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Frequently Asked Questions

Why campusCATALYST?
In the past five years, Americans invested over $1.2 trillion, about 10% of the annual US GDP, in over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in an effort to address poverty issues and strengthen communities. Despite this staggering investment, over 37 million American families, including 12 million children, continue to experience the daily hardships of poverty.

With over 1.5 million nonprofit receiving these record inputs, the challenge is to coordinate efforts, strengthen operations, and create a more cohesive social service network capable of seamlessly collaborating to address the myriad of challenges facing our communities.

By mobilizing an elite student consulting corps of America’s top undergraduates, supported by the nation’s top academic and business advisors, campusCATALYST is changing the way college students are changing the world. Today, campusCATALYST participants provide critical support to and facilitate collaboration among a community’s nonprofit network, while campusCATALYST alumni leverage their social entrepreneurship experience in fields as diverse as business, government, and medicine to drive innovative solutions to community development.

Who are campusCATALYST members?
campusCATALYST engages top college undergraduates and MBA candidates ranging all academic majors, backgrounds, and career aspirations. Participant selection is highly competitive with rigorous application requirements and complimentary academic coursework to promote high-performing and knowledgeable teams. campusCATALYST selects members who exemplify leadership, teamwork, and dedication to strengthening our communities.

How are campusCATALYST participants trained?
campusCATALYST members enroll in a for-credit university class, supported by academic and professional advisors, to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully support a nonprofit in their community. In addition to this rigorous coursework and guidance by professionals in the field of business and social policy, each team is mentored by a MBA candidate in weekly sessions, ensuring proficiency in and development consultation best practices. campusCATALYST aims to leverage partnerships with community experts and institutions to provide access to the tools, resources, and professional support needed to foster a rich social entrepreneurship experience for students.

Are campusCATALYST participants paid?
campusCATALYST participants voluntarily commit to enhance their education and strengthen their community through their involvement. For their efforts, participants are awarded academic credit through their participating university and gain an invaluable social entrepreneurship experience. In addition, all campusCATALYST services are provided free of charge to nonprofits, ensuring that those organizations most in need of support are able to receive it.

What types of services do campusCATALYST teams provide?
campusCATALYST teams, supported by their academic and professional advisors, will provide service in three key areas: (1) Tactical Operations, focused on strengthening infrastructure (2) Marketing, Communications and Development, and (3) Partnership Building, in an effort to promote collaboration and create more approachable social service safety net.

What issues do campusCATALYST teams address?
With an innovative and strategic portfolio approach to impact, campusCATALYST focuses on five crucial issue areas: (1) Housing, (2) Youth & Education, (3) Jobs & Economic Security, (4) Health, and (5) Arts & Culture. From job training programs to affordable healthcare to activities that keep children engaged after school, this approach recognizes that addressing the root poverty-related issues requires a strategic and comprehensive approach that provides critical support and promotes community collaboration.

How does campusCATALYST promote diversity?
campusCATALYST engages participants, advisors, and supporters who bring a wealth of skills and experience to our mission of creating a more cohesive social service community. To achieve this goal, campusCATALYST enlists leaders spanning all socioeconomic backgrounds, academic majors, political and religious beliefs, and career aspirations. Overall, promoting diversity ensures that campusCATALYST maximizes opportunities for students and the wealth of talent, knowledge, and expertise in our communities.

What are some examples of your previous projects?

Below are a few of the projects we have worked on:

  • Delivered strategies to implement fundraising and marketing plan for academic program for at-risk students
  • Developed cost requirements for organization through a comprehensive business plan
  • Designed leadership and team-building curriculum for high school students that promotes focus on wellness issues
  • Designed product line to increase revenue in order to help the organization reach independent financial sustainability
  • Drafted sustainability business plan to solicit donor funds
  • Developed metrics systems for the organization’s various programs to determine outcomes as measured against the new mission statement
  • Standardized marketing methods and internal communications in order to help achieve a more consistent perception from the community and donors

When do I apply?

campusCATALYST consulting engagements are part of a quarterly program at the University of Chicago. Please contact us to learn more about our next consulting cycle.

What are the client requirements?

  • Executive leadership must be supportive of project idea and direction
  • Attend weekly meetings on time and participate fully in brainstorming
  • Provide Community Analysts with all necessary information about the organization
  • Inform appropriate staff within the organization about the project and its progress, particularly the leadership; if the Executive Director is not the primary contact, he/she should attend the presentations during Weeks 4, 8 and 11
  • Communicate openly and promptly with Community Analysts
  • Provide thoughtful feedback and direction

How much time do I need to commit weekly?

campusCATALYST asks that students entering the program set aside a substantial amount of time to work on the project (6-10 hours/week each or about 30-50 hours/week as a team).

campusCATALYST also asks that a contact person at the nonprofit organization commit to a one-hour meeting each week with their undergraduate team on or near campus. This meeting time can be flexible, though, in order to accommodate busy schedules. This meeting provides the team with a chance to update the client on the project’s weekly progress as well as ask and answer questions. The team may also communicate with the contact person and other members of the organization as needed throughout the week (e.g. emails to gather information, etc.).

Would the students be doing any of the work in our offices, or would it be mostly outside?

campusCATALYST asks each team to visit their organization in-person at the beginning of the project in order to learn more about its culture and mission. For the remainder of the project, however, the team will do the bulk of their work remotely, making site visits when needed (e.g. to conduct staff interviews).