Becoming a catalytic converter in your community

Becoming a catalytic converter in your community

Posted on May 05, 2016 by Hannah Coval

Editor's Note: Hannah Coval is the English/Spanish project coordinator for the Sarasota Coalition on Substance Abuse.

In The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation's practice and parlance, “Community Rhythms,” which include “The 5 Stages of Community Life,” identify where individuals or groups are in helping their communities move forward.

One of the stages -- Catalytic -- shows that steps are being taken by a small number of people and organizations that are almost imperceptible, but the actions are giving a sense of hope.

The SAVE (Sarasota Against ViolencE) Team is in its second year of its SAVE grant in Newtown. The federal grant, one of 23 awarded nationally, is a collaboration between Sarasota County Schools and the Sarasota Coalition on Substance Abuse that focuses on reducing violence in building community in the Newtown area over five years.

We classify the SAVE Team as a "Catalytic Converter" because we have turned outward with community conversations, gathered common aspirations and community input on realization, and begun steps of action.

The Harwood practice through the Aspirations to Actions initiative informed actions like our conversation with Newtown's Boys and Girls Clubs teens about how to make a "Drug Free Youth Plus" club appealing to them.

After a full year of planning, this year marks a transition to implement violence-prevention initiatives, with the overarching themes of “Keep Kids Busy” (Garden, Spanish, SWAT Clubs and Girl Scouts) and “Educate Kids About Drugs and Violence.” For example, we are teaching violence prevention curriculum weekly at Booker Middle School, as well as providing Trauma Informed Care training, and the Peach Jar (school updates about events).

People come to us with issues asking, "is this something the SAVE grant can help with?" and often times the answer is, "yes!"  This journey has reminded us not only to turn outward as better listeners, but also to continually reassess what we do and where our projects are. Our new approach will inform countless future actions and we are pleased to share our presentation here.


  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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