Grantee-Driven Capacity Building:

Empower your grantees to build their own capacity

As funders, how can you effectively support grantees that have very different needs and contexts in becoming more effective, innovative, equitable, and resilient? How can you honor their perspectives and preferences, while also ensuring they have the support needed to reach their full potential? How can you learn from their experiences and leverage insights to inform your work and the sector?

Built for foundations and trusted by leading national and regional philanthropies, Catalyst:Ed Exchanges put grantees in charge of their own capacity development, while supporting them with a scaffolded process, expert guidance, and high-quality provider options.

Learn more about how Exchanges can help build grantee capacity, while also informing your grantmaking below.

Build Grantee Capacity

  • Identify Needs

    We work with your grantees to help them identify their needs and build a capacity building plan.

  • Access Support

    We connect grantees with expert technical assistance providers, coaches, and consultants.

  • Learn and Build

    We create opportunities for grantees to learn from and build on the work of their peers

Inform Your Grantmaking

  • Power Grantee Efforts

    by funding high-impact and individualized capacity-building projects.

  • Track Grantee Progress

    and learn what’s working and why.

  • Connect the Dots

    across projects to surface patterns and build collective knowledge

  • "Our partnership with Catalyst:Ed has been a great way for us to make sure our ventures get the thoughtful and timely support they need to build strong organizations. The breadth and depth of expertise in the Catalyst:Ed network ensures that leaders across our portfolio can access coaching and consulting help in any area."

    Frances MessanoFrances MessanoCEO, New Schools Venture Fund
  • "Working with Catalyst:Ed has made our work better, and I know our portfolio of grantees appreciate the partnership. The team is smart and so responsive. They have direct experience working in our field, so they can relate to the needs of our grantees. They listen really well and, more importantly, are proactive and creative in coming up with ideas for problem-solving and meeting the support needs of our grantees."

    Funder FeedbackAnnual Survey 2022
  • "Our grantees are much more aware of their areas of strength and growth - and how those change over time - due to our partnership with Catalyst:Ed. As a trusted partner and intermediary, I believe they have built trust with our grantees to have open and honest conversations about the places where they struggle which is not normative in the funder-grantee relationship. "

    Funder FeedbackAnnual Survey 2022
  • "We have been able to track increases in grantee capacity in areas that are central to achieving the outcomes of these multi-year, multi-million dollar grants because of the data provided through Catalyst:Ed's periodic capacity assessments. We have been able to make smarter decisions about where to invest our money in capacity building supports based on these data, and our grantees have been able to pinpoint and access support in places where they specifically need to improve. It's been a game changer."

    Funder FeedbackAnnual Survey 2022

Exchange Components

We design and create each foundation’s Exchange keeping in mind the foundation’s specific priorities and the profile of its grantees. Each grantee is matched with a dedicated Capacity Advisor from our team, who supports them through their capacity building journey. Key components of Catalyst:Ed Exchange include:

  • Grantee Diagnostic

    Our Capacity Advisors facilitate a capacity assessment with each grantee to understand their assets and development priorities, and use diagnostic results to help grantees identify their biggest capacity building priorities and develop a plan while taking grantee contexts and available resources into account.

  • Provider Matching

    Our Capacity Advisors develop thoughtful scopes of work for each capacity building priority. We then guide grantees through our signature matching process, where we identify a curated list of qualified providers from our diverse network and support them in identifying the right partner.

  • Feedback and Reflection

    We ensure the project remains on track, and capture feedback and data from grantees and selected consultants at specific points in the selection and project engagement cycle. Important trends and insights are shared with the foundation for progress-tracking and decision-making.

  • Contracting and Payment

    Our team handles all consultant invoices and payment processing via “consulting wallets”, so your grantees don’t need to sweat the details.

  • Program Design and Management

    We work closely with your team to design the Exchange so it meets your portfolio-specific needs. We share emerging data on grantee needs and progress with you through reports and develop case studies to capture grantee journeys.

  • Communities of Practice

    We partner with the foundation to design a cohort experience (including convenings) that cultivate peer connections and learning opportunities and are designed based on grantee input.


  • Spotlight

    Networks for School Improvement (NSI) Exchange

    Our NSI Exchange connects the Networks of School Improvement grantees of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation K12 team with their peers, vetted providers, and knowledge resources. Catalyst:Ed takes each grantee through a capacity assessment framework, based on which grantees are connected to customized supports and resources. The NSI Exchange has since spurred us to launch the Learning Lab for School Improvement Teams, a public-facing resource for teams interested in incorporating networked improvement practices into their work.

  • NewSchools Exchange

    Catalyst:Ed has partnered with NewSchools Venture Fund since 2017 to provide capacity building to successive cohorts of grantees. Grantees have appreciated the depth of expertise and diversity of providers in the Catalyst:Ed network and the thoughtful and timely support they received from their Capacity Advisors in order to build strong organizations.

  • Oak Foundation Exchange

    Catalyst:Ed is partnering with Oak Foundation to support several of its grantee partners in strengthening their organizational capacity so they can better support students with learning differences. Grantee organizations receive comprehensive, equity-centered support, including diagnostics for self-reflection, advisory services from Catalyst:Ed’s team, and tailored capacity building.


Our Funding Partners


Interested in learning more?