The Catalyst Fund: 

Advancing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in American Orchestras

A Grant-making Program of the League of American Orchestras
Made possible with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Catalyst Fund is a three-year pilot program that will award annual grants that aim to build the internal capacity of member orchestras to advance their understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) and to foster effective EDI practices.

Applications are now closed. 

Quick Links

Follow this path to begin the application process:

1) First, read these informative documents:

The Request for Proposals (with all the details)

FAQs on The Catalyst Fund

Resource Guide: Preparing Your Catalyst Application and Selecting an EDI Consultant

2) Then review our webinar:

Webinar presentation

3) If you have any questions, schedule a consultation:

After you’ve reviewed the webinar and read the above documents, you may email any questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or schedule a 15-minute individual consultation call with a League of American Orchestras staff member. 

Schedule a Consultation

4) Apply for a grant:

The Online Application


Orchestras across the U.S. have told the League of American Orchestras that they are committed to advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) throughout their organizations but that they need help in doing so.

The League’s new Catalyst Fund aims to address that. Made possible by the generosity of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Catalyst Fund supports the League’s commitment to advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion in the field, and it responds to field needs expressed during the League’s recent listening, learning, and planning process.

In 2018, the League conducted a series of focus groups and interviews, as well as a field-wide survey, to better understand how to support members in addressing EDI within their organizations.

This research demonstrated orchestras’ commitment to serving people of all races, genders, and cultural, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds, but also the extent of the challenges involved. Orchestras recognized that engaging authentically and respectfully with diverse communities requires them to examine—and often change—their own values, cultures, and ways of working. And they acknowledged the difficulties involved in resourcing and advocating for this work within their own organizations. Orchestras cited the need for guidance from EDI leaders/practitioners, as well as access to adequate financial and staff resources, in order to reinforce this work and make progress.

With a grant from The Catalyst Fund, orchestras will engage an EDI consultant to help them advance their commitment to EDI. For example, Catalyst funding might support an orchestra in developing an EDI audit and plan; in undertaking a strategic program of coaching, mentoring, or training for staff, board members, and/or musicians; or in establishing a consortium of regional orchestras to identify and address shared professional development needs.

Successful applicants will demonstrate their commitment to authentically advancing and sustaining EDI efforts, and to building an organizational culture in which equity, diversity, and inclusion are central. They will clearly articulate the goals for their proposed work and their organization’s readiness to undertake it. And they will provide a clear and detailed account of how the proposed work will be implemented.

The League acknowledges that advancing EDI is challenging work for any institution. To aid eligible orchestras in being able to make progress that runs parallel to the League’s broader vision of an equitable field, The Catalyst Fund provides the following resources:

  • Grants will be awarded annually generally ranging from $10,000-$25,000—in which successful applicants will partner with a skilled EDI practitioner to self-define and advance internal EDI learning objectives over approximately a year-long period.
  • Select grantee organizations that show exceptional progress and authenticity towards advancing EDI would be eligible for renewed support in years 2 and 3 to support their ongoing practices. 
  • Grantees will be linked into a learning community that serves as a platform to share their learning, including a dedicated online forum as well as remote and in-person convenings. 
  • Grantees will be profiled in League communications, giving their work visibility in order to inspire and inform the broader membership.

Next Steps

See the Quick Links above for more information, including details on a January 18 webinar on The Catalyst Fund.

After you’ve watched the webinar and read the Request for Proposals, FAQs, and Resource Guide, you may request a 15-minute individual consultation call with a League of American Orchestras staff member. Follow this link to schedule your call. Appointments are available between January 19 and February 22.

The Catalyst Fund is made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.