A method for forming multi-metallic sites on a substrate is disclosed and described. A substrate including active groups such as hydroxyl can be reacted with a pretarget metal complex. The target metal attached to the active group can then be reacted with a secondary metal complex such that an oxidation-reduction (redox) reaction occurs to form a multi-metallic species. The substrate can be a highly porous material such as aerogels, xerogels, zeolites, and similar materials. Additional metal complexes can be reacted to increase catalyst loading or control co-catalyst content. The resulting compounds can be oxidized to form oxides or reduced to form metals in the ground state which are suitable for practical use.