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Building Grantee Capacity: Introducing Catalyst:Ed Exchange

The Catalyst:Ed Exchange is a powerful resource for foundations that want to provide their grantees with access to high-impact technical assistance supports, while also supporting peer-to-peer connections and learning. Our approach is rooted in our belief that grantees know their needs and contexts best, and must have agency to decide what supports they need and which technical assistance providers to work with. To support good decision-making, they also need viable options, verified information, a structured process and unbiased guidance.


Catalyst:Ed Exchange is a seamless, one-stop solution designed to help grantees:

Identify Needs

and shape projects around them

Access Support

from expert technical assistance providers, coaches, and consultants for their mission-critical needs

Learn and Build

on their peers’ capacity-building efforts



Catalyst:Ed Exchange also helps foundations:

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

Providing high-quality management assistance to our ventures has always been an important goal for NewSchools Venture Fund. 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. As a funder, it’s also important for us to see the data emerging from these engagements and know that we’re building a resource that is going to be helpful not just to our current grantees but also to future ones.
— Frances Messano, Senior Managing Partner, New Schools Venture Fund


Catalyst:Ed Exchange leverages the power of Catalyst:Ed’s expert network, technology, and know-how to deliver a valuable service for foundations and their grantees. At the same time, we design and create each foundation’s Exchange keeping in mind the foundation’s specific priorities and the profile of its grantees. Key components of Catalyst:Ed Exchange include:

1. Access to the Catalyst:Ed Expert Network

Grantees can connect with education and management experts from the the Catalyst:Ed network for technical assistance and office hours. Our expert network includes individuals and teams with the education and management expertise that grantees need. All experts have been through a rigorous vetting process.

2. A User-Friendly Online Platform

The Exchange platform is best envisioned as a virtual "commons" where grantees can connect with experts and each other. Features and functionalities of the Exchange may include:

  • An embedded, custom-developed needs assessment to help grantees identify gaps
  • A searchable list of capacity-building areas aligned with the needs assessment along with a list of suggested projects
  • A “starter-kit” of pre-scoped project templates for the most frequently requested projects
  • A library of curated resources including reports, tools and templates developed for other peer grantees

3. Hands-On Support From Our Team

Supports to grantees include:

  • Prioritizing identified needs into actionable technical assistance requests
  • Developing tailored project scopes for longer engagements
  • Requesting responses from top experts in the Catalyst:Ed network
  • Helping grantees as they interview and select experts
  • Checking in during engagements and providing as-needed guidance to ensure engagements are running smoothly and preemptively identify issues
  • Managing all contracting and payments to experts

4. Data Aggregation and Knowledge Sharing

This may include:

  • Collecting post-engagement survey results from grantees and experts to understand if engagement goals were met and aggregate lessons
  • Aggregating knowledge resources such as reports, tools and templates developed through engagements
  • Sharing knowledge resources with grantees through Exchange platform
  • Sharing emerging data on grantee needs and progress with foundations through reports
  • Analyzing data to surface insights about grantees and developing case studies to capture grantee journeys

Interested in learning more? Contact us at

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