Catalyte shows how investing in people works for everyone in the long run

What Catalyte is doing is showing how education and employment can really work for everyone involved, by filling a demand (around 1 million software development jobs available today) with talent, and by proving an academic theory that Rosenbaum, the founder of Catalyte, hypothesized two decades ago as a Harvard Fellow and while working as an economic adviser to the Clinton White House.

His argument? These underserved and largely minority urban communities were not just places to build retail stores to generate spending, as was the mainstream thought. He saw greater opportunities in these fields because of the many people with individual talents who could contribute to an innovative workforce as much as anyone with an expensive college degree.

So Rosenbaum decided to move to nearby Baltimore to test his thesis with real-world experience, and founded what was then called Catalyst IT Services.

He was right: two decades later, nearly three-quarters of the roughly 1,000 people who completed the company’s training program had no technology background; about 50% did not have a four-year university degree, which many believe is a requirement for a demand sector such as software engineering; and 23 percent of Catalyte’s 700 or so developers are women and 10 percent are black.


“At first, I actually thought I was being sold a story,” Hsu says. He was ready to retire early with his wife and children in Sweden, with plans to publish an architecture magazine for fun, but was cut short after meeting Rosenbaum while considering potential investments for the “Retreat” then by visiting the offices of Catalyte.

The scenes and employee stories he learned reminded him of his father, an economist who immigrated from Taiwan with Hsu’s mother in the early 1970s when Hsu was only one year old.

At the time, his father had an entry-level job with Ford Motor Company, which then trained him to be an engineer and led the family to Silicon Valley.

“Within minutes of walking through Catalyte’s gate, I was blown away by what I saw,” Hsu says. “The software engineering teams are mostly made up of white and Asian men. I was just shocked and when I started digging into the data behind it, what they were doing was just as sophisticated and complex as the work my old company was doing.

Hsu also saw that Catalyte offered a solution for hiring, which at the time was “the biggest obstacle in my old business”.

Margie D. Carlisle