Bernadette Turner


“Communities of color and all underserved groups need a robust nonprofit sector rooted in those communities, with enough resources to make a real difference.”

These are the words of the Greenlining Institute, an organization focused on racial and economic justice in California. Yet, they align with the perspective of local leaders.

It’s no secret that Pittsburgh continues to suffer from segregation like practices in the midst of two cities; the most livable one and “the other.”  Some have equated the “other” city to plantation like mentality and slave practices.

In that other city- Black neighborhoods, community benefit organizations continue to suffer from short falls.  As we mentioned last week, short falls include revenue disruptions, mergers and closings.  Although current situations are in some cases dire, Executive Directors report this has been happening for years.

“We’ve never had enough resources to adequately get the work done”, says Richard Garland, former Director of One Vision, One Life.  One Vision, One Life, a community based anti violence program is now closed. Mr. Garland states there are several barriers to successfully running effective community based programs.

One of those barriers is the competition among other organizations, particularly when they are provided more resources. “They can do a lot of different things we are unable to do”.

An example of not being able to do what others can is clear within the infrastructure of Addison Behavioral Care.

Touching the lives of nearly 1,000 families and individuals a year, Addison has operated without designated staff in marketing, development, fundraising, HR and IT for nearly 6 years. Yet, third party evaluators have given Addison’s service delivery and outcomes gold stars.

In fact, Addison remains one of the only community based organizations providing substance abuse prevention, intervention with licensed recovery treatment.

Dianne Swan, executive director of Rosedale Block Cluster (RBC) invested in the Homewood community 15 years ago and today the organization continues to demonstrate solid results.

If you remember Rosedale and Tioga Streets in the 1990’s, you know the presence of RBC cleared a destructive corner of crime and addiction.

Nevertheless, with limited capacity and even less resources, RBC struggles like so many of the others.  Community organizations have been “marginalized with efforts to displace us” which in turn begins to “dilute and extinguish Black leadership”, says Ms. Swan.

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