There is a need to engage young people now more than ever. Youth are important members of our society and have vital contributions to make, but they are regularly excluded from community development, policy-making, and positions of power. Young people aged 25 and under make up 46% of Pittsburgh's population, which means that almost half of our population is being left out. To better understand youth and youth issues, we have to intentionally include them in the decision-making and problem-solving process.
The principle that youth are primary stakeholders and should be empowered and included from the beginning guides UrbanKind's philosophy of engagement, coordination, and outreach. Young people are in the position to act as agents of positive social change who will stimulate greater economic and social well-being. UrbanKind plans to engage with young people to bring out their true, often-overlooked and dismissed potential.
Recent Programs and Projects
Youth Green Corps
This summer, UrbanKind Institute served as a provider and worksite for the City of Pittsburgh's and Allegheny County's Summer Learn & Earn program. As part of this program, UrbanKind hosted 10 paid teenage summer interns for five weeks. During the program, the interns worked on a variety of projects related to environmental and youth issues. Their projects included: 1. constructing an aquatic robot with the help of the Citizen Science Lab at the Energy Innovation Center that they used to test the water quality of Saw Mill Run; 2. identifying birds with the help of Mr. Mike Faix of the National Aviary in order to create a summer bird-watching guide for McKinley Park; 3. conducting oral history interviews with community elders about how McKinley Park has changed over time and about the elders' relationship to the park and the environment; and 4. having in-depth discussions with each other about topics important to young people in order to create a version of UrbanKind's Prioritize & Compromise engagement activity that we can use to gather input from youth in our various community engagement activities.The summer bird guide and an interview booklet will be publicly available soon!
Remake Learning Days
As a member of the Remake Learning Network, UrbanKind hosted the 2016 Remake Learning Days in the South Hilltop neighborhoods. At the week long neighborhood events, young people were able to experience hands-on, technology-infused, engaging and relevant learning experiences. UrbanKind is engaged in advancing STEAM, Maker, and technology-enhanced learning in communities.
South Hilltop Youth Engagement
Most youth in the south neighborhoods have poor access to quality youth programming. Consequently, much of their productive energy and enthusiasm is without focus. Our goal is to help existing Hilltop organizations improve the quality of programming available to Hilltop youth.
Young Professional Initiative
UrbanKind is working to create a platform for young professionals to network, collaborate, and enrich their community. Our goal is to ultimately create a culture and environment that retains young people of color in the Pittsburgh Region.
My Brother's Keeper (MBK)
Over the course of seven community-based planning sessions around the Pittsburgh region, UrbanKind Institute facilitated conversations among and between young men, service providers, and others. They discussed needs and gaps in out-of-school programming and attributes of ideal program activities.
In a final report, UrbanKind Institute identifies several major and recurring themes that arose from the discussions, particularly as they relate to programing and activities that achieve My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) intiative goals. Click here to learn what the young men had to say. Be sure to check back here for next steps in the My Brothers Keepers project.