Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!
June 22, 2021… A new arts funding initiative created by The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Center for Philanthropy will award 75 micro-grants of $1,000 to Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) artists to assist them in their work. Applications are open through July 23. Funding for the program is provided by The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Mac Miller Fund.
Grants will be practice-based, so that recipients have the freedom to use the awards on whatever they choose. The program is open to artists who live in the counties of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Mercer, Lawrence, Somerset, Venango, Washington and Westmoreland.
“This program is yet another wonderful example of how the fund is channeling Mac Miller’s spirit in the Pittsburgh region and the rest of the country,” Pittsburgh Foundation President and CEO Lisa Schroeder said in announcing the grants program. “As his fame skyrocketed, he shared his musical artistry generously – allowing people to internalize it however they would choose, and he reached out broadly.”
The BIPOC Micro-Grant Program does the same, Schroeder said, by giving artists maximum freedom in use of the grants and inviting applications from across southwestern Pennsylvania and its bordering counties. “While there is much more work to be done in supporting racial diversity in our region’s arts community, we are grateful to the family of Mac Miller and our Center for Philanthropy staff for collaborating to develop such a powerful program.”
A selection committee that will include BIPOC artists will be confirmed soon with member information posted on The Pittsburgh Foundation website. The brief application is available online and applicants will be informed of decisions by Sept. 1.
“The BIPOC Artist Micro-Grant program is a way for the Foundation to carry forward Mac Miller’s creative and artistic legacy and his family’s vision for helping artists, particularly younger artists, recognize their full potential,” said Kelly Uranker, vice president of the Foundation’s Center for Philanthropy.
The Mac Miller Fund was established at The Pittsburgh Foundation in 2018 by the family of the late Malcolm McCormick (Mac Miller) to honor the Pittsburgh native and nationally known rapper and producer.
The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Center for Philanthropy is one of only a few centers in the country offering expertise to donors to help them determine how to meet philanthropic goals through grantmaking and nonprofit management, personalized education sessions and guidance on multi-generational giving.
Source: The Pittsburgh Foundation
POISE Foundation has plenty of reasons to celebrate! This is its 40th year as a community foundation focused on inspiring and empowering African Americans. To commemorate this milestone year, the foundation has planned a series of online community conversations and events designed to bring greater awareness to the need for Black Philanthropy and the need to strengthen Black families and their communities.
Preliminary Event Schedule for 2021:
May 13 – The Cousins Event
June 24 – Community Conversation: Economic Justice
July 8 – Scholarship Celebration
August – Black Philanthropy Month Community Conversation: Why Do I Give?
June – Community Conversation
September – Community Conversation: Education
October – Grantee Spotlight
November – Community Conversation: Mental Health
December – Year End Event
“In the midst of a pandemic, the POISE Foundation has positioned itself to thrive and make even greater investments in the Black community. For example, we successfully launched a Critical Community Needs Fund which supports small to mid-side Black Led organizations helping to sustain our community during the crises of Covid-19 and anti-Black violence. This has resulted in awarding more than $1 million to these local organizations. This is one of the many reasons we are celebrating,” says Greg Spencer, Chair of the Board of Trustees, POISE Foundation.
“POISE Foundation is the second Black public foundation created in the United States, and the first and only one in Pennsylvania. Its founder, Bernard H. Jones, Sr. believed in self-sufficiency and growing assets in, for and by the Black community. In 1980, the foundation began with 3 funds valued at $164,000. We now manage over 200 funds valued at over $11 million. That’s a reason to celebrate,” says Mark S. Lewis, President and Chief Executive Officer, POISE Foundation.
POISE Foundation continues to educate the community on the power of collective giving and collective action. The year-long activities scheduled will celebrate Black excellence, while emphasize the importance of strengthening the Black community through wealth-building.
For more information about POISE Foundation, visit www.poisefoundation.org
POISE Foundation was established in 1980 in the format of a community foundation. Its mission it to assist the Black community in achieving self-sustaining practices through strategic leadership, collective giving, grantmaking and advocacy. Created in the format of a Community Foundation, POISE receives funds from a variety of donors. These funds may be unrestricted, and used to support its grantmaking strategy, or donor-directed for specific charitable purposes.
Two Western Pennsylvania champions of diversity — Vibrant Pittsburgh and the Urban Affairs Foundation, which is a part of the Community Relations Council (CRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh — have joined forces to implement this year’s Mini Grants Initiative: Systemic Inequities in the COVID-19 Era. This fund will promote diverse communities in the Pittsburgh region.
Each organization has committed $25,000 to create a $50,000 pool to fund projects that address the impacts of the pandemic on marginalized groups and/or systemic inequities in the greater Pittsburgh region. Sabrina Saunders Mosby, President and CEO of Vibrant Pittsburgh, said, “Building a more diverse and inclusive region is challenging work, but we don’t have to do it alone. In order to harness lasting change, we work in collaboration with inclusion partners like the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. I’m confident in the impact of our joint efforts to build a more just and equitable region because we are investing directly into communities in order to yield greater results. With the spotlight on systemic inequities and COVID-19 recovery, the 2021 Mini Grants initiative will provide much needed funding to communities doing the inclusion and equity work our region needs to pivot, thrive, and grow.” Larry Lebowitz, chair of the Community Relations Council (CRC), described the partnership between the Urban Affairs Foundation and Vibrant Pittsburgh. “The mission of the Jewish Federation’s Urban Affairs Foundation is ‘to foster amicable relationships among ethnic, racial, national, religious, and other groups in our community.’ We view this partnership with Vibrant Pittsburgh as a way to support diverse communities and their contributions to the vitality of the region.” Funding through the Vibrant Pittsburgh-Urban Affairs Foundation’s Systemic Inequities in the COVID-19 Era initiative will be available to applicants selected through a competitive proposal process. Lead organizations must maintain a physical presence in the Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton Combined Statistical Area and have 501(c)3 non-profit status. Organizations can partner with other nonprofits, academic institutions, religious organizations, community groups, businesses and employee resource groups.
Projects eligible for Mini Grant funding should:
• Create opportunities for civic engagement that result in a more inclusive and engaged multicultural region, and
• Be collaborative by engaging diverse communities, organizations, or partners. The term of proposed projects should be one year. The typical range of a grant award is $500-$7,500.
Grant application materials will be available starting Thursday, April 15th, 2021 at https://jewishpgh.org/mini-grants-initiative/. Completed grant applications are due by Friday, June 11th , 2021 and should be submitted electronically at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s grantmaking portal: https://grantmakingportal.smapply.org/. Vibrant Pittsburgh and the Urban Affairs Foundation will announce Mini Grant awardees in August 2021. Past Vibrant Pittsburgh Mini Grants have funded health and human services, housing, education, mentoring, professional networking, social support, welcoming initiatives, and job-connection programs for refugees and immigrants.
Source: Vibrant Pittsburgh
Sabrina Saunders Mosby, President and CEO of Vibrant Pittsburgh
In her job, Pittsburgh native Simone, is dedicated to helping young people succeed in school as an integrated school specialist, making sure students who might not be making the grade have the necessary tools to excel academically. She is also a dedicated mom of a teen son, who keeps her busy but thankful.
Reflecting on her life, Simone says that she is especially grateful for the two blood transfusions she received that literally saved her life. "I was Diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia (SC) Disease. Born with the disease, and diagnosed at 15 months old. I spent a lot of my childhood in and out of hospitals, in severe pain and depleted of energy due to low blood counts. Individuals with Sickle Cell often rely on transfusions to reduce anemia, increase blood flow, and decrease/eliminate excruciating pain. Blood transfusions can also help Sickle Cell patients reduce the risk of a stroke. The blood transfusions that I received helped alleviate crippling pain and prevent other complications that could have taken my life."
Knowing the critical need for blood donations in the African American community, Simone is hoping that her story will encourage other's to donate. "In the black community one in 500-600 black children are born with sickle cell anemia. As with most illnesses that affect blacks disproportionally, research for a cure is grossly under funded. Donating blood helps to ensure that we have as high of a quality of life as possible. It’s imperative that we do our part to save ourselves."
One way you can make a difference here in Pittsburgh, Simone, encourages you to participate in the WAMO VIRTUAL BLOOD DRIVE - Saturday, April 24, 2021 - Friday April 30, 2021.
See information below for the event.
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Simone is a living example of why it is important that the Village in our community join together and support each other. By donating blood you never know when you or someone dear to you will need a blood transfusion. Indeed, it takes a Village!
The City of Pittsburgh’s Welcoming Pittsburgh has announced the release of their 2020 Annual Report today, highlighting their work and accomplishments from the past year. Welcoming Pittsburgh is an immigrant, refugee, new American, and asylee support and integration initiative launched by Mayor William Peduto in 2014.
The annual report highlights new initiatives undertaken by Welcoming Pittsburgh and their partners. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Welcoming Pittsburgh introduced a regular, open call with the community to share information, resources, and meet the communities’ needs. Other new initiatives in the report include the implementation of a citywide language access plan, a COVID-19 cash assistance program for those who did not receive federal stimulus due to their immigration status, and their participation with the Urban Redevelopment Authority in the Welcoming Economies Pilot program.
“Though 2020 presented our world with challenges and oftentimes stretched our partners and resources beyond their capacity, we saw impressive resilience, adaptability, and helpfulness from our Welcoming Pittsburgh team and community," said Mayor William Peduto.
The report also provides progress updates for the implementation of the Welcoming Pittsburgh Roadmap. The roadmap was launched in 2015 in partnership with 40 local leaders in immigrant, refugee, and international communities and over 3,000 community members to provide a community-defined vision and recommended action items to make Pittsburgh welcoming for all. The report includes how roadmap action items are being implemented throughout city departments such as the Department of Innovation and Performance, Department of City Planning, and Department of Public Safety.
The report is available here.
The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation Sports Matter Giving Truck is hitting the road again, giving sports equipment to 10,000 more youth athletes in need. The Giving Truck will travel to eight cities across the U.S. – Charlotte, Atlanta, Tampa, Mobile, Houston, El Paso, Phoenix and Los Angeles – throughout the month of March.
The challenges impeding access to sports for many kids have increased significantly due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. First launched during the 2020 holiday season, the Giving Truck is The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation’s latest way of honoring its ongoing commitment to enable sports participation for young athletes in underserved communities. In December 2020, the Giving Truck’s first tour provided 10,000 gifts to children from sports organizations in under-resourced communities across the country. Continuing to its second tour, The Giving Truck will deliver much needed equipment to an additional 10,000 children of youth baseball and softball organizations so they have the gear needed to stay on the field.
The Giving Truck will make a special stop in Houston where The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation will partner with Little League Baseball and Softball to provide additional equipment to two deserving leagues. In 2017, The DICK’S Foundation partnered with Little League for a five-year, $500,000 commitment. Since the inception of the partnership, Little League has provided grants and supported programs for over 400 leagues, helping more than 22,000 youth athletes. In 2021, The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation also provided individual equipment kits to more than 3,500 Little Leaguers across the country.
“We’re excited to get the Sports Matter Giving Truck back on the road and positively impact the lives of many more young athletes in need,” said Aimee Watters, Executive Director of The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation. “These tour stops will help gear up 10,000 deserving young baseball and softball players ahead of their spring season.”
Professional athletes Walker Buehler, Cat Osterman, Andrew McCutchen, Haylie McCleney, Kyle Tucker, and Joey Gallo will help The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation virtually surprise kids at select stops along the Giving Truck route. Using video technology that has been built into the Giving Truck, kids will have a chance to talk to athletes who are helping inspire the next generation. The DICK’S Foundation also enlisted the help of artist and Atlanta-native George F. Baker III to design the colorful and eye-catching artwork displayed on the Giving Truck. The artwork is softball and baseball-themed and communicates the importance of sports for young athletes.
To help lessen the risks of COVID-19, The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation pre-selected a number of young athletes from youth sports organizations to distribute gifts to from the Giving Truck in the eight cities it’s visiting. Foundation Partner Good Sports has prepacked bags for each individual child at these organizations, ensuring each young athlete has their own equipment to safely enjoy the sports they love.
Since 2014, DICK’S and The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation have committed over $145 million to support young athletes through its Sports Matter initiative. Sports Matter raises awareness for the youth sports funding crisis as the fight to save youth sports continues across the U.S.
For more information on how your team can apply for funding or to donate to Sports Matter, please visit SportsMatter.org.
Looking towards the hope of the new year and a better future, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust celebrates emerging Black artists, through 202021: a new constellation public art installation throughout the Cultural District. This piece, curated by Tereneh Idia, features 11 artists and works can be found in nine locations by referencing the attached map of the District. We encourage those viewing public art to do so while observing proper safety protocols and social distancing. This project is slated to remain up through March, and pieces may stay up longer as activity begins to resume in the Cultural District.
Many believe that constellations are created by the stars, planets, and other objects of light in the cosmos. However, some Indigenous communities of the Americas like the Incan Empire found constellations in the dark spaces between the light.
202021: a new constellation is a body of work by Black, Pittsburgh-based artists. The art, the space between and the act of you moving to view the art, creates a new celestial body; a ground constellation; a space for celebration of Black creativity and people.
You will see images of women moving through the city acting as tour guides, images of celebration in a crowd or with a couple. 202021: a new constellation is an exploration of a new way to tell time, textiles of comfort and culture - joyous, defiant, happy, and contemplative images of Black women.
Enjoy this new constellation being formed at the end of 2020 and into 2021 - a space we create in Pittsburgh in celebration of Blackness and Black Pittsburgh.
The coffee shop and gathering space is part of the Avenues of Hope Initiative
PITTSBURGH, PA (January 29, 2021) The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA), in partnership with Mayor William Peduto, Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, and The Center That CARES announced the CARES CommuniTEA Café will celebrate its grand opening on Monday, February 1, at 9 a.m.
"We are pleased to announce the grand opening of the CARES CommuniTEA Café as part of the Avenues of Hope initiative and to have partnered with the URA, The Center That CARES and the Hill District community for this neighborhood enterprise. This project demonstrates the mission of Avenues of Hope to help realize the community's vision by supporting and investing in local entrepreneurs and neighborhood-based economic development initiatives," Mayor William Peduto said.
In March 2020, the URA released a Request for Interested Tenants (RFI) for the vacant retail spaces in the Centre Heldman Plaza along Centre Avenue in the Hill District. The goal of the RFI was to understand the types of businesses interested in leasing available spaces in the plaza. After much consideration, the URA announced plans to lease one of the four retail spaces to CARES CommuniTEA Café at its August 2020 Board meeting.
The coffee shop and café, located at 1836 Centre Avenue, is part of the Avenues of Hope initiative. Avenues of Hope addresses Pittsburgh’s lack of community development and economic inclusion in African American communities utilizing a holistic, community-centered approach.
“We’re incredibly excited about CARES CommuniTEA Café’s grand opening and what it means for the Hill District,” URA Deputy Executive Director Diamonte Walker said. “This is a perfect example of how a publicly-owned asset - Centre Heldman - can be leveraged to support community driven initiatives which is a core component of Avenues of Hope.”
The Cares CommuniTEA Café combines the expertise of Hill professionals as a learning lab for work experience for local youth. The coffee house will also offer special events and initiatives that will connect the Hill District community, such as community conversations, book clubs, art displays, and jazz events.
The café offers dine-in and to-go options, free WiFi, as well as online ordering for quick pick-up. The grand opening will include samplings from the menu.
"I am tremendously excited about the opening of CARES Café. This is a great example of leveraging the public for community good. I know The Center That CARES has poured their hearts into ensuring this new coffee shop is second to none. They are setting the stage for the type of business we want to see continue up Centre Avenue and to be part of Avenues of Hope across the city," said Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle.
The CARES CommuniTEA Café expands the footprint and impact of The Center That CARES, a community benefits organization that is dedicated to the development and enrichment of pre-k to college age youth, primarily living in the Hill District. Created by Rev. Glenn Grayson more than 20 years ago, The Center That CARES offers dynamic programming including afterschool enrichment, STEM education, and career development.
"The Center That CARES, with the outstanding support of Mayor William Peduto, Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle and the URA, is ecstatic to commence Black History Month with the grand opening of CARES CommuniTEA Café in the heart of the Hill District Centre Avenue corridor. We look forward to the community and city supporting our youth social enterprise endeavor as we share in the revitalization of the Hill District. Bringing this café to fruition during this pandemic is a reflection of our city’s determination and commitment to push forward and spark innovative change through collective impact,” Rev. Glenn Grayson said.
Note: Strict COVID-19 social distancing and safety precautions will be in place at the café at all times, including during the grand opening celebration. Masks are required.
As a year of soaring unemployment and food insecurity draws to a close, former Pittsburgh Pirate Andrew McCutchen and his wife Maria McCutchen continue to reaffirm their love for Pittsburgh with a generous donation to local nonprofit 412 Food Rescue, the latest in their years-long support of the organization’s continuing work to bolster food access in the region and beyond.
412 Food Rescue uses technology to mobilize a network of volunteer drivers, who ferry surplus and donated food to access points for food-insecure communities. Andrew McCutchen was one of the organization’s first celebrity supporters and has consistently contributed to its work.
“I first learned about 412 Food Rescue in 2015, and I’ve been a proud supporter since,” says McCutchen. “Their efforts to end food waste and hunger in Pittsburgh and across the nation embody the Pittsburgh spirit of lending a helping hand to your neighbor.”
McCutchen’s contributions have included enabling the organization to secure two trucks for large food deliveries, volunteering as part of his Project Pittsburgh initiative in November 2019, and his and Maria’s generous year-end donation this December. They have been joined in supporting and championing the organization by other celebrities including TJ Watt, Michael Keaton and Elizabeth Banks.
“We’re grateful for Andrew and Maria’s steadfast support during these challenging times, as well as the contributions of all our longtime and new supporters,” says 412 Food Rescue co-founder and CEO Leah Lizarondo. “Whether donating monetarily or volunteering their time, every one of our supporters has helped us respond quickly and effectively to the hunger crisis created by the pandemic. When it mattered most, our community really showed up.”
This has been an unprecedented year for both 412 Food Rescue and the city of Pittsburgh. The organization has adapted by introducing a number of new programs to support those most impacted by the pandemic and its financial fallout.
This year, 412 Food Rescue:
412 Food Rescue has adapted not only to a surge in need by also a surge in participation, with March bringing in the highest number of new downloads ever to the organization’s Food Rescue Hero app. Over the year, 4,525 new volunteers signed on to deliver food wherever it is most needed. The organization’s full 2020 Impact Report can be found here.
On December 31, 1862, in anticipation of President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation, enslaved Africans gathered to celebrate their impending freedom. This initial “Freedom’s Eve” eventually became known as “Watch Night,” a time when contemporary Blacks reflect on the significant events of the “old year” and express their aspirations for the “new year.” Although freedom, justice and equality remain elusive notwithstanding centuries of struggle, this “Freedom’s Eve” we have good reasons to believe that we shall eventually overcome what has systemically ailed Blacks in America. A brief look at recent national politics will underscore this fact.
High on the list of 2020 momentous events is the fact that the majority of our nation voted to rid itself of the chief “bête en residence,” i.e., P45. In doing so, of special importance were the heroic roles Black women played in ending what some view as the worst episode in American presidential history. For example, ninety percent of Black women voted for President Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris. The unconquerable, former Georgia State Representative, Stacey Yvonne Abrams led the victory in the key battleground state of Georgia. It is very noteworthy that the transition back to democracy includes the historical fact that Kamala Harris became Vice President Elect. When P45’s autocratic presidency ends, he will face New York State Attorney General Letitia James who, like Vice President Elect Kamala Harris, earned a degree from Howard University.
In terms of formulating national and international economic policy, it is of great significance that the Rhodes Scholar recipient, politically well-experienced, and courageous Susan Rice was selected to lead President Elect Biden’s White House Domestic Policy Council. Representative Marcia Fudge will bring much more than a “breath of fresh air,” replacing the stench left by Ben Carson as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Similarly, Linda Thomas-Greenfield will restore the nation’s international standing while serving as the Ambassador to the United Nations. After four years of P45’s “communicators” lying and spewing “alternative facts,” America is most fortunate to have Black women of distinction such as Ashley Etienne (Communications Director for Vice President Elect Harris), Karine Jean-Pierre (Principal Deputy Press Secretary) and Seymone Sanders (Chief Spokesperson for Harris).
On “Watch Night” 2020, we will also bear witness to Black women’s political might as evidenced by the fact that we have the following Black women serving as Mayors: Atlanta (Keisha Lance Bottoms), Charlotte (Vi Lyles), Chicago (Lori Lightfoot), New Orleans (LaToya Cantrell), San Francisco (London Breed), and Washington DC (Muriel Bowser).
In other venues, we should be mindful of the following examples of Black women currently making major contributions:  La June Montgomery Tabron serves as the CEO of the Kellogg Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the United States;  Rashida Jones, currently serving as Senior Vice President NBC News and MSNBC, has been elected President, effective February 1, 2021;  Mellody Hobson has been elected as Starbuck’s Board Chair (the only Black female Chair of a S&P 500 company);  Lori White became President of DePauw University ---this after every DePauw President had been a White male since 1837;  Shirley Jackson serves as President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; and  Isabel Wilkerson published Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, deemed one of the 10 best books of the year.
This year, we should celebrate the fact that, as America remains in the grips of what might prove to be the worst pandemic ever, a Black woman, Kizzmekia Corbett, serves as the National Institute of Health’s lead scientist for the development of Coronavirus vaccines. Also, significantly responding to the viral pandemic, Niani Tolbert started the #HIREBLACK initiative focused on hiring Black women. This initiative is especially important given the fact that Black women are overrepresented and underpaid in the ranks of essential workers battling the Coronavirus.
On December 31, 2020, we must remain cognizant of the fact that on January 20, 2021, America will no more be an “anti-racist” country than it had become a “post-racial” country when former President Barack Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009. We will need to be mindful of what Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said prior to the election, i.e.., “He can stay, he can go. He can be impeached, or voted out in 2020. But removing Trump will not remove the infrastructure of an entire party that embrace him; the dark money that funded him; the online radicalization that drummed his army. Nor the racism he amplified…” As we continue to remove the infrastructure that supported P45, we should take particular note of the fortitude displayed consistently by Black women –from Sojourner Truth to Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi- in dismantling systemic racism.
We shall get to a true “Freedom’s Eve” because young Black women currently demonstrate the tenacity about which Andra Day sang, i.e.,
“…And I'll rise up
I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up
I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again
And I'll rise up
High like the waves…
And I'll do it a thousand times again…”
We, as a people, will rise up because of the foundational support flowing from Black church mothers and their Sister Saints; Black Divine Nine women from whence came Kamala Harris; Black women caregivers who provide our children with their “daily bread;” Black women in service organizations who have never stopped “lifting as they climb;” the seldom-mentioned Black women who make up the essential workers ranks; and so many other Black women who serve as the sturdy Black bridges over which we pass on the road to freedom.
We shall remain inspired by iconic figures such as the 98-year-old civil rights worker, Gloria Richardson, who remains on the battlefield. Recently she reminded us, “Racism is ingrained in this country… We marched until the governor called martial law. That’s when you get their attention. Otherwise, you’re going to keep protesting the same things another 100 years from now…” (December 13, 2020). Let us keep marching in 2021 until the “trumpets are sounded” and the “walls come tumbling down.”
Jack L. Daniel
Co-Founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban Media
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
December 15, 2020
The Heinz Endowments has announced $5.75 million in funding to support local arts and cultural programs, many of which are intended to assist in mitigating the severe effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the region’s creative sector. The slate of grants includes $4,134,000 in general operating support, as well as funding for innovative at-home learning programs and organizations that have shown particular creativity in facing the pandemic’s challenges.
The pandemic has placed unprecedented hardships on the Pittsburgh region’s creative sector, forcing organizations to cancel performances and annual fundraising events or recast them into digital formats, furlough staff, and prepare for the possibility of long-term adjustments that will likely linger until a COVD-19 vaccine is widely available.
A Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council analysis of the regional arts sector released earlier this year found that the most urgent COVID-19-related need as identified by arts organizations was unrestricted general operating assistance. The same report revealed that approximately 84 percent of organizations had to cancel performances, classes and exhibitions, and nearly 68 percent had to temporarily close their facilities due to COVID-19.
“Our region’s vibrant arts sector has been impacted by the pandemic in ways that have brought it under extraordinary stress,” said Endowments President Grant Oliphant. “But for many, this has also inspired new and innovative ways of operating, connecting with art patrons, and presenting their art. This slate of grants recognizes both a critical need for operating support and the inventive ways in which arts organizations have faced these challenges.”
The $5.75 million will be divided among 37 organizations, in amounts ranging from $20,000 to $1 million each. Twenty-seven organizations are receiving grants in which 100 percent of the amount is designated for general operating support.
“The Heinz Endowments recognizes that in this unparalleled time in our region’s creative sector, the primary need for many arts organizations is the relief that funding for general operations can bring,” said Endowments Vice President of Creativity Janet Sarbaugh. “Our hope is that these grants help bring continuity and stability to these organizations as they make the ongoing shifts necessary to soldier through these challenging times, and allow them to concentrate on creating and sharing their art.”
A number of grants are directed to arts organizations that have made especially effective adjustments since the onset of COVID-19, serving as inspiration to other creative entities about what is possible in the current arts climate.
Among those is the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Receiving $270,000 in funds for general operations from the Endowments during this grant cycle, the Kelly Strayhorn shifted from its usual spring “Full Bloom” fundraiser to a new virtual event planned by a seven-member arts organization collective. “Hotline Ring,” a seven-hour, mid-summer digital production, divided proceeds between the Kelly Strayhorn and other organizations in the collective.
“It was so much more than a fundraiser,” said Kelly Strayhorn Executive Director Joseph Hall, who began his tenure last winter days before the pandemic was officially announced. “We created it collectively, and in doing so revealed the process about how the Kelly Strayhorn will face the future. The experience tells us that a collective effort - where all have a voice - is how we will get to a place of innovation where all are served.”
Other organizations receiving grants that have shown particular adaptability include City Theatre, whose well-received “Drive-In Arts Festival” in September at Hazelwood Green featured 12 nights of outdoor music, theater, comedy and dance; City of Asylum, which created “The Show Must Go On(line),” a virtual shared arts programming channel that has featured content from a broad array of regional artists and organizations; and Alumni Theater Company, which has filmed fully produced performances for digital release to ticketholders at specific scheduled dates and times, helping recreate the communal experience of live performance.
Fifteen of the Endowments’ 37 arts-related grants center on the arts education sector, which has been challenged with adapting to at-home learning platforms since the onset of the pandemic.
“Our arts education grantees have faced the challenges of COVID-19 head-on, creating high-quality, accessible remote learning content that has proven to be popular with arts education professionals, parents, schools, and students alike,” said Mac Howison, the Endowments’ Program Officer of Creative Learning.
Carnegie Institute, receiving $325,000 in funds in this grant cycle, has been particularly astute in embracing technology through its Arts Education Collaborative. The Collaborative joined forces with Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time and The Legacy Arts Project on the Creative Learning Rapid Response program, which to date has produced a series of over 55 arts-related educational videos, publicized through the hashtag “#ArtsLearningAtHome.”
Available to all at no cost, the Creative Learning Rapid Response video series provided funding to teaching artists, who were compensated for their video contributions, and has been widely embraced by schools, teachers, parents and students.
Creativity grants have been awarded to the following organizations
ACH Clear Pathways - $100,000
Afro-American Music Institute - $50,000
Alumni Theater Company - $100,000
August Wilson African American Cultural Center - $800,000
Artists Image Resource - $40,000
Bach Choir of Pittsburgh - $20,000
Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation/BOOM Concepts - $75,000
Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation/Level Up - $50,000
Bricolage Production Company - $50,000
Calliope House Inc. - $20,000
Carnegie Institute/Arts Education Collaborative - $325,000
Carnegie Mellon University - $38,000
Chamber Music Pittsburgh - $20,000
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh - $200,000
City of Asylum - $60,000
City Theatre Company - $95,000
Community Theater Project Corporation/Kelly Strayhorn Theater - $270,000
Film Pittsburgh - $40,000
Focus on Renewal Sto-Rox Neighborhood Renewal Corporation - $50,000
The Hawkins Project - $50,000
Hill Dance Academy Theatre - $75,000
Historical Society of Pittsburgh - $300,000
The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh - $25,000
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre - $210,000
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust - $775,000
Pittsburgh Entertainment Project - $50,000
The Pittsburgh Foundation/Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh - $1,000,000
The Pittsburgh Foundation/Spotlight PA - $100,000
Pittsburgh Opera - $209,000
Pittsburgh Youth Chorus - $30,000
Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra Association - $20,000
Prime Stage - $40,000
Public Source - $300,000
River City Brass Band - $70,000
SLB Radio Productions - $50,000
Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestras - $20,000
Union Project - $30,000
For Sustainable Pittsburgh’s statement on the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit this link. Plus, access our library of free webinars and accompanying resources here.
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The Penn Plaza Support and Action Coalition, in partnership with the Economic Justice Circle and the Pittsburgh Human Rights Alliance, calls on residents of Pittsburgh to voice their opinion to Pittsburgh City Council concerning the causes and effects of the loss of 7,000 African-Americans residents from the City of Pittsburgh between 2014 and 2018.
The Penn Plaza Support and Action Coalition (PPSA) has successfully petitioned Pittsburgh City Council for a special Public Hearing on Tuesday, May 5, 2021 at 1:30PM. We are asking the City Council to acknowledge that 7,000- African-Americans, close to 9% of African-American population, left the City in a four year period between 2014-2018. This reflects the intensification of a decades-long trend.
We are asking that the City identify each former resident, and to determine why they left. If, as we suspect, many have left due to lack of affordable housing, then we are asking the City to implement new policies that will stem the tide of mass displacement in the City of Pittsburgh.
We at Penn Plaza Support and Action Coalition believe that this City can grow its population, but we believe it must start with former residents who desired to live in Pittsburgh, yet could not afford it. We are calling on the City to adopt a “Right to Return “philosophy and follow up with “Right to Return” policies. Finally, we must ask return to what?
This Coalition will also call on the Mayor and City Council to engage the public in deliberation on how the $355 million in Covid Relief Dollars should be utilized. We believe a fully educated and engaged public will call on the City government to use those dollars to help stop continued displacement of Black and low-income residents from the city and to repair past harms by creating thousands of affordable homes in the historically neglected Black neighborhoods of Homewood and the Hill District.
Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore, get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
Typically, generational wealth refers to material things of significance passed on from one generation to the next. This type of generational wealth provides succeeding family members with a foundation that enables them to avoid “starting from scratch” or having to “lift themselves up by their bootstraps.” Instead, these generational wealth recipients are provided a “head start” that enables them to not only cope with acquiring basic necessities such as food, shelter and health care but also to actualize themselves as human beings.
Imagine the privileged position you would be in if, for example, your parents made it possible for you to graduate from college not only free of debt but they also gave you a new car as a graduation gift. Consider the economic advantage you would have if you also enjoyed the number one American wealth generation act, i.e., you inherited a mortgage-free multi-bedroom home.
Unfortunately, the well-known fact is that the foregoing type of generational wealth is one of the key disparities many Blacks experience as a result of systemic racism. As noted on September 28, 2020 by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, “…the typical White family has eight times the wealth of the typical Black family and five times the wealth of the typical Hispanic family… In the 2019 survey, White families have the highest level of both median and mean family wealth: $188,200 and $983,400, respectively… Black families' median and mean wealth is less than 15 percent that of White families, at $24,100 and $142,500, respectively…”
To be sure, living in a capitalistic society, Blacks must not only understand but also practice the rudiments of the American/international financial system. At the same time, we must not forget that, as the “passport for the 21st century,” education and the wisdom related to its use are critically important types of generational wealth. Otherwise, the material aspects of generational wealth become a matter of “easy come, easy go.” For an example of the latter, we need look no further than a current national leader who received hundreds of millions from his father and, today, he has debt in the hundreds of millions! Lest Blacks are appropriately educated, they might not only lose ground in terms of material wealth, but also their pursuit of equity and social justice.
We must heed the wisdom articulated by Carter G. Woodson when he wrote, “If you can control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one.”
A Black person, for example, could sit on the Supreme Court for years, but if she/he is miseducated, then that person might attack laws designed to assist Blacks as well as members of other oppressed groups. It will be they who will lead the attack on laws that aid the LGBTQ community.
Lacking wisdom and, at the same time, properly miseducated a Black elected attorney general might purposefully fail to have a grand jury indict White police officers who murdered an innocent Black woman and, instead, obtain an indictment for one White police officer who wantonly shot bullets into the apartment of a White person.
Profoundly miseducated and, without generational wisdom, such a Black person might be the first to come to the rescue and wipe “Karen’s tears” after she was nationally criticized –even if Karen had called the police to arrest the Black person because she “looked suspicious” as she was getting into her recently purchased 2020 car. Another such miseducated Black might be the one to hug “Karen” after she was found guilty of murdering their uncle and, still another, might straighten the wrinkle in “Karen’s” dress when she rises to be sentenced in court.
Lacking generational wisdom, the proximity to power along with a big title and big salary (for a Black person) could cause miseducated folks to become classic “house Negroes.” To appreciate just how far those without wisdom might go and squander Black equity and social justice generational wealth, please read the September 28, 2020 New Pittsburgh Courier Digital Daily article “Ten of the most noteworthy House Negroes in America.” Therein, you will note the detrimental deeds of Clarence Thomas, Daniel Cameron, Jason Whitlock, Candace Owens, Terry Crews, Kanye West, Charles Barkley, Stacy Dash, Diamond & Silk, and Herman Cain.
If we are to end the cycle of “being sick and tired of being sick and tired” and, instead, make consistent, significant, incremental progress when it comes to Blacks acquiring freedom, justice and equality, then we must not squander the generational wisdom of those who came before us. We must not only “say their names” but also acquire the wisdom of ancestors such as James Baldwin, Daisy Bates, Mary McLeod Bethune, Gwendolyn Brooks, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Toni Morrison, Myrlie Evans-Williams, Fannie Lou Hammer, John Lewis, Audre Lorde, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pauli Murray, Rosa Parks, Bayard Rustin, Carter G. Woodson, and Malcolm X.
Regarding a bit of generational wisdom from Audre Lorde, always remember that “… survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master’s house as their only source of support.”
Lest the foregoing type of generational wisdom is internalized, years from now after yet another urban insurrection stimulated by racist abuse, Black folks will be babbling, “We had a Senior Vice President for…, and an Executive Associate for…, and a Special Counselor for…, and it seemed we’d make so much progress. But here we are again, having made so little progress over so much time.” Truly, “my people are destroyed” not only for lack of material wealth, but also lack of knowledge, understanding and wisdom!
Jack L. Daniel
Co-Founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban Media
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
October 13, 2020