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Pittsburgh’s Community Technical Assistance Center to close

Apr 13, 2016

By: Diana Nelson Jones | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | April 12, 2016 | Read the full article here

“Neighborhood Allies will take CTAC’s guiding principles forward in our efforts to build even stronger community development networks.”

-Presley Gillespie

After 36 years of providing technical help to neighborhood organizations, the Community Technical Assistance Center is closing.

At one time it was the only service to groups that had little capacity to rebuild their neighborhoods. Now numerous consultants and nonprofits provide a range of support, from Neighborhood Allies and The Design Center, to the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group and several foundations.

“We determined the most responsible action was to dissolve CTAC so finite resources could be allocated to other intermediaries serving neighborhoods and communities for increased efficiencies,” said Stephanie Miller, chairwoman of the CTAC board of directors.

CTAC, which was based Downtown, concentrated its efforts on communities that were eligible for Community Development Block Grants, federal dollars allocated based on neighborhood income.

Presley Gillespie, president of Neighborhood Allies, said his organization would take CTAC’s guiding principles forward in its efforts to build even stronger community development networks.

CTAC opened in 1980 and helped foster the growth of community development organizations citywide. In the early 1990s, it trained neighborhood groups on building strategies, managing finances and marketing themselves and their projects.

Today, most neighborhoods have some of that capacity within their own nonprofit community groups.

Among CTAC’s former executive directors are Dave Feehan, its first, who since has worked for Pittsburgh community groups as the owner of Civitas Consulting in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Feehan said he was asked to organize CTAC based on an organization he had run as a community advocate in Minneapolis.

“I give a lot of credit to David Bergholz, who was associate director of the Allegheny Conference. He asked me to organize CTAC under the auspices of the conference. And Moe Coleman, the first chairman of the board, steered the organization through some perilous political waters at the time.”

“It was a very difficult decision” to close, Ms. Miller said. “But we have some very thoughtful minds on our board and we feel we are being good citizens of CDBG dollars.”

Diana Nelson Jones: djones@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1626.

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