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The Providence Design Catalyst program is a competitive grant program providing seed capital, business mentorship, professional development training, and peer-to-peer networking to help design businesses reach their growth goals. Combining the global expertise of teachers, dedicated support from business mentors, and financial investment based on milestones and achievements, the Providence Design Catalyst program creates vital momentum for sustained business growth.

Please be aware that you can only apply for one program: either the Pre-Catalyst Program or the Design Catalyst Program.

The Program+

The Providence Design Catalyst program is a milestones-based competitive program. Businesses are selected after a rigorous application process which includes a review of growth milestones for each business.

  • Grant funds up to $15,000 are provided to qualifying Providence design businesses as seed capital to support specific business growth goals. This is a reimbursement style grant*.
  • Funds are disbursed in three separate tranches once the business grantee reaches milestones towards their defined goals. The funds awarded will reimburse purchases.

  • All selected businesses are matched with a business mentor to assist in their specific growth goals.

  • Business and all owner’s residence must be currently located in Providence.

    * A reimbursement grant provides funding to grant recipients after expenses have been incurred.

The Timeline+
  • Applications Due: January 6, 2023

  • Notification to Awardees: February 17, 2023

  • Program Orientation: February 22, 2023 (virtual) and March 3rd (in person)

      • Four Business Development Workshops: All day, in-person (dates subject to change: 3/10, 4/7, 5/5, 6/2)

      • Clinics & Office Hours: Wednesdays 4-7 PM, remotely via Zoom (dates subject to change: 3/22, 4/12, 6/7, 7/5) 

      • Business mentor meet up: Twice a month, March – June 2023

      • Final Showcase Event: July 14th, 2023

    All Workshops will be full day in person sessions at CIC Providence with a lunch break. Clinics will happen remotely via Zoom. “Workshops” are part of our core Design Catalyst Curriculum, with pre-work. “Clinics” are one-off sessions with local experts, running for 3hrs on Wednesday afternoons from 4-7pm.

The Providence Design Catalyst program eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Business owner(s) must be of low-moderate income. CLICK HERE for reference. Income eligibility is based on gross annual household income. To determine eligibility, add the income of all household members aged 18 or older, then locate the size of your household in the table linked above. Household size should include all adults and children living in the home, however, only the income from adults aged 18 or older should be included. If the household income is less than the dollar figure for the size of the household, applicant income is eligible. If selected as a finalist in the application process, businesses will be required to provide appropriate documentation for income verification (all owners’ 2022 returns or current financial statements).
  • Business owner(s) maintain a primary residence in the city of Providence. 
  • Have an established creative or design micro-enterprise (five or fewer employees including the owner(s) and paid interns. Does not include: contract workers and volunteers) based in the city of Providence.
  • Business must be a commercial enterprise (Student-owned businesses or nonprofits are not eligible).
  • Business must accept the commitment to participate in the full six-month program including attending classes, meeting with their mentor, submitting status reports, submitting reimbursement requests, engaging with their peers, and participating in the final showcase.
  • Businesses that have received Providence Design Catalyst grants in the past are not eligible.

Applications for Providence Design Catalyst 2023 will open on November 1st, 2022.

For more information we are hosting two info sessions for both
Providence Pre-Catalyst and Providence Design Catalyst

Info Session 1:
Tuesday November 15th, 2022 | 6pm

Info Session 2:
Wednesday December 7th, 2022  6pm


“I am SO appreciative of this opportunity to grow, both personally and professionally. I feel like DESIGNxRI is so special because it is building a community that can support and foster creative people at all stages of their career. One year later, I am no longer just a person with an idea. I am making it happen through concrete steps. There has been A LOT of learning along the way, but that has also helped me believe in myself more and more. All of this is invaluable.”

-Rye Dean, LUMUKU 2018

“When I first opened, I listed 1 Intro to the Wheel class; now I am running 6-7 classes per term and they sell out within 1-2 days of the listing plus a waitlist. I have 9 active members, plus more folks who use the studio space. I hired a studio manager who works part time as well as a studio assistant.”
-Liz Welch, Anyhow Studio 2021

“The Design Catalyst program allowed me to acquire new customers and ramp up my production abilities with the purchase of new equipment. The studio space that I found during the program has been essential for my business. I am still in touch with my peers from the program which helps having people to ask questions to who have been through the same experiences.”

– Maria Prus, M Designs Studio 2019

“I was able to decide which legal entity to use for my work, hire a legal advisor, and hire a designer to build out the branding. I was also able to purchase technology equipment that I very much needed to carry out the work of my Design Studio.”

-Shey Rivera, Studio Loba (formerly known as Design Studio for Culture + Planning) 2021

“I have gained so much confidence in my business and have continued to grow. I have taken on new collaborations and many new wholesale orders. I think I am in a much better place than I would have expected after the program.”

-Alaina Mahoney, A.M. Design and Fabrication LLC 2020

Still have questions?

For more information

Contact Muggs Fogarty (muggs@designxri.com)


City of Providence

City of Providence

CIC Providence


Over $1 million invested directly into Providence design businesses ($1.3 million is program resources)

40 business mentors engaged from the RI business community

69% of participant businesses developed a new product line and/or extended their brand

62% of participant businesses extended an existing product line and/or added production

31% added staff capacity with interns, freelancers, or full-time employment

60 design businesses in total have completed this accelerator program

21% businesses received additional funding and/or mentoring from outside sources

All businesses analyzed and re-envisioned their business model and growth capacity


No one gets where they are going alone. Mentorship is an important way DxRI connects this community of talent. If you’re ready to give back, we’ve got some amazingly talented designers ready to learn from you. If you’re looking for some extra guidance, let us know!