Since its founding in 2006 by Sara L.M. Davis, the organization has focused on providing training in nonprofit management skills to grassroots groups working on health and human rights, as well as conducting research and advocacy.
Asia Catalyst works with grassroots groups from marginalized communities in East and Southeast Asia that promote the right to health. Asia Catalyst trains their partners to meet high standards of effective and democratic governance, to establish a stable foundation for future growth, and to conduct rigorous human rights research and advocacy. Asia Catalyst aims to help their partners become leading advocates at the local, national and global levels.
Asia Catalyst provides tailored coaching to individual organizations and small groups in organizational management, documentation and advocacy to small grassroots groups working on health rights. The coaching focuses especially on groups from marginalized communities, such as sex workers, drug users, LGBT people, and people living with HIV/ AIDS. Much of their work has focused on grassroots groups in the People’s Republic of China, as well as groups in Korea, Thailand, and Myanmar (Burma). Asia Catalyst’s approach uses tools that have been developed in the field with input from their partners, and helps each group to develop strategic plans, project timelines, budgets, and volunteer management systems. Once this foundation is established, groups may be assisted in developing rights documentation and advocacy projects, working on such issues as discrimination, criminalization and access to health services. Asia Catalyst trains groups to advocate with local and national officials, the United Nations, and to participate in international meetings.
Advocacy and research
Asia Catalyst partners with local groups in China to conduct qualitative research to document human rights abuses that affect the right to health. These reports draw on international human rights standards and local laws to make policy recommendations. Asia Catalyst’s advocacy work has focused on compensation for victims of the HIV blood disaster, as well as discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, and rights issues facing drug users and sex workers.
The Nonprofit Survival Guide introduces fundamental tools in management of grassroots nonprofit organizations, with handouts and worksheets on strategic planning, volunteer and staff management, and budgeting. It is available in English and Chinese.
Know It, Prove It, Change It: A Rights Curriculum for Grassroots Groups This three-part series was created by Asia Catalyst, Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group, and Dongjen Center for Human Rights Education and Action. Each handbook comes with lesson plans activists can use to train their communities.
Know It: The Rights Framework discusses international human rights standards and how they apply to real-life cases affecting people living with HIV/AIDS and other marginalized communities. (Available in English, Chinese, and Thai)
Prove It: Documenting Rights Abuses explains how to plan and conduct rigorous rights research. (Available in English, Chinese, and Thai)
Change It: Ending Rights Abuses (forthcoming) shows how to plan and conduct local, national and international advocacy.
China's Blood Disaster: The Way Forward is a joint report by Korekata AIDS Law Center and Asia Catalyst, released in March 2012. It documents the challenges victims of China’s HIV blood disaster face in getting compensation and makes recommendations for a national compensation fund.
AIDS Blood Scandals: What China Can Learn from the World's Mistakes was published in 2007. It examines how the U.S.A., Japan, France and Canada handled their own HIV blood disaster, and puts forth recommendations for China’s policies.
“I Will Fight to My Last Breath”: Barriers to AIDS Treatment for Children in China documents challenges children living with HIV/AIDS in China face to getting pediatric treatment, and draws on 2009 field research in Henan and Yunnan provinces.
Asia Catalyst is governed by a board of directors. The board provides support and guidance for program direction and development. The board is led by Chair and Treasurer Yvonne Y. F. Chan, and includes Minky Worden of Human Rights Watch.
Sara L.M. Davis, Ph.D. (“Meg”) in the executive director and founder of Asia Catalyst. Davis began the organization in 2006. Davis has a distinguished record of research and advocacy on HIV/AIDS and human rights, police abuse, housing rights, environmental rights, and rule of law in China, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Indonesia.
Asia Catalyst, a 501(c)3 registered charity, undergoes an independent audit annually and files information returns with various governmental regulatory agencies. The organization’s resources come from contributions from individuals, foundations, and government funding.
Among its most significant supporters are the Open Society Foundation, The Levi Strauss Foundation, National Endowment for Democracy, the Swedish International Development Agency, the German Embassy in Beijing, UNAIDS, and the U.S. State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
- Lynch, Elizabeth. "Where People Still Die of AIDS: China and the Importance of Grassroots Advocacy".
- "About". Asia Catalyst. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- Davis, Sara L.M. "Police crackdowns in China: The Health and Human Rights of Sex Workers".
- Tejada, Carlos. "Group Puts Spotlight on HIV and China’s Young". Wall Street Journal.
- Davis, Sara L.M. "Prejudice Mars China's AIDS Record". Wall Street Journal.