“Catalyst” Launches In Boston

Think back to that moment when it all made sense. When that light bulb went off and you thought, “YES! This is what I want to do!” Who inspired you? When did it happen? What was your Catalyst Moment?

At Citizen Schools we believe that an inspiration gap exists in schools across the country. Thousands of students don’t have a fair shot of having a Catalyst Moment. But you can change that by being a part of our new campaign: Catalyst.

On Wednesday, October 17, Citizen Schools launched the Catalyst initiative at the Google offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Over the next three years, Citizen Schools will raise $10 million to mobilize 7,500 scientists, engineers, and technology experts to inspire and ignite a passion in children across the country. Check out this video with more details:

Akelo Wade compares the design of a jet to a car

The evening prompted some role reversals: the kids became the teachers and the adults recalled their own middle school dreams. Students impressed the guests with products from their apprenticeships. Alternative energy vehicles, computer programmed robots, ultra violet beads, and even “Techno Swag” (a merging of fashion and technology) had the room feeling inspired.

High school junior and Citizen Schools alumnus Akelo Wade offered his Catalyst Moment to the crowd, which included scientists, Fidelity financiers, physicists, researchers, and inventors. Akelo recalled the middle school aerodynamics apprenticeship that exposed him to a career he never knew existed, and now he’s hooked.

Catalyst Moments from attendees

Citizen Schools leaders Eric Schwarz and Pat Kirby and Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville showed how much public education can benefit from participation of professionals from STEM fields, and how Citizen Schools Catalyst is uniquely positioned to make a big impact.

Cognizant’s Mark Greenlaw told an amazing story of his own experience teaching–and being taught by–middle school students, and Google’s Steve Vinter was exuberant about the way teaching apprenticeships inspires his already brilliant employees. Both Cognizant and Google, together with Carnegie Corporation of New York, are the first Catalyst Partners–putting major investments in the campaign to start a chain reaction in education.

Guests shared their own Catalyst Moments on white boards around the room. Maybe you’ll feel some of the chemical energy in this slideshow.

In the weeks leading up to the launch, friends and supporters from around the country who couldn’t attend the event shared their inspirations:

“I was underperforming in my 8th grade classes when my math standardized tests scores came back. My math teacher pulled me aside, told me I had a natural gift in math and lectured me about how I could do better. From that point forward, I was a straight A student and a math lover!”
Petra Weiss, Google, Boston, MA
teaching “Brand You”

“I was hooked when I put together my first computer in junior high school. From that point on, I knew I had to go into a career in technology!”
Ed Lau, Microsoft, Charlotte, NC
teaching “How Have Computers Changed Your Life?”

“My catalyst was a female chemical engineer who came to speak to my all-girls high school summer program.  She explained how she used her chemical engineering skills on a daily basis and demonstrated some of the products she worked on.”
Jennifer Sandidge, Merck, Newark, NJ
teaching “I Scream, You Scream”

Paul Reville proposed a challenge to the event attendees. He said, “Schools can’t close achievement gap alone. We need Catalysts!” We need you. Thanks to partners like Google, Cognizant, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, we are halfway to reaching our $10 million goal, and closer to helping kids like Akelo discover their dreams. You can become a strategic partner in making their dreams come true. Visit catalystmoment.org and contact Nicole Quinlan to learn how.

Meanwhile, continue the conversation. Tell us your Catalyst Moment on Twitter: @cschools, tag #CatalystMoment.