The Making of an Innovation Engine: Advancing Career-Connected Learning

Insights from the Catalyze Challenge, Rounds 1 & 2

Insights September 13, 2022

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Catalyze was developed to support entrepreneurs in reimagining career-connected learning (CCL) in the US, with the ultimate goal of expanding economic opportunity to communities that have long suffered from a lack of access.

Beyond a challenge or grant competition, Catalyze was designed as an “innovation engine” that could source and fund models and programs bridging education and employment; learn from the successes and challenges of those models; and share these stories of impact and opportunities for improvement with funders, policy makers, and innovators.

Catalyze funded two cohorts of grantees in its first 14 months. These winning programs include models that focus on providing career identity development opportunities and creating career paths for students to follow after high school. In the spirit of continuous improvement, the Challenge’s cadence is under consideration and the process is still evolving. 

What is unwavering, however, is Catalyze’s focus on creating opportunities for access to economic independence and career success for historically underserved groups (HUGs), which includes, among others, learners of color, low-income learners, and learners in rural communities. In Round 2 alone, 82% of grantees serve or intend to serve communities in which >60% of learners are part of HUGs, and 76% of grantee programs are led by those with proximate or shared identity or lived experience.

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