Join community-minded people in a hands-on philanthropy experience that's making an impact throughout Greater Hartford.

The Catalyst Endowment Fund provides opportunities to learn about the critical issues facing our region, meet new people who share your commitment to community, and determine grants to help tackle those issues. Since 1993, when a small group of volunteers came together to create the fund, this Giving Circle has worked together to make a positive impact in Greater Hartford. The Fund’s endowment has grown to $1.9 million, and the Giving Circle has made 68 grants totaling $1.1 million to Greater Hartford nonprofits. 

“The Catalyst Endowment Fund brings people together from all over the region to learn about critical issues and to pool their contributions to make a real difference.”
-Bob White, local attorney and long-time Catalyst member

How it works:

  • Catalyst members attend three meetings each year.
    At the first two, members learn about a pressing issue they have chosen and hear about promising programs that are addressing the issue in our community. Past topics include job training for veterans, arts in education, and early childhood literacy.
  • Members review grant applications from area nonprofits.
    At the final meeting, members vote on which programs to fund.
  • Members make a contribution to the fund on a yearly basis.
    A minimum contribution of $500, or $250 if you are a first-time member, is required to vote at the grantmaking meeting. Contributions are tax deductible.



Are you ready to join people from across the region who share the values of thoughtful giving? Join Catalyst online or print this form to mail in with your check. Member information will be sent to you shortly.



2024: Empowering Future Leaders and Community Builders Through Youth Sports 

This year, we will explore the myriad of positive effects that youth sports can have on individuals, families, and society as a whole. From fostering teamwork and leadership skills to promoting physical and mental well-being, youth sports play a vital role in shaping resilient, confident, and empowered individuals.

Learn more

2023 Preventing Homelessness: Investing in Housing Access 

Increasing costs of rent across the region have made access to safe, affordable housing a challenge for many Greater Hartford residents. Over the past year, more than 80,000 calls have been received by Hartford’s 2-1-1 information and referral service from people searching for housing or housing assistance. Of these calls, 45% needed assistance with shelter placement. Likewise, the number of unhoused people in Connecticut rose last year for the first time in more than a decade. We recognize that communities of color face systemic inequities that pose a significant barrier to housing access. The need to invest in homelessness prevention is clear. This year, we'll hear from experts, explore solutions, and ultimately take action toward our goal of ensuring housing for all.

Visit our Catalyst 2023 webpage to learn more

2022 ABC’s of Mental Health: Managing the Ripple Effects of Dual Pandemics 

The kids are in crisis. Trauma. Depression. Self-harm. Addiction.

Children and youth are facing a very real mental health crisis, with many national medical organizations declaring this a national state of emergency. Physical isolation, ongoing uncertainly, fear and grief are leading causes for this crisis, exacerbated by the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racially-based systemic inequities. What are the causes, what are the barriers, and what are the solutions?  

For more information on this topic, click here.

2021 Historic Roots in Inequitable Housing Policy 

Stable housing is fundamental to family success, community stability, health outcomes, educational achievement and economic growth. Historic housing policies such as redlining set in motion decades of community disinvestment that has plagued many neighborhoods since and has concentrated poverty in urban areas. In Hartford, an eviction crisis was underway even before COVID-19; this is expected to get worse with a surge of evictions in 2021, disproportionately impacting the estimated 140,000 low income renter households in Connecticut.

With Black and Latiné families overrepresented among renters in Connecticut, and more than 60 percent of Black and Latiné families renting, the impending housing crisis is also seen as a civil rights issue. What can policies of the past tell us about housing challenges today?

The following grants were awarded in 2021:

Desegregate Connecticut: Creating Equitable Transit-Oriented Communities in Greater Hartford, $23,705

This grant to Desegregate CT will support efforts to educate the public about how equitable transit-oriented communities are critical to desegregation and housing affordability. It will also support creating communication tools for residents to advocate for zoning changes at the state and local levels, including an animated video. The grant will also enable Desegregate CT to host walk audits and workshops (with the Center for Latino Progress/Transport Hartford) around specific Greater Hartford transit stations. This is the first attempt in Connecticut to create grassroots support for equitable transit-oriented zoning reforms.

Keep The Promise Coalition (KTP): Advocacy and Housing Trainings, $15,000

This grant to the Keep The Promise Coalition will support its work in leveraging education and advocacy strategies to mobilize and empower community members most affected by discrimination, both inside and outside Connecticut's systems of mental health and housing supports and services. KTP’s members will create and deliver trainings on grassroots self-advocacy, housing rights and leadership with principles of equity and accessibility.

Open Communities Alliance (OCA): Fair Share Campaign for a More Equitable Connecticut, $15,000

In response to Connecticut’s dual housing crises (a lack of affordable housing and deep residential segregation), Open Communities Alliance will use this grant to launch a statewide campaign to educate citizens and stakeholders about the Fair Share planning and zoning process. Already successful in New Jersey, Fair Share is centered in the recognition that there is a role for every town in meeting its region’s affordable housing needs, and such needs can be addressed with proper planning and enforcement. Working in collaboration with other partners, OCA will seek to inform residents how the adoption of a Fair Share zoning process would lead to the establishment of measurable housing production goals and an enforcement mechanism.

For more information on this topic, click here.

2020 Let's Hear It for the Girls! 

If you look at the layers of challenges on our most marginalized populations, you’ll see that young women and girls of color face an uphill battle. In 2020, we explored where the gaps in services and opportunities are, and ways that we can leverage our funds to support leadership and empowerment in an effort to help young women and girls reach their fullest potential. The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in economic challenges that disproportionately affect certain communities. Now more than ever, these girls need your help!

This year, three grants were awarded:

The Center for Children’s Advocacy’s received a $7,500 grant to engage a video producer who will work with juvenile justice system-involved girls to develop a video about how girls in the system feel about talking to system personnel, and how past traumas impact their interactions and inhibit their voices. 

Girls for Technology received a $25,000 grant for “Building the Next Generation of Youth Entrepreneurs," a program to prepare senior high school students’ mindset and skills for entrepreneurship over a ten-week program. This singular project focuses on preparing young women for entrepreneurship by teaching entrepreneurial mindset, technical competencies, and skills. 

Charter Oak Boxing Academy (COBA) received a $24,700 grant for their programs which offer a safe, fun place to learn, grow, and succeed during out-of-school hours. With boxing as the central “hook,” it offers youth and young adults the opportunity to become dedicated athletes and “Champions of Life”. This project will assist at-risk girls of color in developing psychological and physical strength, build confidence, self-esteem, assertiveness and trust. 

For more information on this topic, click here.

2019 Breaking the Cycle: Juvenile Justice Reform 

Each year about 3,000 children enter Connecticut’s juvenile justice system after being convicted of breaking the law. This sets many youth on a path of repeated incarceration—about 75% of juveniles on parole are rearrested and 75% of these youths are recommitted. Youth of color are over-represented within the juvenile justice system—black children are five times more likely to be arrested than white children. Many defendants are jailed because of an inability to afford modest bails. Should the court system should be more protective of criminal defendants until the age of 21?  Once youth have been incarcerated, what can be done to get them back on a path to success? What are the civil rights of these youth?

This year, two grants were awarded:

  • COMPASS Youth Collaborative received a grant of $41,750 for the Navigate Program to help youth inside Hartford's Juvenile Detention Center prepare for reentry and to develop strategies to avoid recidivism.
  • Peace Center of Connecticut Inc. received a grant of $16,250 to develop and implement professional training and supports for nonprofits and volunteer groups working with justice-involved youth.

For more information on this topic, click here.

2018 Fight Blight: One Neighborhood at a Time 

The negative impact of rundown and abandoned property is real and is a major factor in the overall decline of a community. Morale and a sense of belonging is tested as one stands on a front porch and views a streetscape of bad repairs and a lack of urban commitment. Along with blight comes arson, drug deals, squatters and prostitution.

If the Hartford area is to retain and attract residents and new investments, developing its curbside appeal must be a focus in supporting the vitality of communities, especially as Hartford faces fiscal challenges. Neighborhood Revitalization Zones are engaging residents, as well as a number of nonprofits in our region. What works, and how can we have the greatest impact? 

Two $26,000 grants were awarded to:

  • Christian Activities Council (CAC) - In 2017, the residents of Hartford’s Clay-Arsenal Renaissance Apartments worked with the Christian Activities Council to successfully revoke a one million dollar Housing and Urban Development grant from a New York-based absentee landlord and relocate tenants to better housing. After seeing this effort, the residents of the nearby Barbour Gardens apartments reached out to the Christian Activities Council to help them to achieve a similar response to the issues they were facing with blighted apartments in need of substantial repairs.  Thanks to the grant from the Catalyst Endowment Fund, Christian Activities Council will be organizing, engaging and equipping the resident leaders of Barbour Gardens with the tools to hold City of Hartford officials, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Barbour Gardens' owners accountable. The goal of this initiative is to force the property owners to make substantial repairs or sell the building to a reputable owner.
  • Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance(NINA) to support the renovation of two blighted properties at 115 and 117 Sigourney Street while also providing opportunities for approximately 200 volunteers to work at these two project site.
2017 Family Economic Security: Career Pathways 

Catalyst members learned about the importance of family-sustaining wages to overall wellbeing and economic security in our region, as well as programs that integrate education, job training and support services for adults, and why more employers do not participate in employment partnerships.

A $50,000 grant was awarded to:

  • The Manufacturing Careers Program, led by the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT), a program that recruits and trains women for careers in manufacturing. 
2016 Addressing the Mental Health Challenge 

Catalyst members learned about issues and challenges surrounding mental health and its prevalence in our communities. They also learned about the importance of raising awareness and addressing the stigma of mental illness.

A $50,000 grant was awarded to:

  • The Connecticut Children’s Medical Center/Injury Prevention Center for mental and behavioral health services for women and children who are survivors of domestic violence and residing at Hartford Interval House.
2015 Preventing Harm: Domestic Violence and the Effect on our Community 

Catalyst members learned about the impact of domestic violence on children and families, and voted to make these grants to support programs that address the impact on their emotional, behavioral and physical health, and help them live healthier, happier and more stable lives.

$46,249 in grants were awarded to:

  • Hartford’s Interval House to implement an enhanced version of the Moms’ Club and Kids’ Club offered at its facility.
  • Prudence Crandall Center to integrate the evidence-based Kids’ Club model into its existing Children’s Services program and to help build relationships with professionals in the community to improve long-term outcomes for the children and families it serves.

We were fortunate to partner with the Petit Family Foundation this year. After hearing the presentations from Connecticut providers serving families impacted by domestic violence, the Petit Family Foundation provided an additional $5,000 to each of the selected finalists.

2014 Learn to Read, Read to Learn 

Learn to Read, Read to Learn, concentrated on efforts to ensure that children learn to read competently at grade level by third grade, a key benchmark for future academic success.

$49,800 in grants were awarded to:

  • East Hartford Child, Inc. to implement a two-generation early literacy program.
  • Family Life Education, Inc. to develop, pilot and refine a young child cognitive learning component as part of its planned Children’s Fitness/ Wellness Center’s child development facility.
2013 ARTS in Educational Achievement 

Research indicates that integrating the arts into interdisciplinary curriculum provides students with opportunities to become more engaged with their own learning. Arts integration helps students improve academic performance and, in conjunction with teaching core subjects, promotes comprehension, retention, and critical thinking.

$44,000 in grants were awarded to:

  • Artists Collective for the Arts Integration and Meaningful Learning Project
  • HartBeat Ensemble for the Arts-Based Curriculum Integration
  • Judy Dworin Performance Project for Moving Matters!
2012 Beyond Basic Training: Job Readiness for Veterans 

Catalyst members learned how veterans returning home are faced with multiple barriers preventing them from entering into the workforce – a depressed economy, fewer jobs, and lack of knowledge to access educational/training programs. Many veterans return with a disability, either emotional and/or physical, which impedes their employability and often leads to homelessness.

A $50,000 grant was awarded to:

  • The Chrysalis Center, in partnership with Journey Home, for a project to provide homeless military veterans in Greater Hartford with job training and vital support services.
2011 Financial Literacy: Building a Better Future 

Catalyst members explored how they can help provide more people with the necessary tools to make sound financial decisions on a daily and long term basis.

A $50,000 grant was awarded to:

  • Co-opportunity, Inc. for a pilot project providing financial literacy education and coaching for parents at Burr School in Hartford.
2010 New Face of Homelessness 

Catalyst Endowment Fund members learned about the profound effects the recession and housing crisis have had on homeless people in Greater Hartford.

A $45,000 grant was awarded to:

  • Journey Home for its Moving On Initiative, a pilot program that will help 40 stable tenants of supportive housing to move to permanent affordable housing, allowing access to the vacated supportive housing for 40 vulnerable individuals.
2009 Healthy Food for Everyone 

Catalyst members learned about the availability of healthy food in Greater Hartford and how deficiencies in the food environment have a clear impact on the well-being of a community.

$50,000 in grants was awarded to:

  • Hartford Food System – to expand outreach of the Healthy Food Retailer Initiative.
  • Billings Forge Community Works – to expand its Farmers’ Market to a year-round program including nutritional workshops and healthy food demonstrations.
2008 Access to Health Services: Who is Missing Out and Why? 

Even if everyone had a way to pay for health services, what barriers exist that challenge people from getting proper care?

$50,000 in grants was awarded to:

  • The Malta House of Care – to help expand free health care services of its mobile clinic.
  • University of Connecticut’s Connecticut Health Education Center – to establish a Healthy Hartford-Healthy Eating Project to provide preventive and therapeutic nutrition and healthy lifestyle programming to the community.
2007 Truancy: A Family and Community Matter 

Members learned about truancy, and explored a variety of factors that affect students and their attendance in school.

$50,000 in grants was awarded to:

  • Hands on Hartford – to support expansion of the Family School Connection program.
  • Center for Children’s Advocacy – to enhance the Truancy Court Prevention Project.
2006 Literacy in Greater Hartford 

Members learned about local literacy levels, the implications these have for families and the region, and best practices for addressing our area’s particular challenges.

$50,000 in grants was awarded to:

  • Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford for educational technology.
  • Hartford Public Library to support computer-assisted literacy instruction for the homeless.
2005 Metropatterns: Population and Land Use Trends Shaping Greater Hartford – Part 2 

Members continued to explore how growth patterns affect rural, suburban and urban communities, and how to work together as a region for mutual benefit.

$45,000 in grants was awarded to:

  • Corporation for Supportive Housing, to create permanent supportive housing, and for a supportive housing Small Towns Project resource toolkit.
  • Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG), on behalf of the Capitol Region Partnership, for a regional indicators project.
  • 1000 Friends, to support its Grow Smart Connecticut Project.
2004 Metropatterns: Population and Land Use Trends Shaping Greater Hartford – Part 1 

Quality-of-life factors are related to the way our state is growing. The group learned about the challenging issues raised by the Metropatterns Report, a study published by the CenterEdge Coalition on land use, taxation, and concentrations of wealth and poverty in the region.

$45,000 in grants was awarded to:

  • Corporation for Supportive Housing for the Next Step Initiative.
  • Connecticut Public Broadcasting, through CPTV, towards a production entitled “Regionalism: A Commitment to Place.”
2003 Capitalizing on Hartford’s Strengths 

Building on last year’s topic, members focused on our capital city’s strengths. What are they? How can we make the most of these successes to keep Hartford and our region moving forward?

$40,000 in grants was awarded to:

  • The Greater Hartford Arts Council – Comprehensive Community Calendar.
  • Hartford Economic Development Commission – Continued Support of the Hartford 2000/CREN Neighborhood Leadership Training Institute and Alumni Network.
2002 The Power of Perception: How Attitudes Affect Progress in Greater Hartford 

Catalyst examined the commonly held perceptions of our region, and how perceptions affect progress. They learned how a region’s identity is formed, and how best to promote positive thinking.

$40,000 in grants was awarded to:

  • MetroHartford Alliance – the Hartford Image Project.
  • Hartford Economic Development Commission – Neighborhood Leadership Training Program.
2001 Beyond “The Bishops”: Leadership in Greater Hartford Today and Tomorrow 

Presentations emphasized the challenges involved in developing effective leaders with a range of skills, and that leadership must occur in institutions and organizations, and on an individual level.

$35,000 in grants was awarded to:

  • Hartford Economic Development Commission – Neighborhood Leadership Development Program.
  • Capitol Region Council of Governments – regional activities coordinated with The Gathering Place.
2000 Inside Hartford’s Schools 

Critical issues facing the Hartford public school system were the focus. Members met with school leaders and parents to learn more about the issues, unpublicized strengths, and plans for the future of the Hartford Schools.

$30,000 in grants was given to:

  • Hartford Consortium for Higher Education – Career Beginnings Program.
  • Hartford School Readiness Council – Family Development Training and Credentialing Program.
1999 Inside Hartford’s Neighborhoods 

Building on the 1998 topic, Catalyst members focused on neighborhoods. They toured North Hartford neighborhoods and discussed what was happening throughout the city.

$25,000 in grants was made to:

  • Capital Community College – scholarship funds.
  • Hartford Areas Rally Together (HART) – HOME program.
  • McDecca Child Care Center – computer labs project.
1998 Revitalizing Our Region: The People, Plans and Projects 

Economic revitalization efforts were examined at the city, neighborhood, and regional levels. Members explored ways in which programs and capital expenditures impact neighborhood development.

Two grants totaling $15,000 were awarded to:

  • Hartford Areas Rally Together – Home Ownership Made Easy (HOME) Program.
  • Co-Opportunity, Inc. – Young Adults Building a Future Program.
1997 Hartford’s Cultural Heritage: The Impact of Changing Demographic Patterns in Hartford’s Past and Future 

While enriching our lives, Hartford’s ethnic and cultural diversity has also created a number of recurring issues. Reflection on the experiences of early and mid-20th century newcomers inspired Catalyst members to discuss some of the issues still facing our community.

One $12,500 grant was made to:

  • Co-Opportunity, Inc. – Young Adults Building a Future Program (YABAF).
1996 Race in America: National and Local Perspectives 

Catalyst members explored race relations in the Capitol Region and considered grants that would strengthen leadership skills, increase public awareness, provide mentoring and educational support, and encourage urban-suburban public school partnerships.

A $10,000 grant was given to:

  • Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program (CPEP) – mentoring at Rawson and SAND schools.
1995 Children’s Checkup: Current Challenges and New Directions for Children’s Health Care in Hartford 

Members explored children's health issues in the Hartford area. Discussed were key policy trends and the importance of defining "children's health" broadly and within the context of family situations.

A total of $10,000 in grants was awarded to:

  • Connecticut Children’s Medical Center – The Healthy Families Connecticut Program.
  • Hartford Hospital – The Hartford Violence Prevention Project with the RAMBUH Family Center.
1994 Education Reform in Greater Hartford: Current Challenges and Opportunities 

Catalyst members explored ways to help school-age children, including after-school activities, programs for gifted students, and new enhancements.

Grants totaling $10,000 were awarded to:

  • Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program (CPEP).
  • Hartford Public Schools – Positive After-School Children’s Athletic Leadership Process.
  • Hartford Public Schools – Humanities Alliance Curriculum Library Acquisitions.
1993 Children at Risk: What Do They Face and What Can We Do? 

In Catalyst’s first year, 74 founding members chose to learn about children considered to be “at risk”, and then support programs effectively helping those children.

Two grants totaling $10,000 were made to:

  • Hartford Action Plan on Infant Health – The Always on Saturday Program at Mi Casa.
  • La Casa de Puerto Rico – The El Futuro en Nuestras Manos Mentoring Program.