Community engagement is central to all UrbanKind Institute’s projects and initiatives. We recognize that communities grow and change over time and having intentional spaces and places to share experiences, create memories and develop hope are crucial to thriving. All our projects are designed to center residents, especially residents in under-served, and overburdened neighborhoods. Often, that means centering neighborhoods with predominantly Black residents. We partner with residents and neighborhood organizations to help them identify challenges and assets and to prioritize projects and goals to improve their living spaces. We aim to help residents build the neighborhoods and communities that they want to—and can—live in. With our extensive networks, we bring people and organizations together that would not otherwise be in conversation with one another.
Neighborhood Walks are an UrbanKind engagement activity that involves our staff actively spending time with residents in their space, often in the form of a walk. Residents have experiences, stories and daily observations that provide local context for some of the systemic challenges that many under-seved communities face.
These Walks help to:
In May 2020, at a time of great uncertainty due to COVID-19, UrbanKind Institute partnered with 1-Hood Media and Black Women, Wise Women to begin hosting weekly podcasts on Facebook live. This podcast provides a space for sharing information and resources among and with Black residents in the Greater Pittsburgh Region. While the podcast initially focused on information relevant to COVID-19, it has since grown to include a range of topics that serve to lift up the perspectives, concerns and experiences of Black residents. Each session includes black professionals, scholars and leaders willing to share their expertise and perspectives in response to resident concerns and comments.
Independent Sector (I.S.) is a national organization that focuses on strengthening civil society to ensure all people in the United States thrive through results-centered and racial equity-focused strategies. UrbanKind Institute is developing a national community-building strategy for Independent Sector to convene and facilitate a neighborhood focused advising team that provides guidance, grass-roots perspectives, and insights on strategic planning. This advising team is designed to include community organizers from across the United States representing Native Americans, Asian and South Pacific Islander, Hispanic and Black communities. The team also includes an additional organizer focused primarily on Environmental Justice.
Recognizing that COVID-19 disproportionately impacts communities of color, UrbanKind Institute partnered with Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, Casa San José, University of Pittsburgh and the Neighborhood Resilience Project to promote COVID-19 vaccine equity, both through increasing vaccine access and addressing vaccine mistrust.