The Catalysts for Change project was created by Institute for the Future with the sponsorship of the Rockefeller Foundation. Its purpose is to synthesize the work of the foundation's Searchlight Partners and extend the Searchlight process to communities all over the world. At the heart of this process is a commitment to imagining an innovative 21st century approach to achieving social change.

This site is designed to provide a set of tools to build roadmaps for change in communities around the world, starting from the ground up by identifying signals of change and innovation in marginalized communities. These signals then point to action zones within each of the four key catalysts for change. This is the Searchlight Process—a process we invite you to join.

The Searchlight Process

The First Step: Horizon Scanning

The first step in the Searchlight process is horizon scanning—surveying the landscape of poverty alleviation for what’s new, what’s working, and what’s not. The Rockefeller Foundation has engaged 11 Searchlight Partners to undertake this task. These local, on-the-ground organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and North America have been systematically tracking emerging issues and solutions and reporting them in their own regional newsletters on a monthly basis for nearly two years now. You can join this horizon scanning process by following our Catalysts for Change Facebook page.

From Horizon Scanning to Signal Identification

The second step in the Searchlight process is to identify cutting-edge signals: those local innovations or disruptions that are likely to grow in scale, geographic application, and importance. These signals point to the ways that people living in poverty can build more resilient lifestyles and achieve sustainable, equitable growth for themselves and their communities. We invite you to explore our growing inventory of Searchlight Signals. But even more important, you can start your own signals inventory. Use our #catalyze4 hashtag to tweet signals that you think can create systemic change in the lives of poor and vulnerable people.

Mapping the Catalysts of Change

Complex systems have leverage points at which a little insight, action, or power can be amplified to make an outsized difference. These are catalysts for change, and the Searchlight process has identified four different types of catalysts from its bottom-up scan of signals. Each of these catalysts—new evidence, new capacities, new rules, and new stories—has the potential to transform the lives of those living in poverty. They focus efforts and resources on new action zones—and pivotal challenges—for the future.

Taking Action

How to Use This Map

You can use this map to begin building new kinds of roadmaps for the next decade—at the individual level, the community level, the regional level, or the global level. Start by exploring the four catalysts on the map and the action zones for each of them—as well as the possible scenarios they suggest. Then explore the high-impact signals from today that point to these scenarios. You can also use the map with your communities and colleagues to invent new strategies, adapt the solutions and innovations in this map, and imagine a more resilient, equitable future.

For More Information

You can learn more about how to use this map for action in Next Steps, and if you have additional questions, feel free to contact us.