University of Pittsburgh
October 18, 2018

Pitt’s Community Engagement Center in Homewood Opens Front Door to Services and Programs for All Ages

Long-term partnership to strengthen neighborhoods and the University

EDITORS: Access digital media kit materials here.

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh is opening its first Community Engagement Center (CEC) to expand outreach and educational opportunities within local neighborhoods and better the lives of children and families. 

grand opening celebration and ribbon-cutting is set for 6 p.m. today, Oct. 18, at the CEC in Homewood, located at 622 N. Homewood Avenue. This first center is an expansion of Pitt’s ongoing Neighborhood Commitments to strengthen communities and the University through long-term partnerships.

The center will be a “front door” to Pitt in the community — structured with an initial 15-year commitment of staff plus free and low-cost services and programs. The 10,000-square-foot facility includes meeting rooms, computer and science labs, and gallery space for local artists’ work and curated exhibits.

“To our neighbors in Homewood: Thank you,” said Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “This center — your center — is as much about forging brighter futures and cultivating opportunities as it is about strengthening the University of Pittsburgh’s proud record of service, scholarship and research. It’s an exciting day for Pittsburgh — and a new model of community engagement for Pitt.” 

Commitment of Expertise and Services

The CEC in Homewood will offer a wide range of programs for area children, adults, seniors and families. Proposed offerings run from summer science camps and after-school support to career development opportunities and job fairs. It will also be home to a study of the beneficial effects of African dance, culture and music classes for older African Americans. A full schedule of programs and events will be maintained on the CEC website.

The Pitt-Assisted Communities & Schools program, based in Pitt’s School of Social Work, will have dedicated space in the building, and the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, part of Pitt’s Innovation Institute, will provide business development consultation onsite.  

An adjacent Wellness Center, scheduled to open in fall 2019, will offer health services, ranging from physical therapy to medication consultations and mental health care.

Kathy Humphrey, the University’s vice chancellor for engagement and secretary of the Board of Trustees, said CECs are “a more coordinated way to engage with our community and our neighbors. When we combine the University’s resources with the wisdom of the community and support of its leaders, we will deepen our neighborhood commitments — inside our centers and beyond — and make a difference together.”

The CEC in Homewood “will be an asset to the community, especially with the renewed focus on revitalizing the neighborhood,” said Homewood resident Zinna Scott. “This will be a place where we can work together, a place where we can keep the lines of communication open and get the extra training we need to help our community grow.”

Programs are being determined in consultation with a neighborhood advisory council, tailored to community needs with a focus on adding to — rather than duplicating — existing services.

“In Homewood, we’ve had hundreds of conversations with local residents, parents and students. Input from the neighborhood advisory council is vital to ensure that what we’re offering reflects the community’s agenda and legacy,” said Daren Ellerbee, director of Pitt’s CEC in Homewood.

“The Neighborhood Advisory Council has had input on how the CEC in Homewood has taken shape,” said Cheri Smith, a resident of Homewood and advisory council member. “For our youth, especially, having Pitt in the community will make a difference because they will realize that going to college can be a reality. I’m looking forward to seeing everything we can accomplish together.”

Pitt has also begun planning for a second CEC, in the Hill District.

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