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  1. Bayview Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology celebrates 15 years of advocating for increased minority representation in media


    Bayview Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology (BAYCAT) students at YouTube headquarters in 2016. Photo by Nadia Andreini.


    One of the early adopters of the Manchester Bidwell educational model celebrated 15 years of forging the future. The Bayview Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology (BAYCAT) has been helping end racism and sexism through storytelling.

    When the educational model is replicated in cities around the world, the National Center for Arts and Technology makes it a point to not bring Pittsburgh to another city but for each city to provide the services their community needs as long as the same foundational principles are installed. That is why no replication sites are the same but all work towards the same goal.

    BAYCAT is no different as its offerings are different than any other replication site. Their academy provides free, after school digital media education to low-income minority students ages 11–17. Their studio is the professional arm that provides socially driven storytelling work for large clients like the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, the National Parks Service, Salesforce, Pixar, and more. The BAYCAT studio trains and hires young, diverse interns ages 18–25 and then helps them find jobs at large companies and institutions.

    In the past 15 years, BAYCAT has had 4,250 students go through their academy and has helped launch more than 225 careers in filmmaking and storytelling.

    BAYCAT is focused on proving that representation in media matters. Only 12.6 percent of film directors are people of color while being 40 percent of the population. One reason for this gap is that most minority creatives can’t afford the expensive technology and schools to learn the skills needed in the industry. BAYCAT offers professional-standard tools and resources for filmmaking and graphic arts to its students for free. Seventy-eight percent of BAYCAT graduates are people of color and 58 percent are women.

    Eighty-two percent of BAYCAT graduates have been hired by major companies. Iman

    BAYCAT graduate Iman Rodney who is an Emmy-winning cinematographer for the San Francisco Giants. Photo courtesy of BAYCAT.

    Rodney started at BAYCAT at 13 years old as part of their free youth program and would continue there for four years. At 19, Rodney was hired part-time to work on a documentary for BAYCAT’s studio and eventually joined BAYCAT’s paid internship program. At 21, Rodney was hired by MLB’s San Francisco Giants’ broadcast team as an intern later working up to videographer and finally being promoted to his dream job of cinematographer. At 25, Rodney won his first Emmy award for “We Are Giants” and won two more Emmys the following year.

    In the span of 12 years, Rodney went from being a teenager with asthma due to living in a home in a toxic waste dump in one of San Francisco’s poorest neighborhoods and not having access to computers, tablets, or smart phones to an Emmy-winning cinematographer due to his time at BAYCAT.

    Over the next 15 years, BAYCAT wants to prove that when everyone sees themselves represented the world can be more beautiful.

  2. Drew Mathieson Center and Chatham University explore controlled environment agriculture at center’s greenhouse

    The Drew Mathieson center for Horticultural and Agricultural Technology (DMC) remains dedicated to the preparation for the next stage in the DMC greenhouse operational evolution: the transition of approximately one-half of the existing commercial production space from floriculture to Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). DMC is collaborating with strategic partners to break down the entire system into individual segments and identify associated best practices.

    Early in the research process Chatham University’s Falk School of Sustainability and Environment was identified as a valuable collaborative partner organization. DMC partnered with Chatham University as a case study for two graduate-level courses, Fall 2018’s Applied Green and Social Innovation and Spring 2019’s Urban Agriculture.

    Chatham University students received an in-depth orientation to DMC’s unique operating model, its history, and an outline of DMC’s CEA initiative. Students in the Applied Green and Social Innovation course developed and provided the “Hydroponics and Controlled Environment Agriculture in Western Pennsylvania Product Market Report.” The report reinforced the need to establish a market and sales outlet before produce is grown or harvested. Niche opportunities are available in the hydroponics and CEA markets through smaller regional distributors of produce and local restaurants. Hydroponic crop recommendations were included with projected volumes and crop price comparisons. The market research concludes organizations are seeking out local vendors with an emphasis on crop quality, selection, and price.

    The Urban Agriculture students reinforced the need to develop a systems approach surrounding the transition to CEA and the potential impacts. They provided guidance to determine initial business planning metrics, identifying strategic partners, challenges, considerations, and opportunities.

    This initiative represents a strategic investment in the CEA industry. The initiative will work to be a catalyst for market and industry growth that will be driven by consumer success and unique educational opportunities. The DMC and Chatham University collaboration is an example of partnerships that work through expanding our organizational impact by the combining of an established urban horticultural and agricultural facility with the research and academic influence of an expanding, cutting-edge university program. Unique and creative partnerships will continue to pave the way for new opportunities focused on research, education, and our ability to cultivate new sales and the expansion of our partner base.

  3. Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild Youth & Arts’ new Executive Director is a familiar face

    In October, MCG Youth & Arts welcomed Justin Mazzei as the new Executive Director.
    While new to the position, Mazzei’s history with the organization started 15 years ago
    as a volunteer after graduating from Carlow University where he was studying arts education.

    “Upon graduating Carlow University, MCG Youth & Arts was at the tip top of the list of places I wanted to be a part of,” said Mazzei. “I started as a ceramic technician and in the next eleven years I grew through the organization in various roles, from teaching artist, arts integrated specialist, and studio coordinator to program director.”

    During his time here, Mazzei found magic in the building and in the students.

    “The amount of high quality opportunities we provide is astounding,” said Mazzei. “It is a place where your dreams can become realities. It is a place where you can see real tangible growth with the kids in our programs and its real.”

    Mazzei noted that the value of the program always revealed itself when he would see a student start their time in the program shy, nervous, and weary and leave the program a strong, confident, and empowered young adult with a matured sense of who they are and what their assets are.

    Between his time as program director and his new role as executive director, Mazzei stepped away from MCG Youth & Arts and worked at Andrew Street High School, a part of Propel Schools here in the region.

    Although he might have been away, his heart was still at MCG Youth & Arts. It was common to still see Mazzei at exhibit receptions and program events supporting students. He even took some of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild story with him to the high school hoping to be the Frank Ross to a future Bill Strickland.

    “I smile thinking of it,” noted Mazzei. “I implemented even the smallest details like playing jazz music on my record player during classes and saw the wonder and excitement and frankly confusion on the kids’ faces. Needless to say everything I did to positively impact the youth in my reach was directly pulled from the story of Frank and Bill and the experiences I had at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild.”

    However, Mazzei couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to fill the executive director position at MCG Youth & Arts when it was available.

    In his new role as executive director, Mazzei wants to ensure that MCG Youth & Arts continues to provide world-class opportunities for youth in the region. One of his priorities is to collect and utilize meaningful data on new initiatives to expand the program’s family of partners, participants, and alumni.

    When asked about potential changes, Mazzei looks to the past for inspiration. “When I think of changes I think of the process of wheel throwing that inspired a young Bill Strickland,” said Mazzei. “I think of how as a potter you are transforming the clay into something with value, something with purpose, something beautiful. I envision the same process for the program. Change is constant, but making well informed and purposeful change to ensure all students have access to programming that offers them a bright and promising future is important.”


  4. Renowned illustrator exhibits and works with students

    Best-selling illustrator and children’s book author Carson Ellis shared her work and knowledge with MCG Youth & Arts students and her art is on display in our gallery. “Carson Ellis: Selected Works” presents a collection of original drawings, prints, and illustrations from the artist.

    The featured works—selected by Ellis—showcase the artist’s signature style through a range of traditional mediums. Concert posters, album covers, book illustrations, and process sketches are on display.

    Ellis’ work fits with MCG Youth & Arts’ 2019-20 theme “Celebrate. Collaborate.” Ellis works with her husband, The Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy, as well as with other authors and musicians. Her experience teaches students about the realities of being a professional illustrator while offering them inspiration to follow creative avenues they may already have access to.

    “I found Carson through Instagram, but also kept noticing her books in the homes of friends, even those without children,” said Cecilia Ebitz, MCG Youth & Arts Visiting Artist and Exhibitions Coordinator. “I hope that the students will see themselves as a part of a creative community at MCG and figure out what collaborations can be made here.”

    Ellis worked directly with students in the design studio as part of a threeday workshop. They went through the process of creating a picture book and talked about them as an art form and the process of storyboarding and character design.

    Aside from her work as a professional artist, Ellis is fond of giving back and sharing her knowledge.

    “I taught a 12-week drawing workshop for teen artists at the Portland Art Museum for years,” said Ellis. “These days I volunteer at a women’s prison teaching art to incarcerated moms and their kids, but I have a special place in my heart for working with teenagers because my own teen years were difficult and art was the thing that got me through them.”

    “Carson Ellis: Selected Works” is on view until Dec. 23 at the Connie Kerr Gallery at 1815 Metropolitan St. Pittsburgh, PA 15233.

  5. Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild Jazz publishes first book “Spirit to Spirit”

    Always looking to preserve, present and promote jazz, MCG Jazz has published its first book, “Spirit to Spirit: A Portrait of Pittsburgh Jazz in the New Century.”

    In 2018, MCG Jazz focused on Pittsburgh’s important jazz history with the release of the documentary “We Knew What We Had: The Greatest Jazz Story Never Told,” and now it is focused on the city’s current jazz community.

    Award-winning Pittsburgh chroniclers Abby Mendelson and David Aschkenas set out on a two- year-long quest listening, interviewing and photographing the city’s current, rich jazz life. Designer David Wachter crafted the material into this visionary book.

    Readers will enjoy profiles from prodigies barely out of high school to legendary icons like Roger Humphries.

    “Spirit to Spirit” is available for purchase at and on Amazon.

    Front cover of “Spirit to Spirit: A Portrait of Pittsburgh Jazz in the New Century.”



  6. Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild Jazz releases two new albums

    Jazz fans can enjoy two new albums from MCG Jazz this year that travel the spectrum between fierce and full of swing to quiet and introspective.

    MCG Jazz has been involved with The Diva Jazz Orchestra—an ensemble of 15 talented female musicians— since its inception. In 2017, the orchestra wanted to try a project working with male soloists and performed on the MCG Jazz stage with Ken Peplowski, Jay Ashby, Claudio Roditi, and MCG Jazz Executive Producer Marty Ashby. From that live performance came the album “Diva + The Boys.” The collaborations led to exciting arrangements filled with fire, finesse, and swing. “Diva + The Boys” debuted at #16 on JazzWeek.



    “For All We Know” is an album that was also built off a growing collaboration. Gloria Reuben’s last album “Perchance to Dream”—released on the MCG Jazz record label—ends with a duet between Reuben and Ashby. The chemistry behind creating that track led to this new collection of tunes that speaks to the deeply personal, often heart breaking, and eternally hopeful nature of love and relationships. Recorded in New Orleans, LA, all of the songs evoke in the listener the question: how do you face the denial, sorrow, and anger that arises from a break-up and pick yourself up to start over?


    Both albums are available for purchase at

  7. Record number enroll at Bidwell Training Center

    For the entire 2018–2019 fiscal year Bidwell Training Center (BTC) enrolled 120 students, and BTC is projecting a significant increase in enrollment as this fall alone 89 students have enrolled in classes.

    This fall BTC enrolled its largest horticulture technology class in the history of the program. Its medical programs this fall exceeded total medical enrollment from last fiscal year and new cohorts are starting this upcoming spring.

    Strategic Changes Made to BTC’s Admissions

    When Executive Director Kimberly Rassau Ed.D. started at BTC this year, her priority
    was increasing the number of students served. Significant changes were made to the admissions strategy causing these excellent results. BTC has done a complete re-brand of their marketing materials and focused more on digital marketing in order to meet potential students where they are spending a lot of their time.

    While the admissions process is the same, BTC has been more flexible to try and accommodate future students. For instance, while informational sessions are still held Mondays and Wednesdays at 8:45 a.m., potential students can now make an appointment to do an informational session if they aren’t able to make it to the one of those two days. Furthermore, a new addition to the admissions team has increased recruitment efforts.

    While the numbers prove the efforts are effective, BTC still has more changes planned.
    You’ll soon catch a new BTC commercial on television featuring BTC’s best ambassadors: alums. In addition, expect to see a complete redesign of the BTC website soon that will be clearer, modern, and easier to navigate.

    2019 BTC Placement Rates

    As reported in BTC’s 2019 Annual Report to the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, BTC’s overall job placement rate is 82%. BTC placement officers keep in touch with graduates to check on their employment and provide career advisement. Below are the individual programs’ placement rates:

    • Laboratory Technician – 93%
    • Culinary Arts – 73%
    • Horticulture Technology – 77%
    • Medical Assistant – 100%
    • Medical Claims Processor – 73%
    • Medical Coder – 71%
    • Pharmacy Technician – 89%

    Apply to BTC

    Offering no-cost career training to Pennsylvania residents with a high school diploma
    or equivalent is not a secret that should be kept from anyone who can take advantage
    of this innovative educational model. If you or someone you know wants to learn
    more about enrolling at BTC call 1-800-516-1800.

  8. In memoriam: Gary Caldwell, Director of Student Services

    Gary Caldwell, Director of Student Services. Photo by Germaine Watkins.

    Bidwell Training Center (BTC) lost a family member this fall—Gary Caldwell, 43, Director of Student Services. Caldwell started changing lives at BTC in 2003 when he started as a Student Advisor and eventually rose to Associate Director of Student Services and then to Director of Student Services.

    It is often noted that one of the things that sets BTC apart from other institutions is the quality of support services we offer to our students who all come from different backgrounds and require assistance in different areas. Caldwell set the tone and standard for those important services.

    Known to be the one all could go to when they needed someone to talk to during difficult times, Caldwell’s loss hit significantly hard on BTC and the community.

    Caldwell spent time helping others outside of his time at BTC as he was also associate
    producer of the documentary “From Liberty to Captivity,” which shines a light on
    the issue of sex trafficking.

    His heart and his legacy will live on at BTC and in the region.

  9. Internal promotions prove the quality of Bidwell Training Center’s staff

    Professional development is something every person should work on throughout their entire professional career. Bidwell Training Center (BTC) emphasizes this with students and sets the example with the development they do with their own employees. BTC has had three internal promotions this year that demonstrate the excellent quality of its staff.

    Tiaona Cade, Career Services Coordinator. Photo by Germaine Watkins.

    Tiaona Cade started her time at BTC in 2018 as a placement officer. In her new role, Cade ensures career preparation throughout the student life cycle for all programs and makes career readiness a priority.









    Regina Hergenroeder, Student Advisor. Photo by Germaine Watkins.

    Regina Hergenroeder started as the Administrative
    Assistant for the culinary arts program six years ago and was recently promoted to student advisor. Hergenroeder now provides supportive services to an assigned number of student cohorts with the goal of enhancing student engagement, facilitating academic success, overcoming personal barriers, and helping students achieve their educational and career aspirations.






    Audra Pavloski, Student Services Coordinator. Photo by Germaine Watkins.

    A student advisor when she started at BTC in 2017, Audra Pavloski now serves as Student Services Coordinator. Pavloski is now a liaison between BTC and outside agencies, which include the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Veterans Affairs, Pennsylvania Women Work, and others.








    “Tiaona, Regina, and Audra are committed to our mission and showed interest in taking on a more prominent role in the scope of operations,” said Ken Huselton, Senior Director of Operations.

  10. 101 new donors give to Manchester Bidwell Corporation

    Support from individual donors truly makes a difference in MBC’s ability to provide empowering learning environments and innovative programming to members of our community who are often overlooked. This year, we welcomed 101 new individual donors to our MBC family. Thank you!

    So often, caring people who are looking to make a difference are introduced to our programming through those who already share a passion for our mission. Our supporters bring them in for a tour, an MCG Jazz concert, an MCG Youth & Arts exhibition, a reception catered by our Bidwell Training Center culinary staff and students, or the Drew Mathieson Center greenhouse open house.

    Others express their respect, love, and gratitude by making a thoughtful gift in honor or memory of someone. New donors are also introduced through their workplace United Way giving or matching programs.

    If you would like to introduce someone to MBC through a visit, or honor or remember them with a gift, please contact Kerry May at 412-323-4000 ext. 261.