Skip to content

Catalyzing Process

Navigating the Catalyzing Process

Articulating the idea and its purpose (2-3 weeks) 

This stage corresponds to the initial meetings with the Catalyst. In this stage, we aim to outline the goals, methods, and resources needed for the project. To achieve this, we investigate the environment of interest of our projects, brainstorm monetary or non-monetary resources needed, look into similar projects that have been implemented, creating a task list and timeline for preparation and implementation, etc. 

How will learning needs be bridged?  
Who will address needs for expertise/professional guidance? 
How (if at all) will more people be recruited to join the project? 
What resources are needed in the initial framing of the idea? 
How will challenges faced by similar projects before be addressed? 
What is the expected timeline for each step, alongside a pre-defined margin for adjustments? 
Preparatory work (3-4 weeks) 

Once we have an idea of what the project consists of, we are ready to start taking small steps to achieve our final goals. While this largely depends on the previous stage, it may include reaching out to different stakeholders, for example, community partners, academic departments, student groups, potential users, or manufacturers. Additionally, in this stage, we ask all projects to document their progress and meet with a Catalyst Mentor to discuss progress and/or challenges at least once every 10 working days.  

At the end of this phase, a final document envisioning the idea and describing its methods and work will be written by the team, in which the idea and its structure are finalized, and all needs of the project from the Catalyst are documented. Once the above document is prepared, it will be reviewed and the team will be given recommendations for improvement by at least one Catalyst mentor who has not worked closely with the project, and by at least one Catalyst coordinator.  

Early Operations (2 weeks – ) 

At this stage, given the above preparations, each project should be able to begin some portion of its operations, while continue checking in with their assigned Catalyst mentor. If early operations show that an expansion is feasible, teams can start working towards full operation, which may include applying for additional funding, seeking on-campus or alumni mentors, or formal request for collaboration with community partners, Grinnell College offices or departments, which may be organized through the Wilson Center. 

In particular, if Catalyst funding is required for the project, teams will have to demonstrate feasibility and/or effectiveness of the project by partial implementation of the project. A demonstration of at least 5 days of operational experience is required before moving to the next stage of funding application. The nature of this demonstration shall be co-decided between the Catalyst and the project and must be documented in its entirety. A waiver for this requirement can be provided in circumstances where such a demonstration is unreasonable – this shall be decided on a case-by-case basis by the Catalyst and be replaced by another form of demonstration of skills needed to achieve the goals of the project.  

Once the early operation requirements are completed, teams can work with their assigned mentors to prepare for the Catalyst funding pitch, which happens 1-2 times per semester. This process consists of two components – the written funding application and the pitch presentation.

Brief overview of the initial idea and the form it is presented in  
Month-by-month changes and progress made, if reasonable  
Detailed description of the idea  
Clear articulation of how it encompasses all purposes of the Catalyst  
Detailed description of “Preparatory Work” including articulation of the structure, logistics, operations and next steps of the project  
At least a 3-6 month overview of goals  
Details of resources (including funding) needed, and towards what?  
Perceived challenges and drawbacks of operationalizing such a project 

If the proposal is accepted by the Catalyst Funding Committee, the team is then provided the requested resources, with room for amendments as decided by the committee. If it is recommended by the Committee that the project needs further preparations, then the project returns to the “Preparatory Work” phase and charts out a reasonable plan forward, with a Catalyst mentor, should those envisioning the project deem it useful. If a project is rejected by the Committee, the project returns to the “Clear Articulation of the Idea and its Purpose” phase, should those involved in envisioning the project deem it useful. 

Full Operation 

Currently, this section primarily refers to projects that have pitched and received funding from Catalyst funds. Funded teams will be assigned two mentors and are expected to check in at least every two weeks to update their progress and ensure that funds are not misused. Teams are also required to submit a blog post every two weeks as documentation of their project progress, which will be uploaded to the Catalyst website. Additionally, assignments related to individual projects may be assigned. 

The views and opinions expressed on individual web pages are strictly those of their authors and are not official statements of Grinnell College. Copyright Statement.