April 26, 2016
Founded in 1990, Catalyst Chicago recently celebrated its 25 year anniversary. An independent news organization that serves as a watchdog and resource for school improvement in Chicago, it recognizes the critical link between education and community vitality. Catalyst Chicago believes everyone shares in the responsibility for educating Chicago’s children. It is an initiative of Community Renewal Society, a faith-based, nonprofit organization working to create racially and economically just communities. Founded in 1882, it envisions “a just community where race and class no longer limit each person’ s full participation in all aspects of society.”
To commemorate Catalyst Chicago’s 25th anniversary, the Community Renewal Society conducted a community engagement campaign that gave a voice to audiences who struggle to be heard and brought diverse audiences together to learn about and discuss important issues of teaching and learning. This effort included classroom story slams, town-hall style forums, and the creation of a weekly dive into the Catalyst archives called the Then, Now, Next Almanac. Chicago community members turned out to hear teachers, researchers and other educators share their knowledge about what it takes to improve schools.
This effort increased knowledge of important education issues, engaged diverse audiences and helped Catalyst Chicago reach a more general readership. Thanks to the multitude of events and initiatives made possible by Voqal’s funding, community engagement increased across the board with online engagement up as much as 40 percent. Furthermore, the Community Renewal Society built new partnerships with organizations like Teach Plus, a nonprofit that grooms teachers to participate in policy development. These partnerships will increase the impact of Catalyst Chicago and the Community Renewal Society. Voqal is a strong supporter of equity in education and is excited to see the lasting impact this campaign will have on the Chicago community.