The California Catalyst Fund

Supporting Collaboration, Restructuring and Transformation for Community Clinics 

Between the economic crisis and the shifting landscape of health reform, California's community clinics face unprecedented challenges. To flourish in this new era, clinics will need to simultaneously compete for resources and collaborate.

To help facilitate this shift, the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) and Blue Shield of California Foundation (BSCF), in partnership with the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), launched the California Catalyst Fund in March 2012 as a restructuring fund designed to underwrite technical assistance (TA) for clinics pursuing or involved in new partnerships. The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF) joined the Fund in October 2013 and with their support, along with the continued investment CHCF and BSCF, the Catalyst Fund has grown from $500,000 to over $1,500,000 since its launch.

The California Catalyst Fund brings together community based primary care providers and partners with TA providers to develop and implement strategic restructuring projects. Examples include: administrative consolidation; joint programming; as well as more formal long-term partnerships, such as joint ventures, corporate mergers, or the creation of management service organizations. The Catalyst Fund now also makes technical assistance available to clinics that are seeking individual strategic financial planning support, prior to partnership consideration.

How the Program Works

  • Projects at all stages of development will be considered.  Pre-Catalyst support is available to clinics and projects still in the preliminary phases of internal investigation and planning. For these projects, the Fund underwrites technical assistance to assess internal financial and organizational capacity. 
  • Catalyst Fund support is available to nurture promising strategic restructuring projects involving existing or potential partnerships between two or more organizations. Support is available for projects with identified partners in varying stages of development, from due diligence to full implementation
  • TA support will range from $10,000 - $50,000, depending on the scope of the proposed project and where it falls along the planning continuum—pre-planning to full implementation.
  • More information, including upcoming deadlines, can be found in the Request for Applications.

Application Process

Technical assistance providers interested in participating in the Fund’s provider pool and nonprofits interested in support must respond to the appropriate RFQ/RFA. A project receiving an allocation from the Fund will work with the Fund Manager (NFF) to select a technical assistance provider from the pre-qualified provider pool.

The graphic below illustrates the application and intake Process:

CA Catalyst Fund Process

Types of Assistance

  • Clinics or consortia with identified partners may apply for Technical Assistance from the Catalyst Fund in financial management, readiness assessment, implementation planning, and negotiation facilitation.
  • As of November 2013, the Fund will additionally offer Pre-Catalyst support for those clinics that are in the preliminary stages of assessing internal financial capacity and may not have a partnering organization selected. This support focuses on analyzing the viability of the organization’s business model in a quickly changing market in preparing for collaborative restructuring partnerships or alternate means of improving operating sustainability. 
  • The Fund does not support IT consulting or legal representation (e.g contract negotiation), though general consulting around the legal requirements of certain types of project may be considered.

More details are available in the Request for Applications.


  • Applicants must be nonprofit providers of primary care based in California, who serve primarily underserved populations; OR a consortium of organizations, the majority of which are made up of clinics that meet the above criteria.
  • Eligible clinics include federally qualified health centers (FQHC), FQHC look-alikes, rural health clinics, free clinics, and clinics owned and operated by critical access hospitals. Clinics owned and operated by academic medical centers or large nonprofit health care systems are not eligible.
  • While applicant organizations must meet all of the above criteria, potential partner organizations (if identified at the time of application) are not required to do so. Please note that a partner organization does not have to be identified at the time of application if the project is in a preliminary stage.
  • The current deadline for applications is December 2nd. After that point, applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis and reviewed quarterly, pending continued availability of funds. Once approved, the Clinic or consortia will select a technical assistance provider from a pool provided by the California Catalyst Fund. The grantee and TA Provider will then enter into a formal agreement that specifies the scope of work and fees involved.
  • NFF is the point of contact for the Clinic or consortia and supports the collaborative venture through periodic status meetings to address any challenges and help ensure that the project continues to move forward.

Click here to view Informational Webinar for Applicants.
Note: The webinar focuses on Catalyst Fund support and does not discuss pre-Catalyst options. To learn more about pre-Catalyst support, consult the Request for Applications or email the Fund manager at

Technical Assistance Providers

  • Application for inclusion in the California Catalyst Fund provider pool is by invitation only.
  • An invitation to apply and/or successful application for inclusion does not constitute a guarantee that providers will be matched with collaboration projects.
  • Nonprofit Finance Fund is the point of contact for technical assistance providers and, once engaged on a project, supports them through periodic status meetings to help ensure a timely and satisfactory completion of work. Click here to see the list of current approved providers.


The California Catalyst Fund welcomes additional local, regional, and national funding partners. Please contact the Fund Manager with funding inquiries at

Applications and Downloads

  • Request For Applications (RFA): For more information about the application process, please review the RFA.
  • Pre-Catalyst Application Form: Complete this application if you are looking for technical assistance around strategic financial assessment for your organization without specific partnership plans at this point. 
  • CA Catalyst Application Form: Complete this form if your clinic is interested in support in pursuit of a strategic partnership.
  • CA Catalyst Fund Self-Assessment Tool: Only those seeking early Catalyst Fund support (Phase 1) must complete the Self-Assessment. Consult the RFA for a definition of the different project phases. 

Click here for important and helpful resources.

Upcoming Dates and Deadlines

  • Catalyst Application Deadline: December 2nd, 2013. 
  • Pre-Catalyst Application Deadline: June 27, 2014.

Contingent on availability of funds, applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis and reviewed quarterly.

Media Coverage

About Nonprofit Finance Fund
As one of the nation's leading community development financial institutions (CDFI), Nonprofit Finance Fund® (NFF®) makes millions of dollars in loans to nonprofits and pushes for fundamental improvement in how money is given and used in the sector. Since 1980, we've worked to connect money to mission effectively so that nonprofits can keep doing what they do so well.

About Blue Shield of California Foundation 
The Blue Shield of California Foundation works to improve the lives of all Californians, particularly the underserved, by making health care accessible, effective, and affordable, and by ending domestic violence. On the web at

About the California HealthCare Foundation
The California HealthCare Foundation works as a catalyst to fulfill the promise of better health care for all Californians. We support ideas and innovations that improve quality, increase efficiency, and lower the costs of care. On the web at

About California Wellness Foundation
The mission of The California Wellness Foundation is to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention. On the web at

The California Catalyst Fund is generously supported by:




Michael Kass 
California Catalyst Fund Manager


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