The Global Catalyst Foundation (GCF):

The Global Catalyst Foundation (GCF) was founded by the business group that developed and sold Priceline. The foundation’s mission has been to utilize education and technology to empower young people to improve their lives. The GCF had friends in Sister Cities International that informed the foundation about the North Atlanta IBP and its global network of sister schools that had embraced the program.

GCF had in mind to organize a global consortium of secondary schools to expose students to the principles and practices of e-commerce. They ran an internet search and discovered that the North Atlanta IBP was the most advanced program in the United States and probably the world. Furthermore, GCF was especially interested in the IBP’s history of coordinating student exchanges and annual super-exchanges of multiple sister schools and programs.

I returned to work in August 2000 to sit down with Dr. Doug Frutiger, International Studies Magnet Coordinator, to develop a newsletter for IBP students and parents about upcoming activities for the school year. While Doug and I were writing the message, we were visited by Michael Chertok, Executive Director, Global Catalyst Foundation. Mike told us about GCF’s vision of the IBP bringing together secondary schools from around the world to North Atlanta to host the fifth super-exchange and that he was willing to contribute $25,000 towards the project. Mr. Chertok’s offer assured the official formation of the International Business Program (IBP) Diploma and was immediately included in the message.

The two IBP business education components – Warrior Warehouse School Store and e-commerce catalog – made the program a model for involving students in global entrepreneurship. The school store inventory included over two hundred product lines and served as a laboratory for marketing education and was a model for Super-Exchange V participating schools.

Global Catalyst Foundation (GCF) – Empowering People Through Education and Technology

$3,000 of the $25,000 GCF grant to North Atlanta High was for inclusion of schools from the International Education & Resource Network. IEARN was an important partner in Super-Exchange V

IBP students began preparing to host the largest student exchange in Atlanta Public Schools history. They developed a web site for placement of the official SE V invitation and registration of participants.

Michael Chertok engaged PEOPLink, an online distributor of handmade gifts from around the world, to develop a new e-commerce software for SE V. PEOPLink designed CatGen, a versatile, stand-alone software application with numerous easy-to-use features.

The Global Catalyst Foundation recruited iXL to develop the e-commerce curriculum and two day workshop for SE V students to learn for application back home. iXL was the leading web design company in Atlanta but did not survive the tech-crash that joined with 9/11/01 terrorism to push the nation’s economy in to a deep recession. Drivers on the Downtown Connector may remember the iXL sign while cruising through mid-town; the building now houses the SCAD Atlanta campus.

The goal for all SE V schools was for participants to replicate the IBP curriculum upon returning home – teachers were expected to develop web sites for e-commerce instruction and adapt program materials; students were to establish companies and e-commerce catalogs. Mrs. Maureen Parks, the IBP teacher at Terry Fox Secondary in Port Coquitlam, BC, did an outstanding replication job and her students developed a very cool business. Maureen adapted the IBP to fit the educational requirements of her municipal district, province and nation of Canada.

GCF expected the IBP to match their $22,000 with local sponsors and in-kind support. Super-Exchange V received extraordinary support from citizens, schools, business, the city, chamber of commerce but was ignored by the local media, including the daily paper. The APS public relations officer was stunned when the Atlanta Journal Constitution declined to print his press release. The IBP submitted a grant to ACIR, the Atlanta Council for International Relations.

Super-Exchange V, the greatest international event in the history of the Atlanta Public Schools, was a massive undertaking that required enormous and meticulous planning and organization.

Students had to be empowered, families and home stays recruited, food service costs underwritten, transportation enlisted, entertainment supplied. The IBP produced a handbook, a data base, a web site, and a home office (school store). The IBP / ACTCo had built the well-located school store and at its peak in 2001, owned assets estimated to have $50,000 market value.

Super-Exchange V marked the global formation of the IBP Diploma developed at North Atlanta High.

The following letter was distributed to every North Atlanta High student – “our IBP cup runneth over to every corner of the school”.

That evening, the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs and the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission hosted a reception that recognized and honored the Super – Exchange V delegation. Mayor Bill Campbell and ASCC Chair Dr. Georgianne Thomas addressed the group and provided short lessons on Atlanta’s development.

The visiting and host teachers moved from Food 101 to a reception for them at my home – 5133 Foxwood Ct., Dunwoody, GA. My wife Sue and I served wine and dessert – it was a warm April evening and people mingled on our large patio. Many promises to stay connected after the exchange ended were declared that lovely evening.

Michael Chertok, GCF Director, led the follow up to SE V with a competition for small (up to $5,000) grants – delegates were challenged to submit proposals for projects.

Dr. John McIntyre, Georgia Tech Business Professor, sent the delegates home with some conceptual guidelines about economic globalization.

For more information about Super-Exchange V, please access SE V: Addendum.