Community Improvement, Capacity Building

Catalytic Communities, Inc.

  • Washington, DC
  • www.catcomm.org

Mission Statement

To destigmatize Rio de Janeiro’s favela communities and integrate them into the wider society, generating global recognition of their heritage status through education, research, training, communications, technology, networks, participatory planning and advocacy.

Main Programs

  1. Community Solutions Database
  2. Educational Community Visits
  3. RioOnWatch
  4. Social Media Trainings
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

Rio de Janeiro as focus location where we pioneer local programs instigating broader changes that serve as models for partners around the world.

ruling year

2001

Principal Officer since 2000

Self-reported

Dr. Theresa Williamson

Keywords

Self-reported

civil-society building, innovation-sharing, low-income communities, developing countries, empowerment, solution-sharing, Dot Org

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Also Known As

CatComm

EIN

52-2266240

 Number

4661494973

Physical Address

Ipanema, 22411 2241

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Community, Neighborhood Development, Improvement (S20)

International Human Rights (Q70)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (L01)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Since 2000 CatComm has incubated pioneering local projects that strengthen and recognize Rio’s favela communities through education, training, communications and networks, with an eye towards developing sustainable models for worldwide replication:

2001-2009 developed Web’s 1st open database of grassroots projects, the Community Solutions Database (CSD), recognized by the Tech Museum of Innovation in 2006. 
2003-2008 ran UN-recognized community and technology hub for local civic leaders in Rio called the Casa do Gestor Catalisador (Casa).  Provided >1000 community leaders from 215 Rio neighborhoods, 23 Brazilian states, and 22 nations a range of services. 
2009-2010 implemented Brazil’s first Social Media Trainings for community leaders, training 180 leaders from 50 neighborhoods.
2010 international observers halted evictions proceedings in Vila Taboinha.
2010 coordinated 24 Educational Community Visits.
2010-2011 launched & established RioOnWatch, the only English-language publishing community voices in the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. 
2010 published 111 articles covering events in Rio’s favelas.
2010-2011 took Rio’s community evictions from obscurity to mainstream in the int'l press. 9 months after launching RioOnWatch we were contacted by AP for the 1st story on evictions to hit the mainstream media. Featured in USA Today, was followed by Guardian, BBC, Telegraph, Al Jazeera, cyberpresse.ca, The Independent, Al Jazeera’s The Stream, & CBC Radio Canada, last 4 of which quoted CatComm.
2011 launched Monthly News Digest providing condensed information on how Rio’s favelas are being perceived by the int'l media w/ RioOnWatch lens offering a more acute local perspective.
2011 undertook in-depth training of 30 underserved youth in Community Journalism & 8 in Video Journalism preparing to report for RioOnWatch.  Trained 50 youth from 3 traditionally unheard-of communities in video through course “Video Journalism: Youth Voices” a partnership w/ Adobe Youth Voices.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Community Solutions Database

The Community Solutions Database features grassroots-driven solutions to social
challenges. CatComm works with communities to ensure that civic solutions are
extensively detailed such that others can effectively learn from them,
providing documents, images, and links to resources for other leaders.  All solutions are translated into Portuguese and English by our international network of volunteers.

Category

Community Development

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

$0.00

Program 2

Educational Community Visits

Since 2004 Catalytic Communities has worked with visiting university departments, graduate researchers, journalists, conference goers, and volunteer groups to provide informative educational visits across Rio’s favelas.
Together with local community partners, we’ve led over 500 visitors, from 10 countries, through a wide range of favelas (violent and non-violent, economically vibrant and neglected, large and small, old and new, steep and low-lying) with an eye towards engaging visitors with the favelas they visit, either through direct volunteer service, the publication of articles voicing community concerns, or ongoing awareness-raising around the issues faced by residents beyond their departure.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

$10,000.00

Program 3

RioOnWatch

Rio Olympics Neighborhood Watch (RioOnWatch), is CatComm’s program to bring visibility to favela community voices in the lead-up to the 2016 Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janeiro.
 
The main initiative is RioOnWatch.org, the only English-language community news site publishing the perspectives of community organizers, residents, and international observers, in light of the fast-paced urban transformations that currently characterize Rio.

 
The RioOnWatch program also works to grow the participation of community journalists and international observers in reporting on Rio’s transformations and dialogues with the mainstream and alternative press to engender a more accurate picture of favelas, their contributions to the city, and their perspectives.

 
RioOnWatch.org began scaling its impact 9 months after its launch, when we were contacted in March 2011 by the Associated Press for what would turn out to be the first story on favela evictions, which helped trigger later stories from the Guardian, BBC, Telegraph, Al Jazeera, cyberpresse.ca, Dave Zirin’s Edge of Sports, The Independent, Al Jazeera’s The Stream, CBC Radio Canada, The Rio Times, and Chicago WBEZ’s WorldView, all in 2011, the last 8 of which quoted CatComm.

Category

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

$40,000.00

Program 4

Social Media Trainings

Since May 2010 CatComm has trained 250 community leaders, NGO partners, youth journalists and cultural producers across the Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Region in various social media:

 

Social Media Trainings (March-November 2010)

The objective of the 2010 course “Strategic Use of the Most Recent Virtual Communication Tools,” was to build capacity for community leaders to advance their own grassroots organizations and causes and represent points of view that traditional media outlets ignore. Community leaders from across the city learned how to produce stories and video, publish them online, then develop networks to disseminate this information. They are now networked users of Twitter, Facebook and WiserEarth. They have learned how to make, edit, and share videos using MovieMaker and YouTube. And, on top of learning how to create personal blogs, students contribute to RioOnWatch.org.br in Portuguese, and RioOnWatch.org in English, our news sites to reflect voices from across Rio’s neighborhoods in the lead-up to the 2016 Olympic Games.

 

Community Journalism Trainings (March-July 2011)

In the first half of 2011, Catalytic Communities (CatComm) offered a community journalism course, training community reporters for our Rio Olympics Neighborhood Watch (RioOnWatch) news site. The course empowered youth from the city of Rio de Janeiro to develop, write and produce both text and video stories for RioOnWatch.
CatComm selected 30 students in March of 2011 for the course, from across the city of Rio. Over the course of the semester, students were empowered to learn fundamental concepts and practices of journalism. Thanks to the course, students now write with journalistic sensibilities, writing to their audiences, including only relevant information, and understanding their objective in reporting. Students also learned the importance of precision in determining information that is true, and how to quote interviewees so that the opinion of the journalist does not overpower the information that he or she is reporting.

 
Video-Journalism Trainings (September-November 2011)

Our Video Journalism trainings were a two-part program which included both the training of 50 youth from across Rio de Janeiro as part of the Adobe Youth Voices program, and an additional thorough training of 6 highly dedicated young journalists supplementing their CatComm Community Journalism course which occurred in the first semester.
The 50 youth trained in association with the Adobe Youth Voices program were from the neighborhoods of Sepetiba, Parque da Cidade, and Muzema, all characterized by a general lack of visibility. All three are for the most part safe communities, and overlooked in different ways by public officials. But they differ markedly in terms of access to the city.

Category

Community Development

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Budget

$30,000.00

Service Areas

Self-reported

International

Rio de Janeiro as focus location where we pioneer local programs instigating broader changes that serve as models for partners around the world.

Funding Needs

CatComm has secured long-term supporters and campaigns capable of guaranteeing approximately US$65,000 per year of our annual budget of approximately $100,000. We are looking for foundations and philanthropic sponsors willing to pledge $1000, $2000, $5000, or $10,000 per year through the 2016 Rio Olympics to safeguard our ability to act over the coming critical years.

photos




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Financials

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Catalytic Communities Inc
Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Catalytic Communities, Inc.

Leadership

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Principal Officer

Dr. Theresa Williamson

BIO

Theresa Williamson founded Catalytic Communities and has worked as Executive Director for four years. In her current role, she is CatComm's primary fundraiser (responsible for all major gift solicitations, small donor cultivation, and special events), liaison to the Board of Directors, and oversees staff responsible for day-to-day organizational management and oversight. Theresa also oversees all program strategy, development and activity. In May 2004 Theresa received her Ph.D. from the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania which will yield a book about Catalytic Communities' development. It is entitled "Catalytic Communities: The Birth of a Dot Org" and was one of three finalists for the 2004 Barclay Gibbs Jones Award for the Best Dissertation in Planning (to see her academic work, visit www.theresawilliamson.info). She has published articles from this dissertation and related research in Progressive Planning, The Journal of Urban Technology, and Cidadania.org. Prior to her doctoral research and decision to found CatComm, Theresa had already been active in a number of movements for years, since the early age of 12. Over the years she worked for or volunteered with: Jeremy Rifkin, of the Foundation for Economic Trends; Colman McCarthy, of the Center for Teaching Peace; Co-op America; the Child Welfare League of America; the Philadelphia Recycling Office; the Ombudsman for the State of Paraná, Brazil; and S.E.A., Students for Environmental Action (Maryland). Theresa's undergraduate degree was in Biological Anthropology, with concentrations in Environmental Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies, from Swarthmore College. Though raised in the Washington, DC area, Theresa is a dual Brazilian and British citizen.

STATEMENT FROM THE Principal Officer

"The mainstream media continue to portray favelas as bastions of crime and destitution. Urban interventions in whatever form, when viewed in this light, are assumed to be very positive. Authoritarian and non-participatory approaches don’t seem like a problem if we assume we’re dealing with criminals and squalor. But the reality of Rio’s favelas is very different. Initial surveys conducted by CatComm show that the majority of people who have visited Rio’s favelas think of them favorably, while almost universally those who haven’t see them negatively instead. From films to video games, newspaper articles and magazines, Rio’s favelas have born the brunt of negative stereotyping. In this sense the international press’ portrayal of these communities has facilitated current authoritarian policies that appear positive but are likely to have dire consequences, compromising valuable community qualities like solid building practices, solidarity networks, culture, walkability, entrepreneurship, access to jobs, and more, while increasing inequality in what is already one of the most unequal societies on Earth.
 
Fortunately, thanks to our community networks constantly informing us of the latest goings-on across the city, we have been able to connect the dots and are seeing the beginning of negative impacts before they turn commonplace. This means there is time to act and influence urban policy in a positive direction. By continuing to bring widespread attention to community voices and perspectives through RioOnWatch.org and other outlets, working with international media and university researchers, seeking out public officials, and tackling favela stigmas in increasingly public ways—while simultaneously developing awareness among community leaders and participatory approaches on-the-ground—we can change Rio for the better. Favela communities can be recognized for their contributions to the broader society, their innovation, while true participatory processes are developed that ensure policies benefit existing residents, favoring their integration rather than displacement.
 
To ensure our work expands in 2012 we are counting on ongoing supporters to maintain their support, and new supporters to join the fold. If you value what we do, please take a moment to donate now and your support will double in impact! 
 
On behalf of Rio de Janeiro's communities, thank you!

 Theresa Williamson"

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Rizwan Tayabali

No Affiliation

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

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CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


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ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


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BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


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BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?