The Urban Youth Action summer program that ended two weeks ago will be the landmark organization’s last. The board of directors announced Aug. 30 that after 45 years, the program that helped thousands reach higher than ever before will close its doors for good Oct. 31.
“For the past several months, we have been exploring a number of possibilities to sustain our organization,” said UYA Executive Director Ruthie D. King. “After looking at all of those possibilities, the Board of Directors has decided to recommend that Urban Youth Action be dissolved.”
Founded in 1966 by the late Bernard H. Jones Sr., UYA was designed to help disadvantaged high school students from across Allegheny County better their lives through job readiness, educational support services, financial literacy and leadership development programs. Its mission was to prepare youth to be “work ready, life prepared and community minded.”
“UYA helped further the lives of countless leaders and scholars and contributed to the growth of the region,” she continued. “Its legacy will remain an essential part of Pittsburgh through the contributions of its alumni and the impact the organization has had on local schools, businesses and communities.”
King said a combination of setbacks led to the decision to close, most prominently the ongoing recession from which they have been unable to recover.
“The Workforce Investment Act program is going through transition and several organizations have lost funding. We were one of them,” she said. “We are announcing the closure now so we can take the time to do this with dignity and respect for Bernie’s legacy.”
King said Jones would have been particularly proud of UYA’s international component, which allowed students to travel the Beijing, China, in both of the last two years.
“From Bedford Avenue in the Hill District to Beijing. He would have loved it,” she said.
King also said, if funding can be secured, UYA hopes to have some kind of public event before Oct. 31 to celebrate Jones’ legacy and acknowledge the organization’s impact.
Known for its rigorous academic programs and philosophy of service to communities, UYA sought to create a safe haven for students to excel in a caring and supportive environment. From rising green engineers to pharmacists, from political leaders to businessmen, from writers to global entrepreneurs, King said UYA alumni have overcome great obstacles to achieve extraordinary success.
“We are very proud of the professionals whose lives we have touched,” she said.