What is the Catalyst Network Foundation Inc.?
The Catalyst Network Foundation (CNF) is an organization created by young professionals, seeking to invest in high-potential youth through mentoring and individualized career and leadership development. Partnering with New York City and Washington, D.C. high schools as the primary population to recruit participants, our foundation understands that a society thrives on its investments from community members and private businesses in the youth. The power of our society stems from the way individuals allocate their resources, both financial and intangible (i.e., time, energy, etc.). By initiating partnerships between community organizations and individuals, CNF creates a synergy of resource allocation, support and opportunity between its participants and local businesses, or public and private institutions, to push students to succeed.
CNF begins by identifying career aspirations and connecting participants with resources related to their goals to support them in developing a plan. In order to identify career aspirations and resources, CNF connects students with young adult mentors who assist in supporting student participation in workshops and apprenticeships while forming a hands-on plan that meets their identified goals. The essence of CNF is to be a catalyst that holistically addresses the issue of poverty and economic instability by linking individuals, communities, and resources to lead to the achievement of personal goals and community objectives that drive economic opportunity and development.
What is the social problem that the Catalyst Network Foundation Inc. is addressing?
Access to experiential-based learning eludes youth in many urban areas. The Catalyst Network Foundation positions itself as a supplemental program that supports schools in providing students with the necessary resources and committed support to fulfill their potential.
New York City and Washington, D.C., like many urban neighborhoods, are undergoing a period of gentrification that forces residents to reevaluate their economic standing and establish long-term goals for lifestyle sustainability. Many youths in these communities are vulnerable to obstacles in personal performance and at-risk for meager educational attainment, specifically in the age range of 12-18 years of age. As these cities continue to change, the absence of meaningful mentorship opportunities further discourages youth who need to identify their potential educational and career opportunities.
What does Catalyst Network Foundation Inc. do to address this social problem?
To give students access to optimistic/futures and experiential-based learning, CNF is taking a holistic approach to community development. By targeting the 12-18 populations, we ensure that the next generation will be able to create and own a personal vision for achieving economic, health and familial security. Each talented youth is provided the necessary resources and support to develop within the CNF framework, which supports the student over an extended period of time. We intend to launch the youth initiative where CNF coordinates the efforts and resources that are best suited to meet the career, educational and employment needs of youth.
We begin by aggressively working with local schools that have a socio-economically diverse student population and enroll high-potential students into our program. Then, we assess their career aspirations and expose them accordingly to various opportunities. This is done in an effort to provide students with access to different career paths and businesses to foster goal-setting and intrapersonal growth. In giving each student individualized attention we believe they will be able to employ their acquired skills and tangible outline for future decision-making.
We focus on our primary goals during the summer months when research shows students lose learned content throughout the school year. During a 2-week summer intensive program, CNF will expose students to professionals from various fields and develop their interpersonal, leadership and creative skills through integrated training, workshops, panel discussions and mentoring. In our inaugural year, the CNF leadership team conducted telephone interviews to select the first 24 participants from the applicant pool. On June 9, 2012, the accepted fellows came together for their first pre-summer intensive workshop on the Long Island University-Brooklyn campus. Students were introduced to leadership development and took the Clifton Strengths Assessment during a three-hour workshop. CNF will employ the text “Strengths Finder 2.0” to ground leadership development training and create a shared language among the fellows. The students received writing assignments to prepare them for their second workshop, Professional Writing.
After students complete the two-week summer intensive, students will be assigned to what we call, ‘day-shadowing’ positions. These experiences will pair students with our corporate partners for a day of learning in the workplace. The impact of these experiences, we believe, will be a resource and skill-set available for the next academic year.
After the summer activities, CNF will organize social, networking, and skill development activities throughout the academic year to reinforce their academic development. Depending on the academic year of the students, CNF will also provide support in the college application process, SAT preparation and summer internship connections. As we enter the spring, we will enroll a new cohort of students to begin the summer intensive program and our retained students will be brought back to advance their skills and complete long-term internships during the summer.
The Catalyst Network Foundation Inc. (CNF) is a non-profit education initiative 501(c)(3) organization based in New York City and Washington, D.C. The social enterprise is fundamentally grassroots, steered by a volunteer leadership team in New York City and Washington, D.C. In July of 2012, Ranking Congressman Ed Towns awarded a proclamation to the Foundation, in recognition of the organization’s achievements.
CNF was conceived after its two founding members had a conversation about the future of youth and veterans in their community. After reviewing the lack of communal resources, skill development programs, and career-field opportunities for adults – the founders developed a vision. Through their combined efforts and strategic planning, the two founders recruited additional professionals to support the formation of Catalyst Network Foundation.
Founded in 2011, the nonprofit focuses on life enrichment and professional development, with a mission to engage high-potential youth (ages 14-25) and veterans (ages 21-30) by providing the proper tools, networks, skill-building projects, and development opportunities to maximize talent.
CNF holds a Summer Intensive Program for rising high school juniors and seniors in New York City and Washington, D.C. Successful applicants are enrolled at a CNF partnership high school. Each student receives individualized attention and internships in preparation for higher education and community service. The fellowship scholars are trained from day one: they tour corporate offices, pitch business ideas, and develop professional skills. 200+ students have been admitted to the Fellowship Program and are CNF Fellows, 99% have grauated high school, and 98% enrolled in higher education institutions (including prestigious colleges and universities).
Through CNF’s Mentorship Program, Fellowship scholars are paired with a mentor that is a trailblazer in the profession or career field the fellows aspire to pursue. The CNF Internship Program secures CNF Fellows with internships at startups, corporations, and medical institutions.
Since 2011, the Fellows have participated in corporate tours and create or pitched presentations about inner-city school challenges to several companies, including: Google, Goldman Sachs, NIKE, LinkedIn, Morgan Stanley, HBO, Microsoft, Covington & Burling LLP, GAP, BET, Essence Magazine, NPR, Kaye Scholer LLP, Hughes Hubbard Reed LLP, Bloomberg, Peebles Corporation, Infor, Deloitte, FOX News, and NBC Studios.
The youth initiative annually holds tech symposiums at Google, career, and college preparatory workshops throughout the school year, instructing over 1,500 high school students in the aforementioned metropolitan areas.
CNF performs screening and facilitates seamless partnership arrangements with high schools, nonprofits, and corporations. I.e., City Poly Tech High School < > Infor
The organization works with American veterans (ages 21-30), connecting them with resources and information to assist them with their career and academic ambitions.
CNF has curated 25+ professional networking events and diversity career recruiting sessions. The organization host a professional mixer and panel discussion called The Meeting of the Minds (MOTM) a gathering that is held quarterly it uniquely combines networking and thoughtful policy discussion on topics affecting minority communities. The goal is to provide a forum for critical conversation on issues often ignored by mainstream media outlets.