Pitt Neighborhood Commitments build stronger communities and a stronger University based on long-term place-based partnerships. In partnership with local communities, the University is making a minimum 15-year commitment of investment, infrastructure, programming, and dedicated staff in neighborhoods such as Homewood and the Hill District. Neighborhood Commitments is a program of the Senior Vice Chancellor’s Office, housed in Community and Government Relations.
Stronger communities, stronger university
When we combine the community’s agendas and wisdom with the University’s assets and resources, we can make a difference.
Communities are powerful partners for innovation and learning.
Community engagement helps Pitt to engage community-minded students, attract and retain community-oriented faculty, and enhance the University’s core mission of teaching, research, and service.
Staff at Pitt
Communication and Advocacy Manager, Community and Government Relations
Kathy Humphrey, PhD
Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement,
Secretary of the Board of Trustees
Paul Supowitz, JD
Vice Chancellor for Community and Governmental Relations
Internal Advisory Council
Internal Advisory Council Members
- Steven Albert, Graduate School of Public Health
- Alaine Allen, Swanson School of Engineering
- Thuy Bui, School of Medicine
- Sabina Deitrick, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
- Lina Dostilio, Community and Governmental Relations
- Willa Doswell, School of Nursing-Health and Community Systems
- Thistle Elias, Graduate School of Public Health
- Daren Ellerbee, Community and Governmental Relations
- Sandra Engberg, School of Nursing-Health and Community Systems
- Michael Glass, Arts and Sciences, General Studies
- Christina Groark, Office of Child Development
- Ingrid Gomez-O'Toole, Katz Graduate School of Business & College of Business Administration
- Melissa McGivney, School of Pharmacy
- Holly Hickling, University Honors College
- Vicki Hornyak, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
- Arif Jamal, University Library System
- Shenay Jeffrey, Student Affairs/PittServes
- John Kim, Office of Child Development
- Amy Korb, Facilities Management
- Patty Kummick, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
- Jeff Lawson, School of Computing & Information
- Wes Lipschultz, School of Computing & Information
- John Maier, School of Medicine
- Martha Mannix, School of Law
- Crystal McCormick Ware, University Library System
- Liz Miller, Graduate School of Public Health
- Audrey Murrell, Katz Graduate School of Business & College of Business Administration
- Esohe Osai, School of Social Work
- Anthony Petrosky, School of Education
- Oronde Sharif, Africana Studies
- Eli Shorak, Business and Operations
- Tracy Soska, School of Social Work
- Paul Supowitz, Community and Governmental Relations
- Belkys Torres, University Center for International Studies
- John Wallace, School of Social Work
- Shannon Wanless, School of Education
- Robert Weyant, School of Dental Medicine
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Pitt Neighborhood Commitments?
Pitt Neighborhood Commitments is a place-based community engagement initiative. Through Neighborhood Commitments, Pitt is working to build stronger communities and a stronger University by committing to long-term partnerships with specific neighborhoods in the city of Pittsburgh.
Which neighborhoods is Pitt committing to?
The University has committed to being a partner with and resource to the neighborhoods of Homewood and the Hill District through investments in infrastructure, programming, and dedicated staff over the next 15 years or more. By building deep partnerships with these neighborhoods, we can realize powerful mutual benefits: providing students and faculty with high-quality opportunities to learn and research while giving neighborhood residents access to Pitt’s assets and resources.
Who are Community Collaborators?
Community Collaborators power Pitt’s Neighborhood Commitments. They are community leaders, residents, and University faculty and students who share a commitment to the neighborhood and are taking action to put that commitment into practice. Collaborators work together to shape and lead projects that advance community agendas and enrich the University’s teaching and research.
What are Community Engagement Centers (CECs)?
Community Engagement Centers (CECs) are physical facilities that will help Pitt to be a better partner in the community and realize our place-based strategy. CECs create space for neighborhood partners, community-based organizations, and University students and faculty to collaborate and make big things happen together.
Where are the CECs?
The CEC in Homewood is located at 622 North Homewood Avenue in Homewood.
Pitt has plans to open a CEC in the Hill District (projected to open in 2019), with the possibility of adding additional CECs in other neighborhoods in the future.
What happens at the CECs?
CECs will serve as a “front door” to Pitt. CECs house health and wellness services, business development consultation, pro-bono legal assistance, computer/science labs, meeting spaces, and more. At CECs, community members can access the resources and services they need, community organizations can partner with Pitt programs to strengthen efforts and reduce duplication, and Pitt faculty and students can learn with the community.
How is the place-based initiative different from the CECs?
Community Engagement Centers are a key part of Pitt’s place-based strategy, but Pitt’s commitment to these neighborhood goes beyond the physical building, including a hiring initiative and admissions collaboration with Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Community College of Allegheny County to create a pipeline for students at Westinghouse Academy and UPrep/Millones High School to enroll in college. Pitt’s Neighborhood Commitments includes other physical developments. In Homewood, the Manufacturing Assistance Center is a state-of-the-industry training facility and the Homewood Bioshelter uses renewable energy to produce local food. In the Hill District, the Grid Institute at the Energy Innovation Center is developing the next generation of electric power systems and at the Jeron X. Grayson Center a new technology classroom is being built where Pitt’s School of Computing and Information will offer youth and elder-focused digital literacy. This list will continue to deepen and grow in each neighborhood over this 15 year commitment.
How is the CEC different from other community organizations already in this neighborhood? Will the CEC duplicate the work already happening in these communities?
The CEC does not duplicate the programs and services already found in the community. In fact, the CECs are being established to help reduce duplication by intentionally creating more coordination between Pitt’s programs and existing community programming. The activities and programs offered through the CEC are designed to complement and enhance what is already available. For the most part, Pitt isn’t a community service provider like the YMCA, Family Support Center, or neighborhood health clinic. Through the CEC, Pitt partners to support organizations like these on collaborative initiatives.
Why did Pitt choose these specific neighborhoods?
Pitt intentionally chose to make commitments to the neighborhoods of Homewood and the Hill District because:
- We have histories in these neighborhoods: Successful and challenging histories. Informed by those histories, this strategy builds on trusting relationships and many lessons learned.
- We are close-by: These neighborhoods are close in proximity to Pitt’s Oakland campus, making it feasible to sustain our involvement and student and faculty participation.
- We can make an impact: Residents of these neighborhoods experience poverty, health disparities, educational opportunity gaps, high unemployment, or other forms of marginalization. It is part of Pitt’s civic purpose to help our neighbors.
- We’ve been invited by community leaders and residents: Community leaders have expressed a desire to work with Pitt and are willing to guide our engagements to ensure they are aligned to community needs and knowledge.
- We’re building on naturally-occurring networks: In each of these neighborhoods, community partners and Pitt representatives had already been working together to make good things happen in the neighborhood. By making this commitment, we will sustain the steady growth of these networks of collaborators.
Will CECs offer college degrees? Can people take classes there?
The CEC is an outreach and engagement center, but not a place to earn a degree. The CECs are located a short distance from Pitt’s Oakland campus, where the full array of undergraduate and graduate programs are offered. From time to time, workshops or seminars on special topics may be offered, but they are not credit-bearing classes.
Will the CECs be ADA accessible?
Yes, CEC buildings are ADA accessible throughout.
How can neighborhood residents access the center?
CECs are open to the public during regular business hours. The Homewood CEC has a gallery space with seating right inside the front door. We hope that you will come in, speak with our staff, and learn about what the Center has to offer.
How long will the CECs be around?
The CEC will be open for a minimum of 15 years. We’re here for the long haul. 15 years (or more) will allow Pitt to develop strong partnerships and to be well-integrated in the agendas and assets of the community.
Are the CECs only for residents of Homewood and the Hill District?
Anyone can access the programs at the CEC. We hope that CEC activities and programs will help to improve the quality of life for residents in Homewood and the Hill District as well as adjacent communities that include, but are not limited to, East Hills, Larimer, Lincoln-Lemington, Uptown, and Wilkinsburg.
Where can I find a list of Pitt programs that engage with the community?
Check out engagementmap.pitt.edu for a map inventory of Pitt’s community engagement activities in Pittsburgh.
What are the Neighborhood Advisory Councils?
Neighborhood Advisory Councils in Homewood and the Hill District actively shape the ways that the CEC benefits the neighborhood and the community at large. This group of community and faith-based leaders and long-time residents meets every two months to review proposed programs, recommend site locations, refer job candidates, and work together to ensure that a responsive and non-duplicative mixture of programs is offered at the Center. You can see the full listings of the Homewood Advisory Council here and the Hill District Advisory Council here.
What is the Internal Advisory Council (or Faculty Advisory Council)?
The Internal Advisory Council, sometimes called the Faculty Advisory Council or Committee, represents the various interests and activities of the University of Pittsburgh, ensuring that the entire University is aligned and coordinated in the implementation of CECs and our place-based strategy. This diverse group of faculty and staff from across the University and including facilities, real estate, PittServes, Office of Child Development, and Clinical Translational Science Institute, meets monthly. Click here for a full listing of the Internal Advisory Council.
What will happen in these neighborhoods as a result of the CECs opening their doors?
By opening Community Engagement Centers and investing in a place-based community engagement approach, Pitt hopes to realize a vision of stronger communities and a stronger University. As a result, residents will have access to the resources and opportunities of the University that go beyond enrollment, community leaders will be able to rely on Pitt as a stable, trusted partner in their work, and Pitt students and faculty will have rich learning and research opportunities that widen their perspectives.
I am interested in collaborating with Pitt in Homewood or the Hill District. Who should I contact?
If you’re interested in collaborating with Pitt in Homewood, please contact Ms. Daren Ellerbee, Director of the Community Engagement Center in Homewood at email@example.com, or by calling 412-852-7551.
If you’re interested in collaborating with Pitt in the Hill District, please contact Mr. Kirk Holbrook, Director of the Community Engagement Center in the Hill District at KDH52@pitt.edu, or by calling 412-598-2491.
To get involved with other parts of this initiative, please contact Dr. Lina Dostilio, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Community Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 412-624-7719.