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…

McKeesport works to reclaim vacant lots, cleanup blight

In an effort to help beautify McKeesport, the city has been working with GTECH Strategies of Pittsburgh to reclaim vacant lots in a Reclaim McKeesport Ambassador Program. Last fall, several resident volunteers, called “ambassadors,” studied ways to help combat blight, clean up abandoned property and turn it into gardens, picnic areas or playgrounds. Upon completion of the educational sessions with GTECH, the ambassadors received micro-grants to help implement their projects.

Marathon Moment: Reclaim The Route Initiative

Representatives from the Reclaim The Route initiative of the Pittsburgh Marathon stop by to talk about the project. On camera is James Snow, from GTECH Strategies and Kim Whigham, from Fed Ex Ground.

North Siders reclaiming vacant lots with designs for community

Fourteen North Siders are turning nine vacant lots into gardens and community spaces through the ReClaim Northside program of GTECH Strategies. They presented their designs for projects planned for this spring and summer at a recent gathering at the Pittsburgh Project. This is the third vacant lot go-round that GTECH, or Growth Through Energy and Community Health, has supported on the North Side, training residents whom they call ambassadors to plan, design and pitch projects to get additional funding and…

BLK SHP bus tour rolling into town to check out Pittsburgh–join in!

They call themselves the “Black Sheep” (or BLK SHP), a group of America’s leading thinkers and master storytellers, who just left Austin, Texas to trek across America’s “True North” to hear the stories of former industrial heartlands and resilient rustbelt communities. Their bus – which is actually a Willie Nelson cast-off – will pull into the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh on May 4 to hear Pittsburgh’s story with three panels that are open to the public. It’s one of…

Northside GTECH ambassadors look to transform vacant lots

GTECH Strategies held its ReClaim Northside project kick-off Wednesday, April 22 at the Pittsburgh Project in Perry Hilltop. Almost a year after entering the vacant-lot-saving program, 14 community ambassadors from eight different Northside neighborhoods shared the progress of each of their respective projects. “We work with communities across Allegheny County to address land-use issues like vacant land because we view them as platforms for change, growth, engagement, learning, creativity and innovation,” Evaine K. Sing, GTECH director of operations & programming,…