This has been a difficult week, especially for Black American communities in the United States. An important thing for non-Black Americans to do at this time is to be an ally. Here are ways to be active and support #blacklivesmatter in Pittsburgh + beyond: Educate yourself! Learn What Black Pittsburgh Needs to Know About Protests + watch this livestream by […]

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  1. Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

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    This has been a difficult week, especially for Black American communities in the United States. An important thing for non-Black Americans to do at this time is to be an ally. Here are ways to be active and support #blacklivesmatter in Pittsburgh + beyond:

    Educate yourself! Learn What Black Pittsburgh Needs to Know About Protests + watch this livestream by BUFU on Black & Asian solidarity in NYC ✊Review this document for anti-racism resources that facilitate growth for white folks to become allies, and eventually accomplices, for anti-racist work.Dedicate time to these anti-racist reading lists from City of Asylum (shout out to Pittsburgh author Damon Young!) and Ibram X. Kendi ?

    Educate your kids. Start with this guide on How To Talk To Your Kids About Race, Racism And Police Violence and follow EmbraceRace for resources on raising children who are “thoughtful, informed, and brave about race.”

    Put your money where your mouth is! It’s important to spread awareness, but it’s even more important to support communities in deeper ways. ?Give to these local organizations to help with bail funds, therapy costs, and legal supportDonate + follow PGH black-led justice organizations like 1Hood MediaSisTers PGHBlack Political Empowerment ProjectPittsburgh Bail FundBlack Burgh Bail FundAftercare Jail SupportPGH Freedom FundTake Action Mon ValleyUrban Kind Institute, and The Radical Youth CollectiveReclaim the Block has a list of organizations and Black Minnesotans doing the work to call justice for #GeorgeFloyd

    Take action against police brutality.Follow Alliance for Police Accountability (and donate) to stay up to date on local actions around police accountability ?If you have accounts of police brutality or violence, contact the Citizen Police Review BoardRead about some of the police reforms we need Pittsburgh ?Gain background information on the ideas behind defunding the police and ‘Ending the Police’, + sign the Black Lives Matter petition to defund the policeSign petitions for justice for George FloydBreonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. For other ways to help, check out the Black Lives Matter carrd. ✍?✍?

    Support your Black friends, colleagues, and family members! Ask them for their Ca$happ, Venmo, or other ways to financially support them. Take a shift for them at work. Spot a meal. Allow them to rest, and lighten their workloads.

    Speak up ?Have conversations with your family members to dismantle their racist core beliefs. This chart can help identify overt + covert racist behaviors.

    Support-Black owned business in Pittsburgh! Here’s a list of businesses you can support. Additional businesses we recommend are Dirty BirdsUjamaa Collective, and Kilimanjaro Flavour ?Donate here to contribute to the Pittsburgh Black Business Relief Fund. 

    Support Black Immigrants. These populations experience a harsh intersection of institutional barriers and are doing amazing work to change that reality – check out the UndocuBlack Guide for Mental Wellness SpecialistsBlack Alliance for Just Immigration, and the Black Immigrant Collective.Read about building solidarity between immigrants rights and Black Lives Matter movements. ?

  2. All for All Immigrant Inclusion Initiative Expands to Coalition Model to Continue to Build a More Welcoming Region

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    PITTSBURGH (January 7, 2020) — All for All, now powered by The Global Switchboard, announced today that it is expanding to a coalition model as a response to the momentum built by the network of its partners for a more inclusive Pittsburgh region. 

    Launched in September 2016, All for All is an immigrant inclusion effort that is guided by the Immigrant Community Blueprint, a comprehensive community-informed plan for Allegheny County slated for implementation within five years of its release. The work of All for All centers around connecting people, organizations, and communities in order to work toward a common goal. By growing into a coalition model of leadership The Global Switchboard will convene existing partners and long-term allies to cooperatively guide the ongoing implementation of All for All, working together to coordinate programs and actions that build a welcoming and inclusive region for all.

    “We are thrilled to see this work expand from being a comprehensive plan for Allegheny County to an initiative that has built partners and champions across the Pittsburgh region to this next phase as the All for All Coalition,” said Fredrick Thieman, Esq., Henry Buhl Jr. chair for civic leadership at the Buhl Foundation and All for All Steering Committee chair. “It is clear that All for All, thanks to its community of partners, is well poised to achieve its original 2016 mandate to engage the broader community in this important work over the next three to five years.” 

    The initiative has formed diverse partner connections and activated various regional sectors through more than 440 hours of activity in its second year alone and has impacted thousands more through primary and secondary networks. In 2019, All for All engaged 2,117 people in direct programming and connected with more than 1,000 Pittsburghers over the course of its three-day annual summit — expanded in its third year to include a forum, neighborhood tours, and block party.

    “This work has always been about partnerships. All for All sought to accelerate local efforts to advance immigrant inclusion, shine a light on the strengths immigrants bring to our region, and create new allies across sectors,” said Betty Cruz, former project director for All for All. “I can think of no better partner to coalesce the All for All network, build on these achievements, deepen its collective impact, and address the gaps that still exist in our region than The Global Switchboard.” Cruz transitioned from her role as director and will begin a new charge as president and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh on January 21st. 

    The Global Switchboard takes a network stewardship approach aimed at transforming Pittsburgh into a more globally engaged and equitable community. All for All is currently a part of this network and its vision is aligned with the Switchboard’s strategic goals, which include the promotion of cultural diversity and exchange for a welcoming and inclusive region for all, in addition to complimentary target areas like education and global learning as well innovation and sustainable development. The Global Switchboard will use its expertise in building coalitions to grow All for All, including establishing a governance model that fosters shared accountability, ownership, and access to new opportunities and resources. 

    “In 2016, when All for All began, we entered as fiscal sponsor, supporting their team from launch through three strong years of growth,” said Nathan Darity, executive director of The Global Switchboard. “To this ongoing relationship, we now bring additional convening and coalition-building experience. We’ll work in 2020 to ensure the important evolution toward a full coalition leadership model.”

    The ongoing projects of the All for All Coalition will continue to run uninterrupted and will be guided by the same project manager and the same team of AmeriCorps Vistas. The current steering committee will be extended the opportunity to participate in the new coalition governance structure in 2020, with additional opportunities for serving on the board of directors for The Global Switchboard.

    About The Global Switchboard

    The Global Switchboard stewards a diverse network of people and organizations to transform the Pittsburgh region into a more globally engaged and equitable community. The organization bridges local and global concerns. More information can be found at

    About The All for All Coalition

    All for All connects people, organizations, and communities to actions that build a welcoming and inclusive region for all. Driven by collaboration with community and cross-sector partners, All for All aims to advance economic opportunity, break down barriers, and further immigrant inclusion across the Pittsburgh region. All for All is guided by the Immigrant Community Blueprint, a comprehensive community-designed plan for Allegheny County. Learn more at

    Media Inquiries: Sarah Mayer, Shift Collaborative,, 412-225-2310

  3. Member Highlight: The Portiuncula Foundation

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    This month we are thrilled to highlight an organizational member of The Global Switchboard, the Portiuncula Foundation. Recently, the Executive Director of the Portiuncula Foundation, Natalie Kasievich, took the time to lead our office in a presentation about their organization, which covered everything from the correct pronunciation of their name (PORT-ZEE-OONK-OOO-LAH) to a grant-writing Q&A.

    Here’s what we learned!

    Organization and History

    The Portiuncula Foundation is a grant-giving organization that’s advancing a broad vision of health and well-being through ‘little portions’ granted to organizations making a big impact. Their name, Portiuncula, is derived from the Italian word Porziuncula, meaning ‘little portion’, also the name of a tiny church dear to St. Francis and the early friars. The name represents the ‘Little Portion’ that God has given to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, of which the foundation is a part, to help further their work in collaboration with others.

    Founded in 2003, the Portiuncula Foundation supports efforts to advance health and well-being in the communities where the Sisters of St. Francis live and work. The foundation manages the restricted gifts and charitable funds formerly held at the Pittsburgh-based St. Francis Health Foundation, St. Francis Hospital of New Castle, and St. Francis Medical Center in a manner in keeping with the original intent of the donors. With their wishes in mind the Portiuncula Foundation strives to allocate these funds in accordance with these guiding principles:

    1. Promote programs that address root causes of poverty or focus on systemic change as well as empower the marginalized, especially women and children.
    2. Endorse initiatives that advance health, wellness, and education.
    3. Act as responsible and just stewards of the charitable fund in conformity with the ethical and social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
    4. Champion a broad vision of health that includes spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and economic wellbeing.
    5. Encourage collaborative efforts.

    The Portiuncula Foundation provides grants up to $15,000 to not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organizations within Western Pennsylvania and in areas where the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities minister. The Foundation awards grants to projects that align with their organizational principles, these often fall under the following focus categories: education, environment, health care, social services, care for asylum seekers, and care of the elderly, dying, and homeless. 

    Funding and Grant Process

    In keeping with their namesake, Portiuncula seeks applicants who can make their ‘little portion’ go a long way by using any money awarded to reach specific, quantifiable goals. This means making intentful use of every dollar and only asking for what is necessary for the project when applying. Some of Natalie’s other grant application tips included clear concise language, thoughtful formatting, the inclusion of carefully-selected additional materials, and of course, plenty of research beforehand! 

    If you’re interested in applying for a Portiuncula grant, check out past awardees here to get a sense of the kind of projects they’re looking for, and learn more about the grant process and timeline on their website here

    Thank you Natalie for taking the time to teach us a little more about your organization and for giving us some insight on grant-writing from the perspective of a grantor!

  4. PULSE Fellows’ Project Highlights Role of Art in Addressing Pittsburgh Education Inequities

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    Listen, learn, love, lead. It’s a short and simple motto, but these four words guide Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience (PULSE) fellows through their year of service with their host organization. PULSE’s motto encourages fellows to learn about their host organization and to engage with its community before attempting to solve any issues in the organization’s neighborhood.

    Margie Schill — one of more than thirty 2018-19 PULSE fellows — is completing her fellowship as Communications Coordinator for Hilltop Alliance, an Allentown-based organization which seeks to retain and enhance assets in Pittsburgh’s Hilltop neighborhood.

    “I work with some very passionate and engaged people at the Hilltop Alliance who inspired me to want to get more involved,” Schill said. “Through conversations with coworkers and community members who are familiar with the neighborhood, I was able to get the sense that a project at [Grandview Elementary School] might be something that could benefit the students in the community.”

    Toward the end of her fellowship this spring, Schill enacted the last element of PULSE’s motto, ‘lead,’ by introducing a collaborative art project to a class of third grade students at Grandview Elementary School over the course of four weeks and eight sessions. 

    Within Grandview’s student body, 89% of students are racial or ethnic minorities — many of whom are African American. Similarly, 89% of its student body is economically disadvantaged. According to Niche, only 27% of Grandview students performed proficiently or better in reading, while only 17% performed proficiently or better in math. 

    According to Arts Education Navigator, students with a low socioeconomic status but significant participation in arts are more than five times as likely to stay in school than students of similar socioeconomic habits without an arts education.

    Because the majority of students at Grandview Elementary School are racial or ethnic minorities, Schill decided to reach out to Pittsburgh’s #NonWhite Collective to find an artist of color to facilitate the project. Pittsburgh-based poet Veronica Corpuz responded and happily signed on to the project.

    According to Schill, Corpuz helped the students relate to poetry by asking about their favorite songs and explaining song lyrics as a form of poetry, before discussing more substantial topics that would constitute their final project. 

    Stephan Patterson, a 2018-19 PULSE fellow who worked on the project, said the students’ participation in the project “let them express their feelings and discuss the problems they were facing more organically.”

    For the final project, each student created a small abstract painting with the help of Laura Dicey, their art teacher, on top of which the students layered a photo of themselves and a poem about their hopes, dreams, and favorite things. The individual pieces were compiled onto a large board and surround the bubble-lettered question “What are your dreams?” 

    Creating PULSE Fellow Project

    When asked about the lasting impact of the project, Schill believes that creating something to be hung for the entire school to see will help the students to feel like they are a part of something that is bigger than themselves. 

    “It can be hard to enter into a community and assess the needs of a community you’re not a part of,” Schill said. “But creating those community connections, getting to know those kids — they’re such cool kids — helped to connect me to the community. I hope this is something that can happen again.” 

    PULSE Fellow Project

    Elsewhere in Pittsburgh, The Global Switchboard has partnered with various community organizations to form a Global Learning Coalition — a network of educators, non-profits, and government agencies that seeks to ensure that all members of the Pittsburgh community have access to global and community learning activities. The coalition is currently working to identify effective metrics to assess access to global learning opportunities in Pittsburgh. 

    Global learning, whether it occurs in local communities or abroad, provides an array of skills and experiences that follow students throughout their civic and professional lives, according to a 2017 study conducted by the Institute of International Education. Broader access to education irrespective of gender, location, ethnicity, or level of income, is not just a moral imperative, but, according to the Quarterly Journal of Economics, is most likely to increase innovation and economic growth.

    Racial disparity in the quality of public education is significant, according to a 2015 study of Pittsburgh public schools. Access to global education opportunities, like study abroad and foreign language education in elementary school, is rare in Pennsylvania according to Asia Society

    Although more than one of every five jobs in Pennsylvania is related to international trade, only 23% of K-12 students study a language other than English. Similarly, less than 1% of high school students participate in study abroad programs and only 2% of Pennsylvania’s college students study abroad. Those who do have access to these opportunities are facilitated by private schools such as Shady Side Academy and Sewickley Academy, that only wealthy — and often white children — can afford to participate in.

    “People who are able to, who have time and resources, should reach out into their community,” Schill said. “Maybe it’s not going into a school and creating a mural, but you can do something like volunteering with the Allentown Learning Engagement Center to learn more about your community.” 

    If you’d like to support projects like this in the future, you can donate to PULSE here, learn how to volunteer and donate to Hilltop Alliance here, donate to #NonWhite Collective here, and donate to The Global Switchboard here. If you’d like to get involved with The Global Switchboard’s Global Learning Coalition, contact


    This post was produced through an interview with 2018-19 PULSE fellows Margie Schill and Stephan Patterson and was written by Anna Bongardino, a spring 2019 intern for The Global Switchboard.

  5. Member Spotlight: Global Wordsmiths expands Language Access Project

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    For many recent immigrants and refugees, it can be difficult to navigate the challenges of adjusting to a new country and its culture while dealing with the added difficulty of a language barrier. Global Wordsmiths minimizes this obstacle by providing Pittsburgh’s immigrant and refugee populations with free translation and interpretation services through their Language Access Project. In the upcoming months, the flagship program will provide more meaningful programming by working on a series of specific long-term initiatives such as increasing 2020 Census participation and partnerships with local schools.

    The Language Access Project utilizes the expertise of university students around Pittsburgh who are native speakers or have native-level fluency in another language. The students are hired as interns for one or two semesters and are either given class credit or paid for their work by Global Wordsmiths. The interns participate in an intensive translation and interpretation program for professionals before they are paired up with a local partner organization that they will will assist. Current partners of the program are the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library, and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.

    Since the project’s conception in Fall 2017, it has expanded to its current capacity of 15 student interns and 13 languages. While the provided languages depend on the expertise of student interns, most languages remain a constant part of the program. Current languages include: Spanish, Nepali, Hindi, Arabic, Mandarin, Korean, Indonesian, Swahili, French, Ukrainian and Japanese.

    The intensive professional interpreter training hosts guest speakers in addition to staff members to teach interns about the importance of cultural awareness and confidentiality and the origins and demographics of different immigrant and refugee populations in Pittsburgh. Interns are also trained in a variety of skills used in oral and written translation and interpretation practices.

    Global Wordsmiths’ Summer 2018 interns take a break from their work to pose for a photo together.

    The training program ensures interns are aware of their critical role as interpreters and translators, so they are able to provide maximally beneficial services to the immigrant and refugee populations they work with. Global Wordsmiths’ Executive Director Mary Jayne McCullough stressed the importance of responsible interpretation. As she explained, untrained translators often do more harm than good as they have trouble remaining impartial, taking detailed notes, and not conducting conversations on behalf of the person they are interpreting for.

    “Being an interpreter is about helping people use their voice, rather than speaking for them”

    -Mary Jayne McCullough

    The Language Access Project increases the scope of their translation efforts by focusing on translating documents — such as brochures and intake forms — for partner organizations which will continue to be used after the partnership ends. They also train staff at their partner organizations on how to work efficiently with interpreters and translators in the future. In developing long-term language access plans for partner organizations, they hope organizations will be more purposeful in the work they do and will become more accessible to local populations.

    From June 2019 to January 2020, The Language Access Project will focus on increasing 2020 Census participation in immigrant and refugee communities. To do this, interpreters will knock on doors, make phone calls and translate documents related to the Census and the importance of participating. From January until May 2020, Global Wordsmiths will partner with local nonprofits for an educational cohort.

    Global Wordsmiths is currently accepting internship applications for Fall 2019. Native speakers and graduate students interested in working with vulnerable populations are given preference. Applications for partner organizations are invitation only. If you are interested in applying, contact


    This post was produced through an interview with Global Wordsmith’s Mary Jayne McCullough and was written by Anna Bongardino, a spring 2019 intern for The Global Switchboard.

  6. Global Links’ Nicaragua Project Nears Completion

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    Nicaragua has historically had one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in Central America, with 70% of the nation’s maternal deaths occurring in rural areas. Global Links, a member organization of The Global Switchboard,  is working to minimize this issue with the 2017 launch of a program to improve Nicaragua’s maternal and infant health  by providing essential materials for the Ministry of Health’s Casa Materna program.

    Nicaragua’s Casa Materna program began in the 1990s and established more than 170 maternal homes around the country in an attempt to reduce high maternal and infant mortality rates in rural areas. Across the nation, these maternal homes provide care to approximately 3,000 patients everyday. As a result of this program, maternal deaths have been reduced from 96 out of 100,000 live births in 2006 to 34.5 out of 100,000 live births today. While this is great progress, it is still far from the maternal mortality rates of less than 10 per 100,000 live births in many developed countries.

    As a partner of  the Casa Materna program, Global Links assesses the needs of the maternal homes and equips them with necessary materials by sending large shipping containers filled with food, medical supplies and bedroom sets donated by residents, universities, and medical facilities throughout western Pennsylvania. Each shipment provides supplies for ten maternal homes and is packed with the help of some of Global Links’ 4,000 volunteers. While Global Links aims to send a shipment every six weeks, the frequency of their shipments is dependent on the funding they receive for the program.

    A bed donated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh is used in an exam room in one of Nicaragua’s Casa Maternas.

    Global Links also partners with Rise Against Hunger and Computer Reach to provide the maternal homes with micronutrient rich meals and computers for data collection.

    This January, Global Links’ newly appointed Executive Director Angela Garcia made her first trip to Nicaragua to assess the efficiency of the organization’s aid and examined the possibility of additional needs.

    “It was a really powerful trip because I saw how investment in community engagement in Pittsburgh translates to literally saving women’s lives across the nation in Nicaragua.”

    -Angela Garcia, Global Links Executive Director

    Unfortunately, as a result of recent civil unrest in Nicaragua, many governments — including the United States — have withdrawn funding for foreign aid programs in the country. Global Links’ primary logistics and funding partner, PAHO/WHO, no longer receives the funding they need to continue their efforts in Nicaragua. As a result, Global Links was forced to suspend their program between April and November 2018.  

    Without the assistance of Global Links, the maternal homes are not able to get the meals and supplies they need to operate efficiently. As of Spring 2019, Global Links has been able to reinstate the program, providing each home with nutrient-fortified meals and 90 maternal homes with a full set of medical supplies — comprised of a complete exam room and eight to ten bedroom sets. The organization hopes to have fully equipped all 170 facilities by next year, but in order to do so, they are relying on an increase in funding and donations.

    To support Global Links and their continued work in Nicaragua, sign up to volunteer, donate medical supplies, or make a financial donation (you can use the notes section to specify that your donation is for the Nicaragua project).


    This post was produced through an interview with Global Links’ Angela Garcia and was written by Anna Bongardino, a Spring 2019 intern for The Global Switchboard.

  7. Amizade Launches Hill District Global Engagement Coalition

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    For the past 25 years, Amizade has provided global service learning opportunities to more than 12,000 people in 12 countries which span four continents. This January, they launched the Hill District Global Engagement Coalition.

    Earlier this fall, Hill District community leaders selected 30 student ambassadors from high schools in the Hill District to participate in the nine-month program which will allow each student to participate in service learning in both Pittsburgh and in an Amizade site abroad. Amizade hopes interaction between student ambassadors and their host country communities will have a positive impact on the students and that they will return home wanting to share their experience with the larger Hill District community.

    Students who have access to global education have demonstrated improved academic achievement, increased civic engagement, and better employment opportunities in their future. The Global Engagement Coalition aims to minimize this inequity by providing global service learning opportunities to high school students in the Hill District who wouldn’t otherwise have access to international experiences.

    Ambassadors are meeting with their partner organization once a month to workshop skills such as peer mediation and project management and to learn about the history of colonization and slavery. By September, each cohort of students is expected to have planned and implemented their community service project in the Hill District.

    “Helping young black youth starts with helping them identify their history”

    -Tyisha Burroughs, Equity and Inclusion Program Manager for Amizade

    Because there often is a lack of black history education in schools, many black students have to strengthen their identity and understanding of their ancestral history elsewhere. The Hill District Global Engagement Coalition aims to bridge the gap in education by sending students to countries in which people were colonized, enslaved, and brought to countries such as the United States.

    To help them carry out this project, Amizade has enlisted the help of three Hill District organizations — Ujamaa Collective, Reaching Back, and Center that CARES — each of which is sharing their organization’s mission and approach to community engagement with 10 students on the program. This June, students will travel to Ghana, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago (respectively) for 7-10 days with two staff from their partner organization, an Amizade staff member, and the other ambassadors in their cohort.

    Ambassadors traveling to Ghana will visit the ‘Door of No Return’ which was the last sight of Africa for many people who were enslaved and forced out of their country on ships. Whereas students traveling to Jamaica and Trinidad will visit the ports of entry that enslaved people went through upon their arrival.

    Amizade hopes student ambassadors will develop an appreciation for their ancestral history and black identity as well as a deepened understanding of colonization and slavery, and the way in which their harmful legacies continue to affect the world today.

    Getting funding for the Hill District Global Engagement Coalition was a process that spanned several years. Amizade has not yet obtained funding for their 2020 cohort of students, but they hope to partner with more organizations, double the project’s reach to 60 students, and expand the scope of the project by adding the neighborhoods of Westinghouse and Homewood. If you are interested in supporting the Hill District Global Engagement Coalition or Amizade’s other initiatives, click here.


    This post was produced through an interview with Amizade’s Tyisha Burroughs and was written by Anna Bongardino, a Spring 2019 intern for The Global Switchboard.

  8. Lessons in Collaboration from Denver

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    Last month the Switchboard team had the opportunity to travel to Denver, Colorado to attend the Posner Center‘s Lessons in Collaboration Symposium. We were very excited to have the opportunity to engage with the Posner Center, a sister-organization to The Global Switchboard, that convenes, connects, and catalyzes the international development community in Denver to collaborate for greater impact.

    Collaboration is not always easy–it involves setting aside your brand and your individual identity and stepping into a collective journey. But the problems tackled by a diverse collective effort are often longitudinally impactful, more resourced, and better-informed. Check out the following Stanford Social Innovation articles on collective impact:

    At the Symposium we heard from a broad array of speakers, including Joan Parker, President and CEO of Counterpart International, who left us with the following lesson on collaboration that we would like to share with you:

    Collaboration is a common audacious goal, embarked upon by audacious people that have a vision for how their community can be better.

  9. The Hill District to Northern Ireland–and Back Again

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    Students in Northern Ireland

    Students in Northern Ireland. Picture credit: Tyisha Burroughs

    For youth who have the opportunity to participate in them, global education experiences have been directly linked to increased civic engagement levels, improved academic achievement, and future employment opportunities. However, there is a significant access gap in terms of who those youth are and where they come from. Youth with more access to resources and opportunities for global education not only become more globally connected, but they go on to be more professionally competitive as a result of these experiences. Global Switchboard Founding Anchor Member, Amizade, is trying to change that.

    As part of their Equity in Global Education project, Amizade works to close the gap by bringing access to global education and service opportunities to underserved youth who have historically been left out of of these experiences.

    Most recently, Amizade partnered with the Jeron X. Grayson Community Center also known as “the G,” in Pittsburgh’s Hill District and Youth Clubs in Northern Ireland to identify, fund, and facilitate an opportunity for 12 youth from the Hill District and 13 youth from Northern Ireland to partake in an international exchange experience. Together in Northern Ireland, the two groups participated in facilitated diversity sessions, group projects, and other activities, giving both groups the opportunity to get to know one another, and more importantly, discover similarities in their lived experiences.

    As the two groups came together in Northern Ireland, facilitated diversity sessions. group projects, and other activities  allowed them to get to know one another, and more importantly, discover similarities in their lived experiences with discrimination. In the United States racial divides are geographic and affect access to services and opportunities. In Northern Ireland, the root cause of discrimination is religion; specifically, between Catholics and Protestants.

    The country’s “Peace Walls”  divide the catholic and protestant communities and complement the segregation that has become a feature of normal life throughout the country. In this setting–from an American’s perspective–discrimination is less visible and more complex because it is not dependent on physical looks, but rather, private beliefs.

    The trip to Northern Ireland was a phenomenal success that saw students from both groups drawing parallels in each other’s experiences from across the world. Amizade is now facilitating part II of this program, which hosts the 13 youth from Northern Ireland here in Pittsburgh!

    Amizade has now secured funding to continue this programming for a year. We look forward to seeing these journeys unfold. Look for these stories here!

  10. Pittsburgh Reactions to Nicaragua Crisis and more

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    The Global Switchboard stewards a network that’s helping Pittsburgh engage the rest of the world to advance justice and peace. The stories below highlight our network’s connections to current issues facing our nation and the world.

    Nicaragua Crisis

    March of the Flowers rally in Managua . Picture credit: Latinxtoday

    Nearly three months ago a violent crackdown in Nicaragua on student protesters ignited a socio-political crisis that saw a nation attempting to oust its president, Daniel Ortega. Since April 19th, nearly 200 people in Nicaragua have been killed, a majority of whom are young people.

    Pittsburgh’s Response:

    • Building New Hope (BNH) is a Pittsburgh-based, fair-trade, bird-friendly certified coffee cooperative whose funds helps support two schools in Nicaragua. Right now, the organization has teachers, students, families, and community partners on the ground in the country. On June 30th BNH joined one of the vigils taking place in seventy countries around the world, that saw people gathered with balloons and flowers for the “Marcha de las Flores” to honor all those who have been killed.

    Separation of Families at Border

    Stop the Immoral Treatment of Immigrant Families Rally. Photo credit: Carlin Christy

    Since mid-April, over 2,000 children have been separated from their parents and sent to detention centers by the Department of Homeland Security as part of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy. While the June 20th executive order signed by the president ordered the halt of family separations and called for the reunion of families within 30 days, this order did not end the “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting adults crossing the border, nor did it outline a system or process for reunification.
    Pittsburgh’s Response:

    Muslim Ban

    Picture provided by organizers of We Will Not Be Banned rally

    On Tuesday, June 26th the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s ban on travel from Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen; the majority of which are Muslim.

    Pittsburgh’s Response:

  11. Building a Future City for All

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    P4 Conference

    Pittsburgh’s third annual p4 conference, hosted by The City of Pittsburgh and the Heinz Endowments, kicked off on the evening of April 25th and continued through April 26th with this year’s theme of “Future City.”

    The importance of the conference was demonstrated by one of its first keynote speakers, Julián Castro, former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: “connect the dots,” he said. “policymaking has ramifications across sectors, and working in silos is antithetical to the bigger picture.” His words rung out to the government officials, nonprofit executives, educators, and civilians in the audience before him.

    Julian Castro at P4 Conference

    Julián’s words rang particularly true to The Global Switchboard as we reflect on our network, and our dedication to amplifying voices to find inclusive solutions to critical issues. The overall theme of the conference complements the ongoing work of The Global Switchboard.

    In March 2018 The Global Switchboard kicked off a convening series with leaders within two global engagement focus areas — (1) global education and (2) immigrant and refugee inclusion — to help us understand the challenges in these focus areas that are going unaddressed and require cross-sector, collaborative solutions.

    As an organization we are building up to having these conversations across other relevant areas of global engagement in the Pittsburgh region, including: Sustainable Development, Cultural Diversity & Exchange, and Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

    Together we believe Pittsburgh can work towards:

    1. Full inclusion of the region’s immigrant and refugee community in civic life.
    2. Equitable access to global education opportunities.
    3. Broad celebration of cultural diversity and exchange.
    4. Critical concern for world-wide health and well-being.
    5. Ethical, responsible, and inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship.


    The conference was full of many more great takeaways, including Nikki Fortunato Bas, of Partnership for Working Families, who emphasized the importance of one-on-one conversations in community organizing, Andre Perry, of the Brookings Institute, who stressed the importance of investing in people, not places, and Bruce Katz, author of The New Localism, who explained that top-down decision making will never be able to keep up with on-the-ground change.

    Did you attend p4? What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear from you!

  12. Leaders in Two Global Engagement Focus Areas to Continue Cross-Sector Collaborative Efforts with The Global Switchboard

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    The Global Switchboard’s mandate is stronger than ever: to leverage our coworking space, our digital hub, and the network of connections we’ve built, in order to convene people for purpose and impact. By activating our network and catalyzing collective action, we can amplify our voices to find inclusive solutions to critical issues.

    We’re Underway!

    This month The Global Switchboard kicked off a convening series with leaders within two global engagement focus areas — (1) global education and (2) immigrant and refugee inclusion — to help us understand the challenges in these focus areas that are going unaddressed and require cross-sector, collaborative solutions.

    We’re calling these leaders back together for a 2nd meeting, and keeping the invitation open to other individuals who feel that they belong at the table. Save the date for the next set of meetings in this convening series, held at The Global Switchboard:

    What’s the goal of 2nd round of meetings?

    ​The Global Switchboard will begin these sessions by sharing our takeaways from our first meetings, and how we have used the information gathered to clarify our model and our role as convener. We’ll introduce the value propositions that will guide The Global Switchboard’s ongoing involvement in these two focus areas. After we present our model we’ll revisit the themes and issues from our first meeting to finish laying the groundwork for teams to shape action-oriented and collaborative approaches to overcoming our collective challenges.

  13. Join The Global Switchboard in Finding Inclusive Solutions to Critical Issues

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    You’ve heard us talk about our physical location–our co-working space–and how we use it to increase collaboration and amplify impact of global organizations and initiatives in Pittsburgh.

    You’ve heard about our new digital resource —The Global Switchboard Hub–the online home for Pittsburgh’s global engagement community where you can explore efforts currently underway in Pittsburgh, find other globally-engaged people, projects, and organizations, and RSVP for upcoming events and opportunities right in your neighborhood.

    And now, The Global Switchboard’s mandate is stronger than ever: to leverage our coworking space, our digital hub, and the network of connections we’ve built, in order to convene people for purpose and impact. By activating our network and catalyzing collective action, we can amplify our voices to find inclusive solutions to critical issues.

    How will we do this?

    We have partnered with The Sprout Fund to design convenings that will help us to understand common network needs that can be addressed through our programmatic offerings. We are launching our network convenings with two focus area:

    We invite you to attend these convenings to help us answer the question: What challenges in these focus areas are going unaddressed and require cross-sector, collaborative solutions?

    What’s the goal of these meetings?

    Good question. We think the Switchboard has a role to play in these arenas. We have our space, online hub, staff, and board. Those are the resources we’re working with. We also have a growing network of collaborators. We know that we’re able to convene. We can highlight key issues (like the two noted above) on our Hub and follow it over time. And, in the end, we’re interested in catalyzing a variety of collaborative activities (e.g. a new project, a revived partnership, a marketing campaign). These network convenings will kick-off a process of determining the best way forward.

  14. Statement From Board Regarding Racism and Bigotry

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    We, the board of directors of The Global Switchboard and the undersigned members of the network, believe that two recent events – one national and one local – require our response. The first is the President’s disparaging remarks regarding immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries. The second is having the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette print an editorial supporting racist views on Martin Luther King Day.

    These events offend principles and values of our globally-focused organization and the local community we serve.

    We believe that when leaders in our country and community denigrate others, or publicly extoll a perspective that many of our fellow citizens find threatening or diminishing, we are all diminished.

    In response, we want to be clear about what we stand for and why. At its core, The Global Switchboard – a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization – is committed to greater understanding among peoples and cultures. We offer a forum for diverse perspectives from around the world, and from across town and down the street. We amplify ideas and solutions from wherever we find them, and create an inclusive platform for conversations about current issues. We support activities and programs that further engagement with the world, offer a welcoming environment for newcomers, and uphold basic human rights.

    We are interested in that which connects people rather than what divides them. The Global Switchboard convenes internationally-focused organizations and globally-minded people in our region to work together, learn from each other, and become more effective democratic citizens by seeing the world through the lives of others. Our goal is not to make up anyone’s mind, but rather to open minds. We hope you will join us in supporting these values and our mission.

    -The Members of the Board of The Global Switchboard and the undersigned members of the network, January 2018

    Change Agency
    Friends of Farmworkers
    Global Links
    Global Wordsmiths
    Greg and Janet Smith
    The Yemen Peace Project