Activism in Turbulent Times

Instructors: Mike Cantlon, MEd and Ava Sharifi. Ages 13-18. Meets Wednesdays at 3:30pm PT for 60 minutes, ongoing. Included in Catalyst membership.

Photo of mother with daughter doing homework on the lap top

Does your child feel strongly about justice? In brainstorming with our community, we learned how many teens are passionate about important causes and want to advocate for change! What will this club look like? Under the guidance of acclaimed instructors Mike Cantlon and Ava Sharifi, the teen founders of this group will create its mission and vision and select causes. Will it be a conversation group or will there be a newsletter, real-world advocacy, usage of social media like TikTok, and/or experiments in community organizing?  It's up to the teen members who found the group. It promises to be not only fun, social and engaging, but also a great addition to any college application.

How to Join:

Please check the Catalyst Google Calendar for your link to join.


Let's dive into our activism projects for this week's challenge! Click here to find the project guidelines.



Mike Cantlon, MEd

Mike Cantlon has dedicated his career to improving the learning environment of gifted and talented students and to helping people better understand the unique needs of highly capable children. He created a college campus residential summer camp for gifted students grades 6-12 called Satori. In Spokane Public Schools, Cantlon was instrumental in the identification of highly capable students, he taught in the Tessera Program, and was also the chair of a gifted education task force resulting in the Odyssey Program. He has been an adjunct instructor at Eastern Washington University and works collaboratively with the Gifted Education Center at Whitworth University.

Ava Sharifi

Ava Sharifi is a recent Political Science graduate from the University of Washington and progressive youth activist. Since a young age, she has been passionate about politics, law, activism, and academia, her first experience being the Occupy Wallstreet movement while still in middle school. Later on, she was deeply involved with speech and debate competitions, consistently ranking top three in Washington state four years in a row. In college, she took a quarter off to work for Bernie Sanders in Washington D.C. as a legislative intern, forever marking her desire to work in politics. Overall, her passions revolve around criminal justice, immigration, income inequality, human rights, civil justice, and environmental policy.

Have questions? Email We're happy to help!