Spotlight on Nonprofit: Catalyst Community

share this: recently spoke with Eric Leocadio, Executive Director/Founder of Catalyst Community, via email. They talked about the inspirations and challenges of running a nonprofit organization in Long Beach.

How long has Catalyst Community been around?

We incorporated in April 2006 here in Long Beach. After investing a year in 2008 for team building and organizational development, we became active and public with our current mission in January 2009.

Describe Catalyst Community. Tell us a little about your nonprofit, your mission, the people you serve or your goals.

Catalyst Community is a grassroots non-profit organization with a vision to see every area and region inspired with a greater sense of community, collaboration and citizenship through meaningful relationships. Our mission is to empower both individuals and organizations with tools that enable them to accomplish their own passions for the broader community.

We are a community of catalysts.

Often times, organizations will host an event that brings people together but few stay meaningfully connected after the event. We believe that effective and long lasting partnership can’t occur without trust; we can’t have trust without relationships.

So that’s where we start.

Our campaign is to “Connect and Affect” – to catalyze collaborative communities to build relationships, establish partnerships, encourage contribution, and inspire growth.

Our Catalyst Community is where we connect, give back, promote events, and mobilize on common ground. It’s a place where we all hold a stake; a community that we all help shape.

This is where we catalyze the shift from “my”space to “our”space.

How is Catalyst Community different from similar nonprofits?

We are a bridge building organization that simply casts vision towards four common community values:

  • Building Relationships – we believe that intentional connections that foster authenticity and understanding enhances the peaceful climate of our community.
  • Establishing Partnerships – we believe that the strategic partnerships of individuals and organizations in collaboration towards a common interest make us more effective in our community.
  • Encouraging Contribution – we believe that the strategic sharing of resources and the active participation of residents giving back to their community is the most effective way of addressing our practical and tangible needs.
  • Inspiring Growth – we believe that experiencing a broader understanding of ourselves, the community, and our world enhances our potential.

We provide a context that brings individuals and organizations together around a shared interest, but once they’ve come together, they make their own decisions about the projects and initiatives that they’d like to work towards.

We help them organize and find resources but they shape their own collaborative effort. In this way, we form collaboratives that are truly community-member driven.

In a nutshell, we cast vision for direction without dictating directions.

How is Catalyst Community involved with the community?

We have a “Catalyst Space” in the East Village. It is a community growth and learning center that provides people with a place to broaden their understanding of themselves, our community, and our world. It is a place that empowers catalysts, equips leaders, and resources neighbors and organizations with the means of advancing their goals.

The Catalyst Space features computer work stations, classes and workshops, a resource library, and a place for traveling guests to connect.

The Catalyst Space is also a place where people can be inspired to be catalytic in their group and community. It’s a place where people can connect with others with common interests and passions and collaborate together on projects and initiatives. It’s a place where fellow catalysts can support one another, be resourced and empowered, and rest.

We also develop collaborative communities.

Collaborative Communities: coalitions of individuals from multiple organizations working together towards a broad common interest or cause. Each has a person that serves as the community catalyst that casts vision and works with team facilitators.

Collaborative Teams: groups of individuals from multiple organizations within a Collaborative Community working together towards a common project or initiative. Each team has a person that serves as the team facilitator that organizes the group.

So far, we have four Collaborative Communities each with several teams:

  • Green Long Beach! Collaborative Community: individuals and organizations strategically working together to see a green Long Beach.
  • Community Education Team – working to educate the community about environmental issues and sustainability.
  • Community Gardens/ Green Spaces Team – working to create more community gardens, art parks, and monarch way-stations in green spaces throughout the city.
  • Food Systems Team – working to educate people about healthy food systems, working to “green” local restaurants, and promote fresh and local produce. This team has two sub-teams:
  • Long Beach Food Buying Co-Op Team – working to educate and promote producers of food and create a buying network.
  • Edible Long Beach Team – working to educate and connect consumers of food.
  • Government Action Team – working to create innovative solutions to bridge the information gap between grassroots environmental actions/concerns in our community and what’s happening at a city policy level.
  • Green Art Movement Team – working to promote green art that involves the use of sustainable materials and themes of sustainability.
  • LBCreative! Collaborative Community: local artists and organizations working together to strengthen the arts and culture in our city.
  • Creative Art Spaces Team – working to be a community resource for the Arts, Culture and Entertainment by providing multi-use spaces to enhance the art scene in Long Beach.
  • Culture & Community Diversity Team – working to promote the diversity of cultures existing in our city.
  • Art Education & Youth Team – working to create a program of multiple organizations offering arts related education to youth and the community.
  • Festivals & Events Team – working to be a resource for both the community and other LBCreative teams, coordinating entertainment and staff for a variety of events in the Long Beach community.
  • City Partnership Team – working to be a resource for the community on city policy, regulations & permitting, funding sources, marketing, and advocacy issues.
  • Green Art Movement Team – working to promote green art that involves the use of sustainable materials and themes of sustainability.
  • Teen Girls Collaborative Community: individuals and organizations working together to share resources and communication for the empowerment of teen girls.
  • Biking & Cycling Collaborative Community: individuals and organizations working together to raise awareness about the benefits of biking and to create a safer city for the biking & cycling community.

What are some of the biggest successes Catalyst Community has had?

Before even having a physical location, Catalyst Community co-hosted the Green Long Beach! Festival on May 9, 2009 and in only two and a half months of planning helped bring together OVER 270 community groups, individuals, and businesses participating in making this all-day festival happen! These included 98 booths & vendors, 64 bands, musicians, performers, artists, speakers, and activity groups, 35 East Village businesses hosting an event or offering discounts to festival guests, 19 hosts and sponsors, and 60 festival team volunteers.

Once we secured a physical location, the Catalyst Space in the East Village, on June 1, 2009 we have connected with over 200 people from over 75 different community groups participating in 4 collaborative communities in 13 collaborative teams each shaping and strategically working towards their own projects and initiatives.

What is the most rewarding part of running Catalyst Community?

The most rewarding part of running this organization is empowering people to be catalysts.

I enjoy listening to individuals in the community talk passionately about something he or she cares about, then seeing the excitement that comes in realizing that he or she can make it happen. I enjoy sitting with people to develop strategic plans for their own vision and passion, coaching them through the process, and seeing them grow and succeed.

Many people just need to know that they don’t have to rely or wait on the city or well-established institutions to create change. They just need to be empowered.

What are the challenges you face — as a nonprofit, as an advocacy group, or in your industry?


Many of us are joyfully giving what ever we can to cover basic monthly expenses and volunteering our time in the evenings most of the week to the organization while also working a full-time day job elsewhere. We could be all the more effective if we could have the funding to support day-time staff.

Fund raising is a challenge because it often requires a significant investment of energy, focus, and time to do properly while we’d rather continuing investing in community building.

We realize, though, that it’s a necessary part of an organization. We are working towards developing an effective fund raising strategy. The good news is that many members of the community have become donors to the organization because they support, believe in, and own a piece of the vision for themselves.

What are the future plans for Catalyst Community?

We plan to further develop our two most recent collaborative communities: Teen Girls and Biking & Cycling. We’ll be connecting with relevant organizations and then work together to bring all of our groups together around those two communities.

We plan to become fiscal sponsors for two community groups. Women of Note is a choral group for women. Pedal Movement is an organization that connects bicyclists.

We plan to seek out other community catalysts that would like to spearhead new collaborative communities.

We plan to develop a functioning Growth & Learning Center at the Catalyst Space with a full schedule of practical classes and workshops.

We plan to host a fund raising event that involves the integration of dance, song, 2D and 3D art while featuring each of our collaborative communities and their teams.

We plan to host an interactive annual conference that brings together all of our various collaborative communities so that collectively, we can gain a better pulse & personality of our city.

Do you have any special events or fundraisers you’d like to tell us about?

We just had a successful Grand Opening event on September 12th.

We don’t yet have dates for special events or fundraisers, however, we will submit press releases for them as plans develop.

How can people get involved with Catalyst Community? What do you need — volunteers, donations, etc?

We would appreciate all the support towards advancing the vision.

People can join collaborative teams to help shape projects or initiatives that they are interested in.

People can join the Catalyst Team to spearhead the development of a new Collaborative Community they are passionate about.

People can join an Operations Team to volunteer for administrative, technical, creative, or maintenance tasks.

People can volunteer to teach a class or workshop.

People can make a tax-deductible financial contribution to help support the needs of our organization.

People can donate chairs, tables, pop-up canopies, PA sound system, LCD projector, and computers that we can use for events or in the Catalyst Space.

What is the most inspiring advice that you received and who did it come from?

President Barack Obama campaigned with the slogan “Yes We Can!”

It’s been too long since we’ve had an inspirational voice that empowered the individual.

At times, when we can sometimes get weary running an organization with limited resources, energy, and time, I am reminded by the encouragement that we can do more than we think.

Catalyst Community Details:

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