Our Mission

Empower High School Students to Achieve

 
 

"The hard data tells us that 40% of the top performing US high school students come from low-income families, and yet they only comprise of 3% of enrollment at the top US colleges."

Kevin Yeh, Catalyst for Achievement

 

More Than Just a Scholarship

Catalyst for Achievement is more than simply paying for a college application fee - we want to empower high school students to achieve. Underutilized potential is heartbreaking, and to let it continue on a systematic scale is shameful. We hope that by empowering this generation of high school students, we can grow our force of change into a tide that transforms this problem into one of the past.  

 

Our Goal

Facilitate the pursuit of higher education and inspire students to achieve. Higher education is an important investment for students - it should not come with barriers and it should be pursued with a purpose.

Our Values

Integrity, transparency, respect - these are more than just words. These are the Catalyst Core Values, the compass that guides Catalyst for Achievement. These values are expected and practiced by every member of Catalyst for Achievement.

Our Impact

Students who are awarded the Catalyst Scholarship are enrolled in the Hand-in-Hand Initiative as a result. They have a tendency to return to mentor due to the impact their mentors had on them - it inspires these students to pay it forward. 

 
 

Our Story

Founded on Making a Difference in Student's Lives

 
 

Catalyst for Achievement was incorporated and achieved nonprofit status in 2016. We were founded on the motivation to not be wallflowers to the undermatching problem. The research proves the problem exists and persists - its time for the tide to change. Education has the power to solve worldwide issues and prevent problems from existing in the first place. By aligning low-income, high-achieving individuals with his or her true potential, a group of game changers, innovators, and inventors find his or her way to that great idea that changes lives and creates a more advanced society.

 
 

Board of Directors

All Founders, All Driven to Make a Difference

 
  Cal Underwood  | President, Career Advisor, & Mentor  New York University | MBA Candidate Michigan State University | BS Electrical Engineering, Economics United States Air Force | Intelligence Officer   LinkedIn Profile

Cal Underwood | President, Career Advisor, & Mentor

New York University | MBA Candidate
Michigan State University | BS Electrical Engineering, Economics
United States Air Force | Intelligence Officer
LinkedIn Profile

"We aspire to instill fortitude in these students to overcome the glass ceiling higher education undoubtedly imposes."

Letter to Students:

Hope and wishing can only get us so far. I’m driven to succeed and to help others do the same. Catalyst for Achievement is not an organization for the dispassionate and unmotivated. We are here to assist and guide those with exceptional potential. Higher education is not only an investment of time and energy, but one of considerable financial burden. Catalyst for Achievement hopes to alleviate one financial obstacle and mentor ambitious students to tackle the burden ahead. We aspire to instill fortitude in these students to overcome the glass ceiling higher education undoubtedly imposes. You can achieve - do not let anyone or anything stand in your way.

 
  Liz Kim  | Vice President, Career Advisor, & Mentor  Michigan State University | BA Finance Loop Capital Markets | Investment Banking Analyst   LinkedIn Profile

Liz Kim | Vice President, Career Advisor, & Mentor

Michigan State University | BA Finance
Loop Capital Markets | Investment Banking Analyst
LinkedIn Profile

"My dream is to provide you with opportunities, encouragement, and guidance to motivate you to reach your goal."

Letter to Students:

I know you have great plans ahead of you, but as a mere 17 or 18-year-old, it may seem terrifying to think of what step to take in the right direction. Through Catalyst for Achievement, my hope is to help you along the way in solidifying those steps or taking one step closer towards that dream. Whether it's through having a conversation, providing resources, or referring you to contacts, my dream is to provide you with opportunities, encouragement, and guidance to motivate you to reach your goal. No matter how big or small, your aspirations are your strongest foundation and I hope Catalyst for Achievement can open doors for you.

 
  Kevin Yeh  | Vice President, Career Advisor, & Mentor  Cornell University | MBA Candidate Michigan State University | BS Computer Engineering & MS Computer Science General Electric | Team Lead   LinkedIn Profile

Kevin Yeh | Vice President, Career Advisor, & Mentor

Cornell University | MBA Candidate
Michigan State University | BS Computer Engineering & MS Computer Science
General Electric | Team Lead
LinkedIn Profile

"Higher education provides lifelong financial returns, it opens doors, and it is instrumental in personal enrichment."

Letter to Students:

There is no doubt in my mind that higher education is the most important investment a young person can make. Higher education provides lifelong financial returns, it opens doors, and it is instrumental in personal enrichment. I believe in meritocracy. In our current landscape, household income implicitly impedes many students from higher achievement, and not just from a tuition standpoint. What's worse, some students are lost in the process and discouraged. My hope is that Catalyst for Achievement is the solution to both problems.

 
 

Catalyst Team

Driving the Day-to-Day Operations and Execution of Our Mission

 
  Hailey MacKay  | Public Relations Director  Michigan State University | BS Nursing Premier Health | Registered Nurse   LinkedIn Profile    Hailey manages our social media presence. She is a critical care registered nurse and is passionate about helping others. Hailey also serves as a Career Advisor and Mentor.

Hailey MacKay | Public Relations Director

Michigan State University | BS Nursing
Premier Health | Registered Nurse
LinkedIn Profile

Hailey manages our social media presence. She is a critical care registered nurse and is passionate about helping others. Hailey also serves as a Career Advisor and Mentor.

  Josh Shafquat  | Director of Mentoring  Oakland University | MD Candidate Michigan State University | BS Human Biology   LinkedIn Profile    Josh is a medical student who is passionate about health equity, education, and helping today's youth reach their full potential. He also serves as a Career Advisor and Mentor.

Josh Shafquat | Director of Mentoring

Oakland University | MD Candidate
Michigan State University | BS Human Biology
LinkedIn Profile

Josh is a medical student who is passionate about health equity, education, and helping today's youth reach their full potential. He also serves as a Career Advisor and Mentor.

  Heather Yu  | Digital Art Director  College for Creative Studies | BA Illustration   LinkedIn Profile    Heather designs our digital art - ranging from our logo to the infographics found on our website and other media outlets.

Heather Yu | Digital Art Director

College for Creative Studies | BA Illustration
LinkedIn Profile

Heather designs our digital art - ranging from our logo to the infographics found on our website and other media outlets.

 
 

Catalyst Advisors and Mentors

Providing Students With the Guidance and Support They Need to Achieve

 
  Kilian Davis  | Career Advisor  Michigan State University | BS Electrical Engineering Salesforce.com | Consultant & Developer   LinkedIn Profile

Kilian Davis | Career Advisor

Michigan State University | BS Electrical Engineering
Salesforce.com | Consultant & Developer
LinkedIn Profile

  Tina Ok  | Mentor  Michigan State University | BS Medical Technology Aureus Medical Group | Medical Laboratory Scientist   LinkedIn Profile

Tina Ok | Mentor

Michigan State University | BS Medical Technology
Aureus Medical Group | Medical Laboratory Scientist
LinkedIn Profile

  Emir Pasovic  | Career Advisor  Wayne State University | BS Accounting, German Ernst & Young | Senior Associate   LinkedIn Profile

Emir Pasovic | Career Advisor

Wayne State University | BS Accounting, German
Ernst & Young | Senior Associate
LinkedIn Profile

 
  Mike Robell  | Career Advisor  Michigan State University | BS Electrical Engineering Marathon Petroleum | Refinery Engineer

Mike Robell | Career Advisor

Michigan State University | BS Electrical Engineering
Marathon Petroleum | Refinery Engineer

  Eric Thompson  | Career Advisor  University of Michigan | BS Computer Science Wolverine Trading | Software Engineer

Eric Thompson | Career Advisor

University of Michigan | BS Computer Science
Wolverine Trading | Software Engineer

  Deepa Varghese  | Mentor  Michigan State University | BA/MS Accounting PricewaterhouseCoopers | Risk Assurance Associate   LinkedIn Profile

Deepa Varghese | Mentor

Michigan State University | BA/MS Accounting
PricewaterhouseCoopers | Risk Assurance Associate
LinkedIn Profile

 

Become a Catalyst Advisor or Mentor

Join our inclusive and collaborative team comprised of talented, driven individuals and make an impact in a student's life.