Take the Olympic Pledge, Get the Inside Scoop*

These pre-Olympic years offer a unique opportunity for Catalytic Communities to generate real, tangible change on behalf of Rio’s favelas and urban development worldwide. But we need your help to fulfill this potential. Here is how you can help.

The Opportunity

Click for full brochure

About 1.4 million people in Rio live in one of 1,000 favelas, communities with diverse histories, topographies, and cultures, some over 100 years old. What they all have in common is historic and persistent neglect by the government for basic services like trash collection, sewerage, electricity, and water. CatComm defends favelas as models for sustainable urban living, inhabited by people who devise creative and community-driven solutions in the face of public neglect. Top-down policies and evictions do nothing to build on the qualities of favelas, but frequently represent a set-back of decades in the development of the people who live in, depend on, and build these communities. This is why we advocate for participatory planning strategies where resident contributions, leadership and initiative are the mainstay, building on community knowledge and experience.

Rio’s favelas represent the most stigmatized urban communities in the world. This despite being relatively developed among informal settlements worldwide. Across our urbanizing planet, informal settlements, commonly but mistakenly called “slums,” already house 1/3 of urban humanity, on course to house 1/3 of all humanity by 2050. Our on-the-ground work, message of hope through new ways of contemplating such communities, recommendations for how to recognize and develop Rio’s communities, and approach to doing so are increasingly recognized for their potential to inspire community development worldwide.

But to keep our work expanding and realize this vision over the coming years we need your help.

We have a window of opportunity to bring critical visibility to Rio’s favelas, and the clock is ticking. Help us focus our efforts to empower, defend, and integrate Rio de Janeiro’s communities by guaranteeing our work through the 2016 Olympics at a time when we need to be available to offer quick response to communities on-the-ground within a strategic framework. Right now, following the Rio elections, basic rights are at their most vulnerable and Rio’s favelas under their greatest threat in a generation. At the same time, there has never been a greater spotlight available to promote awareness and lead a debate on the future of urban development. Please help guarantee we continue to take this lead.

What You Can Do

In 2015 CatComm turns 15. As the result of our work with thousands of favela community leaders and residents over the years, we’ve become the go-to organization for favela news and perspectives from their own residents. Our stories, documentation and advocacy have resulted in widespread public debate, slowdowns in counter-productive policies, and specific cases of reversal in the City’s tactics and decisions with regard to specific communities. As a result, our community news site, RioOnWatch, is now serving as inspiration for media projects in other cities, its approach taking hyper local news from favelas and making it globally comprehensible and followable, with people from 100 countries following our content monthly today. Our social media reach grew from 11,000 in June 2010 to 236,000 this past June. During the World Cup our take on Rio’s development and the potential of favelas was featured on television in Canada, the US, France,  and the UK.

In order to guarantee the essential funds we require to dedicate our staff and resources to our core programs between now and the Olympics, we are seeking a dedicated group of supporters (Olympic Champions) who will, based on small monthly contributions, guarantee R$50,000 per year. Combined with our annual Rio Raffle, University Tour and Educational Community Visits, we’ll secure our updated operating budget of $150,000, necessary to deliver on the potential during this crucial period. This will give CatComm staff the resources needed to guarantee responsive programs on behalf of Rio’s favelas over these two years.

Your pledge will contribute to the following projects in 2015:

  • 11946561533_d91039b596_bEstablish a network of community correspondents in all five major zones of Rio, writing and producing video further documenting this challenging period for Rio de Janeiro, and syndicated for republication through local and global partners.
  • Grow RioOnWatchTV, our YouTube channel, with regular accompanying videos to RioOnWatch articles and investigative pieces.
  • Expand our strategic communications work on behalf of favelas, taking our destigmatizing message of favela qualities and sustainability to global audiences through mass-reach mainstream media channels.
  • Strategic workshops and debates for communities on community organizing and participatory planning strategies, and ways to counter the negative effects of gentrification and evictions.
  • Conduct and publish cutting edge research on Brazilian housing law, Affordable housing alternatives, Rio policing, Favela Perceptions, and Media responsibility.

*Become an Olympic Champion!

Together 400 Olympic Champions donating $10 a month will secure $50,000 annually through and beyond the Rio Olympics. Anyone can be an Olympic Champion. But typically, these are people with a vested interest in or who depend on the insight and reporting we provide. A minimum pledge of $10 per month is required.


In return for your monthly commitment through December 2016 we will provide you with:

  1. Hourly updates from dozens of collaborators and favela organizers via exclusive Twitter @RioONWire English-language favela wire service.
  2. Behind the scenes updates from the CatComm team: monthly updates on the processes underway in Rio before they are publicly visible or discussable.
  3. Previews of our work before implementation: articles, research and reports will be made available first to Olympic Champions.
  4. Public recognition: with your permission, we’ll recognize you on our site and Annual Report (and include a link to your work if you wish).

For more information, please email us at donations@catcomm.org or simply click here to sign up!