2015 Neighbor-to-Neighbor Funded Projects

The Sprout Fund’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor Grants program advances the One Northside vision by providing immediate support for small-scale community projects with broad citizen support.

In 2015, 48 projects were supported that raised awareness about innovative new Northside organizations, events, and activities; engaged Northside residents to take an active role in the civic life of their community; and provided opportunities for motivated community members to assume leadership roles in the ongoing transformation of the Northside. Proposed and led by Northside residents, these projects were executed between April and November 2015 with activities that reached all 18 Northside neighborhoods.


Allegheny West Tree Well Day

Neighbors of historic district continue long tradition of cooperation to restore and renew streetscape (and have fun doing it)

From Allegheny West, Catherine Serventi gathered neighbors to beautify repair and restore street tree wells in the Allegheny West neighborhood during spring 2015. The project called on the combined gardening knowledge of nearby neighbors and benefited from contributions from local garden centers. The project rallied volunteers to first clean up existing tree wells and vacant lots, and then plant flowers and spread mulch to stabilize and protect the newly restored tree wells. Local business Babb Insurance committed to supporting ongoing maintenance and care by residents to sustain the work begun by this Neighbor-to-Neighbor project.

Alternatives to Selling Drugs Program

Better way to Live – Jewelry Making Classes!

From Manchester, Wallace Sapp led an 8-week summer enrichment program at the Manchester Growing Together Garden for more than 20 local youth most at-risk of entering the criminal justice system. This art-based program provided hands-on jewelry making learning opportunities for youth, as well as an introduction to related business practices such as planning and managing production, overseeing marketing operations, and administration.
“The neighbors saw that how the program created a good atmosphere for learning in the environment and that creating a hands on learning experience is valuable for students.” said project leader Wallace Sapp. “When the jewelry-making was at the garden, people stopped by and joined in. Our place became like a neutral zone. There was a strong sense of community because people came over and were interested.”

Back to School Bash / North Side Partnership Project

Back to School Bash gives students the opportunity to be school ready with supplies and confidence.

From Perry South / Perry Hilltop, Eleanor Williams hosted a free, fun-filled event helping more than 150 families get ready for school with health screenings, inspirational music and speakers. Plus, every child received a backpack filled with school supplies, clothes, and dental supplies.
“This is a matter of the heart, being a former schoolteacher. I would ask kids: ‘Do you have a pencil? Where’s your pencil?’” said project leader Eleanor Williams. “Well, we were able to give more than 100 children all of it– crayons, markers, notebooks, all kind of supplies that would last them probably until the springtime.”

Be There One North Side

Be There One North Side Students roll out ‘Little Free Libraries’

From Central Northside, Debra Smallwood engaged community members through the creation of “Little Free Libraries” installed throughout the Mexican War Streets and the surrounding blocks of the Central Northside. With collaborators including students from Brashear High School, Repair the World, the Carnegie Libraries, and Neighborhood Learning Alliance, the project kicked off a summer of reading and learning helped by the placement of 40 Little Free Libraries throughout the community.

Brighton Corridor Beautification Project

Brighton Road has become brightened

From Central Northside, Becky Coger led beautification efforts on a three-block portion of Brighton Road by working with home owners, renters, and business owners as well as Propel School students to restore existing green infrastructure like trees, and add new features to improve the streetscape.
“It’s important for people to know that those of us who live in the city care about the city. We want to see greenery and environmental health,” said project leader Becky Coger. “Whether they own a home or rent a home, everyone should be a part of keeping this earth beautiful.”

Brighton Heights City Steps Revitalization

The Restoration of Brighton Heights’ City Steps: Highlighting the Uniqueness of Pittsburgh

From Brighton Heights, Matthew Yurkovich worked with more than 30 neighbors to improve the walkability of Brighton Heights by painting the railings and clearing invasive plants away from five sets of city steps in the neighborhood that are often overlooked and underutilized. In the future, the project team will install wayfinding signs, helping to connect the neighborhood and make it more walkable.
“The most exciting part was neighbors getting to know each other and gaining momentum and interest in projects like this!” said project manager Matthew Yurkovich. “What a difference one coat of paint can make!”

Building Bridges

’Building Bridges’ reconnects Deutschtown’s storied past with its vibrant future

From Spring Garden, Ruth Dailey worked with neighborhood residents and local artists to decorate the chain-link fences on the Tripoli Street Bridge that spans I-279, the highway that divides Deutschtown into its historic core and the smaller area known to residents as East Deutschtown. Artist Oreen Cohen from the Neu Kirche Contemporary Arts Center located in the neighborhood created replicas of iconic Deutschtown buildings.

“We asked ourselves ‘What can we do to alleviate the harshness and the drabness of the fences and overpass that separates our community from the rest of Deutschtown?’” said project leader Ruth Dailey. “We call it Building Bridges because we’re bringing the buildings back to decorate the bridges, but we’re also reconnecting.”

Cedar Arts Market Series II

Cedar Arts 2nd year at the Allegheny Commons Flea Market grows with music, food, and some DIY with Neighbors.

In East Allegheny/Deutschtown, Lauren Stauffer led the creation of an arts and crafts component of the weekly Allegheny Commons Flea Market. Gaining momentum in its second year at the flea market, Cedar Arts offered a monthly market opportunity for local artists and artisans to sell their wares on the Northside. In partnership with Northside cultural events like Deutschtown Music Festival and Veg Fest, Cedar Arts also expanded the entertainment and engagement opportunities on the Northside, attracting more than 3,000 attendees to enjoy the amenities of Allegheny Commons park and connect with Northside neighbors.

Children’s Theatre in the Park

Theatre in the Park: Community Impact Realized through Children’s Production

From Brighton Heights, Jessica Shubert provided voice, drama, and dance lessons to Northside children ages 6 to 11 in the Jack Stack Park Pavilion. Guided by experienced mentors, children turn familiar short stories into stage productions and take responsibility for everything from scripting and rehearsing to creating their own sets and costumes. Plus, fellow Neighbor-to-Neighbor project Giant Puppet Dance Club added to the cast ensemble!

“Our students learned the basic fundamentals of the theatre, as well as how to work in a group setting, supporting each other in order to reach the end goal,” said project leader Jessica Schubert. “The children had to challenge themselves individually and build self-confidence to stand up in front of a crowed and perform.”

Community Arts Night at John Morrow

Pittsburgh Morrow, Brighton Heights Teeming (and Teaming) with Talent

From Brighton Heights, Kate Kelly organized a showcase of student and teacher talent at John Marrow, an elementary school in the Brighton Heights neighborhood recognized for its excellence in music. More than 300 neighbors attended Community Arts Night to enjoy performances by the percussion ensemble, work from the third grade artist residency, and art installations made by students in collaboration with artist educators from the Mattress Factory museum in the Central Northside.
“Many neighbors in Brighton Heights don’t usually consider John Morrow Elementary it as an educational choice for their students,” said project leader Kate Kelly. “But more than 500 families depend on John Morrow for the social and academic nurturing of their children. These groups have more in common than they realize. Community Art Night opened up the conversation and highlighted the school’s top-rated programs.”

Community Hub @ Café on the Corner

Cafe on the Corner, The Community Hub for Events, Commerce, Conversation, and Cuisine

From Marshall-Shadeland, LaTeresa and Michael Blackwell created the Community Hub at their business, Café on the Corner, as a safe haven for neighborhood residents— a place with good food and good conversation. With free Wi-Fi service, board and card games, visual art and musical performances, the Community Hub attracted more than 30 visitors each day and broke down barriers between longtime residents and people newer to the Neighborhood.
“I’ve been on the Northside all my life. We’re anchored here,” said project leader LaTeresa Blackwell. “We were listening to what our community wanted. We’re here to stay and we want to make a change.”

Deutschtown City Steps Mosaic Mural

Deutschtown Crowned with Beautiful Mosaic

From Spring Hill / City View, artist Linda Wallen engaged dozens of community members throughout the Northside in the creation of a mosaic sculpture installed on a high-traffic set of city steps connecting the neighborhoods of Deutschtown and Spring Hill. More than 20 community members, ages 5 to 84, contributed pieces to the mosaic, crafted in Wallen’s art studio and fired at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. The mosaic covered 90 square feet with imagery relevant to the history of the two neighborhoods.

“During the installation, people passing by honked in celebration, shouted thanks, and even sang their gratitude!” said project leader Linda Wallen. “It took us forever to finish it up because of all the wonderful interruptions. So we feel we have brightened an otherwise gray corner of the world.”

DRAW Northside

The Northside Draws (pun intended) Creative Community Together

From East Allegheny / Deutschtown, artist Sara Beck Sweeney hosted regular gatherings for professional and amateur artists to draw and socialize at Northside neighborhood venues like the Neu Kirche Contemporary Arts Center and Arnold’s Tea. Nearly fifty Northsiders, including neighborhood children and retired people in their 70s, participated in figure drawing, still life, and imaginative drawing sessions.

“I wanted to showcase our neighborhood as a place for the arts and artists,” said project leader Sara Beck Sweeney. “Many participants were visiting the neighborhood for the very first time and often had never heard of the venue.”

El Sistema Smart Music Program

Inner-City Kids Find Musical Success Using Cutting-Edge Technology

From Allegheny Center, Tammy Glover engaged more than forty students from Allegheny Traditional Academy, Perry Traditional Academy, CAPA, and All-City schools in personalized music tutoring. Using state-of-the-art Smart Music software, more students were able to receive intuitive one-on-one instruction despite limited instructors. The project culminated in a final performance at the “Roots of the Future” concert held at Allegheny Center Alliance Church.

“Over the years, significant cuts have been made in music programs in the Pittsburgh Public Schools,” said project leader Tammy Glover. “Because we believe that music is a powerful tool that students use to express themselves, we wanted to find a way to fill in this gap so students could continue to play music. Uniting schools through a collaborative concert seemed a great way to achieve this goal.”

Fallow Grounds for Sculpture

Checkers Games into Art: A Monument to Play in East Deutschtown

From East Allegheny / Deutschtown, Neu Kirche activated a vacant lot in the East Deutschtown section of the neighborhood through a commissioned public art project that incorporated the participation of neighbors. For the first installment of the series, local artist Jesse Kauppila artist played a game of checkers with 71 community members ranging in age from 5 to 85. By documenting each game, the artist created a fifteen-foot brick visualization of every move made in the games, highlighting the labor required to construct relationships along with the role the built environment has in sculpting our social interactions. The art work was permanently installed for outdoor, public exhibition on Concord Street in East Deutschtown.

“I wanted to visualize the vitality of the Northside, and of East Deutschtown in particular,” said artist Jesse Kauppila. “There is a lot of new activity in that part of the Northside that people don’t always get to see.”

Fineview Community Garden Improvement

Fineview Grows in the Community Garden

From Fineview, Diann Malcolm worked with her neighbors to improve the Fineview Community Garden by replacing a broken gate, building additional raised beds, purchasing a composter along with top soil and mulch, and adding a welcome signage. The increased the sense of community ownership of the garden and fostered community identity for the Fineview neighborhood.

“Our goal was simple,” said project leader Diann Malcolm. “We needed to fix the gate at our community garden that prevents people from using the space. The repaired gate and welcome signs make it much more enjoyable for everyone!”

Getting There…A Morning Walk in the Dark

North Side students light ‘dark pathways’ to student safety and success!

From Perry South / Perry Hilltop, sisters Brett and Chandler Searcy, both students at Pittsburgh Obama High School, led an advocacy campaign calling for improved infrastructure and reconsideration of the schoolday schedule for students who have to traverse unsafe routes in the early morning hours just to make it to school each day. Led by the Searcy sisters, students invited government officials, school administrators, teachers, parents, and community members to join them for a walk recreating the obstacles students encounter getting to school, such as broken city steps, “snow stops” miles away from regular bus stops, unsafe routes, and dark pathways.

“We wanted to bring awareness of what kids have to go through in the morning just to get to school,” said project co-leader Chandler Searcy. “We needed a way to share the struggles we’re going through so they understand some of the reasons that students might have trouble achieving success.”

Giant Puppet Dance Club

Giant Puppets Celebrate Summer in a One-of-a-Kind Pittsburgh Way

From Brighton Heights, Cheryl Capezzuti and members of her Giant Puppet Dance Club performed dances and sketches at Marmaduke Park, Riverview Park, at a JP Gallery Theater Performance, the Sticky Picnic, the Pittsburgh Project, and at the Brighton Heights Neighborhood Halloween Festival. People of all ages had the chance to learn the choreography and the basics of puppet dancing and join in the fun!

“At Marmaduke Park, we surprised everyone with our performance and brought kids from the local childcare center into the choreography.” said Cheryl Capezzuti, project leader. “It was a total blast!”

Green Up Troy Hill

Come Home to Troy Hill

From Troy Hill, Jeffrey Bergman engaged neighborhood residents and volunteers from across the city to plant hardy, native perennials in the 114 TreeVitalize Tree Pits throughout the neighborhood of Troy Hill. Volunteers from the community helped with planting and were rewarded with a potluck lunch will take place afterwards. Volunteers care for new plantings through regular watering and maintenance. The enhanced and maintained tree pits demonstrate to commuters that Troy Hill is a community where residents invest in their neighborhood while also instilling a sense of pride for those that live in Troy Hill.

Growing Morrow

John Morrow is Growing Futures

From Brighton Heights, Donna Nyambe worked with her neighbors to build a vegetable garden on the campus of John Morrow Elementary School where K-8 grade students and neighbors, including neighboring senior citizens in high rises, cultivated vegetables and maintained a healthy greenspace in their community. More than 250 students and teachers participated in the projects, working together to start new plantings from seed, raise healthy and strong seedlings for transplantation, and then cultivate multiple summer crops of fresh produce.

“I wanted the next generation of students to learn where their foods came from and that they could build something with their hands that they could maintain,” said project manager Donna Nyambe. “Most kids from the neighborhood would not otherwise have this opportunity, enabling them to have this chance was something I really wanted for them.”

Heathside Cottage Victorian Garden Party

“Time Traveling in Fineview”

From Fineview, Greg Manley transformed his home Heathside Cottage, a Victorian Gothic residence listed on the National Register of Historic Places, into a site for the celebration of local history, traditional foods, storytelling, song, and dance. This public event, held on a pristine autumn day in early October, attracted more than 100 guests from Fineview and surrounding neighborhoods, including some from Allegheny Dwellings.

“One of my favorite moments was watching two 13 year old boys listening to our fireside storyteller. With each passing story, they moved their chairs a bit closer to the fire,” said project leader Greg Manley. “More than anything, I wanted to be a good neighbor and to pay my respects to the wonderful history of my community. Winning the admiration of two thirteen year old boys is no easy task.”

Fineview Gateway Green+Screen

From Vacant Lot to Neighborhood Cornerstone: Fineview community gives fresh perspective and personality to Henderson Gateway intersection

From Fineview, Robyn Doyle led community efforts to beautify intersections and gateways in the Fineview neighborhood with a special focus on the intersection of Carrie and Warren where volunteers from the community, as well as hired contractors and arborists, repaired infrastructure, cleared green spaces, and restored the neighborhood’s welcome signage. To help maintain their efforts, the project team worked with Fineview Citizens Council, city government officials, and a GTECH.

“This project helped to increase pride in the community and build camaraderie,” said project leader Robyn Doyle. “Plus, we were glad we were able to support a small, local business in the process!”

Historic Deutschtown Live, Work, Play

Historic Deutschtown seeks next generation entrepreneurs through videography

From East Allegheny / Deutschtown, Cody Walters produced a short promotional film focused on the future of business and commerce in Historic Deutschtown featuring interviews with residents and business owners discussing the opportunities and challenges facing this historic business district. With an implicit ‘shop small, buy local’ message, the film seeks to attract a younger generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders to the opportunities in the area.

Hives and Honey on the Hilltop

“Perry Hilltop a haven for hives, health and honey in the heart of the community!”

From Perry South / Perry Hilltop, Gavin Deming established beehives at Ballfield Farm in Perry Hilltop so that the natural landscape will heal, agriculture will flourish, and local honey can be produced. Neighborhood children from the Pittsburgh Project participated by painting the hives and the hives will pollinate gardens at Ballfield Farm that provide fresh food for more than nearby 30 households.

“Keeping bees near Ballfield Farm was something that many participants had desired for many seasons, but without significant financial investment, we were unable to fulfill the desire,” said project leader Gavin Deming. “We are able to make this a reality with the Sprout Fund’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor grant.”

MACS IOWN Enterprising Education

Tomorrow’s Leaders are Preparing Today at MACS!

From Manchester, Dennis Henderson connected students at the Manchester Academic Charter School with local businesses through field trips and entrepreneurial competitions that helped students work toward a business opportunity aligned with their personal interest. Students got to work with coaches and mentors drawn from local small business owners to create a business plan, market the products and services, raise money to build their businesses, and showcase their work. The young people gained valuable leadership development skills and cultivated their potential to become the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Manchester Community Block Party 2015

The Northside’s Manchester Community Hosts Block Party of the Year!

From Manchester, Michelle Wright and her neighbors hosted a community gathering with food, games, entertainment, and raffles. Local businesses and nonprofits showcased their services to help neighborhood residents connect with job opportunities and benefits they can put to use. More than 300 people attended the event, far out-pacing organizers’ expectations.
“Ultimately, the block party gave us an opportunity to unite residents and celebrate this historically black neighborhood,” said project leader Michelle Wright. “The response makes me think that the Manchester Community Block Party will most certainly continue as an annual event for our community!”

Manchester Math, Mud & More Summer Camp

Math, Mud & More is attributed to raising 3rd graders’ math proficiency for the last two years. If your child needs help, we are her for you!

From Manchester, Lisa Freeman led an 8-week summer camp for 25 students from Pittsburgh Manchester K-8, combining math tutoring with healthy outdoor activities in the Manchester Growing Together Garden.
Math Doctors, acclaimed educators combining mathematics tutoring and youth-adult mentoring, held sessions in the “mud” of the garden, combining math and science instruction with healthy outdoor activities.
“The community recognizes the garden as a safe place,” said project leader Lisa Freeman. “Every year we focus on new activities for the kids and the community. If we’ve made one difference in one life, it’s all been worth it.”

Mastering Motherhood Workshop Series

Northside Moms Master Motherhood

From Perry North / Observatory Hill, Cynthia Mendoza led a three-month workshop series helping more than 20 low-income mothers in the Perry North/Observatory Hill community develop the skills necessary to excel at motherhood and household management, including sewing, meal planning, green cleaning, and more.
“All of the mothers who participated were either young, first-time moms or moms who were experiencing financial hardship,” said project leader Cynthia Mendoza. “Connecting these moms with women who have already mastered motherhood was priceless.”

Meet Tomorrow’s Morrow

Meet Tomorrow’s Morrow Today

From Brighton Heights, Lawrence Ehrlich worked hard to connect John Morrow Elementary School to the community by establishing a monthly meeting and workshop series where community members can learn about current and future enrichment programs offered at the school.

Native Plant Education Project

Natives Identified!

From Manchester, Betsy Coleman led a nature education program at Shelby’s Corner, a native plants garden in the Manchester neighborhood. Focused on educating local residents about native plant identification and care for green spaces, the project collaborated with the Bidwell Training Center Horticultural Program to host classes and workdays, including the planting of 16 new trees in the garden.
“We had over 100 volunteers working on the site throughout the season,” said project leader Betsy Coleman. “Several children from the neighborhood are involved and help out often. Mothers and their kids work with us, teaching and learning together. More and more folks are stopping by to enjoy the garden.”

Neighborhoods in the Wings: A Tour of Spring Garden and East Deutschtown

Spring Garden and East Deutschtown Rediscovered

From Spring Garden, Jean Binstock led a bus and walking tours of the Spring Garden and East Allegheny-Deustchtown neighborhoods in June. The tour included stops at Heinz Lofts, Neu Kirche Contemporary Arts Center, and Wigle Whiskey and featured a free picnic lunch and discussion sessions. More than 70 people took part in the tour, learning about the history, characteristics, and potential future for their neighborhoods.
“We’ve had a lot of discussion in our neighborhoods about history and the negative impact of the demolition caused by highway development,” said project leader Jean Binstock. “We wanted to heighten community awareness of the future potential of the neighborhoods.”

Northside Apprenticeship Program

Northside Residents Learn About Apprenticeship Programs

From Marshall / Shadeland, Ginger Underwood introduced Northside residents to the educational and employment opportunities offered by apprenticeship programs in the skilled building trades. The project targeted African-American men ages 18 to 40 and engaged more than 50 community members in conversations that led to signups for face-to-face and virtual apprenticeships.
“Even with so much development occurring, there are very few black construction workers involved,” said project leader Ginger Underwood. “I wanted to help people understand the programs that are out there and the requirements for participation.”

Northside Greenways Map

Pittsburgh’s Northside Becomes Model Community for Greenspace and Greenway Connectivity

From Perry North / Observatory Hill, Sean Brady produced a map that identifies clusters of parks throughout the Northside and surrounding boroughs, ranging from Riverview Park to Tom’s Run Nature Reserve in Emsworth. The Greenway map connects greenspaces in multiple neighborhoods and municipalities through two routes traversable by bicycle and on foot. Download the map here >>

“By linking these parks together, you see that the Northside and neighboring boroughs share a super-park of more than 500 acres,” said project leader Sean Brady. “This project is just beginning.”

Northside Oldtimers City Steps Project

Northside Oldtimers Continue to Keep the Walkways between Neighborhoods via the City Steps a More Attractive Passageway

From California-Kirkbride, English Burton, Jr. and his fellow residents who make up the Northside Oldtimers, a violence-prevention organization led by longtime neighborhood residents, restored five sets of city steps by cleaning up underbrush, painting the railings, and installing planter boxes at the tops and bottoms of each of the sets of steps in California-Kirkbride and Central Northside. In addition to beautifying the steps and making them more accessible and functional, the project provided an opportunity for positive interaction among neighbors young and old.

“The most important part of the project was the involvement of the children that I rousted out of bed that early Saturday morning to work on the project,” said project leader English Burton, Jr. “At the end of the day, you can’t have sustainable communities without having neighbors engage with one another.”

Northside Summer Water Polo

Co-ed, community Water Polo, swimming instruction, and digital badge opportunities happen at Citiparks’ Northside Sue Murray Swim Pool

From Allegheny Center, Mark Rauterkus led summer-long swimming and water polo lessons for Northsiders of all ages at Citiparks’ Sue Murray Swim Pool. The program created a welcoming environment to introduce the community to water polo, digital badges, and new friends from the Northside through organized activities and coaching.

“The Northside is a regional sports hub, home to the Steelers, Pirates, rowers, paddlers, cyclists, and Pittsburgh Triathalon,” said project leader Mark Rauterkus. “Now, city residents need to teach our kids how to play well with others and develop character, wellness, and relationships.”

Northside Sound System

New service through Troy Hill Citizens Inc. provides live sound and projection equipment for Northside residents.

From Troy Hill, Tim Vernon assembled high quality sound and projection equipment for use by community groups, organizations in Troy Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods of the Northside. During its first season of use, the Northside Sound System was used by Troy Hill Citizens, Inc. for enhancing entertainment at Music in the Park and Movies in the Park, as well as by local residents for events in neighborhood parks, shared spaces, and private homes.

“Most people in Troy Hill will look elsewhere to fill their cultural or entertainment related needs,” said project leader Tim Vernon. “We hope to demonstrate that Troy Hill is a place where art and music happens, where people congregate, and where the action is.”

Parent Reading Empowerment Project

Literacy Begins at Home and Spreads Abroad

From Perry South / Perry Hilltop, Theodora Cotton helped parents prepare their preschool aged children prepare to enter Kindergarten ready and expecting to learn to read. Theodora hosted workshops at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Church for parents and visited five childcare centers throughout the Northside to explain the value of reading to children, no matter how young, and teach parents how to engage with young children while reading to them. The project provided instructional brochures with family reading tips for parents, as well as a selection of books to take home and read together.

“Our seminars encourage parents to read together with their kids at home,” said project leader Theodora Cotton. “I wanted them to understand the importance of building home libraries so that books are accessible to the children whenever they want to hear a story, or just look through a book.”

Peace Room

A Place of Peace: Local Center Helps Children Escape Stress.

From Spring Hill / City View, Stephen Weiss and Melanie Sandoval created a sanctuary for Northside children from the stresses of inner-city noise and violence. At the His Place Community Center, Stephen and a team of volunteers renovated a space to provide a calming atmosphere as well as resources to identify and manage difficult emotions. Children attending afterschool programming at His Place visited the Peace Room to calm down after school and learn to manage their emotions.

“One day Melanie announced to the children at His Place that she had printed out extra math sheets for all of them. One of the children began pouting and stomping his feet at the thought of more math! Another student noticed and said ‘You should go to the Peace Room! That place is fun!’”, said project leader Stephen Weiss. “When I checked on the student later in the Peace Room, I found him working through his difficulty with math by counting pieces of Play-Doh and adding them up.”

Pittsburgh Fringe Festival: Destination Northside

The Northside Comes Alive with Theater, Puppets, Rock, and Buskers

From Brighton Heights, Daniel Stiker organized the second annual Pittsburgh Fringe Festival to provide new and emerging artists the opportunity to showcase their talent by providing a venue with reduced financial barriers and increased exposure. The Fringe Festival moved to the Northside in 2015 and utilized venues including City of Asylum Performance Tent, Bistro-to-Go, Max’s Allegheny Tavern, New Bohemian space, and additional other sidewalks throughout Central Northside and East Allegheny-Deustchtown while the event marketing will utilize work by Art Institute student groups.

“We were able to bring together Northside Neighbors, artists, Northside businesses, and arts lovers together for one magical weekend,” said project leader Dan Stiker. “We partnered with several organizations including the City of Asylum to make our first year in the Northside a success!”

P.O.W.E.R. (Positive Outcomes With Excuses Removed) Future Code Project

We have POWER in Northview Heights in the Future Code Project

From Northview Heights, Keith Murphy led a project to stimulate learning among children at Bethany House Academy by using Puzzlets, a hands-on interactive coding game that has 120+ applications, to expose preschool children and elementary school youth to a higher level of digital literacy. Participants engaged in individual and peer-to-peer learning modules designed to promote greater understanding of coding and use of iPad/iMac interactive processes for 2 hours a week during the school year and 4 hours a week during the summer program.

“Our agency is committed to helping all the children we serve be ‘Promise Ready,’” said project leader Keith Murphy. “We see this project as another step toward guiding children who live in Northview Heights towards excelling in math and science.”

Promotion of House Tours on the Northside

The Northside Blossoms with House Tours!

From Perry North / Observatory Hill, Jeffrey Wagner led the creation of a platform for promoting the many house tours of Northside neighborhoods, including common literature, marketing materials, and a webpage listing upcoming house tours. An effort in cooperation and shared interest in highlighting the remarkable houses of the Northside, the project enabled neighbors to more effectively schedule, advertise, and develop themes for tours, helping people to share their ideas and experiences while also increasing attendance for tours.

“Together, the neighborhoods of the Northside feature an amazing variety of architecture,” said project leader Jeffrey Wagner. “Houses on the Northside represent periods of growth and socioeconomic movement, exemplify adaptations to challenging topography, and define the character of individual communities.”

Riverside Community Corrections Center Resident Garden

Garden Brings Hope, Skills to Those Who Are Ready to Start Again

From Manchester, Renee Rosensteel partnered with residents of the Riverside Community Corrections Center to build a garden using permaculture within the walls of a prison in the Chateau neighborhood. Residents took responsibility for the care of the garden inside the Riverside CCC courtyard. After tending the garden all summer, the men of Riverside CCC harvested the produce for use in their shared kitchen. Experiencing healthy eating, self-reliance, and sustainability first-hand helped the men prepare for successful reintegration into society. Peer learning and mentoring were encouraged through gardening workshops, build raised beds, plant, care for, and harvest the garden in addition to being given a library of gardening books.

“I hadn’t realized the power of gardens to conjure memories –memories of times in life that were simpler and sweeter,” said project leader Renee Rosensteel. “Many immediately connected the metaphor of growing and nurturing plants with their own re-emergence into society.”

Roots of the Future Concert

North Side Students Utilize Cutting Edge Technology to Pull Off Inaugural ‘Roots of the Future’ Concert

From Perry North / Observatory Hill, Richard Lane led a musical education project that used Smart Music software to assist students at Perry High School in musical sight-reading and performance abilities, helping to solve issues of rehearsing without large ensembles or personal instructors. More than 40 students participated in the project with 100% showing improvement in their performance. The project culminated at the Roots of the Future concert showcasing students’ musical progress, including students from Allegheny Traditional Academy, Manchester K-8, Perry Traditional Academy, and Urban Impact Foundation.

“The view of the music program in this particular Pittsburgh Public School is that the kids can’t play,” said project leader Richard Lane. “We were able to change that because we were able to take kids from as young as the 4th grade to play high-school-caliber music.”

Sewing for Jesus Ministry

Reaching Out to the People in the Community to Teach Sewing, Knitting, and Crocheting.

From Manchester, Dierdre Cooper offered weekly classes at the Bidwell Presbyterian Church to teach people how to sew, crochet, and knit, bringing together the many different ethnic and religious groups found on the Northside through the common desire to learn these skills. The classes gave people the opportunity to make a garment of their choosing while team members made prayer shawls and lap robes for the sick and shut-in in the community.

“This project allowed people the opportunity to learn to sew and make something they would be proud to wear,” said project leader Dierdre Cooper. “It has instilled happiness in the children that have made the Swan pillows, how proud they were of their project when they completed them.”

Tea on Me

’Tea On Me’ sessions present a cure to the economic deficiencies in our community, using tea as a vehicle.

From Summer Hill, LaToya Williams launched a series of informal gatherings for current and aspiring entrepreneurs to meet, exchange ideas, share knowledge, and tell their stories through podcasts and blog posts. Tea on Me showcased regional small business owners using podcasts and blogging in order to help expand the brands to a wider audience. The project aimed to keep dollars local while highlighting the talent and services of native Northsiders and connecting them with successful entrepreneurs and community leaders from across the city.

“I’m working to showcase the value and the assets and the knowledge that exists within the community,” said project leader LaToya Williams. “By inviting folks over for tea and saying ‘Hey, let’s have a conversation about how we can collaborate,’ we can start creating and engineering a community that we don’t want to escape.”

Unlocking Student Success: Keys to the Keystone Exam

North Side residents raise awareness and support student success with high stakes testing!

From Perry South / Perry Hilltop, Maria Searcy, an engaged Pittsburgh Public Schools parent, worked to raise awareness about the Keystone examination, helping to provide students with the support they need to pass the exam successfully and parents with information to support their children during the testing and remediation process. Through a community forum at Project Destiny, the project helped make parents of the class of 2017 and beyond aware of the new graduation requirement. A student panel gave testimony about the Keystone examination and remediation process and PPS employees responsible for Keystone testing and Curriculum were available to answer questions. Parents were provided information and resources from the PA Department of Education in order to help support their children in successfully passing the test.
“Many parents and students are not only disengaged from the current education process, but they’re unaware of the major changes coming their way that will affect their ability to graduate,” said project leader Maria Searcy. “And I think it starts with awareness in our community and a collective voice of parents and community leaders and people that care about our kids.”

West Park / Dog Park

Pet Waste Bag Dispensers and Message Board Improve Cleanliness and Community Communication of Allegheny Commons Park / West Park

From Allegheny West, Annette Trunzo enhanced the conditions at the Allegheny Commons / West Park off-leash dog park by adding waste bag dispensers and a community communication board. More than 100 neighborhood residents use the park to walk their dogs every day.

“The dog park gives us a place to meet and socialize with our neighbors,” said project leader Annette Trunzo. “Having a dog park equipped with all the necessities and a communication board to promote social activities and resources helps us stay connected with our community.”

#PMP2015: Create-Engage-Transform

One Northside, Taking You to the next LEVEL

From Perry North / Observatory Hill, Ebony Harris hosted interactive workshops that challenged participants to delve deeper into the overall vision of their lives through and create a blueprint for improving their lives and communities. Free two-day workshops were offered at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh- Woods Run, followed by panel discussions and networking mixer events focusing on entrepreneurial journeys and self-investment. Nearly 30 community members from Observatory Hill participated and learned valuable lessons in reaching and sustaining self-sufficiency, accomplishing goals such as homeownership, entrepreneurship, and making career advancements.
“Every workshop participant experienced the benefits of meeting with others and being inspired to propel their purpose in life,” said project leader Ebony McQueen Harris. “As a result of the support participants felt from each other, several were inspired to launch their own small businesses or re-activate their education.”