Meet Julian McClain – the Newest Addition to the CEC in Homewood Team
Julian McClain joined the CEC in Homewood this past October as the Program Coordinator. Responsible for coordinating programs at the center and implementing a robust resident engagement strategy, he is focused on ensuring CEC activities are meaningful to the community.
Though he grew up in Penn Hills, Julian has a personal connection to the Homewood neighborhood. Here, his family, The Grogans, started the first black-owned business in the state of Pennsylvania, giving him a unique relationship with the community and its history. Grogan Brothers Moving and Storage, which is still in existence on Frankstown Ave, was founded in 1906 with a horse, buggy, and a dream. His family’s connection and presence in Homewood is one of the reasons Julian is excited to be part of the CEC and to continue building on the partnership between Pitt and Homewood.
Julian has always had a passion for community work. Starting his community development work at the Pittsburgh Aids Taskforce (now known as Allies for Health), Julian eventually established his own non-profit, “Color me Urban”, which aims to help African American and Latin(x) entrepreneurs succeed. As a volunteer, Julian has served as the Community Service Chair of the Urban League of Professionals and volunteers with both the Diaper Bank and Coats for Care. For him, this is the perfect time to be part of the CEC as he believes Homewood is in a time of resurgence and rebuilding. He wants to ensure that the CEC supports the community’s agenda and contributes to the revitalization of the neighborhood through partnership and collaboration. He is also excited to use his passion for community advocacy to get residents the resources they need to be successful.
We asked Julian a few questions to get to know him a little better and learn more about his goals for the CEC in Homewood:
Q: Why do you think it’s important for there to be a Community Engagement Center in Homewood?
Julian: I really think a pipeline to university life and other aspects of life are important for every community and giving a family the opportunity to experience these programs for free is integral. Through the center, children will become familiar with the University of Pittsburgh because they’ll have been coming to this space since they were young. This means that when they are 18 years old applying to college, they will have had the opportunity to participate in programs like PACS (Pitt Assisted Communities in Schools) and Camp Bio-E, which helped get them college-ready. Through the CEC, they will have also met different professors and people from outside their neighborhood. Together, these experiences create a pipeline to college. The CEC also creates space for Pitt students to get to know a different community and share what they have learned.
Q: My Favorite CEC Story So Far…
Julian: We hosted a “Dinner & Dialogue” event a couple of weeks ago on gun violence and how to prevent it. Over 100 people attended and in order to fit everyone, we used almost every chair in the building. It was an amazing event and you could feel the energy in the air. It was also a great mix of people: community members, Pitt staff, faculty, and students. It was a perfect representation of the CEC’s mission to bring these groups together. The host organization and the attendees were so appreciative of the work the CEC in Homewood had put in to make the event happen, which was great to see as well.
Q: What are your hopes for the CEC in Homewood?
Julian: I hope that the CEC in Homewood is a place of hustle and bustle. I want to see students utilizing the white boards and the computer labs, and residents taking advantage of the Wellness Pavilion and the free medical programs that will open with phase 2 next year. I want to see all that CEC has to offer used to its full capacity. I want to see afterschool programs, meetings and events being held here in tandem. I really want local constituents to take advantage of programs and use the drop-in spaces, computer lab, and lobby spaces. I really want to see a synergy between the Center and the local community, where people can walk in and out as an everyday thing. I want it to be a place where there is always something going on, that’s integrated into the community and people feel they can come by at any time and take advantage of the resources here.
Stop by to visit Julian and the rest of the CEC staff during open hours!