McKeesport residents honored for city projects

Nine McKeesport residents will be honored as graduates of the ReClaim McKeesport program during a ceremony to be held Sept. 30 at the McKeesport Heritage Center.

Biking: ‘Two Wheels Lots of Green’ takes unique approach

GTECH Strategies says its Fourth Annual “Two Wheels Lots of Green” bicycle event Aug. 22 “is not your typical high-priced schmooze fest.” That’s an understatement. It begins with guided bike tours from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. through a community that is experiencing “a spate of resident-driven development” and ends with a party at a former vacant lot, now the site of the Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse and Whiskey Garden in Spring Garden.

Two Wheels Lots of Green offers Northside bike tour and a whiskey garden

Each August for the past three years, GTECH Strategies has hosted a fundraiser—Two Wheels Lots of Green—that is not your typical high-priced schmooze fest. Their take on fundraiser begins with a guided bike tour through a community that is seeing a spate of resident-driven development—and ends with a party at a former vacant lot, now the Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse and Whiskey Garden.

412 Build’s business is training teen entrepreneurs

Imagine having the chance to pitch your entrepreneurial idea to the executives at Google. Imagine being 17 and having that chance. That’s just part of 412 Build, a five-week program that accepted its second cohort of 12 teenagers last week. With funding from the Hillman Foundation and using Chromebook computers donated by Google, the entrepreneurial training program brings the nonprofits GTECH Strategies and City of Play together with the TechShop, Innovation Works and AlphaLab Gear on behalf of young people…

Pittsburgh’s philanthropic sector drives community change as nonprofits evolve

There’s an old saying that Pittsburgh business and government leaders have an ability to come together to transform the city. That may have been true in the 1940s and 1950s; today, the dynamic is more complex. In the wake of the collapse of the steel industry, many rust belt cities rolled up their sidewalks for a long time, says Grant Oliphant, president of the Heinz Endowments. Pittsburgh, however, had the foundation community that continued to invest. Even while the city…

Fostering the next generation of tech entrepreneurs in Pittsburgh

412Build, a new program developed by Innovation Works (Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southwestern PA) in the East Liberty area of Pittsburgh, is doing its part, encouraging teens to consider high-tech careers. The initiative instructs participants in the use of advanced manufacturing equipment, product design and the basics of starting a business. And the impact goes beyond the enrolled young people -- during each of two five-week sessions, students use their new skills to improve local neighborhoods, helping them become…

ReClaim McKeesport program revitalizes 10 vacant lots into green spaces

Henry “Hank” Gostkowski, 66, was approved as one of the ambassadors for the projects, which began in May. He planned to build a volleyball court in memory of his wife, Rachel, so that his granddaughter and other neighborhood children in the city’s 6th Ward could have a place to play. Each of the 10 ambassadors were given a $3,000 grant for their project. “I was lucky to be chosen as one,” Mr. Gostkowski said. However, the lot he wanted to…

Diana Nelson Jones’ Walkabout: Grant program helps give vacant lots a future use

A weedy lot near the Propel Northside charter school will become a classroom when students return, thanks to the owner’s donation of its use for the benefit of children. It’s just a small lot, 24 by 40 feet. You can’t see it from the nearby thoroughfare, Brighton Road, because it’s behind a house. It’s one weedy lot among thousands in the city. But a vacant lot that eases so generously to a higher purpose is notable. It could serve as…

Proud to be from Pittsburgh: GTECH

2015 ReClaim Northside Ambassador and Fineview resident Nicole Flaherty is helping reclaim a lot that was left vacant 25 years ago by a house fire. The site will be peaceful gathering space open to anyone who lives or visits the neighborhood.

Micro grants start to make big improvement in Pittsburgh neighborhoods

As Cynthia Levy-Mendoza walks through the vacant, overgrown corner lot in her Observatory Hill neighborhood, she focuses on its potential. A neighborhood vegetable garden could thrive in the sunny stretch along the lot's far edge, a path could wind through the lot for dog walkers and a bench near the sidewalk could make waiting for the bus more comfortable, she said. With grants from the Sprout Fund and Growth Through Energy and Community Health, Levy-Mendoza, 32, a ReClaim the Northside…

7 Questions for Brown Mamas blogger Cindy Mendoza

Cindy Mendoza of Observatory Hill says she is “just a mom.” And like any good mom, the 33-year-old wants a better life for her sons, ages 5, 6 and 13. And she supports other moms through the online group she began in 2011 (with friend Diamonte Walker), Brown Mamas. It’s a source for African American moms to learn more about gardening, cooking, lifestyle tips and creating a safe neighborhood. Cynthia is also a ReClaim Northside Ambassador for GTECH and is…

TEDx Pittsburgh: 10 speakers, 10 takeaways

On the sunny Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of Pittsburghers filled the seats of the Byham Theater to watch 10 of our brightest speak at TEDx Pittsburgh. For the uninitiated, TED is the global speaker series that emphasizes storytelling while tackling a wide range of topics on scientific, academic, cultural, technology, entertainment and design issues—the last three make up the name TED. TEDx is their road show of independently organized productions now in 130 countries. The library of…