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.

About the Award

The deadline to apply to the 2020 award is now closed. Check back in Spring 2021 for the next application window.

Each year, our award provides women leaders of color with:

A $10,000 prize

Networking opportunities

National recognition within the environmental, philanthropic, and women’s leadership communities

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

Criteria & Review Process

To qualify for the Rachel’s Network Catalyst Award, applicants must:

  1. Identify as a woman of color
  2. Live in the US, American Indian and Alaska Native areas, or US territories

After the submission deadline, applications will undergo two rounds of review, receiving multiple reviews from multiple judges. Finalists will participate in video interviews with judges and references will be gathered. In the fall, award winners will be selected and notified. Finalists will be given a cash prize of $1,000.

Applicants will be evaluated on their:

  1. Commitment and service to create and sustain a healthier natural world
  2. Proven ability to positively impact communities, policy, research, public opinion, and more
  3. History of collaboration, mentorship, and leadership
  4. Catalyzing potential, defined as how influential the award – prize money, network connections, leadership opportunities – would be to a candidate

Priority will be given to women in the midpoint of their careers.

Rachel’s Network is committed to diversity, equity, inclusivity, and justice, and our award process aims to be respectful, transparent, and fair. Rachel’s Network celebrates all backgrounds and experiences among our applicant pool.

Photo credits, top to bottom: Kaia Rose and Nicole Honeywill (Unsplash)


Why this award?

Since Rachel’s Network was founded in 2000, we have seen growing attention to women’s leadership in the environmental movement. However, the essential representation of women of color—particularly in decision-making positions—lags behind. That’s why we created the Catalyst Award.

We want this award to be the connective tissue between the wide landscape of existing fellowships for emerging leaders of color and executive leadership. We hope our investment catalyzes not only individual women’s career trajectories, but the environmental movement as a whole in becoming more representative and just.

Why focus on mid-career women?

Our network elevates women leaders at all stages, but we are prioritizing the award to women at the midpoint of their careers (between 8 and 20 years of experience). We found no formal pathways for mid-career women of color to advance to leadership positions. Many are overlooked for promotions, hitting a “green ceiling.” Many leave the environmental movement entirely. Many have their work not considered “environmental.” As funders, we want as many people as possible working to protect our planet and we want to help women of color feel like they can thrive.

How are you defining and evaluating “woman” and “woman of color”?

We are trusting the self-identification of award candidates regarding their gender, race, ethnicity, and heritage.

Who will be evaluating my application?

Your application will be reviewed by Rachel’s Network staff and our judges committee, comprised of Rachel’s Network members, liaisons, and advisors, and leaders working on diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice. For more details, see Criteria & Review Process above.

Are there limitations for how I use my $10,000 prize money?

No. This gift is for you, not your organization, and there are no restrictions on how you can spend the funds.

Are there expectations for award winners?

We expect award winners to attend our award ceremony in Washington, DC in March (expenses covered by Rachel’s Network). Details will be shared with the winners once they are notified of the prize.

Awardees may also be expected to participate in program evaluation, to improve the experience and impact of this award.

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).

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 elected officials.

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

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

I applied before. Can I reapply?

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

I don't know, there are so many other women... should I even bother applying?

Yes. We see you.

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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