PITTSBURGH (May 18, 2023) – Equipping football coaches to mentor youth beyond the field. A café where teens, mental health professionals and police officers gather and talk. Training and job support for those exiting incarceration. Wraparound services that give a voice to those suffering the trauma of gun violence and loss. These are just a few local programs that will be impacted by $200,000 in microgrant funding awarded today by The Hear Foundation.
A total of 15 local nonprofits will receive funding to support their work in Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods to foster strong, positive relationships between Pittsburgh Police and local residents; create safe communities; and bring opportunities for healing and support to those impacted by trauma and violence.
“Each of these programs is bringing real transformative change for the people who live in neighborhoods impacted by violence,” said The Hear Foundation Co-founder Leon Ford. “These organizations are finding innovative, effective ways to bring residents and Pittsburgh Police officers together to talk, build connection, and work toward the goal that we all share: to create and maintain peace, safety and security for our families, our kids and for those serving in public safety.”
The selection process was overseen by The Hear Foundation Board of Directors, a diverse 39-member group comprising leaders representing a cross-section of the community, including public safety and mental health professionals, activists, grassroots organizations, nonprofit directors, and business leaders.
“Bringing these grantees together and supporting their work aligns with The Hear Foundation vision of building a stronger, more connected network of care and collaboration in our community,” says The Hear Foundation Executive Director Kamal Nigam. “While each program is different, each is touching points of healing in different ways: enabling connections between police and residents that allow for deeper understanding of the humanness we share; providing space for problem solving and addressing the impacts of trauma; supporting families and individuals affected by gun violence; and expanding the experiences and opportunities of youth living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. We congratulate the grantees on their excellent work and look forward to seeing the impacts that their programs will have on our community.”
“It has been an honor to be part of the grant review process! The proposals were truly inspiring and it is so encouraging to know how many people in Pittsburgh are driven to do the work to continuously improve life and quality of life for our neighbors,” says Tiffany Kline-Costa, Sergeant, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Community Engagement Office and The Hear Foundation board member. “Pittsburgh Police and the Community Engagement Office are looking forward to working with grantees and supporting programing efforts and relationship building between community and police.”
Organizations receiving grants are:
A’s Vision: Founded by Aaron Wade in memory of his 18-year-old son who was murdered, A’s Vision works to uplift the community, one responsible driver at a time. With a goal to mentor and teach critical life skills, A’s Vision works with city youth ages 16-22 who lack the resources for driver training and prepares them to acquire a driver’s license. Through this grant, 20-25 young people will go through training to earn their driver’s licenses. Zone 3 Pittsburgh Police officers will visit and talk with participants about traffic laws and best practices for traffic stops.
Artist Talk: An art and performance event series centered around mental health, Artist Talk will bring mental health conversations to the forefront with artists from all mediums, including visual artists, photographers, and musicians, sharing the stories behind some of their most personal work and performances. This Artist Talk event will connect with six police officers that have an arts background and who use their art as a vital coping source during difficult times in their careers. To assist with breaking barriers, this experience will offer an opportunity for open dialogue between police officers and the communities they serve.
Brunch With a Black Man: Led by 1Hood Media, Brunch with a Black Man is a video series that uses narrative storytelling and trauma informed care to encourage Black Men to holistically address issues related to trauma, mental health, and violence to lead healthy productive lives. This grant will continue this series, including two episodes that feature Black male police officers.
Building Black Wealth: This program is led by the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh (TIP), a vocational training provider dedicated to providing opportunities for individuals reentering society following incarceration, those chronically underemployed, those struggling with addiction, and others who need support to get their lives on track. In this project, TIP will build community and reduce violence and recidivism by developing robust alumni services and community engagement program and by implementing holistic case management support.
Creating Connections: Igniting the Power of Coaches as Everyday Mentors: Led by the Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern PA, this program will train local youth football coaches from Garfield Youth Sports and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Youth Athletic Initiative in the following: Creating Connections — a national training program that helps caring adults leverage everyday moments and be intentional in offering mentor-like support to the young people in their lives; and Youth Mental Health First Aid — helping adults recognize the signs that a young person may be struggling with mental health challenges and highlighting their role in offering positive support and connection to professional resources when needed.
Northway East Liberty Ministry Hub – Teen Café: North Way Christian Community will build out a teen street-level cafe that will be open weekdays from 2:30 to 5:30 pm. For the first hour, local police officers, mental health counselors, and community members will spend time in the cafe, playing games, participating in activities, and creating positive interactions with the teens of East Liberty. The Hub will also offer STEM & Art programs, homework help, group and individual counseling, Zone 5 youth connections, and career development with guest speakers and volunteers in the community.
H.O.P.E. for Tomorrow 2023 Summer Camp: This seven-week summer camp serves youth in the West End of Pittsburgh and provides a safe and structured environment for approximately 60 children in grades 1-8, and 25 high school and college students. Campers are empowered to achieve academic excellence, nurture their minds and bodies, and develop relationships with those they may not have had access to in the past, including program providers, mental health specialists, and the Pittsburgh Police. Organizers will work closely with the Pittsburgh Police Community Engagement Office to build trust and break down barriers between youth and police. Throughout the year, officers volunteer to tutor and mentor campers, lead the Common Threads cooking class, and engage students during recreation time.
Imagine Further Collective 2023 Workshop Series: Imagine Further will expand its preventative mental health services to two new after school and summer camp programs in the City of Pittsburgh. IFC workshops include lectures, dialogue, and experiential exercises to teach: an overview of mental health, trauma, and stress, how to build strong support systems, identify healthy coping skills, and nurture resiliency. Finally, participants work in teams to identify an injustice in their community and partner with Pittsburgh police officers to create a project to address their identified injustice.
Increasing Our Region’s Capacity to Heal Trauma through Training: Led by Awaken Pittsburgh, this program will bring in nationally renowned PTSD and trauma healing training to better equip local clinicians/community workers to support those most affected by violence in our region, including first responders and community members. Due to the current shortages and stigma, neither community members nor first responders have access to state-of-the-art care and therapeutic resources. This program will run a three-day “train the trainer” Tactical Resiliency Process (TRP) and Emotions Management Process (EMP) to 30 therapists and other community leaders who work to support those impacted by trauma. Training will be led by retired US Army Retired Sergeant First Class (E-7) and Deputy Sheriff Dan Jarvis, who has developed the TRP. Clinicians trained will then provide 240 free sessions to local first responders and community members.
Performing History/Autobiography in Progress: Led by Duquesne University Elsinore Bennu Think Tank for Restorative Justice, this course brings together returning and incarcerated citizens, community members, university students, faculty, and police officers in order to find common ground through the humanities. Every session becomes a spoken word performance, bringing together those who would not normally be in the same room with theater as the shared space to work towards police justice. This grant will implement an ongoing program of evaluation and development that will allow the team to understand the effectiveness of the program and implement improvements.
Prevent Another Crime Today (P.A.C.T.): The P.A.C.T. Initiative originated from the homicide of Robert Dixon, son of P.A.C.T. Executive Director Val Dixon, in 2001. This grant will support PACT’s Family Action Network (F.A.N.), which works to honor, support, educate and guide families impacted by violence (specifically homicides). F.A.N. delivers training that assists families who wish to share their stories and experiences with youth programs, schools, community centers, churches, and more, providing audiences with a clear picture of what trauma looks like and how crime impacts individuals, families, and communities. Participants receive an assessment of their current needs and families will be provided with wraparound services to ensure they are prepared to execute the work ahead of them. Families will commit to attending community meetings with law enforcement and community members.
Team 412 Boxing: A program of Pittsburgh National Youth Boxing, Team 412 Boxing is an athletic youth program founded to allow under-resourced Pittsburgh city youth to succeed through boxing, education, and community. They are the city’s only members of the National Police Athletic organization. They participate under the umbrella of USA Boxing and have several Olympics-track level boxers. One of their coaches, Aaron Allen, is a PA State Police officer, and 412 Boxing regularly holds events with police engagement.
Unity Camp: Through the Unity Camp Project, Ozanam is building upon an innovative partnership with Pittsburgh Police to strengthen relationships with youth and community while nurturing resiliency and prosocial skills that contribute positively to their development. In 2021, Ozanam partnered with City of Pittsburgh Police and Manchester residents to develop and implement a pilot program to promote non-violence and foster relationships between community, youth, and Pittsburgh Police officers. Building upon this success, Ozanam will continue the program in Manchester and replicate the success in the Hill District while also adding social-emotional learning components to the camp, serving 80 youth across the two locations.
Youth Connections: A project of the Pittsburgh Police Community Engagement Office to connect Pittsburgh Police officers with Pittsburgh Public School students in their 9th grade Civics classes, Youth Connections nurtures relationships between Pittsburgh Police officers and Pittsburgh youth through regular and consistent bi-monthly visits to high school classrooms, engaging approximately 600 students at six Pittsburgh high schools. Officers present information about how to safely interact with police, what to expect during a traffic stop, legal standards for use of force situations, homicide investigations, crime scene analysis and more. The second visit each month is purely focused on relationship building. This grant will provide food and supplies to the program.
YouthVoices: A youth leadership program initiated by The Center that Cares, Youth Voices focuses on social justice and providing a vibrant youth-driven conduit for catalytic conversations regarding issues facing our youth and community. Twenty youth leaders will oversee the outreach to additional youth, identification of key issues, and the implementation of community conversations. An advisory team consisting of REACH outreach workers, Pittsburgh Police Zone 5, CARES staff, partner community-based organizations, and Pittsburgh Public Schools will offer support and resources to guide the project. They will facilitate and run 6-7 sessions with an aggregate attendance of 180 youth.
Information on The Hear Foundation can be found at hearfoundation.com.
Media Contact: Laura Ellis, email@example.com / 412.952.7844
About The Hear FoundationThe Hear Foundation is the first and only nonprofit in Pittsburgh dedicated exclusively to collaborating with community leaders, Pittsburgh Police, residents and the City to create a safe, thriving community for all. The Hear Foundation is supported by the Allegheny Foundation, The Buhl Foundation, the Elsie H. Hillman Foundation, The Forbes Funds, Heal America, Jones Day, Jones Day Foundation, and the Richard King Mellon Foundation, with fiscal sponsorship by the POISE Foundation. To learn more or to sign up for news and updates from The Hear Foundation, visit hearfoundation.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.