Grantee Spotlight | The Brashear Association Engages Community in Developing New Community Center

Jan 25, 2021

Later this year, the Brashear Association will open up a brand new facility and community center that will serve the residents of the Hilltop communities for years to come. Thanks to a $75K Catalytic Grant from Neighborhood Allies that supported a deep community engagement process, this new facility has been developed and designed with residents’ wants and needs at the foundation.

Sketch of the new Brashear CARES Community Center. Photo Credit: Margittai Architects Facebook page.

With our support, the Brashear CARES (Community Access to Resources, Education and Employment Services) Program Steering Committee, made up of 17 Hilltop community members, was formed to ensure that the needs and wants of residents would be included in shaping the new community center now and in the future.

The Brashear Association serves the 15203, 15210, 15211, and 15227 zip codes on the south side of Pittsburgh; and while this area includes South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, and parts of Brentwood and Duquesne Heights, about 80% of clients actually live in Hilltop neighborhoods such as Beltzhoover, Allentown, and Knoxville, among others. Because of this, Brashear is working towards opening a new community center in Knoxville – named the Brashear CARES Center – in order to increase access to resources for those that they currently serve, as well as reach more residents that they have yet to meet. The Brashear CARES Center will become a centralized social services hub for the Hilltop.

When they began working towards their new center in 2019, The Brashear Association was committed to ensuring that the project would be community-driven from the start. They set out to collect feedback on existing programs, as well as see what unmet needs they could address, to ensure that resident voices would be heard, valued, and included from beginning to end.

“Community engagement is a core value of this project. We value every perspective from the residents, business owners, community groups and other stakeholders. It is our intention to continually engage the community in the development, implementation and evaluation of programs and services.”

-Executive Director Andrea Matthews in The Brashear Association’s 2020 Hilltop Community Report.

Members of the Brashear CARES Program Steering Committee meeting virtually to work on programming for the new community center. Photo credit: The Brashear Association.

With support from our catalytic grant, Brashear rallied 17 Hilltop community members representing a wide range of stakeholders, including long-time residents, community council members, and nonprofit employees. Their job? To engage the community throughout the process of planning and shaping the center, leading to a space truly created by and for the residents.

So, in April 2020, the committee carried out a survey of over 200 community members to help identify the most pressing issues facing the Hilltop and learn what was most needed. The results revealed that the top three largest needs were for programming and services around housing assistance, youth and teen programming, and employment services and job opportunities.

Using the survey responses, the committee then worked to create a three-phase program development plan to inform the planning process for both existing and new programs and services within the Brashear CARES Center. They landed on three areas of focus for driving Brashear’s programming: Youth/Teen Programs, Adult Education & Employment, and Health & Human Services. Each of these areas in turn will host a myriad of programs, events, workshops, and more in order to provide a holistic approach to community care and connection.

We are incredibly proud to support The Brashear Association on this journey and honored to have contributed to their work in engaging residents and increasing community ownership. Stay tuned for updates on the Brashear CARES Center! Read their full Hilltop Community Report HERE.


Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA