by Sherri Knight

Pittsburgh’s Northside has long been a favorite destination for culture, entertainment, and sporting events, as well as home to residential communities rich with character and connectedness. To be in the Northside is to be in a part of Pittsburgh distinctly its own.

Home to the Children’s Museum, the National Aviary, and The Mattress Factory, to name a few attractions, the area is green, filled with beautiful architecture, and home to around 45,000 loyal residents or “Northsiders”. But the communities that make up the Northside aren’t without their challenges, and there are opportunities for improvement.

Signaling a major commitment to the future of the Northside, The Buhl Foundation will dedicate approximately 80 percent of their funding over the next two decades to support initiatives on the Northside. In the spirit of Henry Buhl, who built his legacy on the Northside, the Buhl Foundation is partnering with Northside communities to implement One Northside, a 20 year plan to bring people back to the area, to educate young people in the Northside and help prepare them for the workforce, to improve the schools in the neighborhoods, and to support deeper revitalization in the most distressed neighborhoods.

In support of the One Northside initiative, The Sprout Fund is fueling community-led neighborhood improvement by offering Neighbor-to-Neighbor grants of $1,000 to support individuals and groups working hard to make their communities a better place to live, work, play, and raise a family.

Through their Neighbor-to-Neighbor program, The Sprout Fund has already supported 23 projects, with plans to support about 50 total projects in the coming months.

Among the first group of funded projects announced in March are efforts to beautify and celebrate different neighborhoods, like the Deutschtown City Steps Mosaic Mural, a proposed 120-foot long mural designed with images showing the history of the neighborhood, all of which will be assembled and worked on in different workshops this summer under the guidance of Linda Wallen. In addition to a number of gardening initiatives at different locations, Sean Brady’s Northside Greenways Map will be a resource for exploring the Northside and its surrounding communities through biking and walking paths.

And there is no shortage of creative arts and expression on the Northside. The Pittsburgh Fringe Festival will make the Northside come alive with outsider theater performances this summer, and the El Sistema Music Program will offer musical instruction to Northside youth throughout the summer with a collaborative performance at summer’s end on Observatory Hill.

As part of this constellation of projects, several efforts are underway to encourage Northsiders to rediscover their community with engaging public events like the Community Arts Night at Morrow Elementary School and a walking tour of East Allegheny-Deutschtown.

Sprout’s Senior Program Officer Mac Howison worked closely with Neighbor-to-Neighbor applicants, many of whom were eager to build on the momentum of the Northside Conversation, a community-driven engagement process to create a shared agenda for the Northside.

Through Neighbor-to-Neighbor grants, The Sprout Fund has helped community members “move from talking about their communities, to launching new collaborative projects to put ideas into action,” says Howison. “One of the key components to achieving the vision for One Northside is connecting these neighborhood projects to each other, so that everyone has a stake in the Northside’s future.”

The next deadline to apply for a Neighbor-to-Neighbor grant is Friday, May 8th. Learn more and apply online at sproutfund.org/northside.