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Civic Impact

Let there be light: New nonprofit Luminari launches in Pittsburgh

Some nonprofits aim to solve a particular problem. Others, like the newly launched Luminari, inspire others to tackle a huge range of issues. "An inspiration lab" is how Hilda Pang-Fu describes her fledgling organization.

"Our approach is that we are the spark. We want to play the role of that stone we throw in the lake that ripples outward," she says. "We may or may not see how far that ripple effect goes. But we need to have faith that we'll make a difference. That's why I decided, as a small contribution to our community, that I would form a nonprofit that acts as that stone and spark."

A philanthropist and long-time champion of the Pittsburgh region, Pang-Fu arrived in the 1970s from her native Hong Kong. Although she travels frequently, Pittsburgh has been her home ever since.

Luminari gained nonprofit status last year, and Pang-Fu is announcing their first program: an 8-day intensive educational camp for teenagers called "Be an Ambassador." The purpose of the program "is not to train somebody to be a diplomat for a particular country," she says, "but to have them know diplomacy as an art and to employ it, so they can hone those skills."

"They could be advocating a cause," she says, or using skills like negotiation and conflict resolution in whatever jobs they may pursue. Those skills will be touched on during the 8-day course, but the main goal is "for them to be inspired to want to learn more."

"The mission of Luminari is that we support and we also create original programs that will help to broaden the minds of people and to inspire innovations in the Pittsburgh region. We want to start focused on the region and if we do very, very well maybe we will export it to other towns that are like Pittsburgh. But we're taking it a step at a time here first."

She hopes to bring fresh ideas and new people into the conversation about Pittsburgh's future. "People do trickle in, especially because of the universities. But we do have work to do integrating these brains into our decision-making networks," she says. "Usually we see the same faces at the leadership levels."

"As a person who has chosen Pittsburgh as my home, I feel we need to do something about it. Not whine and complain, just do something about it."

Stay tuned here for more on Luminari's progress in the coming months. 

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Writer: Melissa Rayworth
Source: Hilda Pang Fu, Luminari
Image courtesy of Luminari

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