rustbelt road trip 2009



Itinerary in Brief

East Liberty Development Inc

Sprout Fund

Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development

Leadership Development Inc/Pop Up Pittsburgh

Uptown Partners, Inc.

Organization Descriptions

East Liberty Development Inc:

Skip Schwab, Katherine Camp

East Liberty Development, Inc.(ELDI) is a non-profit community development corporation (CDC) whose mission is to foster the revitalization of East Liberty, a neighborhood located in the East End of Pittsburgh. ELDI works to increase business and residential development, promote public safety, improve public spaces and create a positive image for East Liberty.

  • Through the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, ELDI has introduced 48 new or restored housing units
  • The first phase of Sojourner MOMS, a project to develop supportive housing for formerly homeless mothers in recovery from substance abuse,
  • The Dad’s and Safe Haven projects offers supportive housing for formerly homeless, parenting/single men in recovery from substance abuse on North St. Clair Street, are in development.
  • Penn Manor is the first mixed income rental units to replace the substandard housing provided by the now-demolished high-rise towers. Penn Manor apartments offer 38 low-income units and 17 market rate units.
  • The Liberty Park (Fairfield) construction will offer 124 new apartments and 60 for-sale homes .

Commercial Development

  • ELDI and its partners have begun to successfully reposition East Liberty as the urban commercial center of the East End by attracting community-minded retailers that employ hundreds of neighborhood residents. These include Whole Foods, Home Depot, Walgreens, Staples, Starbucks, Super Wine Store, Trader Joe’s and Borders Book Store.
  • Because of ELDI’s small business assistance programs, locally-owned businesses are growing again in East Liberty. These programs include a Small Business Loan Fund, a Small Business Advisory Committee and the facilitation of Entrepreneurial Networking Socials.
    • Some of the small business developments include the Shadow Lounge and AVA bar, restaurants Abay and the Red Room Cafe, retailer , local barber East Liberty Kutz and ad agency Idea Mill.
  • Up-coming developments and programming efforts will transform East Liberty’s main traffic and pedestrian arteries surrounding East Liberty Presbyterian Church into a bustling town square.

Sprout Fund

Jocelyn Horner

The Sprout Fund is a nonprofit organization supporting innovative ideas and grassroots community projects that are catalyzing change in Pittsburgh. Through its programs and activities, Sprout enriches the Pittsburgh region’s vitality by engaging citizens, amplifying voices, supporting creativity and innovation, and cultivating connected communities.

Founded in 2001, Sprout facilitates community-led solutions to regional challenges and supports efforts to create a thriving, progressive, and culturally diverse region. With strong working relationships to many community organizations and regional stakeholders, The Sprout Fund is one of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s leading agencies on issues related to civic engagement, talent attraction and retention, public art, and catalytic small-scale funding.

With ongoing local support and continued appreciation by the communities it serves, The Sprout Fund will continue to provide an entry point for young, creative, and civically engaged people to become involved and active in their communities and support projects that improve the image of the greater Pittsburgh region.

Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development

Maureen Hogan

PPND supports the revitalization of the Pittsburgh region’s distressed neighborhoods into desirable and diverse communities by raising funds and making strategic investments in community development/improvement organizations.

Through PPND’s strategic investments, urban neighborhoods and their real estate markets will grow and thrive while maintaining diversity and affordability. The region’s community revitalization practices will improve so that each dollar invested is maximized to produce a substantial impact. Urban neighborhoods will support the aspirations of residents and businesses.

PPND will lead the community development field to maximum effectiveness and will lead community-level strategies as part of a regional agenda. PPND will provide an “insurance policy” for investors with accountability and quality standards. At the same time, PPND will invest in the most creative and innovative interventions to make a difference in vulnerable communities. Residents and businesses alike will experience an improved quality of life in our urban communities because of our work.

Leadership Development Inc., Pop Up Pittsburgh

Kathy Risko, Phil Bender

Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to developing a diverse group of leaders to serve southwestern Pennsylvania.

The programs of Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. (LPInc.) provide a continuum of civic engagement opportunities. These programs connect individuals from diverse backgrounds, professional levels, and organizations to serve the region by exposing these leaders to critical issues, skill development and community service opportunities. Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. connects participants with other leaders, with the greater Pittsburgh region, and with their own personal and professional goals.


Greeting from in Pittsburgh, PA! This is Jane Tigan, writing from sunny Pittsburgh awaiting our departure to Youngstown, Ohio. I am traveling with a group of urban planning masters students taking a week to explore five cities in the “Rustbelt” region: Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Cleveland, Detroit, and Flint. After reading up on some of the efforts of cities in the region, we decided to go to hit the ground and learn from the community groups, government agencies, individuals and everyone in between whose passionate local level projects are having cumulative positive effects on the cities and the region. We’ll try to draw larger, mega-region questions from what we wee in the city we’re in that day. I hope you enjoy the posts and we look forward to your comments. We will most likely have a one day delay, given the pace of the trip!

My brain is still ticking away thinking of all the amazing things, people, and projects we encountered yesterday. With the help of GLUE co-founder, Abby Wilson, our group of urban planning masters students were fortunate to meet with 5 groups doing ambitious and impressive work: East Liberty Development, Inc., the Sprout Fund, Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development, Leadership Pittsburgh, and Uptown Partners! What is below are just some of the impressions our group had after a full day in Pittsburgh.

Foundations, Foundations, Foundations
What was clear from the first meeting we had was that Pittsburgh’s major foundations continue to be a major bloodline to projects, community groups, and civic actions throughout the city, as has been the case for years and year. Though this is the case in many cities, the number and scope of work of foundations in Pittsburgh is unlike any other city I’ve seen.

Every organization we spoke with highlighted this. The work of groups like East Liberty Development, Inc.(ELDI)—which has focused on community-based revitalization of a an area that was victim to one of the nation’s worst urban renewal projects of the sixties and is turning it into a walkable, mixed use, sustainable neighborhood—or Leadership Pittsburgh—who engages and develops civic leaders and is planning an event using vacant land in the Uptown neighborhood—would have much more difficulty functioning if it weren’t for the foundation and intermediary grant-making organizational dollars.

Just as important as the actual dollars from foundations to organizations, it seems, is how the broader system of support and system of projects work to reinforce the positive effects of one another. The success of EDLI is helps to provide support and momentum for a similar project on Uptown; the success of Sprout-funded murals in one area encourages another neighborhood to take a chance on another art-related project.

Questions for the Region: Can cities that don’t have the advantage of the level and constancy of foundational support that Pittsburgh has recreate these systems of “snowballing” positive programs? In other cities, what other creative funding opportunities exist/could be created supplement existing foundation support?

The Mid-Size City and the Engaged Young Professional
Our day in Pittsburgh was packed with dedicated folks who had grown up in Pittsburgh, moved away and had boomeranged back or had chosen to relocate and stay in Pittsburgh. Many of these people were energetic and young professionals. Katherine Camp of ELDI is doing sustainable planning, Jocelyn Horner of the Sprout Fund working on innovative children’s technology, and Courtenay Patterson of Ibcos, are all intelligent, driven, and dedicated to the city.

When we asked by they chose to locate in Pittsburgh versus another place like Chicago, New York, or Washington D.C., the response by those three (echoed by others) spoke to the advantages of a mid-size city. “The impact you can have as a young person here is incredible,” Katherine noted. All three noted that despite some “insider-outsider” (or Pittsburgh native/non-native) dynamics, a city Pittsburgh’s size allows for young and enthusiastic people to enter, gain real responsibility and respect, and make real, measurable impact with a community in a way that is much more they didn’t see as likely in larger, more entrenched cities. Those willing to take advantage of the changing dynamic of the city can do so and will have lots of excited GLUEsters to back them!

Questions for the Region: How can these cities get the word out that young people can make a difference in these cities? Lifers, boomerangers, and newbies to a city all have important and different perspectives to bring to the efforts to energize our cities. Things like GLUE are the type of networking and exposure that may serve to attract more people to these cities. I know it did for me! How can we diffuse the “insider-outsider” dynamic?



East Liberty

Sprout Fund


Leadership Development Inc.



1 Comment »

  1. […] Pittsburgh […]

    Pingback by Rustbelt Road Trip! « rust belt road trip 2009 — 08/30/2009 @ 1:18 pm | Reply

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