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  1. MCG Creativity Continues at Harvard University

    Cynthia Gu’s Recycled Tinkerbell Dress

    Cynthia Gu’s Recycled Tinkerbell Dress, 2014. Photograph by Richena
    Brockinson.

    On the surface MCG Youth & Arts (MCG), an affiliate of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, gives Pittsburgh students the rare opportunity to explore their artistic side. However, it also gives students the confidence and skills to succeed in school and reach new heights. Harvard University junior Cynthia Gu is the epitome of that success.

    Stepping into the design studio classroom at (MCG) was an influential moment for Cynthia Gu. A Pittsburgh Taylor Allderdice student at the time, Cynthia would spend the next four years of her high school career designing and constructing dresses out of reclaimed materials every day at MCG. The components of Cynthia’s designs ranged from ordinary garbage bags to recycled homework assignment papers. Cynthia loved the idea of upcycling—taking what most would consider trash and transforming it into something beautiful and wearable. The MCG teaching artists worked with Cynthia on her sewing and design skills as she created more stunning dresses. Cynthia’s time at MCG culminated in a fashion show at The Andy Warhol Museum showcasing her unique dresses constructed out of upcycled materials.

    Cynthia had already built a lengthy portfolio showcasing her designs from MCG when the time came to think about colleges. Working with MCG’s teaching artists, Cynthia submitted applications to several prestigious universities. She chose to write her entrance essays on a topic close to her heart: her time spent at MCG and its impact on her education.

    “I believe the process of making art is such an undervalued skill and activity,” wrote Cynthia in her applications. “It helped me to develop skills that are not reflected in the regular school curriculum.”

    Cynthia Gu

    Cynthia Gu modeling her Recycled Tinkerbell Dress. Photograph by Richena Brockinson.

    Cynthia’s essay clearly made an impact. She is currently a junior at Harvard where she is studying applied mathematics. Even with a heavy course load, Cynthia remains dedicated to incorporating her art into her busy schedule. She has been featured in several fashion shows at Harvard and MIT and has already completed several courses in the visual arts department of her university. There is even a ceramics studio right inside of Cynthia’s dormitory where she is able to continue her passion of creating things from recycled materials.

    When asked about what she learned in her time at MCG that she carries with her today, Cynthia has a simple reply: “I learned to not be afraid of leaving my comfort zone. To this day, I have used artistic skills from MCG to form innovative solutions to problems in school and in life.”

    See more of Cynthia’s work at cynthia-gu.com.

  2. MCG Youth & Arts’ New Exhibit: “Mad House”

    Adhemas Batista

    Illustration by Adhemas Batista created for Brazil’s Allegra Bitter Beer.

    MCG Youth & Arts’ next visiting artist, Adhemas Batista, is a designer, illustrator, and animation director working in Los Angeles. His vast client list includes Adidas, Asics, Beats, Coca-Cola, Gatorade, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Unilever, and more. The hallmark of his work is bright, vivid imagery.

    Born in San Paulo, Brazil, Batista draws inspiration from urban art and pop culture and influences of Brazilian tropical culture. A self-taught digital artist, his work includes a variety of design, illustration, typography and animation.

    He co-created an animated short for Unicef titled “Malak and the Boat,” which drew attention to the plight of Syrian children. The short won a Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2016. Batista’s other awards include nine Lions at the Cannes Festival, a Brazilian Young Creative award at the
    Cannes Festival in 2003, and three Golden Statues at the London International Awards.

    “Mad House” runs through Jan. 5, with a public reception on Nov. 16. He will also conduct a workshop with MCG Youth & Arts high school students in November. Visit mcgyouthandarts.org for more information.

  3. NCAT Welcomes New Project Manager

    Jeffrey Morris, NCAT project manager

    Jeffrey Morris, NCAT project manager

    NCAT is excited to introduce the newest member of its team, Jeffrey Morris.

    Prior to joining NCAT, Morris worked in performing arts production, management, and operations for a variety of nonprofit organizations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Washington D.C. Notable companies include Actors’ Equity Association (labor relations), ODC Theater (dance presenting), Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (community choral organization), the San Francisco Mime Troupe (political musical theater), The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust (arts presenter), and Woolly Mammoth Theater Company (new works) to name a few.

    Morris holds a Master of Arts Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University as well as a Bachelor’s in Playwriting and Performing Arts from the University of California at Santa Cruz. He enjoys spending as much time as possible traveling, exploring nature, and consuming art.

  4. NCAT Launches Replication Efforts in West Palm Beach

    Local leaders in West Palm Beach, FL are interested in bringing the Manchester Bidwell Education Model to their community in the form of a new Center for Arts & Technology (CAT).

    To help achieve that goal, the City of West Palm Beach has engaged NCAT to conduct a feasibility study to determine how best to position a local CAT for success. The 12-month study, which looks at employment needs, academic achievement, current service providers, potential sites, sources of funding, and local leadership, is scheduled to conclude by May 2018.

    Replication efforts are being coordinated by the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency and guided by a steering committee comprised of local education, workforce development, philanthropy, and industry leaders.

    NCAT will meet with community members throughout the feasibility study to understand the dynamics of the local landscape and to share information about the Manchester Bidwell Education Model.

    The replication process includes three phases of work, which are initiated by community leadership and result in the creation of a CAT based on the Manchester Bidwell Education Model. The three phases are:

    1. Feasibility
    2. Planning
    3. Implementation.

    West Palm Beach joins an expanding group of communities dedicated to improving lifelong outcomes of local residents through the Manchester Bidwell Education Model. The NCAT network currently includes 10 open and operating centers, six centers that are planning to open, and three communities undergoing feasibility studies.

  5. Transformative Teaching Artist Richena Brockinson

    Richena Brockinson, MCG Youth & Arts teaching artist

    Richena Brockinson, MCG Youth & Arts teaching artist

     

    MCG Youth & Arts teaching artist Richena Brockinson was selected as one of ten Pittsburgh-area arts educators to receive the New Sun Rising Transformative Teaching Artist Award. Brockinson was once a student at MCG and returned years later to teach in the photography department where she imbues her classes with a special blend of kindness, caring, and tough love.

    With the support of the Heinz Endowments, New Sun Rising awarded the 10 finalists $5,000 each and recognized their work with youth from African American and distressed communities.

    “I am honored to be a part of a group of such outstanding teaching artists; such beautiful and inspiring people,” said Brockinson.

    The Transformative Teaching Artist Award not only shines a light on the exceptional educators who won the award, but on the important role of all teaching artists. According to a statement released by New Sun Rising, “Teaching artists play critical roles in the lives of the youth they serve, providing not only artistic skill building, but caring, support, and mentorship. Yet those teaching artists who have chosen this as their life’s work face great challenges in building teaching artist careers.”

    For more than 10 years, New Sun Rising has supported innovative organizations that create economic opportunity and solve social challenges.

    The Heinz Endowments focuses on stirring creativity, learning, and environmental, economic, and social sustainability in the region.

    In addition to Brockinson, winners included Alisha Wormsley, Kim El, Celeta Hickman, Jordan Taylor, Shimira Williams, Akil Esoon, Mario Quinn Lyles, Bekezela Mguni, and Thomas Chatman.

  6. Establishing the 1968 Founders Circle

    As we look ahead to our 50th year, it is important to remember the elements that have come together to get us to this point. Every year 45,000–65,000 new nonprofit organizations are started, according to IRS data. Nearly the same amount go out of business each year. Clearly, 50 years is an achievement.

    What does it take to keep an organization sustainable, relevant, and growing? It must stay true to its founder’s vision, even as programs and services change over time. To ensure this happens, you need to have the right leadership on your board and committed staff. To allow all these elements to thrive, you need a strong base of donors—individuals, foundations, and corporate friends—who are committed to the vision and moved by the outcomes.

    Our donors have been partners in that success every year—you are a part of history. As we mark our first 50 years, we want to celebrate our individual leadership donors by officially recognizing them as members of our 1968 Founders Circle. As the name implies, these donors give at the $1,968 level or higher annually. They provide the philanthropic leadership that allows MBC and its programming to thrive by remaining operationally strong. As we celebrate half a century of making people whole, we hope you will continue to support our programming and consider joining the 1968 Founders Circle this year. For more information about the 1968 Founders Circle, please contact senior director of development Karen Linscott at 412-323-4000 ext. 264 or at klinscott@manchesterbidwell.org.

    With your support, we will continue to provide pathways out of poverty for individuals in need into the next 50 years.

  7. Shining the 50th Anniversary Spotlight on Our Sustaining Donors

    Grace Hampton sustaining donor

    Grace Hampton, Ph.D., MCG Youth & Arts sustaining donor.

    Before Bill Strickland realized his dream of opening a center to serve the youth and adults in the Pittsburgh area, he made a connection to a special individual at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Little did Bill know then that this individual would play an important role in the success at Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC).

    Grace Hampton, Ph.D., was the assistant director of the Expansion Arts Program at the NEA and witnessed the growth of the programs that Strickland was spearheading in Pittsburgh. Hampton has been a sustaining donor to MCG Youth & Arts for over three years. She—along with our other sustaining donors—provides a steady, reliable stream of support every month so that we can continue to provide our programs to people in need.

    Hampton spoke about why she made the decision to become a monthly donor to MCG Youth & Arts and why she believes others should do the same.

    “For many years I have tracked and watched MCG grow and become an important national asset to the arts in America—community arts in particular,” said Hampton. “The Guild is a leader in many areas and has nurtured the minds and the creative spirits of children and adults alike through the multiple youth programs and the fabulous jazz concerts presented.”

    She also had thoughts on MBC’s 50th anniversary and why it is so important for our sustaining giving program to grow stronger. “I know that the growth of the Guild has not stopped,” said Hampton. “I expect even more great things from MCG in the next 50 years.”

    Want to join Hampton and the dedicated group of people who provide monthly support to transform our students’ lives each day? To make a sustaining gift of $50 in honor of our 50th anniversary, or any amount that is right for you visit manchesterbidwell.org/about/support-donate/donate.

  8. Drew Mathieson Center: Sustaining the Future

    Drew Mathieson Center's Seeds in the City

    Drew Mathieson Center’s Seeds in the City Landscape Design course.

    Drew Mathieson Center’s Seeds in the City program provides middle school students with immersive, project-based learning opportunities in a variety of STEAM fields. DMC’s third year of youth programming saw 12 students enrolled in the Seeds in the City Landscape Design elective transform from students into professional landscape designers and experts in sustainability.

    The transformation began when Manchester Academic Charter School students in seventh and eighth grade traveled to Ohiopyle State Park, a first for all students involved. Students learned about the new Laurel Highlands Falls Area Visitor Center’s green roofs and biological wastewater treatment system and met with client Ann Talarek, horticulture specialist at Fallingwater. Talarek tasked students with creating sustainable, native planting plans for a stretch of curbside rain gardens, also known as bioswales, in Ohiopyle’s business district.

    Installed in 2010 as part of the Ohiopyle Green Infrastructure Project, the rain gardens collect and filter stormwater runoff easing stress on existing sewage systems and helping to keep the Youghiogheny River and Ohiopyle Falls clean from contaminates. Some residents have found the gardens to be high maintenance and in need of better upkeep. Talarek reached out to DMC’s Landscape Design class to come up with solutions for these issues.

    Each student designed a scale planting plan for one Sherman Street rain garden with an emphasis on ease of maintenance, maximization of stormwater absorption, and year-round visual interest. Talarek plans to incorporate student designs when the gardens are planted this spring.

    In addition, students Ryen, A’Niyah, and Tyrone also presented their work at Chatham University’s Seeds of Change: Igniting Student Action for Sustainable Communities conference. A joint venture between Fort Cherry School District, South Fayette School District, and Chatham University, the conference was held at Chatham’s Eden Hall Campus, home to the Falk School of Sustainability.

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