A six-month social incubation program

Building a venture that will improve the lives of low-income New Yorkers? Our Catalyst program is designed to help young social ventures navigate the challenges of their early years, when teams need to quickly demonstrate that the product works and has the potential to deliver significant impact while simultaneously figuring out how to set up and run a sustainable, effective organization.

Over the course of six months, we provide financial and non-financial support to help you launch a beta test, secure critical talent, and make key decisions about your operating and funding model.

Who we’re looking for

Catalyst is designed for social entrepreneurs at a pivotal moment in their evolution – after discovery but before acceleration – when they need time, funding, and support to build a fully-functional product, develop market traction, and lay the foundations for a viable operating structure and a sound social impact model.

This year, we are excited to announce that the Burke Foundation will join us in the process of selecting and supporting one of the teams that will join Catalyst in 2017.

The Burke Foundation was founded by Jim Burke in 1989 with the mission of improving the health and well-being of disadvantaged children and their families in New York and New Jersey. Continuing his philanthropic legacy, the Burke Foundation will support a team that promotes early childhood health and development. If you have a team that will improve the physical, emotional, and mental health of children, as well as their caretakers’ well-being, we encourage you to apply!

Additional supports for the team selected by the Burke Foundation will include mentorship and advice from Burke Foundation staff and board members.

Specifically, the program is designed to support teams that:

  • Currently deliver a product or service to low-income New Yorkers or will do so by April, 2018
  • Are strongly committed to improving the lives of New Yorkers
  • Use technology as a key part of their solution
  • Have between one and five full-time team members
  • Are incorporated or plan to incorporate in the next 6-12 months as either a nonprofit or for-profit social venture
  • Have at least one full-time team member who can work from NYC for the duration of the program

In addition, while there are no hard rules, we find that the best fit teams for Catalyst are typically less than 2-3 years old and have raised less than $400,000 in total funding to date.

How does it work?

Teams work full-time for six months out of our co-working space at 150 Court Street in Brooklyn. Over the course of the program, they attend workshops and networking events and check in bi-weekly with a core group of Blue Ridge Labs’ staff and mentors.

Key Dates and Selection Process

  • Applications open August 1st, 2017
  • Weekly Q&A Webinars Thursdays at Noon EST.
  • Applications close September 1st, 2017 at midnight.
  • Start of the Program: November 13th, 2017.
  • Final Pitch: Spring 2018 in New York City.


The Catalyst Portfolio

More Questions?

Check out our FAQ page.

Download the application questions.

Join us for an informational webinar .

What we provide:


$50,000 in cash stipend, plus healthcare and a dedicated research budget


Coaching and support to build your product and organization

human capital

Connections to talent, advisors, and potential users and partners


Free office space and a host of discounted and in-kind services

Applications Closed

Applications for Catalyst are currently closed. Please join our mailing list for announcements about future program dates.

Catalyst Case Studies


Georges, Dan, and Ashley met in our 2015 fellowship class. Passionate about tenants’ rights, they built, a non-profit tech platform that helps renters get things fixed in their apartment. As tenants complete customized to-do’s, the tool builds out a case history that they can take to Housing Court – where 90% of renters are self-represented. Last fall, won the 2015 NYC BigApps housing category. In partnership with CASA, they have been awarded a grant to assist in the organizing of tenant associates in the south Bronx.

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine

Robert founded Rescuing Leftover Cuisine in 2013, transitioning from his career in finance to help fight hunger. RLC combines good old fashioned people power with cutting edge technology to crowd source food rescue teams that pick up excess food from local restaurants and deliver it to food pantries. Catalyst helped Robert and his team both establish their tech volunteer process, expand and systematize their earned revenue streams and build out a successful board strategy. In 2016, RLC rescued over 1 million pounds of food!