Catalyst Grant


Catalyst Grant Program

Contact Melissa Briody for more information


Funding Opportunity for Innovative Ideas from All Employees

Do you have an idea that could help patients or improve the way we do things? Do you need time or funding to make it happen? We have an opportunity for you!

Award Amounts: $1,000-$50,000
Application Deadline: March 1, 2024

The Catalyst Grant Program at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab accelerates our vision “to be the global source of science-driven breakthroughs in human ability.” Catalyst Grants fund projects that enhance translational research, foster innovation, and range in cost and complexity.

There are five Catalyst Grant categories—Project Grant, Quality Grant, Mentorship Grant, Translational Grant, and Foundational Grant. Please be sure to read the following information carefully and select the most appropriate category for your idea.

Eligibility and Application Information


1) Every application must include a researcher and non-researcher (clinician or non-clinician). Individuals who participate do not need to have previous research experience, but must have a research partner. If you need assistance identifying a research partner, please contact Melissa Briody    

2) See the Catalyst Grant Summary Table and Expanded Descriptions below to determine the best grant type for your idea. Applicants should complete the application appropriate to their grant submission.  

3) Application resources available below.   

4) Applications for all grant types will be available in January 2024.

5) Proposals will be reviewed by a committee composed of senior SRAlab faculty. The Review Committee is authorized to examine and modify budgets for any/all grant types, as is determined appropriate. 

This cycle includes the unique opportunity for funding 1-2 Project Grants specific to the care and rehabilitation of individuals with Multiple Sclerosis. Thus, individuals with ideas related to this population are especially encouraged to apply.

Catalyst Grant Summary Table


PROJECT GrantEasy to implement and produces rapid results.$1,000- $10,0006-12   
▪ New product, device, process, or intervention   
▪ Presentation (internal/external)
QUALITY GrantLeads to clinical or research quality improvement.$10,000- $25,00012-18 months▪ A positive change in processes or outcomes   
▪ Presentation (internal/external)
MENTORSHIP GrantInvolves mentorship from experienced researcher to support an applicant’s professional research development.$10,000- $25,00012-18 months▪ Evidence of research skill development and future research involvement 

▪ Presentation (external)   
▪ Publication (highly recommended)   
- Abstract   
- Manuscript
TRANSLATIONAL GrantDevelops a translational research idea that results in a publication and national presentation.$10,000- $25,00012-18 months▪ Presentation (external)   
▪ Publication   
- Abstract   
- Manuscript
FOUNDATIONAL GrantDevelops a translational research idea that results in publication, national presentation, and application for substantial external grant.$25,000- $50,00018-24 months▪ Substantial grant application   
▪ Presentation (external)   
▪ Publication   
• Abstract   
• Manuscript


Expanded Descriptions


PROJECT ($1,000-10,000): The Project Grant is intended for “quick win” projects. They are low cost, easy to implement and produce specific results that immediately impact our patients and/or organization. Project Grant topics are unlimited, but may include projects that modify patient care, develop equipment or devices (e.g., developing a new trach tube connector, creating a prototype orthotic) or refine a system or process (e.g., ordering food, creating training videos for patient/family education, etc.).

QUALITY ($10,000-25,000): The Quality Grant is intended for quality improvement projects that lead to a positive change in process or outcomes resulting in improved operational efficiency or patient care. Quality Grants should utilize a quality improvement framework as well as research methodology to document efficacy. As an example, a past Quality Grant project involved redesigning the process of ordering durable medical equipment to reduce inefficiencies. This project identified a problem and completed a root cause analysis that identified the breakdown in the ordering process. Then, they implemented a new process, created an educational module to train employees on the updated process, and measured the outcomes.

MENTORSHIP ($10,000-25,000): The Mentorship Grant is intended for individuals who have limited research experience but would like to become more competent in translational research and have a potential project that will impact patient care. These projects must address a clinical problem or develop a research tool. Their work will be mentored by an experienced researcher, and the goals of this grant are to develop the research skills of the mentee and create a plan for future research activities. Consequently, the mentee will be expected to identify specific, measurable mentorship goals and provide evidence of achievement at the end of the grant. 

TRANSLATIONAL ($10,000-25,000): The Translational Grant is intended to fund a scientist and clinician collaborative project that impacts patient care and/or outcomes but will not likely lead to extramural funding. The goal of this grant is to perform high quality translational research that warrants dissemination to the rehabilitation community at the national/international level. 

FOUNDATIONAL ($25,000-50,000): The Foundational Grant is intended to fund a scientist and clinician collaborative project that will potentially impact patient care and/or outcomes and lead to external funding and additional research. In addition to serving as the foundation for future work, these grants are intended specifically to create the pilot data necessary to apply for a substantial external grant (e.g., NIH, VA, DOD).

Application Resources



The resources below are intended to provide general guidance as you develop your application. Please note the application examples are from previous Catalyst Grant cycles. Make sure to follow the specific guidelines for the 2024 Catalyst Grant Application and use the application form specific to each grant category. The 2024 application forms will be available in January 2024.

Budget Template       
Example Grant Budget A       
Example Grant Budget B     
Quality Improvement Framework

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