The Catalyst Bootcamp – So what have we learnt?

Our first-ever Catalyst Bootcamp – in August – had a really special energy about it and there was tangible excitement from participants, facilitators, speakers and mentors alike. It was our first residential programme – with the aim of inspiring young women to be confident and resilient changemakers – and it felt throughout the three days like something pretty special and transformative was taking place.

However did the evidence back up our intuitive response?

We have just completed our evaluation of the qualitative and quantitative survey data from the Bootcamp and it has revealed some impressive outcomes. Our primary aim for the programme is to inspire and empower young women to pursue careers in sustainability, and all who participated stated at the end that they either agreed or strongly agreed that ‘they were aware of the potential careers in sustainability’ and that ‘they felt confident to engage with others on the topic of sustainability.’

“The speakers were amazing, I liked how there was such a good range from so many different areas. It left me feeling really inspired… The amount we learnt in just the 3 days was so cool, it felt really well planned and organised. I really enjoyed meeting so many interesting people, and finding out lots from the other girls too about gap years and uni things.” Catalyst Bootcamp Participant

Catalyst Bootcamp headline outcomes:
Careers: 72% increase (to 100%) in the number of participants who agreed they were aware of potential careers in sustainability;
Change maker: 54.6% increase (to 100%) in participants who agreed they had the potential to make a positive difference in the world;
Team working: 36.4% increase (to 100%) in participants who agreed they felt confident working in a team and making decisions in a group;
Wellbeing: 32.1% increase (to 86.7%) in participants who agreed they had the tools that to manage their happiness and wellbeing.

“It was a significant experience for [our daughter]. [We] have, in turn, gained so much from hearing her talk us through her highlights, plus – as parents- relish the couple of inches she seemed to have grown whilst there, with regards emotional intelligence and confidence.”
Parent of Catalyst Bootcamp participant

The Catalyst Bootcamp Programme

young women with mentors

The 3-day programme took the young woman through the guided change process of: Envisioning Change, Information & Exploration, to Becoming Change-Makers.
Participants worked with mentors to solve a practical problem around a particular sustainability challenge. Mentors represented each of the five Bootcamp themes: (1) Food: Sara Venn (Incredible Edible); (2) Nature: Matt Harcourt (Avon Wildlife Trust); (3) Wellbeing: Chloe Tingle (No More Taboo); (4) Transport, Vicky Stone (Sustrans); (5) Energy, Nikki Jones and (6) Resources: Nicci Peck (Sofa Project).

“I enjoyed listening to the mentor’s journeys, learning about my personality traits, building confidence and establishing the change I wanted to make.”  Participant

Inspirational Speakers

Throughout the Bootcamp, a range of women working in sustainability came in to speak about their own Education & Career Paths, including: Amy Robinson, Development Manager at Triodos Bank; Rachel Quinn, Environmental Manager at Skanska Construction; Marti Burgess, Head of Corporate SME at Gregg Latchams; and Jen Best, owner of Poco Tapas Bar in Bristol.

The speakers and mentors were engaging and knowledgeable about their field – you could feel their passion. They really wanted to share it with you. It also helped you realise where your passions were and what you could see yourself doing.” Participant, Catalyst Bootcamp 2017

Developing a Catalyst Pledge
The climax of the Bootcamp was a session supporting the participants to develop a personal “Catalyst Pledge” setting out the change they wanted to see in the world and the role they would play in that change. Supported by Anne Padley from the Innovation Centre, Bristol University and Mena Fombo, an independent consultant experienced in working with young people to help them reach their potential, each young woman created their own sustainability pledge, designing a “T-Shirt” and presenting it back to the group.


Kira ‘I pledge to talk to people to raise awareness about No More Taboo and period poverty’

Kia ‘’I want to make my community a safe and enjoyable place to live.’

Morwenna ‘I pledge to help change and protect the future of our food.’

Kristin ‘To raise awareness of sustainable technology without the loss of cultural identity.’

Rowena ‘I pledge to use and share ethical and environmental toiletries by the end of the year.’

Caitlin ‘To be proactive in supporting local businesses’

Sophie ‘To research how I could start to create my eco-gym chain.’

Charlotte ‘I pledge to make my school greener.’

Nirvana: ‘To encourage ethical sustainable volunteering and discourage exploitative voluntourism.’

Claire ‘To do my dissertation on wellbeing issues in Reading and make a difference to the area.’

The Future

We are as aspirational as we ask our young women to be – and we have an ambitious agenda to match!

“One young woman has made contact with me and has organised to come and have a meeting … to explore potential work opportunities…. the bootcamp definitely worked in helping her to focus her thinking.” Catalyst Bootcamp 2017 Speaker

Catalyst Bootcamp 2018
We are already in the process of planning the second Catalyst Bootcamp for 2018. The design of this second year’s programme will now be largely informed by feedback captured from the first year’s participants, some great ideas and learning have come out of this process to now further develop and improve it. We aim to offer at least 50% of Bootcamp places on a bursary basis, in order that we can appeal to participants from diverse backgrounds.

Outreach workshops with schools and community groups
We are already planning outreach workshop with schools and community groups, which will allow us to deliver elements of the Bootcamp in shorter form.
Outreach will enable us to raise the profile of the programme and to engage with young women, their parents and others who work directly with them e.g. teachers, youth workers.

Thought leadership
We want to be part of the solution to the challenges facing young women in sustainability careers and leadership. We will do this by sharing our results and contributing to research.

Do you want to be part of the future of Catalyse Change? We are looking for partners and sponsors to join us to deliver our programme. Please contact Traci Lewis 

Catalyse Change would like to take the opportunity to thank all the amazing sponsors, speakers, mentors and volunteers without whom the Catalyst Bootcamp would not have been possible! Special thanks too to Helen Chadwick and team at Clifton Hill House, Bristol University who looked after us so well, with such delicious meals.

Catalyst Bootcamp 2017 Evaluation [FINAL] For full details of all findings, participants and supporters please our Catalyst Bootcamp 2017 Evaluation Report, to receive an email copy of this report contact