12 projects funded to boost diversity within Pittsburgh community, workforce

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Two organizations have announced a series of small grants to groups promoting ways to help minority groups become more integrated into the wider community and workforce.

The two groups -- Vibrant Pittsburgh and the Urban Affairs Foundation, of the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh -- pooled $50,000 for mini-grants to fund 12 projects.

"The response to our call for grant proposals was amazing -- and aptly demonstrates so much of what is unique and wonderful about the Pittsburgh region," said Melanie Harrington, CEO of Vibrant Pittsburgh, a group dedicated to attracting, retaining and supporting a diverse talent pool.

Gregg Roman, Community Relations Council director for the Jewish Federation, said the grants reflect the agency's century-long work in such areas as helping resettle European Jews fleeing persecution and supporting African-Americans' struggles for civil rights.

The goal is "to bring the American dream to Pittsburgh's new arrivals," he said.

Grant recipients are:

• "Building an Accessible Welcome Strategy," a partnership between Union Project and Creative Citizens Studios to make hands-on arts experiences more accessible and affordable to people with disabilities.

• "Canta Pittsburgh," a partnership between Coro Latinoamericano and the Latin American Cultural Union to promote Latino culture through music.

• "Fostering Unity in Westmoreland County," a partnership between YWCA Westmoreland County and Central Westmoreland Unity Coalition.

• "Growing Diversity: Farmers' Markets in Transition," a project to expand the development of Citiparks Farmers' Markets in diverse neighborhoods. This is a partnership among Just Harvest, Latino Family Center, One Woman Farm and Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh.

• "J-Serve Pittsburgh," a teen volunteer experience sponsored by J-Serve International, the Agency for Jewish Learning, Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and Repair the World Pittsburgh.

• "Pittsburgh Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment," a summer camp encompassing English and academic skill-building and creative expression workshops, sponsored by a partnership of the University of Pittsburgh's Facilitating Opportunities for Refugee Growth & Empowerment (FORGE) and Keep It Real.

• "Project to Attract and Retain Young Chinese Talent in the Greater Pittsburgh Area through Networking and Mentoring," a partnership between the Chinese Association for Science and Technology, Pittsburgh Chapter, and Chinese Students and Scholars Association (University of Pittsburgh).

• "Refugee Youth Employment Program," to enhance job readiness, sponsored by Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania, Jewish Family and Children's Services, South Hills Interfaith Ministries and the Pittsburgh Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment Academy.

• "speaQ:" Youth-led arts-based programming to build confidence and leadership among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied youth, a partnership among Dreams of Hope, Father Ryan Arts Center and Little House, Big Art.

• "Union of African Communities Events," including a diversity festival and speaker series, sponsored by Christian Evangelistic Economic Development and Union of African Communities.

• "World Refugee Day Celebration," a partnership between Jewish Family and Children's Services and Northern Area Multi-Service Center.

• "Youth Summit Against Violence," a partnership among the Black Political Empowerment Project, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Cease Fire/PA and Voices Against Violence.

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