What inspires you? A photo, a piece of art, a movie, a quote, a conversation?
Often, it’s the power of a story – potentially told in a variety of ways – that can inspire, incite, catalyze, and move. Stories of change, of triumph, of transformation. It’s these stories of people, some just like us, that give us hope for what’s possible.
We’re working to inspire, incite, and catalyze. Organizations across the country are doing this in the lives of incredible individuals with the resolve and determination to change their life from poverty to prosperity. Our goal is to help these organizations do more of what they do best – deliver personal transformation – and in the process, we’re committed to telling their stories to inspire.
At our most recent Catalyst Summit, over 40 organizations convened to discuss the most difficult problems facing our communities and the solutions that are working. Twenty-seven organizations took their stand on stage by presenting how their organization catalyzes change in the lives of individuals in their communities.
It was an inspiring day of storytelling and challenging conversation, to say the least. Here’s what you need to know.
- Change is Possible. Catalyst leaders took the stage and made their stand, showing and telling the ways their organization has helped hundreds and thousands break through nearly impossible barriers related to poverty. Each story was unique, because every individual faces a different journey to and out of poverty. What was clear, no matter the circumstances, is that change is possible. Whether facing years of homelessness, becoming a parent as a teen or suffering abuse and turning to substances to cope, with the help of community and Catalysts, these individuals overcame the barriers standing in their way.
- Transformed lives transform lives. A young mother securing safe housing and a stable job changes the trajectory of not only her life, but the lives of her children. A middle-aged man who found himself sleeping in the airport on newspapers goes on to lead an organization that helps individuals overcome homelessness. A man who served 15 years in prison for a wrongful conviction dedicates his life to helping those released from prison re-join society successfully. Men and women inspire their families, their neighbors, and their community that change is possible – yes – but they also become a catalyst for others to improve their own lives, both providing an example of transformation and dedicating their lives to serving others.
- To understand the best solutions, we need to understand the real problems. Over the course of several panel discussions covering topics such as at-risk youth and education to mass incarceration and re-entry, guest speakers discussed the devastating problems facing our communities. The poverty-related issues in every community vary widely, just as every person has a unique story to tell. It’s clear no one-size-fits all solution exists, making it critical to understand the context of the problems in order to find the right solution. A top-down approach often assumes fragile communities face the same issues. While they might be similar, we have to listen to those on the ground to understand what works and what doesn’t.
- We need more social entrepreneurs. Catalyst leaders represent a group of individuals across the country who have dedicated their gifts and talents to transformation and social change. We need more individuals with the ideas, the drive, and the grit to build businesses, lead for-purpose organizations, and believe that change is possible for every single American.
- You don’t have to be a social entrepreneur to make a difference. Yes, we need entrepreneurs to take risks and start new ventures. We also need men and women in every community to come alongside them and support organizations like S+ Catalysts. Maybe your own story is one of transformation. Maybe you’ve witnessed loved ones face nearly insurmountable barriers. Maybe you’re committed to investing in your community and are looking for ways to give back – beyond money. You don’t have to own a business or be a CEO to make a difference.
The conversations, presentations, and dialogues that took place last week were inspiring, to say the least. Sometimes poverty seems so vast and intractable that the solutions are hard to recognize or rally around. But, when we look to communities for the solutions that are working in the lives of men, women, and children, it’s tremendous what we can accomplish when we stand together. When we do, change is possible.