August 28, 2017

Recapping the Strategy in Action Learning Tour: Equitable Revitalization and Regional Power-Building in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh is a “blue city," where nearly 80% of the population voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. The city’s economy is booming, but gentrification is rapidly displacing low-income families of color from hot areas of the city while other neighborhoods have not seen any investment in decades.

Local anchor institutions, community organizations, labor unions, and foundations like The Heinz Endowments are playing a critical role in investing in people and community development to build an economy that includes jobs that sustain working-class families and a housing market where all people have access to thriving neighborhoods. After years of building power through multi-issue campaigns, groups like the Hills District Consensus Group and Pittsburgh United have built a stronger network of advocates to support where all residents to have access to have a voice, living wage jobs, family-supporting benefits, and affordable housing.

Tour Highlights:

  • Building power from the local to state level takes coalitions, partnerships, and engaging residents in a cross issue way in urban, rural, and suburban areas.

  • Funding and supporting groups to support development without displacement efforts is critical to ensure communities are affordable for low-income and communities of color.

  • National and place-based funders should ensure they invest in both local people of color led residential organizing approaches and “intermediary” organizations.

  • Working across issues of health, education, immigration, jobs, housing, environment, and other social justice issues is the kind of intersectional organizing that is even more critical today in building people power. Funders can play a huge role to address these silos and mend the gap by aligning funding and with other collaborative funding efforts.

  • Many funders would like to invest more into community power-building efforts, but the internal politics within their institutions make this challenging. Funders must continue to be an internal advocate in their institutions to move resources to support organizing, advocacy, leadership development, and power building.

  • Developing comprehensive communication strategies and messaging on core issues such as living wage, housing, and broader equity issues can play a critical role in strengthening organizing opportunities in urban, rural, and suburban areas.