Rachel’s Network
Catalyst Award

The Rachel’s Network Catalyst Award celebrates women of color who are building a healthier, safer, and more just world. The 2023 application cycle will open in early April. Check back soon!

Illustration by Sophie Sarkar

About the Award

Each year, the Rachel’s Network Catalyst Award provides women environmental leaders of color with personal and organizational multi-year financial support, wraparound leadership services, and public recognition.

The Catalyst Award provides multi-year funding to individuals and, if applicable, their affiliated organizations. All awardees will receive a total of $45,000 over three years: an annual personal prize of $10,000 and an annual leadership and well-being stipend of $5,000. In addition, if eligible, their organizations will receive grants totaling $30,000 over three years. Applicants do not need to be affiliated with an organization to apply to the award.

Applications for the 2023 Catalyst Award will open April 4. For more details, please see our Applicant Guide.

2023 Award Timeline

Who is this Award For?

Women of color from all kinds of professional and advocacy backgrounds are encouraged to apply, but we will be prioritizing women at the midpoint of their career. While the list below is not exclusive, potential awardees might be:

  • Writers and poets documenting the beauty of our natural world
  • Organizers defending their communities, neighborhoods, and land
  • Educators nurturing young advocates
  • Farmers creating a just food system
  • Documentarians and journalists covering environmental injustice
  • Faith leaders communicating the moral imperative for change
  • Lawyers working to protect our air, lands, water, and wildlife
  • Champions of good nutrition, wellness, and health
  • Scientists, researchers, and academics helping us better understand our planet
  • Entrepreneurs creating social and economic change


How are you defining “women of color”?

Our definition of “women” is spacious and includes people of color who may identify as non-binary, genderqueer, gender expansive, or otherwise not conforming to the gender binary. We trust the self-identification of award candidates regarding their gender, race, ethnicity, and heritage. We hope that candidates can see themselves in this award and we trust them to engage if they do.

We acknowledge the painful ways individuals have been excluded, devalued, or inhibited in the mainstream environmental movement due to their race and gender, and we strive to balance our aspiration for inclusivity with the understanding that the experiences of people of color are not the same. We may never complete our understanding of the unique, nuanced, and intersecting ways race and gender shape us and our systems, but we commit to the journey of growth and support.

I applied before. Can I reapply?

Yes! As long as you still meet our eligibility requirements, go for it.

I've been nominated. Do I still need to apply?

Yes. All candidates must apply to the award to be considered.

I’m not a US citizen. Can I apply?

Yes, however, you must be a resident of the United States*, American Indian and Alaska Native areas, or US Territories (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands).

*The United States is comprised of contemporary and ancestral lands and territories, much of which has been forcibly stolen from Indigenous people through colonization. We acknowledge that the traditional custodians of this land have endured many legacies of displacement, migration, settlement, and trauma that have shaped where we are today.


I’m an elected official. Can I apply?

We are so grateful for your commitment to environmental stewardship through your public service. But, as a 501(c)(3), Rachel’s Network cannot provide prizes to those currently running for an elected position or serving as an elected official. Please consider connecting with our c4 organization, Rachel’s Action Network.

Who will be evaluating my application?

A committee of former Catalyst Awardees selects our awardees. Your application will also be reviewed by Rachel’s Network advisors, members, staff, and vetted friends of the network with expertise in equity and environmental justice (speakers, consultants). Everyone involved in the award process must abide by our award’s guiding principles.

What types of affiliated organizations are eligible for multi-year funding?

Eligible organizations include: 501(c)(3) nonprofits, organizations fiscally sponsored by 501(c)(3)s, and tribal governments.

If I leave my job with a 501(c)(3) during my award period, where would the organizational funding go?

During the three-year award period, organizational funding follows the awardee, as long as the affiliated organization is eligible to receive funds. So, if they start a new job at X, their $10,000 grant that year would be sent to X. Organizational funding can also be used to launch new nonprofits or initiatives, as long as they are eligible.

Are there limitations for how I use my prize money?
There are no restrictions on how the $45,000 personal and well-being funds may be used, however the organizational grant is subject to 501(c)(3) rules.
Are there expectations for award winners?

There are no expectations, but awardees are encouraged to engage in cohort programming (e.g., events, retreats, webinars). We also hope awardees will serve as members of our award selection committee and participate in program evaluation, to improve the experience and impact of this award.

Are there other award programs I can apply to?

You may want to also check out the following award programs for environmental leaders here: BIPOC Environmental Funding Resources.

How can I support this program?

We welcome contributions to our program and award winners. Email catalyst@rachelsnetwork.org for information on getting involved.

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