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(November 30, 2021) Mayor William Peduto joined Thomas Boyd, Sr. of TomTom24 Development, LLC as well as the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA), Neighborhood Allies and other elected official, stakeholder and community partners to break ground on a revitalization project at 2178 Centre Avenue in the Hill District. The project will transform the former historic Hamm’s Barber Shop into the new home of Mr. Boyd’s Big Tom’s Barbershop while also creating affordable housing units and community space along the Hill District’s Centre Avenue business district.
Mr. Boyd will relocate his business to the first floor of the rehabilitated structure. The second and third floors will be rehabbed into four one-bedroom apartments affordable to households at or below 80% Area Median Income (AMI). The adjacent lots will be beautified and used as open space for the community and for pop-up sales and product demonstrations from local home-based businesses.
"Today is truly a celebration as we recognize the work of my friend and community champion Thomas Boyd. Big Tom’s is a staple in the Hill District community and it’s momentous that he will be redeveloping the historic Hamm’s to be the new home of his barbershop and using the opportunity to meet the community’s need for housing and shared space for community entrepreneurs,” said Mayor Peduto. “I’d like to thank him, as well as the funding partners who have joined us in supporting this redevelopment. This significant investment in the historic Hill District business district will be one of many we will see as part of the Hill community plans and the Avenues of Hope initiative.”
The new Big Tom’s Barbershop project arose from a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) the URA released in July 2019 seeking multiple developers to purchase and redevelop any portion of 170 publicly-owned parcels along the Centre Avenue corridor in the Middle Hill neighborhood. The goal of the RFQ was to select developers to bring uses and concepts identified as priorities by the community in the 2015 Centre Avenue Corridor Redevelopment and Design Plan and the 2011 Greater Hill District Master Plan.
Mr. Boyd presented his proposal at a community meeting hosted by City Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle in September 2020 and received a community approval score of 100%.
“We couldn’t be more excited for Big Tom and this project which will break new ground in the Hill District,” said URA Deputy Executive Director Dr. Diamonte Walker. “The success of this project will not only signal catalytic change along the Centre Avenue corridor, but also paves the way for future commercial revitalization projects which simultaneously creates opportunities for community-centered ownership while closing the City of Pittsburgh's affordable housing gap.”
“We are honored to be an ally and partner on this journey with Big Tom and to support him in accessing the tools and resources needed to create transformative community change in the Hill District,” said Neighborhood Allies President, Presley Gillespie. "This project is the true epitome of equitable community development-encompassing the redevelopment of a physical place and creating opportunity for the people who call that place home. We're incredibly proud to that Mr. Boyd is not only poised to own a key corner parcel in his neighborhood, but also grow his community serving business over the coming years."
To date the project has received over $1.94 million in funding from First National Bank (the largest subsidiary of F.N.B. Corporation), Lower Hill Group, Neighborhood Allies, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and URA. The project has also received over 450 of intensive technical assistance from Neighborhood Allies through their Centralized Real Estate Accelerator.
"Thanks to all the people who have been working hard - all the community groups, all the funders, Neighborhood Allies, URA and all the people who have been helping me through this process," said Mr. Boyd. "I just feel blessed and we're going to continue giving back to the neighborhood."
Source: City of Pittsburgh
The Northside Community Development Fund today announced that it is now supporting all of Allegheny County under the new moniker of “Neighborhood Community Development Fund.”
Located in Pittsburgh’s Northside, the Neighborhood Community Development Fund serves as a conduit between local communities and the resources they seek – growing and revitalizing neighborhoods through small business support, residential housing and commercial building projects. Previously, this work was concentrated primarily in the Northside neighborhood.
Under its new name, the Neighborhood Community Development Fund will continue to support existing clients, while also aiding those in neighborhoods beyond the Northside and throughout Allegheny County to develop their communities. The organization conducts its work by connecting local business owners and community development organizations with loan opportunities, grant applications, educational resources and strategic counsel.
“We’ve been proud to work as a trusted neighbor for so many in the Northside community for more than 20 years,” said Mark Masterson, executive director, Neighborhood Community Development Fund. “And now, we’re taking that same approach to communities all across Allegheny County to promote economic opportunity and revitalization.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, the Neighborhood Community Development Fund has offered loan payment deferrals and loan forgiveness to most of its loan customers. The Neighborhood Community Development Fund also worked with the Pennsylvania CDFI Network to distribute more than $250 million in grants to small businesses, 50% of which went to historically disadvantaged businesses.
Additionally, the Neighborhood Community Development Fund connected local small businesses with Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program loans – helping more than 400 small businesses to receive these SBA loans.
For more information on the Neighborhood Community Development Fund and its services, please visit: NCD-Fund.org.
The centers will provide technology access and digital literacy to community members of all ages.
Neighborhood Allies and Verizon officially announce three new Pittsburgh-based learning centers to come online in the next year. These will provide community members of all ages with digital skills and entrepreneurship training, STEM education, and workforce development opportunities through advanced technology and educational resources.
Neighborhood Allies is excited to collaborate with the YMCA and the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)’s Homewood-Brushton Center locations, who will host a youth and adult space respectively. The location of a third site in a different part of Pittsburgh will be determined in the coming months. These are part of the Verizon Community Forward initiative, first announced earlier this month, which offers exploratory digital learning opportunities for STEM related career pathways with a focus on job skills.
The program will provide K-12 students with STEM Education, adults with digital literacy training, and both high school students and adults with workforce development and entrepreneurship learning opportunities. Programming will be provided by the Homewood Children's Village, YMCA, and CCAC, as well as other local providers. In anticipation of the Centers’ opening, registration is open for interim Fall programming at LevelUp412.org, which features courses ranging from coding and video game design to robotics, 3D printing, and a host of digital literacy skills.
"Neighborhood Allies' commitment to advancing equity and economic inclusion in Pittsburgh means ensuring that all residents have expanded opportunities to succeed," said Presley Gillespie, President of Neighborhood Allies. "In partnership with Verizon, we are striving to close the digital divide that exists along socioeconomic and racial lines by providing the access, knowledge, and training needed to enter into tech-based careers."
"Now more than ever, it's imperative that under-resourced communities have the skills and access to technology they need to be prepared for today's digital workforce,” said Alex Servello, Director, Corporate Social Responsibility. “Together with Neighborhood Allies, Verizon is deepening its investment in the local community by creating physical spaces which offer members of the community access to STEM education, workforce development, and digital literacy with the goal to help prepare youth up to adults for jobs of the future.”
STEM-inspired skill-based learning through initiatives such as Verizon Community Forward can drive economic empowerment and is central to Verizon’s responsible business plan for economic, environmental and social advancement, Citizen Verizon. Launched in 2020 to move the world forward for all, Citizen Verizon leverages technology, innovation and resources to address the world’s most pressing issues across digital inclusion, climate protection and human prosperity. As part of Citizen Verizon, Verizon plans to exceed $3 billion in its responsible business investment from 2020-2025 to continue helping vulnerable communities bridge the digital divide.
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
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.
Donate Blood At Vitalant - Schedule An Appointment Online
Donating Blood Is One Of The Easiest Ways To Give Back To Your Community — Donate Today! We'll Guide You Through Every Step And Answer Any Questions! Find A Donation Center Today. Saving Lives. Schedule Online Today. COVID Rescue Team
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.
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.
Stop the spread of misinformation: Allegheny County Health Department’s Rumor Control hub
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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