BLOG POST ARTICLE
CTN FOUNDER, JOHN SICELOFF, LEAVES INCREDIBLE LEGACY
Catch the Next’s founder, John Siceloff, passed away on March 6, 2015, from cancer, but he continues to live on in the lives of the people he touched through the growth and success of the CTN program. He left behind an incredible legacy.
John’s philosophy was that “The struggle for a better world is not just for those who have little and want more; the struggle for a better world is also for those who have gotten a certain amount in life to look around them and think ‘We all have to live together.’” It was his desire for a better world that guided his life.
After working as a war correspondent and bureau chief in El Salvador and Nicaragua, John returned and forged a career as a successful news producer for programs such as ABC News, 20/20, Primetime Live, and Dateline NBC. In 2001, he joined the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and in 2004, founded JumpStart Productions, which created Now with Bill Moyers for PBS. In 2008, John coauthored the book: Your America: Democracy’s Local Heroes, which is a collection of 12 stories of ordinary citizens making changes in their communities. Then in 2009, through John's vision and personal investment, Catch the Next, Inc. was established to improve the educational attainment of Latinos and other underserved students.
“My husband John Siceloff truly cared about the world. He had a long and successful career as a photographer, journalist and television producer. He always wanted to create an organization that would help others less fortunate than him. I witnessed him build and grow Catch the Next with his trusted partner Maria Martha. He would come home from Texas so enthusiastic. I am certain his years with CTN were the most meaningful to him in his long career. He was amazed at the talent and dedication of all the educators he met and worked with. I was fortunate enough to attend two CTN conferences in Texas. I met the students and educators personally. The Ascender program focusing on empowerment through telling your own story is so aligned with John's view on life. To the end he worked hard to make sure CTN would continue. John often said, ‘Journalism does not improve or save lives, education does,’” commented Birgit Siceloff.
Through the hard and rewarding work of the CTN familia, the program has become a national, award-wining organization with students in the Ascender program having greater odds of obtaining a Bachelor’s level certificate and a higher rate of obtaining any higher education certificate. Also, Ascender students take on two-thirds less student debt and are awarded a greater number of scholarships and grants.
Catch the Next’s student program Ascender has been implemented on 23 campuses from El Paso to San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Dallas and the Rio Grande Valley with close to 400 higher education instructors trained through the Ascender, TTT, and NextEd seminars. The number of college students enrolled in these instructors’ classes who have been given a greater opportunity for success and a brighter future for themselves and their families through CTN training and the Ascender program is in the thousands, possibly tens of thousands.
“My father was a constant force for change and good. John was reared in the Penn Center, an African American school in South Carolina where my grandfather was administrating and where they fought for civil rights for all. With those roots deeply embedded, my father spent most of his journalistic career documenting and exposing injustices around the world, and eventually wanting to provide more hands-on help; he started Catch the Next to continue championing equal opportunities for all. My sincerest gratitude to all those who help run Catch the Next, and to all those who take part in it, thank you for keeping my father's memory and vision alive,” commented Andrew Siceloff.
The legacy of John's work will continue to close the opportunity gap for underserved students and create positive social change in communities, the state and the nation. His legacy lives on in the success of our students and our program, ensuring a better and brighter future for us all.