings include: 

  • Virtual Training
  • Ongoing Coaching
  • Peer-Learning Community
  • Virtual Resources
  • Grant

For more details, see the Estimated Size of Grant section below. Along the way, participants will learn how to build a stronger team, dismantle disempowering hierarchy, cultivate a more experimental culture, and connect with their key stakeholders in fulfilling and fun ways. 

For Program Expectations, see the URL for Full Text link below.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 144425

Number of Grants:

CCI intends to select 15 strong teams for the program.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Program offerings include:

- Virtual Training: Catalysts participate in in-depth training that includes bi-weekly virtual lessons and applied workshops over a six-month period. At the end of the program, teams present their solution ideas to their own organizational leadership and fellow Catalyst participants.

- Ongoing Coaching: CCI matches Catalysts with peer coaches who have experience using design thinking in similar workplace settings. Coaches are embedded in the applied workshops and work with the Catalyst teams between trainings.

- Peer-Learning Community: Teams regularly bring their questions and ideas to each other to get feedback and learn from others’ experiences. CCI also facilitates online discussions about innovation and design among current participants and Catalyst alumni.

- Virtual Resources: Teams will have access to Miro, an online collaborative platform that enables dispersed team members to work effectively together. CCI maintains an online library of design thinking how-to videos, guides, and case studies that can be accessed at any time.

- Grant: Eligible organizations receive a grant to offset team members’ time, project expenses, and compensation for people sharing their lived experiences throughout the project. Organizations will receive a $6,000 grant.

Term of Contract:

The Catalyst program runs from January 25, 2022, to June 24, 2022.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Within this year’s Catalyst program, CCI is supporting organizations (or partnerships) focused on the recovery and renewal of its communities. Organizations in California that focus on this goal and meet one of the following two categories are invited to apply:

1. 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations providing social services to improve the physical, mental, social, environmental, or economic well-being of historically underinvested communities.

2. Safety net healthcare organizations that provide primary care services may also apply in partnership with up to two 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations, and the team must include representatives from the applying organizations.
- Organizations that have never participated in Catalyst will have priority.
- Innovation work is a team sport, so each applicant team is asked to apply with three members. Organizations that wish to send more than three members must pay $750 per additional participant to cover their program expenses.
- Applicant teams may comprise individuals from multiple organizations.

Currently, CCI is unable to accept applications from public schools, advocacy groups, or academic research organizations.

There may be space for teams that do not meet these criteria to participate on a fee basis. Please send an email if you are interested in learning more.

Pre-proposal Conference:

Join an Informational Webinar on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 12:00-1:00 PM to hear a detailed description of the program and ask questions.

Register here:

Pre-Application Information:

Team Member Resumes and Narrative Submissions must be submitted through the Application Submissions Form by November 19, 2021, at 5:00 PM.

Key dates:
- Informational Webinar: October 20, 2021, 12:00-1:00 PM.
- Application Deadline: November 19, 2021, 5:00 PM.
- Cohort Announced: December 20, 2021.
- Team Sponsor Orientation: January 25, 2022, 1:00-2:00 PM.
- Program Kickoff and Miro Orientation: February 1, 2022, 12:00-2:00 PM.
- Virtual Training: February 2022- June 2022.
- Final Presentation: June 24, 2022, 12:00-3:00 PM.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply Online:

For any other questions, please contact:

Ally Ottesen
Program Coordinator

Center for Care Innovations
1438 Webster St. Suite 101
Oakland, CA 94612
(415) 830-3020

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: California

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