SCE Announces 2022 Catalyst Awards

Each year, our staff and board nominate several organizations to receive Catalyst Awards: one-time contributions made as part of our year-end giving. These organizations typically work on issues beyond our primary program areas. What unites them is their distinct and promising approaches to chronic social problems.

In a year marked again by recovery, the work of these 22 organizations feels urgent and critical. We’re proud to support their exemplary work.

Arts and Culture

The WasteShed: The WasteShed is a creative reuse center in Chicago that collects reusable art and school materials that would otherwise be thrown away and makes them available to teachers, artists, & anyone who needs them, at low cost.

CreatiVets: CreatiVets’ programming uses various forms of art, including songwriting, visual arts, music, and creative writing, to help disabled veterans cope with service-related trauma.

Firebird Community Arts: Firebird Community Arts empowers and connects people through the healing practice of glassblowing and ceramics. Project FIRE, their signature program, is a glassblowing and trauma recovery program for youth injured by gun violence in Chicago.

Community & Economic Development

Chicago Westside Sports: Chicago Westside Sports is a gathering of volunteers representing local organizations and churches, community members and the Chicago Police Department working together to provide opportunities for youth to engage in safe and healthy activities such as zero cost Club Baseball, AAU Basketball and Team USA Archery.

READI Chicago – Heartland Alliance: The READI—or Rapid Employment and Development Initiative—model is informed by evidence that combining cognitive behavioral interventions (CBI) with paid transitional jobs can help reduce violence.

DreamSpring: DreamSpring increases access to business credit and provides loans to enable underserved entrepreneurs to realize their dreams via its’ new proprietary online lending platform.


Genesys Works: Genesys Works creates career pathways and opportunities for youth from underserved communities while simultaneously helping employers fill critical talent gaps within their companies. They do this by providing skills training, counseling and coaching, and paid internships for high school seniors.

Accelerate U: Accelerate U at National Louis University offers affordable, rapid training experiences that come with college credit, industry credentials and a path to a full-time job immediately. It’s “job-first” higher education.

Chicago Scholars: Chicago Scholars uniquely selects, trains, and mentors academically ambitious students from under-resourced communities to complete college and become the next generation of leaders who will transform their neighborhoods and our city.

Open Future Institute: Open Future Institute’s The QUESTion Project supports public high school students to build the foundations for their lives, their future and a healthy society, through a semester long daily class, called the QUESTion Class. The QUESTion Class creates a space where students can explore and develop their own identity, strengthen their sense of agency, and build confidence to pursue a life of purpose.

Humanity Rising: Humanity Rising is a student-led movement to create a better world through service.  Their mission is to build the next generation of leaders and social innovators. Humanity Rising helps students discover their service passion, amplify their VOICES to inspire their peers, and recognize and celebrate their efforts with scholarship awards.


Chicago Frontlines Funding Initiative: The Chicago Environmental Justice Fund awards capacity building grants to neighborhood-based Environmental Justice organizations and values-aligned partners working in the Chicago metropolitan area. Their grantees are led by, rooted in, and accountable to low-income communities of color directly impacted by environmental harms.

One Earth Collective:  One Earth Collective inspires action, facilitates learning, promotes justice, and fosters equity and inclusion to create resilient communities and a healthier planet. They engage over 7,000 people annually through three program areas: One Earth Film Festival, One Earth Local and One Earth Youth Voices.

Health and Human Services

Top Box Foods: Top Box Foods partners with local community organizations across Chicago, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Atlanta to delivers healthy food, specifically in under-resourced food deserts.

Teen Line: Teen Line provides support, resources, and hope to young people through a hotline of professionally trained teen counselors, and outreach programs that de-stigmatize and normalize mental health.

Little Heroes League: Little Heroes League is the only care coordination program embedded at top-ranked Level IV NICUs across the United States. Their coordinators fill a critical healthcare gap by streamlining care, communication and access to resources for families of medically complex babies—free of cost—and personalized for patients and their families.

HEART: HEART promotes sexual health, uproots gendered violence, and advances reproductive justice by establishing choice and access for the most impacted Muslims. HEART’s largest program is Health Education through which they provide comprehensive, culturally-sensitive, and faith-inspired sexual health and sexual-violence information.

Midwest Access Coalition: MAC helps people traveling to, from, and within the Midwest access a safe abortion by assisting with travel coordination and costs, lodging, food, medicine, and childcare.

The Confess Project: The Confess Project of America is the national organization supporting local chapters that train barbers and stylists to become mental health advocates, with the mission to build awareness and break stigmas around mental health within the Black community.

Journalism and Civic Engagement

Videos for Change: Videos for Change empowers young people with the skills and global competencies to create one-minute videos that inspire empathy, awareness, and action on important social issues.

The Markup: The Markup is an American nonprofit organization based in New York City, founded in 2018 with the goal of focusing on data-driven journalism, covering the ethics and impact of technology on society.

Youth Development

The 18th Ward: The 18th Ward provides high-quality, low-cost youth sports programs in New Orleans where everyone is welcome regardless of race, gender, income, or neighborhood. Their Coaches in Training program gives high school athletes a chance to practice their leadership, learn to coach, and provide a service to their community.