The new Pittsburgh Scholar House seeks to replace cycle of poverty with ‘virtuous cycle’

Taylor Naylor and daughter Neveah play with sticky notes at the Pittsburgh Scholar House office on the North Side on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. (Photo by Lilly Kubit/PublicSource)

By providing college education and other resources largely to single-parent families, an emerging program aims to create a “cycle of generational prosperity.”


by Eric Jankiewicz, PublicSource

When 24-year-old Taylor Naylor received an acceptance letter to a newly formed education program that aims to help her complete college, she thought it was a scam.

“This is all so new. I didn’t think I’d make the cut,” she said as her 3-year-old daughter played around her. “I’m not used to being the one that’s in. Usually I’m the one that’s out, not selected.” 

Naylor’s acceptance letter is from the Pittsburgh Scholar House, a new nonprofit based on a model developed in Kentucky intended to help single parents complete higher education by providing financial aid, transportation and potentially housing, and bolster their “social capital” through things like networking skills and leadership opportunities.

The program’s goal is to help families to spur generational wealth, focusing on Naylor’s education as much as her daughter’s. The University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Childhood Development will be working with the program to create school readiness classes for participants’ children.

The Pittsburgh Scholar House, running an annual operating budget of $350,000, accepted 100 parents after getting more than 200 applications. The program comes at no cost to the parents and their college educations will be funded through financial assistance.

“You’ll hear about programs breaking generational poverty, absolutely we need to do that,” said Scholar House CEO Diamonte Walker, who left her position as deputy executive director of Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority in April 2022. 
Diamonte Walker stands outside the Pittsburgh Scholar House Office on Allegheny Avenue the North Side on Wednesday, Dec. 7.
Diamonte Walker stands outside the Pittsburgh Scholar House Office on Allegheny Avenue the North Side on Wednesday, Dec. 7. (Photo by Lilly Kubit/PublicSource)

“But after we break the cycle of poverty, then what? What’s next? It’s not enough to break a cycle. You’ve now got to begin a virtuous cycle. We’re trying to position these scholars to be the first movers in their family to set new traditions, new value systems that are going to prioritize education, higher learning.”

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