the catalyst foundation for aids

About us

The Catalyst Foundation works each day to serve and embrace the marginalized, disenfranchised and often invisible in our society.

Catalyst was founded in 1992 by Sonny Bartz (who died of AIDS in 1993) and his wife, Susan Lawrence, M.D., a board certified internist and medical oncologist. Shortly before his death, Sonny observed, "I'm not dying of AIDS, but of the delayed effects of child abuse." This intuitive statement, now supported by the firm scientific evidence of the landmark Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study (www.acestudy.org; www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/ace/) informed Catalyst's mission, programs, and services over the past two decades. While our founding agenda was focused primarily on HIV/AIDS medical care and prevention, over the years we broadened this scope to include others in need in our underserved community, particularly the homeless. In all we do, Catalyst employs the guiding principles of trauma-informed care: safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, empowerment, and cultural/ linguistic competency. These values allow us to address the root causes of health and psychosocial problems of those we serve, rather than simply providing treatment for the consequences.

For nineteen years, Catalyst offered primary medical care, medication assistance, HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) testing and counseling, mental health care, nutritionist services, case management, supportive services (including food programs, housing assistance (including eviction prevention, emergency housing and food vouchers, and transitional housing), transportation, legal services, financial literacy/asset building, support groups, and veterinary care/pet food) and health education programs for low-income, uninsured, underinsured, homeless, and post-incarcerated persons, as well as state-of-the-art specialty care for those living with HIV/AIDS and HCV. Catalyst's SAMHSA-funded "Street Connections" outreach and linkage to substance abuse treatment program targeting high-risk minority substance abusers and has been extremely successful with outstanding evaluation results. Catalyst has also operated several workforce development programs (including a specialized healthcare program), for low income individuals and displaced senior workers in collaboration with Charter College, the University of the Antelope Valley, GAIN, and Title V.

In 2008, Catalyst received a $1.8 million, 3 year grant from the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission to expand our supportive services for the homeless and unstably housed in the Antelope Valley. During this time, we provided supportive services for over 3,000 poor, unstably housed, and homeless persons, as well as rapid rehousing services for 250 homeless individuals and families. We are proud that 83% of our rapid rehousing participants maintained permanent housing for at least 18 months. This grant also allowed us to launch our Healing Center for Adults Recovering From Childhood Abuse in 2009. The Center Director is a Marriage and Family Therapist with special expertise in working with survivors of childhood abuse, people living with HIV/AIDS, substance abusers, and homeless. The Center provides trauma-specific mental health care for approximately 250 low income people each year.

Last year, Catalyst received a $918,000 grant from the Veterans' Administration Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. Through this program, we provide rapid rehousing services as well as temporary financial assistance (for security and utility deposits, furnishings, emergency supplies, transportation, child care, and other areas necessary to maintain permanent housing). During the first year of this program, we provided $273,000 in financial assistance to over 500 poor and homeless veterans and veteran families. This grant was renewed for this year (with an increased award of $1 million), and we will be providing a higher level of service to this important population in our community. Catalyst also was awarded funding through the United Way in support of our rapid rehousing program as well as financial stability services (financial literacy education and asset building services provided in collaboration with Antelope Valley Bank).

In 2010, Catalyst conducted an agency-wide strategic planning process, through which the decision was reached to spin off our clinic, the Bartz-Altadonna Community Health Center (BACHC) as a separate 501c3, which would apply for FQHC status. The Board felt it was in the best interests of the growth and development of the clinic to be a separate organization, in view of Catalyst's broad mission and services and the enormous health care needs of our community. In August 2011, we learned that, out of over 900 applicants, BACHC was one of ten organizations nationwide selected as a New Access Point to receive full FQHC status as a Homeless Healthcare Provider, becoming the first full FQHC in our remote and underserved community.

With BACHC a separate 501c3 organization, Catalyst now focuses on trauma-informed supportive services (case management, food programs, nutritional education /counseling, pet food, housing assistance, eviction prevention grants, temporary financial assistance, and asset building/workforce development programs), as well as outreach, HIV testing/counseling, and innovative health education programs focusing on the impact of childhood abuse on adult health and well-being. We continue to operate our workforce development program for low income and displaced senior workers with GAIN and Title V. BACHC has taken over the provision of specialty care for HIV and Hepatitis C, primary medical care, STD testing and treatment, reproductive health care, and mental health care (trauma-specific through the Healing Center, and psychiatric care by a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner). Catalyst collaborates with BACHC to provide intensive community and street outreach (targeting veterans, substance abusers, and the homeless) to bring new participants into care. Catalyst and BACHC continue to collaborate, providing those we serve with a comprehensive continuum of care.