Lighting the Way: 8 programs empowering Black youth in PGH

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Pittsburgh is a city with a rich, diverse history that is currently experiencing a collective call for growth and community empowerment. Providing opportunities for our youth to grow and develop alongside their communities is essential for Pittsburgh’s bright future.


From initiatives promoting academic excellence and career readiness to those fostering artistic expression and community engagement, Pittsburgh’s Black youth empowerment programs are not only fostering individual growth, but are also igniting a sense of pride and purpose among the city’s young residents.


Pirates Nike RBI Program


In partnership with the Pittsburgh Pirates and CitiSports, Duquesne Light Co. (DLC) sponsors this program aimed at increasing baseball and softball participation among underserved communities in Pittsburgh. Access to team sports is a success for the children who play and the community. Children who participate in sports have an opportunity to learn teamwork, resilience, and goal-setting, all while having fun with peers and learning from trusted adults. The Pirates RBI program takes things a step further by providing innovative equipment and access to memorable experiences as well.


Young Black Motivated Kings & Queens


YBMKQ is a youth-led organization that works with middle and high school students to promote leadership, social awareness, and an opportunity to effect change in their communities. YBMKQ programs aim to reach youth during their school years while also inspiring them to dream big and develop skills for the future. YBMKQ also publishes Younger Black Pittsburgh, a collection of profiles on extraordinary Black youth ages 15-25. The publication inspires the newest generation of changemakers to strive for excellence in the community.


Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh


The Youth Development Program through the ULGP provides opportunities for young Black men and women to develop leadership and life skills outside of school. Participants have the chance to meet with leaders across the community, attend year-long programming, and form a community of their peers to help build momentum for success post-graduation.


Hilltop Urban Farm Youth Programs


The Hilltop Urban Farm is a neighborhood resource that provides food for the community and training and connection. The Youth Programs reach out to school-aged students in the community and encourage them to learn about sustainability, farming, food production, and teamwork. The Farm hosts after-school programs, field trips, summer camps, and workshops.


Electrical Distribution Technology (EDT) Program


While many youth programs focus on school-age participants, there is a great need for support post-graduation and in the early-career years. DLC is paving the way with its EDT program designed to fully fund training for students who are ready for a career in the electric utility industry. By removing the financial barrier to education, DLC is making it possible for young adults from all over Pittsburgh to advance in their chosen fields.


1Hood Media


1Hood is an arts and activism media academy that aims to “build liberated communities through art, education, and social justice.” High school youth can learn media literacy, explore their own creative passions, and have a safe place to experiment and perform. 1Hood hosts nationally-celebrated performers, produces workshops, and maintains a community meeting space that helps youth find the mentorship and tools they need to amplify their voices.




People of Origin Rightfully Loved and Wanted is a Hazelwood-based organization that aims to connect the community with resources to help build a better future for residents and their families. POORLAW has staff and volunteers who help provide extensive community programs, including youth sports and mentoring. The Hazelwood Youth Media Justice Program is a unique chance for kids and teens to learn the media skills necessary to make their voices heard in the wider community.  


Center of Life


This Hazelwood organization offers family and youth programming aimed at creating a strong sense of community and purpose. The Fusion program gives younger children a place to go after school for homework help, mentorship, and opportunities for hands-on learning outside the classroom. The KRUNK movement is an opportunity for high school students to learn skills related to entrepreneurship, media production, and performance, all through a lens of social justice and community.


With so many wonderful organizations offering growth opportunities for Pittsburgh’s Black youth, the future of our city looks bright.


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