Quick interview with David Kim, co-founder of Catalyst Coalition.

Q: How was Catalyst Coalition founded?
A: My friend Jin owned a home in Duluth and Chesney Elementary School was his backyard.  When he found out that certain zip codes in Gwinnett County struggled with low literacy rates, he contacted me and we approached Chesney to get involved. The principal, Dr. Quinn, was very open about the challenges at the school and welcomed us to get involved. His guidance, humility and heart to help the students were very formative. Through our early experiences, our organization has developed an identity of helping those with diverse backgrounds do better with education, employability and civics through improved literacy, as well as the value of giving back.  We are tackling the literacy deficit head on with a comprehensive strategy that involves families, multiple generations, community members, and partnerships.  

Q: What is Catalyst Coalition about? How are you involved with the organization
A: Catalyst Coalition is all about immigrants helping immigrants and the underserved do better through literacy. Jin and I are leading a team of volunteers to help students read better and for parents to be involved. We are thrilled that families are starting to learn together. Kids are teaching the parents too! Jin and I are also reaching out to community stakeholders to get engaged. For instance, Landmark at Bella Vista Apartment Homes has donated their racquetball court to be repurposed for a learning center.

Q: Tell me about yourself and Jin.
A: Both of us started out as limited literacy kids who were deeply grateful for the help we received and believed we wouldn’t be where we are without it. We were able to secure graduate degrees with the foundation we built with the aid of parents, teachers and volunteers. We went on to do ministry and work with students and invest in them. We discovered it was imperative to address what students do in-between Sundays, laying the groundwork for nonprofit work. Now we are engaging those same church students to learn to be involved outside its walls.

Q: What is the “Joy to Give” fundraising event and why is it important?
A: Joy to Give plays a crucial role in raising funds so that we can implement what we’ve come to believe in. But we’re also learning that literacy is a complex problem with lots of layers.  Our organization is just a piece of the puzzle and we’ve decided to invite the other pieces and give them a platform, so that we can figure out wayw to address the challenges together. We also want the average person to also learn how they can be involved. There are lots of kids and families out there who need our help, and literacy is one of those investments that can give back generationally.

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