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Local volunteer is a finalist fo the Alliance for Community Trees Volunteer of the Year Award

The Nine Mile Run Watershed Association (NMRWA) has a finalist for the Alliance for Community Trees 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award: Larry Patchel.
 
Patchel is a volunteer for many local organizations. He has promoted the value of urban trees and helped dig planting holes with kids at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and the Boys and Girls Club of Wilkinsburg. As a member of  the American Chestnut Foundation, Patchel helps to hybridize Chinese and American chestnuts, taking care of seedlings until they become trees. To benefit the Men’s Garden Club of Pittsburgh, he sharpens pruners and other tools annually in a tent at the Phipps Conservatory plant sale, and has attended all the tree plantings for the 500 Tree Initiative in Wilkinsburg, a program of the NMRWA.

The Alliance for Community Trees is a national organization dedicated to supporting urban forestry. Each year they give an award to an outstanding volunteer working to improve their community and neighborhood with trees.
 
The NMRWA was created in 2001 to restore and protect the area of Nine Mile Run that flows through the East End, Wilkinsburg, Edgewood and Swissvale. Much of the stream is underground, but 2.2 miles runs through Frick Park, and the group touts its recovery efforts there as “one of the largest and most successful urban stream and wetlands restorations in the United States,” which was completed in 2006.
 
Patchel, who has been part of the NMRWA since its beginning, is credited with many volunteer events for the group each year, particularly garden and tree plantings. The group also cites “his horticultural knowledge and vast range of experience to teach other volunteers about proper tree planting and pruning techniques, soil composition, plant taxonomy, and proper tool usage and safety.”
 
Patchel says he is most proud of helping with tree plantings along Penn Avenue, and says working with the Boys and Girls Club has been the most enjoyable.
 
“It is fun to see the kids just learning to use a shovel, rake or some other hand tool,” he says. Of the many kids he’s introduced to the environmental cause throughout the years, Patchel adds, “I hope they would get involved in any way that would help improve the only earth like planet we know of.”
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Larry Patchell, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association

To Kill a Mockingbird (and cook it in a nice sauce) may win you a prize

The sixth annual Edible Book Fest, to be put on by University of Pittsburgh’s Hillman Library on April 10, is bound to attract some odd, creative and tasty entries, says Ashley Cox, who is in charge of the contest.
 
Cox, by day a conservation technician with Pitt’s University Library System, brought the contest with her when she moved here half a dozen years ago from Denton, Texas, where she worked at the University of Northern Texas. There the entries included a few old-school jello recipes that featured meat.
 
In Pittsburgh, last year’s winners included desserts from the Harry Potter cookbook and an homage to Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast: Fancy Feast cat food molded in the shape of a car.
 
The Pittsburgh branch of the contest is open to anyone willing to design an (ideally) edible creation based on a favorite book or its cover, characters or scenes. Contestants will be dropping off their entries from 9 to 11:30AM next Thursday at Hillman’s Cup and Chaucer café, after which the creations will be voted overall favorite; best interpretation of a cover or scene; best visual representation of a cover, topic, story, or theme; and most creative interpretation of a title or the book’s contents.
 
At 2PM, the books will be eaten – the ones not made of catfood, that is. (Food is the required material, but the results need not be actually edible, and contestants are asked to list all their ingredients.)
 
The festival has a serious purpose too: it’s a chance for Pitt librarians to talk about the work of the preservation department and its archival material. But mostly it’s about literary-inspired food.
 
 “We tend to get dioramas made from cake,” Cox recalls. Other entries have included a mango creation inspired by House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, a block of cheese carved into a monkey (after The Cheese Monkeys by Chip Kid), the black-and-white cover of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern rendered in multi-tiered vanilla and chocolate pastry, and the kitchen-science book How to Read a French Fry as, well, just a whole mess o’ fries.
 
“You can be pretty literal and pretty creative,” she says.
 
The contest is still waiting for its first meat dish; no one has actually killed a mockingbird for the contest.
 
“Not yet,” Cox laughs. “Hopefully not at all.”
 
RSVP for a spot in the contest to Cox here.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Ashley Cox, Pitt

Idea Foundry aims to bring awareness to the virtues of impact investing

It’s been tough to get investors to sit still for business ideas that also have a social or environmental mission, says Nicole Muise-Kielkucki, business manager for social enterprise at Idea Foundry, Inc., the nonprofit economic development agency in Oakland.
 
But a few years ago, Idea Foundry began to get more and more applicants whose business ideas had a social enterprise – a mission to do good. Idea Foundry thought that was great. “But when they present their story,” Muise-Kielkucki says of these prospective startups, “a lot of traditional investor-types kind of tune out."
 
“We need to attract a different type of investor,” she says. “There are very few impact investors in Pittsburgh.”
 
Idea Foundry is hoping to bring more awareness to the benefits of financing socially aware companies, known as impact investing. Their InterSector program, which coaches and gives early funds to such companies is taking applications for its third round of funding, due April 15. Partnering with Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association, it is hosting a panel discussion with experienced impact investors from other cities and three local social entrepreneurs.
 
The April 8 lunch event at the Duquesne Club will feature Eric Weinberg, founder and CEO of Impact Capital Strategies, LLC, and Jacob Gray of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative.
 
Large global foundations have long attempted impact investing, but trying to get venture capitalists to go for such projects is the aim of this event. It will highlight the success other cities are seeing already.
 
“We want to get past some of the misconceptions about social enterprises,” says Muise-Kielkucki. “We are aiming to show that there is a strong business case” for it. Pittsburgh in particular, she concludes, “is ripe for this.”
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Nicole Muise-Kielkucki, Idea Foundry

Every Child to bring upwards of 500 non-profits to Pittsburgh this fall

Every Child is about to bring up to 500 nonprofits to town this fall for a national conference – and is also prepping for another conference next month that will help local kids in foster care.
 
“Our services are focused on family permanency,” says Jada Shirriel, director of marketing and development for the nonprofit.That includes child abuse and neglect prevention, pregnancy support, help with foster care and adoption and assistance caring for medically fragile children. It also runs special programs, such as one in an East Pittsburgh public housing community to help residents “understand more productive ways of working with their children and being a better example for generations to come,” Shirriel explains.
 
All the nonprofit’s services are delivered in clients’ homes. “We go to where our families are, where they are comfortable,” she says. In 2012, it began working with the local Persad Center to make sure Every Child staff members knew how best to help families with a member identifying as LGBT.
 
The national conference, the 2014 gathering of the Alliance for Children and Families, will take place here in Pittsburgh, Oct 15-17, just a month after Every Child’s gala Sept. 19, hosted by Ramon Foster of the Steelers. On April 26, the group will hold its “LIVING in Care” youth conference (LIVING stands for “Let’s invest in values intended to nurture growth”), for which Every Child received a Heinz Endowment youth philanthropy grant. LIVING will be a health education conference for youth in foster care, focusing on “My mind, my body, my relationships,” for kids 10-15 and will also offer a training track for foster parents.
 
Source: Jada Shirriel and Rachel Rodgers; Every Child

DATA award finalist AGLogic seeks to help kids communicate in a safe space

AGLogic’s latest creation – one of 75 finalists worldwide for the 2014 Design, Art and Technology Award (DATA) from Pittsburgh Technology Council – is being tested as a way to help avoid future tragedy.
 
According to C. Scott Gilbert, the company’s founder and director, a participant in a large youth group at a local megachurch had committed suicide without the child’s fellow youth-group members or the child’s parents understanding why, until private journals were discovered. The church wanted to create a way for its youth group members to reach out in a friendly environment with concerns and troubles, so that no one would suffer in silence in the future.
 
The church asked AGLogic to create a private social network whose members can invite future members, fostering a trust among participants.The solution was So Communique:The Responsive Social Network. It has a “safe zone” to ask anonymous questions –which will be answered anonymously.
 
Kids who use the network, which is still in beta, can ask questions about difficult issues, says Gilbert, and “trust the response because it came back from the trusted source” – members of the network designated to handle the queries. “For kids, it’s a non-threatening way for them to ask questions.”
 
The social network is getting close to launch, being tested in churches, coffeeshops, individual families and even a suicide prevention hotline. Once available, it will be free to nonprofits with 100 or fewer users, as well as to families of five or fewer.
 
“We are absolutely delighted” to be a DATA finalist, Gilbert adds. “That’s going to give us a chance to meet a lot of people, and we are in good company. The DATA is a big deal to us and we’re honored.”
 
One of many local and statewide finalists, AGLogic is headquartered in Brookville, 16 miles from Punxsutawney.  
 
Other local finalists include a Fred Rogers Company/Schell Games collaboration, Wing Ma’am, Eric Singer, Walking Thumbs, Smith Micro, BHiveLab, MARC USA, MarketSpace Communications, Red Privet LLC, Peerless design, inc:, The Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Lightwave International, Paul Zelevansky, Ecologic and Matthews International, as well as students from Chartiers Valley School District, Blackhawk High School, Fox Chapel School District, West Allegheny Entertainment Technology Academy, Carnegie Mellon University and Point Park University.

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: C Scott Gilbert, AGLogic

Service Summit: just like an 'activity fair for service'

The Pittsburgh Service Summit is back for its fifth year with an expanded list of speakers and award winners on a day “designed to educate and inform leaders and emerging leaders,” says founder Tom Baker, a county councilman, “of the incredible opportunities that exist in our region to serve others and make a positive difference.”
 
This year’s event, March 25 at Carlow University’s Saint Agnes Center, features talks from Aradhna Oliphant, head of Leadership Pittsburgh; City Councilman Dan Gilman; Jim Hunt, founder and CEO of Amazing Cities; and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
 
According to Baker, the four “will focus on their personal journeys and also share with the group about how we can all do more in our lives to give back and help others.” The event attracted more than 400 people last year. “We always need more civic leaders in our region and this event is focused on ensuring that we have more lifelong learners and dedicated volunteers,” Baker says. “I saw a need, especially for young professionals very early in their careers, to learn about the myriad of opportunities that exist to keep the momentum going after college.” He describes the evening as “a mini ... activity fair that you might see for students on a college campus, but geared in a way that makes sense for young professionals and lifelong leaders.”
 
Awards given at the annual event are:
2014 Western PA Rising Stars: Laura Amster, Becca Burns, Kayla Bowyer, Megan Carlton, John Cordier, Brandi Cox, Doug Foster, Maggie Gabos, Jackie Hunter, Joe Kleppick, Paul Matthews, Kyshira Moffett, Krish Mohan, Laura Pollanen, Jonathan Raso, Leah Scott, Ryan Scott, Lindsey Smith, Kate Stoltzfus, Quincy Swatson, Julie Wadlinger, and J. Wester.
 
Get Involved! Man of the Year: Todd Owens
 
Get Involved! Woman of the Year: Candi Castleberry-Singleton
 
Get Involved! Male Emerging Leader Award: Mike Church
 
Get Involved! Female Emerging Leader Award: Meghan Dillie
 
Dr. Tom Baker Community Leader Award 2014 Honoree: Commander Scott Schubert
 
Patty Verostko Award for Child Advocacy: Stephanie Tecza
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Tom Baker

Kids pitch their best biz ideas to Entrepreneuring Youth

Pittsburgh-area kids who want to start their own companies are getting an early boost from Entrepreneuring Youth this year,  The group's first business-pitching event was Saturday.
 
"We realized a few years ago that we needed to start earlier with kids … to help them think creatively about ideas they can pursue for a business opportunity," says Entrepreneuring Youth leader Jerry Cozewith. Today the group partners with two local charter schools (Urban Pathways and Manchester Academic) and two schools in Beaver County to guide 6th through 12th graders in underserved neighborhoods through realistic training on how to form and pitch business ideas.
 
This June, the group's kids will participate in the George W. Tippins Business Plan Competition, named after one of Pittsburgh's more successful businessmen. Saturday's pitch, before local businesspeople at Google headquarters in Bakery Square, was practice for the Tippins contest in June.
 
These same business people will be working as coaches of the kids over the next few months, teaching them how to identify markets and customers, how to set prices and other fundamentals.
 
Eighteen kids – half from middle schools, half from high schools – gave two-minute pitches for ideas ranging from party-planning services to bakeries. Last year's competitors pitched lines of cosmetics, a video service, clothing companies and more.
 
Learning to make a two-minute elevator pitch "is a prized skill," Cozewith says, which can help kids learn how to talk to other adults "to get a summer job or into the college of your choice." Still, he allows, talking in front of a roomful of strangers for two minutes is "an eternity to young kids." Some of the aspiring entrepreneurs will not yet have made a single product. "They're as much selling themselves as their ideas," he says.
 
"The parents are proud and even amazed at what their kids can do – the way they speak, the poise they have, the confidence that have."
 
This weekend's six winners received gift cards as seed capital to buy materials for their businesses.
 
"This is just an awful lot of fun for everybody," Cozewith says.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Jerry Cozewith, Entrepreneuring Youth

Pittsburgh is now a Trail Town

Allegheny County is already part of the Great Allegheny Passage, a trail that runs from here to Cumberland, Md. Now four parts of the county will gain the expertise of the Trail Town program, which helps "to create a sustainable region through tourism," its program manager Will Prince says, "using the trail as an economic engine."
 
The four county locations (Pittsburgh's South Side as well as Homestead, McKeesport and Boston) were chosen because they have businesses and destinations next to the trail for visitors to stop, have a meal or stay overnight – and because they could have more such businesses.
 
The kick-off event for Trail Town here will be March 19 in West Homestead's Bulgarian Macedonian National Educational & Cultural Center. Everyone is invited, says Prince, to meet trail groups, business owners and other local tourism experts to talk about improving the trail/town connection. Participants will walk the trail and walk the town, trying to see them from a visitor's perspective: How is access from the trail to the business district? What businesses that might attract trail users are lacking in town? Is the signage from trail to the business district clear? Are there fresh opportunities for development?
 
"It's a big expansion for our program," says Prince, whose organization already works with local trail groups in each county spot: Friends of the Riverfront for Pittsburgh; Steel Valley Trail Council for Homestead and Duquesne; McKeesport Trail Commission; and Mon/Yough Trail Council for areas south of McKeesport to the county line.
 
In fact, Trail Town is simultaneously expanding throughout western Pennsylvania, partnering with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council to create a 51-county trail coalition with 1,400 miles of trails. It will include trails in the state's oil region around Titusville and Oil City, the Montour Trail that joins Allegheny to Washington counties, the Trans-Allegheny Trail System that connects to Saltsburg and Ebensburg, and the Sheepskin Trail from near Connellsville to Dunbar.
 
Trail Town is a program of the Progress Fund, a nonprofit loan fund focused on small businesses in the travel industry.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Will Prince, Trail Town

INSPIREPGH: Art students inspired by kids with sickle cell disease

Derrick Davis and his fellow members of INSPIREPGH – a group formed by Art Institute of Pittsburgh students to give back to the community – have been meeting with kids who have sickle cell disease on many Saturdays since December at the Children’s Institute. 
 
The art student group had originally connected with the Children's Sickle Cell Foundation, Inc. through their school’s graphic design curriculum, which gives advanced students the chance to help local community organizations with free design services.
 
But the relationship has deepened. "We first met the kids around Christmas,” recalls Davis, president of INSPIREPGH.  “We helped them pick out Christmas gifts. I had no idea there were so many children with this disease – and how passionate they were about art. We wanted to show them they could do anything they wanted to, that they can't be held back."
 
Explains Tamara Pavlock, academic chair of graphic design, web and interactive media at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh: “They felt it would help the children with their pain to do these art projects.The strength of these children is amazing."
 
Now INSPIREPGH is holding ARTICULATE ART, an auction fundraiser at Sonoma Grille downtown on March 20, emceed by Franco Dok Harris.
 
Participants will have the opportunity to bid on original works by local artists and photographers Duane Rieder, Scott Smathers, Mark Bender, Terese Jungle, Mick Opalko, Elizabeth Castonquay and Karl Huber. Rieder and Smathers are Art Institute alumni, while the others are school faculty members. Pavlock, Davis and his fellow INSPIREPGH officers are also preparing artwork inspired by the kids whom they’ve met through the foundation. 
 
"We have such a great relationship with them,” concludes Pavlock about the foundation. She expects her students to continue this relationship – and their time with the kids – in the future.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Sources: Derrick Davis and Tamara Pavlock, Art Institute of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Funded: Love Your Block deadline extended

The city has extended its deadline to March 7 for this spring's Love Your Block grants – the grants that give micro-managing a good name.
 
Love Your Block gives local nonprofits $2,000 to buy equipment and supplies to bring neighbors together for an improvement project on a single city block.That's $1,000 more than the last time these grants were offered.
 
The $2,000, in the form of Home Depot gift cards from The Home Depot Foundation, also comes with aid from city departments for such things as graffiti removal and trash pick-up.
 
Nonprofits qualify if they have can produce "a detailed and realistic action plan," bring together 20 neighborhood volunteers from mid-April through mid-June, attend a grant orientation workshop, and secure permission to make their proposed changes from local property owners.
 
Priority will be given to projects on blocks with a large number of military veterans as residents and/or volunteers and projects that collaborate with a community group or bring other donations to bear on their projects.
 
The two top proposals will get an added $3,000 Home Depot gift card for a future project. Love Your Block is also supported by the Corporation for National Community Service and AmeriCorps VISTA program.
 
More than 290 block projects have been approved to date by Love Your Block, which the city says has collected more than 37,000 pounds of trash, created 197 green spaces, added almost $161,000 in donations and involved more than 3,300 volunteers. Spring 2014 winners will be notified by mid-March.

Writer: Marty Levine

'Through their art, they show how the world was deceived': Holocaust art contest

For only the third year since the contest began in 1985, the Israeli winners of the Holocaust Center of Greater Pittsburgh’s Waldman International Arts and Writing Competition will be flown to Pittsburgh to join their local counterparts for a celebration, this year at the Andy Warhol Museum on April 27.
 
The local winning entries in the genres of writing, film and visual arts from middle- and high-school students were recently announced. The winners hail from Springdale Jr./Sr. High School, Pittsburgh Allderdice, Fox Chapel High School, South Allegheny High School, Community Day School and Yeshiva Girls School.
 
Jennie Pelled, the Center’s development and program associate, says: “I’m really proud that the competition invites the whole Pittsburgh and Israel communities to get involved. It’s not just a Jewish competition. The submissions we get are amazing and the kids are just very inspiring every year.”
 
Each year the contest concentrates on a different theme; this year it was the art and music of the Holocaust. Students wrote about the model concentration camp at Terezin, created by the Nazis to pass inspection by the Red Cross, which featured an inmate orchestra and other art activities for show. Students also wrote about the Vilna Ghetto and Oskar Schindler.
 
Pelled cites one of the winning poems from an Israeli high-school senior to show how students imagined kids their age having to pretend to be okay for camp inspectors:
 
“It's a whole new world outside, did you see?
They've been painting walls, planting flowers,
Playing dress-up with our lives;
But I'm prepared too, mama,
I've practiced my smile and my walk
And not looking hungry, which was hardest of all
...
Mama, please don't cry –
Today I was a star, not the yellow kind
But do you think you could still sew the memory of me onto your jacket
Close to your heart, where it's warm?”
 
“The teachers really promoted it,” Pelled says of the contest, “and put the subject on the map for these kids. They can research and identify with the children going through the Holocaust. Then you learn ... there’s a lot you can apply to the real world today,” from general issues of continuing prejudice to more specific discussions about bullying or marriage equality.
 
“Through their art,” she says,“they show how the world was deceived.”
 
The contest is also sponsored by Partnership2Gether and Jfilm.
 
Marty Levine
Source: Jennie Pelled, Holocaust Center of Greater Pittsburgh

Coro wants South Pittsburgh known for peace and cooperation

The South Side and its South Pittsburgh neighbors have great community leaders, but they’re all vying for the same bucks and volunteers, says Robert Young, director of development for the Coro Center for Civic Leadership, Pittsburgh. The Coro NEXT Leaders Project aims to fix that, answering the question “How can we bring together community leaders in the south of Pittsburgh to better collaborate on the common issues?” at this year’s NEXT Leaders Project opening event on March 6 at  St Paul's Retreat Center on the South Side.
 
Young, who is part of the NEXT Leaders program, says the group has already had a number of strategy sessions and dialog with leaders, both seasoned and emerging, in preparation for this event. The issues they’ll be concentrating on include youth engagement – “How to start almost from the cradle … to engage youth as the next generation of leaders,” he says.
 
Those issues also include street-level blight – better cleanup, raising the quality of the housing stock—as well as public safety, which can involve building a better block watch program, and educating the neighborhood groups on how to obtain grants.
 
All of this will move the groups toward a one-day summit in late summer, where Young says the effort will continue to create partnerships, to share innovative projects already underway in their communities, to learn from one another and to gain a better understanding of how to cooperate.
 
To RSVP for the March 6 event, click here.


Pittsburgh Funded: Youth funding youth at Teens 4 Change

Three Rivers Community Foundation takes a chance on non-traditional groups looking for funding,” says Sydney Olberg, who heads TRCF’s Teens 4 Change. And Teens 4 Change has an even bolder vision – it takes a new group of about 15 high-school teens each year and teaches them how to make smart grants to other youth-led or youth-driven organizations that offer services to youth as well.  “So that the youth voice is incorporated into the project,” Olberg explains. “It’s also about the future of grant making and hoping that social justice becomes a part of it.”
 
TRCF focuses its giving on social-justice groups – “changing the inequalities in the system,” Olberg says – so the teens also learn about local social-justice issues before they choose the recipients of their $500 to $2,000 grants.
 
Teens 4 Change’s last round of six grants funded such causes as Educating Teens HIV/AID, Inc. and the PRYSE Academy, a Pitt student summer program for refugee youth  that teaches skills for navigating in society and for appreciating other cultures.
 
This year’s Teens 4 Change program has the help of a past member, now in college. The kids are learning how to write their own Request For Proposals, do outreach to applicants, even design graphics for program advertising.  “It’s good practice for youth to be reaching out to each other and seeing each other as a network,” Olberg notes.
 
TRCF has just received reports from two of last year’s awardees, she says; PRYSE, for one, has doubled its refugee contacts, thanks to the grant.
 
The deadline for groups to apply is April 4 at 5 p.m.  The application is online at the TRCF site, or you can contact Olberg at  (612) 886- 5268 or email here.
 
“It is an empowering experience to apply to youth and to be funded by youth,” she concludes. “We’re a starting point for taking a chance on these youth-led programs.”
 
Writer: Marty Levine (forgood@popcitymedia.com)
Source: Sydney Olberg, Teens 4 Change

'Housing options' offers creative housing solutions for those with disabilities

Among people with disabilities such as autism in Pennsylvania, there's a 17,000-person waiting list seeking community housing funds, says Linda Marino, resource coordinator at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (www.jfcspgh.org) (JF&CS).
 
That’s why JF&CS and Jewish Residential Services, which focuses its support work on families of individuals with special needs, will present “Housing options for individuals with disabilities” on March 4 at Rodef Shalom in Oakland.
 
Local disability housing advocates appearing to speak and answer questions include Deborah Friedman, executive director of Jewish Residential Services, who will talk about current residential programs and plans for housing in Squirrel Hill; Mary Hartley, a consultant for the United Way of Allegheny County’s 21andAble Initiative, discussing innovative housing models for adults with disabilities; Elliot Frank, president of Autism Housing Development Corporation of Pittsburgh, who will speak on The Heidelberg Apartment project for autism spectrum adults and typical adults living together; Nancy Murray, head of the ARC of Greater Pittsburgh and ACHIEVA, will talk on ACHIEVA’s “A Home of My Own” program that combines a family's private resources with government funding and natural supports to help people with disabilities to live safely in a home of their choice; and Robert Garber, an attorney, landlord, court-appointed co-guardian and family member of an individual with special needs, whose topic is privately arranging residential services for a family member with special needs.
 
The event, Marino says, “isn’t a step-by-step approach to getting housing. Some people are doing some very creative things to get housing for their loved ones,” and the event will highlight “how housing can be provided by thinking outside the box,” such as creating housing with other parents of adult children with disabilities, or directly with a social services agency.
 
She points to The Heidelberg Apartment project as a great example of community housing possibilities. “We want them all to live in the community together – that’s what inclusion is all about,” she says of adults with disabilities, although there are various degrees of independence. “A lot of people can live in the community with support. Everybody’s different, so everybodys needs are at a different level. The preference is for folks to live in a community. My son’s group home is in a community and he’s a part of the community.”
 
The presentation is free and open to the community and includes a light kosher meal at 6 p.m. Registration is required. For more information or to register, contact Marino at 412-422-7200 or email here.
 
 “I think this is a good start for a lot of people looking for adults to live in their community and not in their [family] houses,” she says.
 
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Linda Marino, Jewish Family & Children’s Service

National scholarships for African Americans come here

The NAACP offers two college scholarships annually, and last year no students from the Pittsburgh area applied for either of them.
 
That will likely change this year as the national scholarship opportunities are being administered by the local POISE Foundation – the first public foundation in Pennsylvania organized and managed by African Americans.
 
The POISE Foundation’s mission, says Karris Jackson, its vice president of programs, "is to assist the Pittsburgh region’s black community in achieving self-sustaining practices, through strategic leadership, collective giving, grant making and advocacy." POISE manages 150 scholarship and grant funds currently.
 
The NAACP's Agnes Jones Jackson Scholarship is available only to NAACP members, but its Hubertus W.V. Willems Scholarship is available to all male students.
 
"I find that a lot of students start the application but never complete it," Jackson says. "That’s usually because they did not give themselves enough time to gather all the necessary documents and/or to write a thoughtful essay."
 
Over the past few years, POISE has heard from an increasing number of students needing emergency funding to remain in school, she notes. "African American students often lack access to the networks that expose them to the vast number of available scholarships," she adds. "I also think that African American students have a higher degree of need and, as a result, depend more heavily on scholarship money to help cover the cost of tuition.
 
"Scholarships help to close the gap between financial aid and family responsibility," she concludes. The NAACP scholarships provide up to $3,000 each. "This is a great opportunity for students in the Pittsburgh region and we hope more will take advantage."
 
Applications are being accepted from now until March 17.
 
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Karris Jackson, POISE Foundation
 
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