2011 Program Recap

Recognizing the need to incorporate a youth voice in its grantmaking, The Heinz Endowments again employed recent high school graduates as summer youth philanthropy interns. The program included eight teams of interns at local nonprofit organizations, each of which awarded $25,000 in grants.

This year, each team researched issues related to making the Pittsburgh region more sustainable, and heard from experts about work that other organizations are doing in the field. Relying on their new knowledge, the interns developed and distributed requests for proposals to explain their team’s grantmaking goals. While waiting for proposals, the interns worked with Saturday Light Brigade, the Allegheny Front and Pittsburgh Filmmakers to learn the arts of radio and video production, and then produced short pieces highlighting issues of sustainability in our communities.

One of the three teams of interns at the Endowments took a youth-involvement angle to address the issue of sustainability. S.E.E.D.: Students Engaged in Environmental Development sought to fund organizations that would engage under-resourced youth in Allegheny County in the creation of a green produce garden within their community. Their radio piece, Social Networking, was about the effects of social networking on teens and young adults in today’s society. Their video looked at Pittsburgh’s homicide crisis. Interns were Talia Kirkland, Willa Seybolt, Seth Diggs, Ainslei Payne-Reid and Brenna Smit.

The second team at the Endowments, L.E.A.D. in the Community, also focused on youth. The interns sought proposals for projects that create a training program for high school or college-aged youth to become leaders in educating others about sustainability. These student leaders will work with younger youth on hands-on community projects that relate to sustainability. Their first radio piece, “Mass Transit in ‘America’s Most Livable City’” detailed the state of mass transit in our region. The impacts of state budget cuts on public education was the topic of another radio feature done by this team.Their video documented the experience of the summer interns. Interns were Christina Brown, Tristan Freeman, Autumn Vogel, Tori Hirata and Aleisha Starkey.

The third team at the Endowments, under the program title of Gear Up to Green, looked to fund projects and programs that advocate, promote and/or use alternative fuels. Their first radio piece, “Solar Roadways,” profiles Scott Brusaw about his vision for sustainable highways. A second piece looks at the long-standing issue of air pollution in western Pennsylvania.Their film looked at the growth of Green Roofs in the region. Interns were Tessa Hochberg, Cara Kennedy, Alicia McAllister, Lindsay Bell, and Themba Searles.

Sustainable Pittsburgh interns focused on the use of alternative fuel sources as well. A Vehicle for Change aimed to help municipalities take measures to create more sustainable vehicle fleets and to encourage leadership and inter-municipality cooperation. Their radio piece was about the different perspectives of blight and vacant lots in Heidelberg. This team created a video blog, Greening Southwest PA, Interns were Mercedes Velasquez, Ethan Busis and Anna Koebley.

The Student Conservation Association intern group, under the banner of A Lot of Green, looked to fund organizations that will restore vacant lots and transform them into usable community spaces. Their radio piece, “A Plus Side to Higher Gasoline Prices,” highlights the impact of rising gas prices on human behavior and the environment. Their video asked “How safe is your park?” Interns were Pankaj Aggarwal, Kayla Johnson-Harris, Che’Vaughnne Bronaugh and Ben Vockley.

The interns working with the Sarah Heinz House created Project J.A.M.A. They sought to provide funding for nonprofit arts programs that provide arts education opportunities for children ages 6 to 12. Their radio piece, “Arts Education: Worth Fighting For!,” speaks to the importance of arts education for students. Their video looked at the importance of arts education. Interns were Jasmine Springer, Agness Nyama, Tyler Churchel, and Kayla Starta.

The United Way of Allegheny County interns, through Project H.E.V.Y., were interested in funding nonprofits that provided job training and placement to vulnerable youth who are at risk of future unemployment. Their first radio piece, “Voices of Homelessness,” highlights the misconceptions of homelessness. A second story looked at the workforce challenges facing foster care youth. Their film further examined the challenges faced by older youth in the foster care system. Interns were Breanna Evans-Potter, Gabriel Beru, Jamahra Mosby, Michael Richards and Colton Sankey.

The team of interns working with Adagio Health created S.T.D: Starting Taboo Discussions, and sought to support programs within Allegheny Count that use new and innovative methods to test for sexually transmitted diseases and to provide education about STDs. In their first radio piece, “Dreams for the Future: The Importance of Public Education,” we hear from children about their dreams for the future and are reminded of the impact state funding cuts could have on those dreams coming true. A second piece looked at the positive and negative social impacts of Marcellus Shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania. Their video promoted understanding of STDs. Interns were Abbie Ferry, Hannah Trivilino, Robert Poling and Sakina Blackma.

Dan Law, a second-year student at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh was hired as a graduate fellow this year to oversee the work of the Summer Youth Philanthropy interns. Dan guided and assisted the youth interns in their work this summer, but also had the opportunity to delve into the art of radio production at Saturday Light Brigade. His radio piece examined the impact of the state budget cuts on higher education.