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How Catrock Ventures is Fostering a New Generation of Socially-Responsible Changemakers

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Catrock Ventures is a non-profit organization that invests time and resources in under-served youth in the Bronx community. The goal is to lead teens and empower them to grow into socially-responsible change makers who can then go on to make major differences in their own communities. How awe-inspiring is that!?
The non-profit was founded over thirty years ago, an impressive accomplishment in and off itself, and has been helping teens connect with the outdoors so that they can adopt a healthy lifestyle, develop leadership skills and stay on course to excelling in their lives. We were lucky enough to not only chat with Catrock Ventures but invite them to our Brooklyn studio for a workshop on screen printing. Read on for more on the workshop, the programs offered and how Social Sunday and Catrock Ventures linked up in the first place!

Q. First off, can you let our readers know what Catrock Ventures is and tell us a little about the vision?

A. CatRock Ventures is a non-profit organization that invests in under-served youth by providing transformative outdoor experiences, community service learning opportunities, and academic support to help young people become socially responsible change makers. Our vision is to reach, inspire, and empower the next generation of environmental, community and business leaders from under-served communities. The outdoors is our classroom and we want to reach the next generation of leaders. One major way we do that is through our Adventure and Design Lab. This is what brought us together with your founder, Samantha Sisca.

Q. How did this partnership come to be and why does linking Catrock Ventures and Social Sunday make sense?

A. Our partnership came into existence when we were on the search for help with our Adventure & Design Lab Program. The Adventure Makerspace & Design Lab is a unique makerspace program where students repair, design, and help produce their own outdoor gear using both high-tech and low-tech tools such as computers, 3D printers, and sewing machines. Students learn the basics of repair and design in order to keep their clothing and outdoor gear functioning longer to help support the environment by cutting down on consumption. They also learn how to re-purpose used gear reinforcing their role in the environmental sustainability movement.



Gio Garriga -- who is a master screen printer and part of Designers In Residence Program -- introduced us to Samantha. From there, Samantha and Gio helped us with our first workshop at the Social Sunday factory. They graciously welcomed us into their work space where the students learned to design and make their own t-shirts. They even got to design the t-shirt for the Sierra Club’s New York Inspiring Connections Outdoors 5 Point Adventure Film Festival. We made over 200 t-shirts in 24 hours!

Q. One of the ideals we identify with is the belief that nature can be transformative. How do outdoor activities foster under-served teenagers and why is it important?

A. Outdoor experiences are vital for the students we serve because once they unplug and connect to nature, they're able to challenge themselves in new ways, gain new perspectives, and set clear goals and priorities for themselves without all of the usual distractions. Students go hiking, trail running, camping, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, surfing, skateboarding, rock climbing, snowboarding, skiing, snow shoeing, winter mountaineering, and more. Students overcome fears and begin to realize their own leadership potential. Recently, an amazing alumna of CatRock Ventures, Tatiana, who has been with us for three cohorts, successfully set up her own park clean-up with middle school students all on her own. 

Q. Can you tell us more about the programs you offer and how they can help motivate students?

A. The CatRock Ventures programs inspire students to step out of their comfort zones and explore the world around them from inside our Adventure & Design Lab to the tops of the highest mountains. Our Catrock Youth Leadership Academy program is one of our flagship programs that trains teens to be outdoor leaders. They receive formal training from Wilderness First Aid to Outdoor Leadership Training certifications in partnership with the Sierra Club, AMC, and others. When they complete the program, they co-lead trips into the great outdoors for younger students, helping bridge the diversity divide that exists in the outdoors. Many go on to work in outdoor education or take these leadership skills to other fields. 

If you would like to learn more about Catrock Ventures, you can visit their website, Facebook, Instagramor donate here


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