McNulty Prize Catalyst Fund Boosts Emerging Local Solutions to Global Challenges

June 11, 2019

Five promising social ventures based in Ghana, Syria, El Salvador, the U.S., and Lebanon will receive unrestricted funding to scale and deepen their impact

New York, NY, June 11, 2019––The McNulty Foundation announced the 2019 recipients of the McNulty Prize Catalyst Fund, which supports organizations at critical junctures across the world in tackling the challenges of our time. Given in partnership with the Aspen Institute, the Fund is awarding $75,000 in total to five exceptional organizations that have demonstrated significant momentum in the early stages of their development, with great potential to scale or deepen their impact.

The 2019 recipients are pioneering solutions to challenges in their communities: from supporting Ghana’s elders so they can age with dignity; providing job training and mental healthcare to Salvadorans with violent pasts; building an accountable ecosystem for nonprofits in the Middle East; bridging Indiana’s talent gap, to giving life-changing artificial limbs to children in war-torn Syria. All are creating positive change for individuals and communities throughout the globe, and are poised for significant growth in the coming years.

“When we see a promising venture that’s ready to scale up, we want to be there to give them a leg up,” said Anne Welsh McNulty, President of the John P. and Anne Welsh McNulty Foundation and Trustee of the Aspen Institute. “We started the Catalyst Fund because we need more leaders and organizations tackling the urgent issues our world is facing, and we’re excited to accelerate that impact.

The McNulty Foundation established the Fund in 2017 to provide unrestricted support to promising ventures, as well as additional funding to ventures led by McNulty Prize Laureates. The Fund was endowed through a matching grant from the McNulty Foundation, with donations from David Blood, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the Nancy & George Walker Foundation and many others, who honored the legacy of John P. McNulty with over $1.2 million in contributions.

Congratulations to the 2019 Catalyst Fund grant recipients:

3QA | Middle East
By pioneering the first regional standards and accreditation system for non-profits across the Middle East, international affairs advisor Karma Ekmekji is creating a more accountable civil society with greater potential to drive change. Having proven its impact in Lebanon, 3QA is poised to introduce their system to 180 new organizations in the country before expanding across Jordan and the rest of the Middle East.

La Factoria Ciudadana | El Salvador
City council member Jaime Zablah Siri is giving hope to people who have had violence in their past — from returning deportees to gang members and incarcerated people — and rehabilitating and reintegrating them with education, jobs and a chance at a better life. With thousands of Salvadorans deported from the US and elsewhere every year, La Factoria Ciudadana will expand operations to provide the job training and mental health services needed to start new lives with hope and dignity.

Association of Ghana’s Elders | Ghana
Leadership and HR expert Dr. Esi Ansah is building an ecosystem of services to ensure that Ghana’s elders age with dignity, and continue to have an active and productive stake in their communities. The Association of Ghana’s Elders (AGE) has established programs unique to the needs of Ghana’s elders, and with increased demand, it is poised to expand membership, offer more services, and strengthen its policy advocacy efforts.

Ascend Indiana | United States
Seeking to align Indiana’s workforce with 21st Century demands and keep talent in-state, former Indianapolis Deputy Mayor of Education Jason Kloth created a platform that connects Indiana’s talent to training programs and real job opportunities. Having forged a network that spans business, government, education, and community sectors, Ascend is poised to scale its efforts to ensure that Indiana remains a place of economic opportunity for all.

Saving Syrian Children | Syria
Responding to the world’s deadliest conflict, business executive and investor Karim Alwadi built the first officially sanctioned Chinese charity that benefits people outside China, providing prosthetics and long-term rehabilitation and counseling to Syrian children. Having navigated complex political and geographic dimensions, the venture is establishing two more rehab centers that will provide life-changing services to more Syrian children.

About the Catalyst Fund & the John P. McNulty Prize

The McNulty Prize Catalyst Fund recognizes ventures at critical junctures on their path to impact, and that have critical need. Catalyst Fund recipients exhibit high potential to deepen or widen their impact, with significant early momentum.

The Catalyst Fund builds on more than a decade of impact of the John P. McNulty Prize, a $100,000 annual award that celebrates the boldness and impact of individuals who are using their exceptional leadership abilities, entrepreneurial spirit and expertise to address the world’s toughest challenges. McNulty Prize Winners are chosen by an international jury that has included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, international statesman Olara Otunnu, international development expert Brizio Biondi-Morra, and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker.

The McNulty Prize and Catalyst Fund are given in partnership with the Aspen Institute, to recognize exceptional leadership ventures undertaken by Fellows of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

For more information, visit Follow @McNultyPrize on Twitter and @McNultyFoundation on Instagram.

The Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN) is a growing, worldwide community of more than 3,000 high-integrity, entrepreneurial leaders from over 60 countries who share a commitment to enlightened leadership and to using their creativity, energy and resources to tackle the foremost societal challenges of our times. Fellows convene annually at the AGLN’s flagship event, the Resnick Aspen Action Forum. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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