Letter About Our Workshops

To Whom It May Concern,

Thank you very much for your inquiry about having us work with your group.  Here is more information about the work that we do and our previous experience.

The Catalyst Project is a center for political education and movement building.  We work with social justice activists around the country to help strengthen anti-racist politics and practice through workshops, leadership development and alliance building.

Catalyst grew out of the Challenging White Supremacy Workshops in San Francisco.  CWS began in 1993, founded by Sharon Martinas and Mickey Ellinger.  Sharon and Mickey are both long time white anti-racist organizers who were politicized by the Civil Rights, Black Power and anti-war movements of the 60s and 70s.  When the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee put forward the strategy that white people organize other white people to challenge racism, Mickey and Sharon committed to doing that work. 

Catalyst  was started in 2000 by a younger generation of white anti-racist organizers. We came out of the movements for  global justice and are actively  involved in the anti-war movement.  Our work was inspired by Elizabeth ‘Betita’  Martinez’ highly influencal essay "Where was the Color in  Seattle," which highlighted the need for white activists to  examine racism and how it effects our organizing.

Over the past four years, we have led over 100 workshops for white social justice activists around the country. In our trainings, more than 4500 participants have looked at histories of racism,  analyzed ways racism operates today and developed strategies for strengthening their own anti-racist organizing for liberation.  Our 4 -6 hour anti-racism workshop uses interactive exercises and participatory learning to develop analysis and skills to work for liberation.  We also do workshops on alliance building, leadership development and anti-war organizing.

In addition to political education, we prioritize long-term work with groups and activists to develop leadership and expand organizing skills, support organizational transformation, and increase our capacity to work for justice. Our work is based in our understanding that that all people have the right to housing, food, health-care, meaningful work and healthy communities.  Our work is guided by the goal of building strong multiracial movements for justice to create a society that benefits all.   

If you would like us to work with your organization, please let us know so that we can further discuss your organization, your goals for the workshop, travel expenses and stipend for trainers.

Comments from organizers about our work:

"I see no hope of building a successful movement for social justice in this country without the anti-racist training of white activists that will permit us all to come together as equals in the struggle"
-Elizabeth ‘Betita’ Martinez, founder and director of the Institute for Multiracial Justice

“Challenging White Supremacy is doing vital work in the global justice movement. Since Seattle, most white global activists have come to realize that the movement must be multiracial. Very few know how to do it. CWS has one of the keys — anti-racist education and consistent support for groups doing anti-racist work. The more support CWS gets, the faster we can build the kind of movement we need.”
-Mike Prokosch, globalization program director at United for a Fair Economy
"The workshop changed my life, and my course as an activist. The workshop took off my white blinders and helped me to recognize how white privilege and institutionalized racism are at play in the global justice movement. I gained new tools, and invaluable new perspectives to guide my work. Historically, social movements have exacerbated racial divides. We can not afford to repeat these mistakes."
-Juliette Beck, Senior Organizer with Public Citizen

"To solve the new century's mounting social and environmental problems, people of color activists and white activists need to be able to join forces. But all too often, the unconscious racism of white activists stands in the way of any effective, worthwhile collaboration. The Challenging White Supremacy workshop is the most powerful tool that I have seen for removing the barriers to true partnerships between people of color and white folks. If the CWS trainings were mandatory for all white activists, the progressive movement in the United States would be unstoppable."
-Van Jones, Executive Director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

Some of the campuses we've lead workshops for:
American University
City University of New York
Cornell University
Evergreen University, Washington
Humboldt State University
Middle Tennessee State University
New College, California
Reed College, Oregan
San Francisco State University
Sonoma State University
Saddleback Community College
Stanford University
University of California, San Diego
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of California, Davis
University of California, Berkeley
University of Chicago
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Some of the organizations we work with and have led workshops for include:
Bay Area LadyFest
Direct Action to Stop the War
Food Not Bombs
JustAct: Youth Action for Global Justice
National Lawyers Guild
National Organizers Alliance
Rainforest Action Network
Ruckus Society
School of the Americas Watch
STARC Alliance (Students Transforming and Resisting Corporations)
Stopping Hate on Campus
Student Labor Action Coalition
United Students Against Sweatshops
United for a Fair Economy
Witness for Peace
Women's Center of Pitzer College
Young Religious Unitarian Universalists

If you have addition questions, please contact us at chriscrass@mutualaid.org.  Additional information is also available on our website www.activesolidarity.net.

Thank you,
Chris Crass
Project Coordinator