Innovation Catalyst Program

Grants to California Nonprofits and Agencies to
Improve Health Care for Disadvantaged Groups

GrantWatch ID#: 144425
Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

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


12/08/17 5:00 PM PST

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Grants of $15,000 and in-kind benefits to California nonprofit, government, and tribal health care safety net providers and community partners to improve care for underserved groups. Applications must be submitted by at least three individuals representing qualifying organizations and partner organizations. Selected teams will participate in a six-month program in order to apply human-centered strategies.

In the Catalyst Program, the Center for Care Innovations (CCI) is growing a community of innovators who are leading strategic efforts to transform the systems that support underserved populations. Catalysts become change agents to discover and test new ways of addressing complex challenges, partnering with colleagues across internal hierarchy and collaborating across sectors. They develop expansive mindsets, combine creative and analytic methods, and push projects beyond conventional thinking to transformative possibilities.

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.

The Catalyst Program provides teams with the training, tools, and space necessary to cultivate an innovative culture and approach problems from the perspectives of users and stakeholders.

Program Overview and Objectives:

In the Catalyst Program, teams learn to practice the behaviors, methods, and mindsets that spark innovation. By applying a dozen design thinking techniques and tools to a strategic project, teams foster inclusion, openness, collaboration, and rapid experimentation.

The program is curriculum-based and employs project-based learning. Training is spread out over the course of six months to track the actual pace of the project activities and milestones taking place at Catalyst teams’ sites. To reinforce and build on what is taught in the three in-person workshops, the program provides remote coaching support and e-learning opportunities between the meet-ups. The Foundation has designed program milestones, including a showcase where Catalysts pitch their projects to team sponsors and other safety net innovators, to help teams hone their design thinking skills and sustain project momentum.

A core tenet of the programming is “co-design,” wherein the stakeholders affected by the problem – whether they are clients, caregivers, frontline or ancillary staff, or community partners – play a pivotal role in co-creating what the future should look like. This value underpins everything in the Catalyst program, from trainings to milestones to collaboration outside of core project teams.


The Foundation recognizes that it takes time, space, and resources to innovate. To cultivate an environment where Catalyst teams can learn and advance their projects over the six-month program, the program provides in-depth training, ongoing coaching, an on-demand e-resource library, and a peer-learning community. In addition to the resources below, Catalysts learn how to build a stronger team, dismantle disempowering hierarchy, cultivate a more experimental culture, and connect with stakeholders in fulfilling and fun ways.

All Catalysts teams are expected to:
1. Attend the kickoff webinar on January 23, 2018, at 12:00 PM, PT.
2. Complete assigned pre-program research in advance of Workshop 1.
3. Participate in all three workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area.
4. Document research activities with photos and video.
5. Pitch their ideas at a showcase on June 29, 2018.
6. Ensure their sponsor (organizational leader) participates in the pitch session on June 29.
7. Submit their final slide deck and budget by July 14.

Catalyst Teams Receive:

-Funding: Grant recipient organizations receive $15,000 in grant funding to offset staff time, travel, patient incentives, and other costs related to program activities and project development.

-Training: Over the course of six months, Catalysts participate in six days of hands-on workshops where they learn to apply human-centered design methods to their project challenge. The June 28-29 workshop provides a venue for Catalysts to showcase their efforts to organizational sponsors and other innovators in the safety net community.

-Ongoing Coaching: Catalysts learn from coaches who have experience executing human- centered design strategies within the safety net. The program embeds coaches in the in-person workshops, and Catalyst teams can call their coach for remote support one hour each month. Design practitioners also hold office hours and webinars throughout the program.

-Virtual Support: CCI maintains a resource library of webinars, tools and templates, method cards, and explanatory videos that teams can access at any time. Program staff also run just-in-time office hours and “booster” webinars.

-Peer-Learning Community: Teams regularly “pitch” their questions and ideas to each other to solicit input, discuss ideas, and learn from others’ experiences.

You must be able to dedicate approximately 15-20% of your work time to Catalyst activities over six months. This time commitment includes attending trainings and advancing the work outlined by the program milestones.

Health care safety net organizations in California and their community partners are eligible to apply.

Each team must include three individuals. Teams are encouraged to include members from partner organizations, if the project warrants it. Grant recipient organizations must be nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code (IRC) OR a governmental, tribal, or public entity. Examples of eligible organizations that comprise the health care safety net include:

-Free-standing community clinics and health centers.
-Ambulatory care clinics which are part of public hospital systems, either located in the public hospital or out in the community.
-Primary care health centers, including those sponsored by city and county public health departments.
-American Indian Health Centers.
-Clinic corporations and regional clinic consortia.

To be inclusive of organizations that have not yet accessed the programs, new organizations are highly encouraged to apply. The Foundation may prioritize organizations that have already sent two or fewer teams through the Catalyst Program.

For Organizations that Do Not Meet Criteria: A limited number of slots are available on a fee- basis ($4,500 per person) for teams ineligible for grant funding. Please see the program flyer to learn more.

Interested applicants are encouraged to participate in a webinar on November 14, 2017, 12:00 PM PST.

This webinar will be lead by CCI Executive Director, Veenu Aulakh, who will provide an overview of the 2018 Innovation Catalyst Program and how to apply.

Please register online in advance to receive dial-in and conference information.

Upload and submit all application materials via the online form by Friday, December 8, at 5:00 PM PST.

The Foundation finds that the ideas that are most successful have the support of organizational leadership. For this reason, team sponsors are expected to take part in the showcase on June 29, 2018 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

2018 Program Timeline:
-November 1, 2017 — Request for Applications Released
-November 14, 2017 12-1 pm PST — Informational Webinar
-December 8, 2017 5 pm PST — Application Deadline
-January 19, 2018 — Cohort Announced
-January 23, 2018 12-1:30 PM — Virtual Kickoff Webinar. All applicants: Please hold this date on your calendar.
-February 13-14, 2018: Workshop 1
-April 25-26, 2018: Workshop 2
-June 28-29, 2018: Workshop 3 - Showcase on June 29, 2018

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

Register for the November 14 webinar:

Apply Online:

Diana Nguyen, Program Coordinator

Center for Care Innovations
1438 Webster St. Suite 101
Oakland, CA 94612

P: 415.830.3020
F: 415.707.6988

See the full text of this grant

USA: California

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