Written by The New Pittsburgh Courier
On Nov. 10, the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh presented their annual State of Black Pittsburgh report at Carnegie Mellon University as part of a daylong event. While previous reports focused on devastating statistics showing dire conditions for African-Americans, this year’s report focused on their positive efforts to address issues in the Black community.
|RAISING CHAMPIONS—Standing, from left: Esther Bush, Ryan Mundy, Nancy Mundy, Annie Hanna-Cestra, Gregory Mundy and Andrew Stockey. Sitting, from left: Jerome Bettis, Gladys Bettis, Charlie Batch and Lynne Settles. (Photo by J.L. Martello)
“We continue to see our region’s need for basic support services grow. Last year, we worked with ever increasing numbers of men, women and children whose needs are more urgent and more complex than ever before. They face deep and troubling circumstances in life that are not going away soon,” said Urban League President and CEO Esther Bush. “To deal with these issues, our four departments are working harder than ever to provide support, resources and hope.”
The Urban League works to address issues in employment, healthcare, housing, education and equality. Due to their success providing services in these areas, the National Urban League awarded them a 5.0 affiliate rating, making Pittsburgh’s affiliate one of only two throughout the country to receive the highest rating.
“What distinguishes our work at the Pittsburgh Urban League, and nationally, is the big picture perspective we bring to the table,” Bush said. “Like Muhammad Ali noted, a champion must have a vision. Our vision is truly far reaching: to enable African-Americans to secure better education, economic self reliance, parity and power and civil rights.”
The Urban League provided employment and training services to nearly 2,700 people over the past year. Of the thousands they served, nearly 1000 were formerly incarcerated adults seeking employment, and more than 200 were “mature workers.”
“We live in a world of change, and that change drives our economy as a country,” Bush said. “It is vital that our clients be educated and trained in those areas offering job growth and opportunity, a living wage, and a choice to join the middle class.”
In addition to the Urban League’s work in education through their charter school, the organization also provides programs through their education and youth development department. Last year they helped 140 youth through the Black Male Leadership Development Institute and introduced nearly 420 teenagers to careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“Unfortunately, the African-American community nationwide remains woefully underrepresented in the STEM fields, predicted to be the areas of greatest job growth in the future,” Bush said. “At the Urban League, we have and will continue to seek ways to provide opportunities in these areas, starting with educational access for our youngest children and continuing with targeted training for our job seekers.”
In the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the Urban League provided housing grant assistance to 313 families to help them avoid eviction and helped 827 families receive safe and affordable housing. They also provided housing counseling to nearly 2,400 families.
The Urban League provided nearly 2,000 families with hunger relief services last year. They also conducted visits with 560 families at community-based locations in Duquesne, East Hills and Northview Heights.
(For more information on the Urban League visit www.ulpgh.org.)