The success of the University of Pittsburgh is entwined with the success of surrounding communities. This is true in the towns that host Pitt’s regional campuses and in the urban Oakland neighborhood that surrounds the Pittsburgh campus. Locally, our portfolio of community partnerships includes relationships that range from the City of Pittsburgh and Homewood’s Children’s Village to the community food bank and the Salvation Army.
The Homewood Children’s Village, an initiative led by Professor John Wallace, seeks to serve children from birth through college and career. The multilayered Community Project was inspired by the acclaimed Harlem Children’s Zone. The mission is to improve the lives of Homewood’s children and reweave the fabric of the community as a place where “every child succeeds.” Wallace is the Philip Hallen Endowed Chair in Community Health and Social Justice in the School of Social Work.
The Birmingham Free Clinic on the city’s Southside is a community partnership between the Salvation Army and Pitt’s Program for Health Care to Underserved Populations. The clinic offers medical and pharmacy services at no cost to those in need through a volunteer team of clinicians, students in the health professions, and AmeriCorps national service members.
The University has a long history of service, especially in Western Pennsylvania. Pitt prides itself, too, as a contributing citizen in the Commonwealth, across the nation, and in the global community.
Pitt’s Congress of Neighboring Communities’ coordinates the activities of 37 municipalities by advocating for and voicing the collective interests of nearly 700,000 residents; developing and enhancing the ways that municipalities work together to deliver important public services; and maintaining a forum for discussion.
Pitt and UPMC’s Matilda Theiss Health Center provides health education, prevention, and health care services to underserved residents in the Oak Hill, Hill District, and Oakland neighborhoods. Services include general family health, dental care, mental health, cancer detection, and pediatric and prenatal care. The center’s child development program serves more than 70 children, ages 6 months to 6 years.
Professional schools and academic disciplines throughout the University provide internships, experiential learning opportunities, and direct services that benefit the city and region.
In fiscal year 2015-16, the University announced its intention to widen Pitt’s network and deepen its connections by creating Community Engagement Centers, each with a neighborhood “ambassador” who will foster further collaborations between each participating community and the University. These centers will serve as a new model for community-university collaboration—one that benefits all parties equally, enriches both, and brings out the best in the special interface between a university and its community.
More than 3,500 students, as well as faculty and staff, participated in the University’s annual Pitt Make a Difference Day, the region’s largest day of service. They cleaned vacant lots, repaired homes for the elderly, and much more.