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Catalysts

How can we make progress on a problem as huge and seemingly intractable as poverty? How can we not? There is no silver bullet to eradicating poverty, but all across the country, a diverse array of social entrepreneurs are doing their part to take on this monumental challenge, building amazing organizations that are having a real impact in their communities. Catalysts, a Freethink original series presented by Stand Together, will take viewers to the frontlines of the fight against poverty to understand the challenges we face and meet the people behind some of the most innovative solutions to this complicated issue.

Catalysts Grid

Catalysts
Introducing Catalysts
Introducing Catalysts
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Catalysts
Introducing Catalysts
It’s time to change how we make change. Join us as we meet inspiring social entrepreneurs who are exploring bold new solutions to big social problems.
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February 19, 2019

How can we make progress on a problem as huge and seemingly intractable as poverty? How can we not? There is no silver bullet to eradicating poverty, but all across the country, a diverse array of social entrepreneurs are doing their part to take on this monumental challenge, building amazing organizations that are having a real impact in their communities. Catalysts, a Freethink original series presented by Stand Together,...

Catalysts
Business Boot Camp for Low-Income Entrepreneurs
entrepreneurs courses
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Catalysts
Business Boot Camp for Low-Income Entrepreneurs
By developing the skills of entrepreneurs in low-income communities, this nonprofit is empowering people to generate sustainable income and become a force for economic growth in their neighborhoods.
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By Jennifer Greil
May 20, 2020

By developing the skills of entrepreneurs in low-income communities, this nonprofit is empowering people to generate sustainable income and become a force for economic growth in their neighborhoods.

Catalysts
Staying Sober in Quarantine
Staying Sober in Quarantine
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Catalysts
Staying Sober in Quarantine
Isolation can be especially difficult for recovering addicts, so this sober active community is hosting virtual fitness classes for free.
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By Laura Howd
April 23, 2020

Isolation can be especially difficult for recovering addicts, so this sober active community is hosting virtual fitness classes for free.

Catalysts
Learning to Code in Prison
life after prison
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Catalysts
Learning to Code in Prison
This progressive organization is on a mission to break the cycle of recidivism, using coding. Incarcerated individuals can now spend their sentences acquiring marketable skills.
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April 8, 2020

This progressive organization is on a mission to break the cycle of recidivism, using coding. Incarcerated individuals can now spend their sentences acquiring marketable skills.

Catalysts
How Urban Farming Saved a Dallas Community
urban farming
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Catalysts
How Urban Farming Saved a Dallas Community
In the impoverished community of Bonton, it takes a three-hour bus ride just to reach the nearest grocery store. But the neighborhood is now home to one of the largest urban farms in the US - offering jobs, nutrition programs, and more.
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February 5, 2020

In the impoverished community of Bonton, it takes a three-hour bus ride just to reach the nearest grocery store. But the neighborhood is now home to one of the largest urban farms in the US - offering jobs, nutrition programs, and more.

Catalysts
Turning a Construction Site Into a Classroom
internship for high school students
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Catalysts
Turning a Construction Site Into a Classroom
unCommon Construction offers a unique alternative to your typical internship for high school students. Their program turns build sites into real-world classrooms where interns learn the soft skills they’ll need to succeed in the workforce.
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January 29, 2020

unCommon Construction offers a unique alternative to your typical internship for high school students. Their program turns build sites into real-world classrooms where interns learn the soft skills they’ll need to succeed in the workforce.

Catalysts
Earning College Degrees In Prison
prison education
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Catalysts
Earning College Degrees In Prison
In the midst of his prison sentence for murder, Sean Pica helped found Hudson Link - an organization dedicated to reducing recidivism and improving lives through higher education.
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January 21, 2020

In the midst of his prison sentence for murder, Sean Pica helped found Hudson Link - an organization dedicated to reducing recidivism and improving lives through higher education.

Catalysts
OGU: Original Gangsters United Ending Gang Violence
Can Former Bloods and Crips Unite to Break the Cycle of Violence?
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Catalysts
OGU: Original Gangsters United Ending Gang Violence
For the children of Dallas, these ex gang leaders may be their only chance.
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September 10, 2019

What do you get when former Bloods and Crips gang leaders come together? Original Gangsters United, a pathway to ending gang opposition, promoting peace, and saving younger generations from senseless violence. Antong Lucky is a former Bloods gang leader in Dallas, Texas. Like most children, Antong never aspired to be a part of a gang or to end up in prison. But sadly, many communities affected by peer pressure and gang violence leave kids with no choice. When Antong left prison, he began working to bring opposing Dallas gang leaders together to put an end to gang violence. And it worked.

Catalysts
A School Made for Homeless Children
A School Made for Homeless Children
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Catalysts
A School Made for Homeless Children
When a child faces chaos at home, it's impossible to learn. This school is doing whatever it takes to help homeless students and their families create better lives.
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August 28, 2019

When you think of homelessness, you typically don't picture homeless children. However, every year, approximately 2.5 million children experience homelessness. Homeless children can't learn when they don't know where their next meal is coming from, or what is waiting for them at home. They often struggle in public schools where they feel out of place, or unable to keep up because they've missed schooling in the past....

Catalysts
The Lost Art of Apprenticeship
The Lost Art of Apprenticeship
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Catalysts
The Lost Art of Apprenticeship
After his dad died, he struggled in high school and ended up getting a DUI. Stuck in dead-end jobs, he responded to a nonprofit’s post for free skilled labor training - and his whole life changed.
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August 14, 2019

The Master’s Apprentice is an organization that recruits young people from rough backgrounds - and gives them the skills to find quality careers in the trades. “There’s a huge gap between youth looking for an opportunity... and businesses looking for quality employees.” It’s been a problem for a long time. Urban youth without college educations find few opportunities, and often get stuck in menial jobs. On the other...

Catalysts
Racing out of Homelessness
Racing out of Homelessness
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Catalysts
Racing out of Homelessness
This running club that meets at 5:45am is helping the homeless transform their lives.
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July 31, 2019

It’s 5am in New York City. Most people aren’t awake yet; a few might still be up from the night before. But a group of people with a special organization is gathering for a morning run. Back on My Feet is a nonprofit community that’s helping people struggling with homelessness or recovering from drug addiction begin their journey towards self-sufficiency: employment, housing, and a sustainable income. While members might...

More on Social Entrepreneurship

Catalysts
Nonprofits Innovating in the Face of COVID-19
Nonprofits Innovating in the Face of COVID-19
Catalysts
Nonprofits Innovating in the Face of COVID-19
Wondering how you can help during the coronavirus? Here are five organizations that need your support, and how your donation could be doubled.
April 4, 2020

Wondering how you can help during the coronavirus? Here are five organizations that need your support, and how your donation could be doubled.

Catalysts
This Urban Farm in Dallas Grows Financial and Social Opportunities for Residents
This Urban Farm in Dallas Grows Financial and Social Opportunities for Residents
Catalysts
This Urban Farm in Dallas Grows Financial and Social Opportunities for Residents
A once impoverished and isolated neighborhood in South Dallas is now flourishing thanks to Bonton Farms.
February 6, 2020

A once impoverished and isolated neighborhood in South Dallas is now flourishing thanks to Bonton Farms.

Catalysts
Shedding the Stigma of Substance Use
Shedding the Stigma of Substance Use
Catalysts
Shedding the Stigma of Substance Use
By achieving fitness goals together, The Phoenix community is peeling off the shame, regret, and stigma often associated with addiction.
By Esther Landhuis
December 18, 2019

By achieving fitness goals together, The Phoenix community is peeling off the shame, regret, and stigma often associated with addiction.

Catalysts
Bloods and Crips Unite to Steer Kids Away From Gang Violence
Bloods and Crips Unite to Steer Kids Away From Gang Violence
Catalysts
Bloods and Crips Unite to Steer Kids Away From Gang Violence
These former Bloods and Crips are coming together to spread peace on the streets and end the cycle of gang violence by mentoring local youth.
December 2, 2019

These former Bloods and Crips are coming together to spread peace on the streets and end the cycle of gang violence by mentoring local youth.

Catalysts
Diversity in the Outdoors: Bridging the Adventure Gap
diversity in the outdoors
Catalysts
Diversity in the Outdoors: Bridging the Adventure Gap
This DC nonprofit is defying statistics by promoting diversity in the outdoors and connecting people from all walks of life with the wonders of nature.
November 29, 2019

This DC nonprofit is defying statistics by promoting diversity in the outdoors and connecting people from all walks of life with the wonders of nature.

Catalysts
These Top Chefs are Helping End Child Hunger in the U.S.
Chefs work together to end child hunger.
Catalysts
These Top Chefs are Helping End Child Hunger in the U.S.
A group of culinary professionals in Chicago is volunteering their talents to end child hunger in the US, and some are going all the way to Capitol Hill.
November 28, 2019

A group of culinary professionals in Chicago is volunteering their talents to end child hunger in the US, and some are going all the way to Capitol Hill.

Catalysts
Can Friendship Keep At-Risk Youth Off the Streets?
UTEC an organization that is helping young people overcome poverty, gang involvement, and unemployment.
Catalysts
Can Friendship Keep At-Risk Youth Off the Streets?
Carlos felt addicted to the thrill of crime at a young age. Today, he yields a different, positive influence on the streets with UTEC.
By Linda Wang
November 25, 2019

Carlos felt addicted to the thrill of crime at a young age. Today, he yields a different, positive influence on the streets with UTEC.

Catalysts
How Old Skool Café Helped This Teenager Overcome Adversity After Trauma
How Old Skool Café Helped This Teenager Overcome Adversity After Trauma
Catalysts
How Old Skool Café Helped This Teenager Overcome Adversity After Trauma
After suffering a violent gang beating, Desiree Maldonado experienced major medical and emotional issues. She turned from a shy and nerdy 14-year-old kid to a hard and angry rebel. This is how one restaurant job changed her trajectory.
By Lise Metzger
November 23, 2019

After suffering a violent gang beating, Desiree Maldonado experienced major medical and emotional issues. She turned from a shy and nerdy 14-year-old kid to a hard and angry rebel. This is how one restaurant job changed her trajectory.

Catalysts
Old Skool Café Provides an Alternative to Gangs and Violence
Old Skool Café Provides an Alternative to Gangs and Violence
Catalysts
Old Skool Café Provides an Alternative to Gangs and Violence
As a former prison guard, Teresa Goines watched kids drift in and out of the justice system. Now she runs a jazz-themed eatery that hires at-risk youth and gives them a place to learn and grow.
By Esther Landhuis
November 18, 2019

As a former prison guard, Teresa Goines watched kids drift in and out of the justice system. Now she runs a jazz-themed eatery that hires at-risk youth and gives them a place to learn and grow.

Catalysts
This Nonprofit Gives Bikes and People New Life
This Nonprofit Gives Bikes and People New Life
Catalysts
This Nonprofit Gives Bikes and People New Life
Working Bikes has spent nearly two decades rescuing bicycles from the waste cycle to give people purpose, access to jobs, and independence.
October 3, 2019

Working Bikes has spent nearly two decades rescuing bicycles from the waste cycle to give people purpose, access to jobs, and independence.

CATALYSTS
Life Jackets Are Used to Create Jewelry, Opportunity for Refugees
Life Jackets Are Used to Create Jewelry, Opportunity for Refugees
CATALYSTS
Life Jackets Are Used to Create Jewelry, Opportunity for Refugees
Hordes of bright orange lifejackets are strewn across the rocky beaches of the Greek island of Lesbos. Discarded...
September 20, 2019

Hordes of bright orange lifejackets are strewn across the rocky beaches of the Greek island of Lesbos. Discarded after a perilous journey at sea, they exemplify the risk that refugees are willing to take in search of a better life. A Minnesota fashion start-up creates jewelry from discarded refugee life jackets. There are currently 26 million refugees worldwide....

Catalysts
This Social Enterprise is Cleaning Up Chicago One Street at a Time
Transitional employment
Catalysts
This Social Enterprise is Cleaning Up Chicago One Street at a Time
This nonprofit is not only polishing the streets of Chicago, but providing a "clean slate" for its interns. Those with a criminal background, dealing with addiction recovery, or domestic violence, are welcome to take part in job training and counseling.
September 30, 2019

It's a muggy Wednesday morning in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, the temperature and humidity rising before the sun. Lena, decked out in her eye-catching slate shirt and chartreuse vest, leans slightly out into the busy rush-hour traffic, sweeping litter (wrappers, cups, lots of cigarette butts) from the gutter into her dustpan. On the sidewalk, she empties her collection into a cart. As she moves down the street,...