Two elements that, when united with the right resources, have the power to create meaningful change.
At the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, those two factors are in abundance—and are especially apparent at the Homewood Children’s Village in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Homewood Children’s Village is the brainchild of John Wallace, professor and the Phillip Hallen Chair in Community Health and Social Justice at the School of Social Work.
Troubled by the lack of vitality in his once-thriving hometown of Homewood, Wallace enlisted the collective knowledge of School of Social Work faculty, students and Dean Larry E. Davis. The team researched evidence-based best practices for various components, such as the best early childhood initiatives and the best after-school programming.
In 2008, Homewood Children’s Village was established.
Modeled after New York’s acclaimed Harlem Children’s Zone, Homewood Children’s Village partners with residents, government, schools, philanthropic foundations, and faith- and community-based organizations to revitalize the neighborhood in hopes of making it a place where children can thrive.
The village’s value extends beyond the streets of Homewood. Wallace now teaches a course in Homewood, and fellows at Pitt’s Center on Race and Social Problems work with him. It represents a unique opportunity to simultaneously fulfill the three components of the school’s mission—research, teaching and practice—and is yet another embodiment of the School of Social Work’s commitment to engage, empower and enlighten.
In Our Schools
One of the essential functions of Homewood Children’s Village (HCV) is to build relationships with schools that educate the children of Homewood.
By creating partnerships with organizations serving those who live and learn in Homewood, HCV forges connections between the schools and the community, enabling the two to work together to meet the needs of students and their families.
The supports provided in each school are determined based on a needs assessment of the students, their families, school staff, and the community.
In Our Communities
Homewood Children’s Village aims to not only serve the children of Homewood, but their families and neighbors as well.
By coordinating and managing various outreach and engagement programs such as back-to-school block parties, an annual coat drive for kids, a health and wellness fair, and a day-of-giving campaign, the organization works to bridge the families of Homewood with the neighborhood and the larger Pittsburgh community.
In Our Lives
Homewood Children’s Village develops programs and works with partners to address the health needs of the community in areas that include physical health, behavioral and mental health, nutritional health, and physical activity.
HCV engages with residents to get the community excited about health through projects such as its Power Pack weekend nutrition program, the Homewood Health Matters 5K and Healthy Eating Expo, Workout Wednesday group fitness classes, and the Health Matters discussion series.
In Our Futures
Homewood Children’s Village works to prepare students to graduate from high school and qualify for the Pittsburgh Promise Scholarship—financial aid for Pittsburgh Public Schools students with at least a 90 percent attendance record and a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA—and then fulfill that promise by earning their college degree.
Whether through its Bridge to College after-school and summer program or the Promise Fulfillment Network, building close relationships with both students and with colleges and universities is a critical component of HCV’s work.