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  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. Drew Mathieson Center’s Herb Offerings Worth Your Thyme

    Drew Mathieson Center Whole Foods Market

    Drew Mathieson Center’s herb trios being sold at Whole Foods Market.

    The Drew Mathieson Center’s (DMC) greenhouse is increasing and diversifying its production by growing a wide range of popular herbs and vegetables throughout the production calendar.

    New this year to DMC’s product offerings are a unique variety of thematic herb combinations including the Fiesta, Thanksgiving, Chef ’s Companion, Italian, Tea, Herbs de Provence, and Fragrant Herb blends. The plants include: oregano, rosemary, lavender, basil, sage, thyme, and parsley among others. Potted herbs are also available individually in four-inch pots.

    All potted herbs and vegetables grown at the DMC greenhouse are grown using products that comply with the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) standards. OMRI is an international nonprofit organization that determines which input products are allowed to be used in organic production.

    Current organizations partnering with DMC to provide herb trios and other edible products include Whole Foods Market, Giant Eagle, and McGinnis Sister’s Specialty Food Stores. These partnerships will be focused on DMC’s guiding principles to grow, teach, and inspire. The partnerships will also focus on DMC’s ongoing goal of developing into a comprehensive local resource that includes educating and empowering community members to implement sustainable agricultural practices that promote healthy access to fresh food and conservation initiatives.

    Contact DMC to learn more about where to find our locally grown products and learn more about our unique partnership opportunities.

  4. Remembering the Jazz Masters

    Jazz Masters MCG Jazz

    Jazz Masters exhibit in the North Lobby

    For the past 10 years, MCG Jazz has been honoring the jazz masters—who have performed in the MCG Jazz music hall—when they pass away through a photo exhibit installed in the green room. Entering the 31st anniversary season, MCG Jazz is embarking on a plan in 2018 to open limited access to its collection of over 100,000 photographic images.

    The first collection of artifacts picked from the photo archives is an exhibition of legendary jazz guitarists whom we have lost over the past two years, including: Toots Thielemans, Jim Hall, Oscar Castro-Neves, Larry Coryell, John Abercrombie, and Chuck Loeb.

    The photographs-transferred-to-fabric exhibit will be on display at Manchester Bidwell Corporation in the North Lobby Gallery from through the end of 2017. Stop by between 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday or plan some extra time before a concert to walk the display.

  5. 2017 Jesse W. Fife, Jr. Fabric of Our Community Award Invitation

    Jesse W. Fife, Jr. Fabric of Our Community Award

    Date: Thursday, Nov. 9
    Time: 5 p.m.–8 p.m.
    Location: 1815 Metropolitan St.

    Bidwell Training Center (BTC), an affiliate of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, will honor the 2017 Jesse W. Fife, Jr. Fabric of Our Community award recipients that embody the mission and vision of changing the lives of adults in transition in Southwestern Pennsylvania and whose contributions impact the career-training sector. As we approach our fifth decade, we celebrate those who have made significant contributions over the past 50 years with an awards ceremony and reception.

    The 2017 Jesse W. Fife, Jr. Fabric of Our Community honorees are:

    • Dr. E. Peter Benzing
    • IBM
    • K. Leroy Irvis, posthumously

    This year we look back at those who have helped us transition from a 1960s poverty program to a 2017 ACCSC School of Excellence, and we wouldn’t be where we are without Dr. E. Peter Benzing, IBM, and K. Leroy Irvis.

    During the ’80s IBM did more than provide us with personal computers, staff, furniture, and the basis for our information sciences program. IBM gave us the credibility we needed at the time by backing our mission and our vision. In addition, it gave us a framework of how to work with future corporate partners. BTC students and the Pittsburgh region have benefitted immensely from IBM’s, Sal Faso’s, and Ted Robert’s support.

    Due to Dr. Benzing’s belief in our mission and vision, we have funneled countless students through our chemical laboratory technician major and into bright careers. His tireless efforts and guidance have not only assured that every student that steps into the Dr. E. Peter Benzing Chemical Laboratory is taking their first step into a new life, but also when they step out of that laboratory for the last time a positive future awaits them and their families for future generations.

    The only reason our doors stayed open in our early years was because of K. Leroy Irvis. He was our champion inside and outside the state legislature, and worked tirelessly to make sure BTC had the resources to follow through on its mission. This was a man who wouldn’t even let a snowstorm stop him from his purpose—doing good for ordinary people. Without Mr. Irvis, BTC would not exist today, and that is why we are posthumously honoring him with a Jesse W. Fife, Jr. Fabric of Our Community award.

    To purchase tickets ($50/ticket) visit or contact Ellen Mixon at 412-323-4000 Ext. 163 or at

    For sponsorship opportunities please contact Courtney McShea at 412-323-4000 Ext. 257 or email

    All proceeds from the event will directly support BTC’s graduate commencement ceremony and student educational materials.

  6. From Bidwell Training Center Graduate to Ph.D.

    Beverly Poellnitz

    Bill Strickland with Beverly Poellnitz, Ph.D., on her recent visit to Manchester Bidwell Corporation.

    Bidwell Training Center (BTC) is turning 50! For five decades, Bidwell has changed lives.

    We have been privileged to share in our students’ and graduates’ journeys as they worked to transform their lives—often making great personal sacrifices to provide a better future for themselves and their families.

    We celebrate their successes and feel a deep sense of satisfaction as we watch the positive ripple effects continue over generations.

    Recently, BTC graduate Beverly Poellnitz, Ph.D., came back to visit her alma mater, and she shared her story with us.

    Poellnitz attended BTC for electrical wiring training and graduated in 1978 and became a licensed electrician. She credits BTC with giving her the confidence to move to Phoenix with her child. Poellnitz’ first job was as a low-voltage, life safety system technician where she installed fire alarms in hospital operating rooms and she continued to work in the field for years.

    Passionate about learning, Poellnitz went back to school at a community college, and 40 years later she has five degrees to her name: two associate degrees, one bachelor’s degree, one master’s degree, and one Ph.D. That’s how she got her nickname—Dr. Bev. Her accomplishments don’t stop there. In June 2017, Poellnitz became a certified storyteller.

    As part of our 50th anniversary, we are inviting alumni to get in touch with BTC to share their stories of success. You are the best part of BTC’s story—part of the rich tapestry of our history that we like to call the fabric of our community. Whether you graduated from BTC one month ago or nearly 50 years ago, we want to hear from you! Your story is part of our story, and your story can inspire others to move their lives forward in a powerful way. Go to and tell us your story.

  7. Mr. Strickland Statement on Passing of Israeli Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres

    The following is an official statement from Mr. Bill Strickland on the passing of Israeli former Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

    “Mr. Peres was very supportive of the development of the Northern Israel Center for Arts and Technology in Akko not only because of our desire to bring adult training programs to people of the region and to foster an environment of self-empowerment for youth, but also because of our mission to treat all individuals with dignity and respect. He saw in our education model a real pathway to help bridge the divide among Jews and Arabs through art, environment, career training, and collaboration. He was unfailing in his belief that hope was for all and in his desire for peace in the country he loved. He will sorely be missed, but his legacy will live on for generations.”

  8. Trip of a Lifetime

    Students visit Yellowstone National Park

    By Melissa Klaric / The Herald


    You had to be there, they said.

    Three Farrell High students struggled to find the words to describe their four-day trip last month to Yellowstone National Park.

    “Beauty,” the kind only an artist can portray.

    “Amazing,” the majestic kind that’s part of a landscape unlike any in western Pennsylvania.

    “Wild,” as in wildlife like bison, bear and wolf.

    “At any moment of any part of the day, where ever we looked, the scenery was just beautiful,” said Christian Walker, a 2016 Farrell graduate. “It was like what you would see in movies. It was just amazing. As soon as we would leave our cabins, it was just mountains and stuff.”

    Walker, along with Isaiah Crosby and Michael McQueen, who will be seniors this fall, were chosen by Farrell teachers and administration to visit the nation’s first national park, the home of Old Faithful.

    The trip was made possible through a partnership of the Hope Center for Arts and Technology in Sharon and Park Journeys Inc., a non-profit organization formed in 2012 with the purpose of sending local students to Yellowstone who otherwise would not have had the chance to go.

    But that doesn’t mean the trip was a gift, said Tom Roberts, executive director of HopeCAT.

    “They did consistent work throughout the program,” he said. “So they earned it.” They “earned” it by attending HopeCAT’s first-ever class – ceramics – three times a week after school this past year at Penn State Shenango in Sharon.

    The young men beamed as they joked and reminisced about the trip with their chaperones, Roberts ad Christian Kuharik, their ceramics instructors.

    “We had the opportunity … to travel to Yellowstone, live as a family in cabins, prepare our own meals every day, and enjoy Yellowstone learning about the wildlife, ecosystem and nature,” Roberts said. The HopeCAT group stayed in Gardiner, Mont., with a group of students from Cleveland.

    And enjoy it they did.

    The favorite part of the trip for McQueen – who hopes his new nickname “Montana Mike” will stick – was when he got up close and personal with a bison.

    “I didn’t think animals would be as much fun as they were, and then I saw the bison,” McQueen said. “It started running at me, then they started pulling me away and I was like, ‘No I love it, and it loves me.’ “

    The running joke throughout the trip was that “Montana Mike” wanted to hug a bear and ride a bison.

    And while the travelers thoroughly enjoyed themselves, the trio were like sponges as they soaked up new lessons from the outdoor classroom that is Yellowstone.

    “When we went there, she (the park ranger) told us one rule: Do not pick flowers or plants because you have to preserve the wildlife and flowers,” Crosby said. “There were many types of flowers. All different colors – blue, purple, yellow, even some green.”

    Crosby marveled over watching a pack of wolves emerge from their den on the side of a ridge and said he was fascinated by fish in their natural habitat. “We saw a lot of fish. We actually saw how they protect each other. How they fight for their babies and all.”

    Yellowstone National Park covers almost 3,500 square miles in three states – Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

    “I remember our tour guide said for them to persuade the government to make Yellowstone a national park, they got an artist to draw out what Yellowstone looked like, and it was amazing,” Walker said. “They couldn’t believe how amazing it was. You have to be there to actually embrace it.”

    “I’m blessed to even be here,” Walker said he told the tour guide. “I never thought pursuing pottery for fun would have me end up at Yellowstone and would have me meet all the people that I’ve met.”

    About the Hope Center

    The Hope Center landed a $2.6 million state grant last October and is working with the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio to raise funds to match it so it can renovate the former Sacred Heart building at 115 Anson Way, Sharon.

    The center is slowly taking shape. When the first floor is finished – and Executive Director Tom Roberts said it should be done in the fall – classes for adults and youth will be held there. For now, the center has partnered with Penn State Shenango, which donated the use of its ceramics lab and materials for classes.


    See the original post and photos here.

  9. Michael Feinstein to perform at MGC Jazz’s 30th Anniversary Series

    By Matt Micucci /
    Vocalist and pianist Michael Feinstein will be replacing Bobby McFerrin as headliner of the MCG Jazz’s 30th Anniversary Concert Series in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Feinstein and his trio will be performing four shows, two each night, on September 23rd and 24th.

    “I am thrilled to be with you to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of MCG Jazz.  I look forward to a special weekend in Pittsburgh,” said Feinstein.

    As previously announced, McFerrin was forced to postpone his tour due to health issues. A statement from McFerrin’s management reads: “Bobby McFerrin is taking a much-needed sabbatical for the remainder of 2016, undergoing a course of treatment for Lyme disease and resting his voice. He was truly looking forward to celebrating the 30th anniversary of MCG Jazz and sends his congratulations to all involved in bringing so much music and joy to the Pittsburgh community.”


    The Series will run through April 21, 2017. For more information, go to

    See the original story here.

  10. Big Idea Session inspires change one presentation at a time

    By Amanda Waltz / Next Pittsburgh

    This Friday, around a dozen thought leaders—from the Chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh to an entrepreneur from London, England—will share their big idea from a global stage at the Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC). The Big Idea Session, sponsored by the MBC affiliate National Center for Arts & Technology (NCAT), is free and open to the public.

    NCAT has worked to elevate communities in need by setting up centers to provide high-quality arts education and demand-driven career training. The organization also focuses on fostering a culture where people can come together and find innovative, creative solutions to societal problems, a mission it will continue with the first-ever Big Idea Session.

    On the morning of May 20, more than a dozen arts, education and technology leaders from Pittsburgh and around the globe will meet at the MBC to share their socially-conscious ideas during a series of focused, fast-paced presentations. The featured speakers have successfully employed strategies that deal with issues such as poverty, unemployment and low academic achievement.

    “Overall, we were looking for people who would bring different perspectives and new ideas to an informed conversation about what we could do differently,” says NCAT Chief Operations Officer Paulo Nzambi. “Sometimes in our work there’s a level of cross-pollination that occurs where you take ideas from arts and infuse them in technology, where you take ideas from the realm of technology and infuse them into education, where you take principles of education and you infuse them into the arts and technology. And this cross-pollination produces an outcome greater than the sum of the individual parts. That’s what we’re hoping to create with this field of presenters.”

    Each presentation will take no longer than 15 minutes and end with a line summarizing its content. The format forces presenters to get to the essence of their ideas and keep audience interest.

    The event will welcome representatives from foundations, corporations and nonprofits, as well as the general public, free of charge.  Allowing everyone to come “adds to the culture of innovation and reinvention for which Pittsburgh has become known,” says Nzambi.

    “We wanted an environment where these ideas would be democratized. They should be shared with as many people as possible who have any interest in learning and being inspired because we never know what seed of an idea might get implanted in someone that will produce the next big thing.”


    See the original story and photos here.

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