Catalysts for social inclusion: The practices and effectiveness of the Catalyst-Clemente program for social inclusion pathways to higher education

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Australian Community Engagement Alliance


Faculty of Education and Arts


Faculty Office (FEA) / Fogarty Learning Centre




Cherednichenko, B. F., Howard, P., Hampshire, A., Butcher, J., Saggers, S. , Flatau, P., Marchant, T., Compton, J., & Taouk, Y. (2010). Catalysts for social inclusion: The practices and effectiveness of the Catalyst-Clemente program for social inclusion pathways to higher education. Proceedings of AUCEA National Conference. (pp. 165-177). Launceston Tasmania. Australian Community Engagement Alliance. Conference website available here.


The Catalyst Clemente program is a partnership between communities, NGOs and universities. The Catalyst Clemente program delivers accredited university courses in humanities subjects to disadvantaged people in a community setting. The program has its origins in Earl Shorris’ Clemente program in New York in the mid 1990s. Its philosophy is that tertiary level education in the humanities can assist socially disenfranchised people out of cycles of poverty and homelessness. This research examines the immediate, short and longer term outcomes for disadvantaged people from their participation in a community embedded and socially supported university education pathway to social inclusion. This paper will report the first stage of this Australian Research Council collaborative grant which brings together Mission Australia, the St Vincent de Paul Society, Australian Catholic University, Curtin University, Murdoch University and Edith Cowan University. The research utilizes a survey instrument across the four domains of health and well being, social supports, program engagement and participation and social inclusion, together with in depth interviews which collect qualitative data about student experiences and outcomes of the program. The Catalyst Clemente program incorporates community engagement, social inclusion, appropriate adult learning approaches and cross cultural understanding to provide an educational pathway for marginalised people. The program is designed specifically to address their personal and learning needs to enable access to higher education. Catalyst Clemente provides a tangible model for community embedded socially supported education that enhances the presence and an evolutionary role of universities within and with community. The paper discusses the outcomes of the program to date and provides tentative findings emerging from the first phase of the research, including the identification of barriers and enabling factors in the program.