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,…

Want to transform a vacant lot? Lots to Love shows you how

Do you know of a vacant lot that needs love? It’s likely since there are 45,000 in Allegheny County. LotstoLove.org, which GTECH Strategies launched yesterday on Earth Day, is a resource for community groups and residents who “have an interest in small, resident-driven greening projects on vacant lots.” How? The website aggregates all the data and resources needed to overhaul a blighted lot—from how to assess the lot, raise funds and engage the community, to identifying ownerships and getting permission,…

McKeesport to get overhaul via 9 beautification projects

Nine McKeesport lots will get an overhaul under a Pittsburgh-based program that officials hope will “begin a conversation about what else can happen here.” That's according to project manager James Snow of GTECH — or Growth Through Energy and Community Health — a community development nonprofit. GTECH Strategies provided $3,000 stipends obtained from the Benedum Foundation to nine ambassadors overseeing beautification projects from McKees Point to Penn State Greater Allegheny and the Reservoir area of the Seventh Ward.

Challenge brings high school students together at Pitt to discuss water problems

About 60 students from four local high schools collaborated in a two-day session this month at the University of Pittsburgh to come up with ideas and create awareness for what has become a global water crisis. Students from Mt. Lebanon, Chartiers Valley, McKeesport Area and Elizabeth Forward took part in the Water Design Challenge, held March 11-12 in the William Pitt Student Union.

Pittsburgh Business Ethics Awards honors outstanding efforts

On February 26, 2015, GTECH Strategies became the first nonprofit ever to receive the Pittsburgh Business Ethics Award in the small business category. Hosted by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Society of Financial Professionals, the 14th annual luncheon event attracted 210 people Downtown at the Omni William Penn Hotel.