Ca•ta•lyst ˈka-tə-ləst : an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action.

Recently for Project Upstate Together, a project of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, 133 upstate leaders were asked, “What explains the relative weakness of the Upstate economy?” Eighty-five percent said, “Low levels of aspiration among Upstate young people for post-secondary education.”

The Catalytics have assembled a network of DLI alumni who have volunteered to assist Bridges to a Brighter Future. The mission of Bridges is to “break the cycle of poverty and low educational attainment by equipping disadvantaged high school students whose potential outdistances their circumstances with the tools and support needed to graduate from high school and enroll in post-secondary education.”

Bridges executive director Tobi Swartz has identified several ways DLI alumni could help Bridges and its kids, including:

  • Serving as guest speakers at job fairs and similar events
  • Offering job shadowing to Bridges participants
  • Providing field trip locations
  • One-on-one mentoring match-ups
  • Serving as a “clearinghouse” resource to direct Bridges to other resources in the community within a DLI alumni’s professional field or other field of expertise
  • Workshop resources

The Catalytics have recruited DLI alumni who are willing to provide one or more of these services to Bridges and provided Tobi Swartz with a searchable Excel spreadsheet database with their contact information and the services they have volunteered for Bridges to a Brighter Future. We intend to continue to invite existing and future DLI alumni to join the network and add their information to the database.

If this pilot program with Bridges to a Brighter Future is successful, we aspire to create a searchable web-based database and offer access to it to other programs that assist diverse youth such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Urban League, Boys and Girls Clubs and similar programs. We anticipate such a database to be password protected with access limited to appropriate personnel at non-profit organizations registered with the South Carolina Secretary of State who are given access by invitation only and subject to customary legal terms and conditions to protect volunteers’ privacy and prevent abuse.