Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!
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.
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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