We were incorporated in April 2006 as Catalyst Long Beach, founded by Eric Leocadio, from the observation that we lack inspirational leadership in our communities. Individuals are disconnected and organizations function in isolation. Groups are sometimes unwilling to collaborate and so duplicate services. Organizations lack resources, have excess resources, or don't know how to find resources. The nonprofit social sector is too competitive. There are already a lot of great ideas and organizations. The problem was the lack of connectivity. Since there had not been a single unifying voice for our communities, Catalyst was formed to create a chorus of inspirational voices comprised of emerging leaders that would develop the innovative solutions their community needed. The collective impact would be exponential. Some highlights of activities we’ve done in the past include:
In 2006, we began cultivating relationships with emerging and existing leaders.
In 2007, we organized 97 volunteers from 7 different organizations to assemble Easter baskets for underserved kids (in partnership with Justin Rudd and the Community Action Team).
In 2007-2008, we helped catalyze a sense of community with about 100 gay, lesbian, and straight people through beach bonfires, dinner gatherings, shared stories nights, and other events.
In 2008-2010, we were a founding member in the Coalition of Bridge Builders that began a process of bridging relationships with church leaders on both sides of the divisive issue of faith & sexuality. We hosted several events to “elevate the conversation” beyond the politics of our differences.
In 2009, hosted the first annual Green Long Beach! Festival bringing together over 270 artists, performers, businesses, and organizations with only two and a half months of grassroots organizing. This festival has been organized for 4 years from 2009 – 2012.
In 2009, we launched The HUB providing bike programming and services to the community, managed first by Pedal Movement (2009-10), then by EPK Vision (2010-12). In 2010, we relaunched the project as The HUB Community Bike Center. In 2012, we recycled, refurbished, and redistributed over 300 bikes into the community.
In 2009-2010, we operated a small community center called Catalyst Space in the East Village Arts District, offering classes, workshops, art shows, mixers, and other events. In 2010, we provided entertainment for the East Village Farmers Market.
In 2009-2014, we have organized several collaboratives comprised of individuals and organizations around shared interests for a common mission. Some past and present collaboratives include Green Long Beach!, LBCreative!, Pedal Movement, LBGirl, Dancing with Long Beach, Teen Empowerment Collaborative, Long Beach Theatre Arts Collaborative (LBTAC), Long Beach Leadership Collaborative, 1 REVOLUTION, and Accessible Connections Exchange (A.C.E.).
In 2010, our LBCreative! Project spearheaded the organizing of Carnival del Corazon - an artists response to the disaster in Haiti. We mobilized over 120 local artists contributing to the event. Together we raised over $4,200 for Yele Haiti and our community contributed over $12,000 worth of in-kind time and resources.
In 2010, we officially began doing business as the “Catalyst Network of Communities.”
In 2010 – 2014, we hosted the Seven-Ten Swap offering a monthly community exchange and potluck.
In 2010-2014, we have been offering a fiscal sponsorship program adopting unincorporated groups into our organization to function as Catalyst programs. we fiscally sponsored 41 groups including One Imagination, Long Beach Grows, Drum For Love, Long Beach Time Exchange, Stellar Organizational Development, Foundation 101, The Rock Club, SoCal Gals, Eco-Fit, SoCal Harvest, Foodscape Long Beach, The Narra Project, Give Canvas, A.C.T.S., DSB Sisterhood Network, Shift Long Beach, Leap Frog Yoga, Community Connectome, Conscious Community Project (Greener Good Farmers Markets), Dark Blue Mondaze, Esteem Catalyst Advisory Group, Fit to Live, Gem-In-Eyes Arts Festival, Ladies First Step, Operation Community Stimulus (The Art Team), OutFaith, Pink Cloud Foundation, Pots 2 Pans Nutrition Program, J&J Imagination Unlimited, Powerhouse School for the Arts, Music, and Dance, Rockin Taco, VETS Program, 7 Years to the Future, F.O.O.D. for Pets, LA Costume Swap, Artists for Action, Riverside Food Forum, Empact, Mindful City Project, and Global Voices for Justice.
In 2011-2013, we hosted the Assembly of the Catalyst Network of Communities, gathering together individuals, groups, and partners from throughout the Catalyst Network.
In 2011 (to present), we launched the Long Beach Free Store as a program that creates spaces for people to donate items in good condition and for people to receive donated items.
In 2011, we began the Emerging Leaders Network as an informal support group for Founders, Executive Directors, and Business Owners within the Catalyst Network.
In 2012, we launched a community project called Center Space: West Long Beach at Admiral Kidd Park providing programs, activities, and a farmers market to that underserved and under-resourced area of the city.
In 2012, we expanded and rebranded The HUB Community Bike Center into the new Catalyst Center for Urban Sustainability. (This project was short-lived as the property owner, Hancock University, decided to utilize the space we were occupying for their own purposes.)
In 2012, at our peak, we served over 40,000 people through 32 programs and projects.
In 2013, we launched the new Long Beach Free School as an alternative and supplemental system of education for young people and adults to engage in lifelong learning.
In 2013, we launched a new collaborative project called Accessible Connections Exchange (A.C.E.) to empower and support individuals with a disability, connect service providers, and to promote awareness and empathy for those living with a disability.
In 2013, as part of our Emerging Leaders Network program, we provided a series of Training Modules to help leaders learn about organizational sustainability.
In 2013-2014, we launched the Catalyst Giving Chain project to inspire empathy and understanding between people.
In 2014, we discontinued our fiscal sponsorship program so that we could focus on developing our organizational capacity and sustainability (strategically called “Team Catalyst”) while operating a hand-full of projects more efficiently. This began a new era for our organizational history nicknamed “Catalyst 3.0”. The mission remains the same (to help people connect, collaborate, and share resources) but our strategy has shifted to creating programs that inspire empathy and understanding.
In 2014, we organized and hosted a Human Library event in collaboration with the Long Beach Public Library, Long Beach Free Store (a Catalyst project), Long Beach Time Exchange, and Eayikes. The Human Library event was a collection of human books (people who shared unique aspects of their story like an open book) and space for attendees (aka "Readers") to check out books at 15-20 minute intervals.
In 2014, we created a project called 3 Meals to bring together 5 individuals of different sexual orientations (gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, asexual) for an entire day of sharing meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and sharing stories. The goal was for each to become better known and to better understand others without debate, defense, or desire to convert perspectives.
In 2014, we began partnering with the Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB) by hosting a pop-up Free Store at the monthly First Fridays events at the TALB parking lot.
In 2015, the Whittier Time Bank became a project of Catalyst Network of Communities.
In 2015, we began to build the Whittier Free Store - part of what will become Make Space: Artisan Work Lab, projects of Catalyst Network of Communities.
In 2015, we continued partnering with the Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB) by hosting a pop-up Free Store at the monthly First Fridays events at the TALB parking lot.
In 2016, the Federal Communications Commission approved our application along with 7 other Los Angeles-based non-profits as our timeshare partners, and granted us a construction permit to build a Low Power FM radio station in Long Beach within 3 years.
In 2016, we hosted our first Repair & Share Fair in Whittier, a waste diversion initiative for neighborly sharing and community repair.
In 2016, we continued partnering with the Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB) by hosting a pop-up Free Store at the monthly First Fridays events at the TALB parking lot.
In 2017, we hosted our second Repair & Share Fair in Whittier, a waste diversion initiative for neighborly sharing and community repair.
In 2017, the Catalyst Board of Directors appointed Megan Hobza as the new Executive Director. She served briefly from April through December 2017 before resigning her position. Catalyst founder Eric Leocadio was reappointed as the Executive Director by the Catalyst Board of Directors.
In 2017, we continued our fiscal sponsorship program on a limited and selective basis beginning with the adoption of The Infinite Stage.
In 2017, we continued partnering with the Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB) by hosting a pop-up Free Store at the monthly First Fridays events at the TALB parking lot.
In 2018, we began hosting monthly community potlucks at our Whittier Free Store.
In 2018, we renewed our fiscal sponsorship of The Infinite Stage (Model A).
In 2018, we established a fiscal sponsorship agreement with Free West Papua Campaign (Model C).
In 2018, we launched the Artisan Work Lab as a creative space to create, craft and upcycle new things out of the raw materials generated from excess free store donations. It is just one component of a larger project called MAKE SPACE.
In 2019, we established a fiscal sponsorship agreement with OUT LOUD: A Cultural Evolution, Queer Futures project (Model C).
**In our history, Catalyst and its programs have hosted dozens of other events not listed above.