Manchester Bidwell combines many seemingly disparate elements – adult career training, youth arts education, jazz presentation, orchid and floral sales – into a dynamic whole with a proven record of positively changing the lives of underserved populations in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region.
Our organization originated when a young, disengaged African American man met Pittsburgh Public High School art teacher Frank Ross in the 1960s. Frank mentored Bill Strickland throughout his teen years. Frank impressed upon Bill the powers of art, education and community and helped him obtain entrance to the University of Pittsburgh.
Wanting to give back to his struggling neighborhood the opportunities he had received through Ross’ generosity, Bill started a small ceramics program in Manchester in 1968. The Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild Youth & Arts program, as it is now called, serves public school students by offering courses in our ceramics, design, digital and photography studios.
In 1972, Bill assumed leadership of a struggling building trade school located near Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG). Over the years, Bidwell Training Center evolved to offer programs in fields ranging from horticulture to medical. Currently, we are a nationally accredited and state licensed adult career training institution.
Since then, other organizations have been added to the mix – all in support of creating an environment in which people would flourish. MCG Jazz lends the power of music with both its long-running concert series and educational programming.
The Drew Mathieson Center for Horticultural and Agricultural Technology contributes additional educational facilities as well as a sustainable source of beauty for our students.
Our powerful fusion of mentorship, education, beauty, and hope creates a safe space in which our students, young and older, can feel comfortable learning. We are so confident in our vision that we founded the National Center for Arts & Technology to create similar educational environments across the nation … and the world!