All neighborhoods have room for improvement. But those that struggle the most are often located in low-income areas, and sometimes in communities where English is not the primary spoken language. This is where community development organizations come into play. Through valuable neighborhood partnership projects that address the social determinants of health, such as housing, job development, and education, UPMC Health Plan takes an active role in improving communities in all of the regions we serve.
Bayfront East Side Task Force
Bayfront East Side Task Force (BEST) revitalizes the East Bayfront neighborhood of Erie, Pennsylvania, with affordable housing, business opportunities, and restoration and beautification projects. It is the only community-based development organization in the city. UPMC Hamot hospital was one of its founding partners and UPMC Health Plan has a regional office nearby. We funded BEST through a six-year strategic plan to encourage economic development, improve green space, and remove blighted properties. Some employees from our Erie office sit on BEST’s board of directors, providing guidance and oversight as needed. Our strong collaboration with BEST instills pride in home ownership and builds stronger social connections within the East Bayfront community.
East End Cooperative Ministry
Pittsburgh’s East End comprises several neighborhoods that face high levels of poverty, gang violence, crime, substance abuse, and unemployment. Many children and teenagers who live here struggle with the long-term effects of unhealthy decision making. Through Project Rediscovery, a program supported by UPMC Health Plan, East End Cooperative Ministry (EECM) aims to break the cycle of antisocial behavior among youth by engaging them in consistent, coordinated prevention education from an early age. It provides academic support and guidance on positive behaviors that build self-esteem and interpersonal skills. Students of all ages are exposed to cultural events, parks, colleges, and other venues that broaden their scope beyond the East End. After-school programming and a summer day camp include tutoring, career exploration, healthy conflict resolution, life skills, sports, and other recreational activities.
Lawrenceville Corporation & Lawrenceville United
Lawrenceville Corporation acts as the catalyst and conduit for responsible growth and reinvestment in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood through real estate development, business district work, community planning, and marketing communications. Another organization, Lawrenceville United, improves and protects the quality of life of residents through community engagement and advocacy, community restoration and beautification, and community planning and development. With a six-year commitment of support from UPMC Health Plan and one other organization, Lawrenceville Corporation and Lawrenceville United are working together to address four areas of community need: authenticity and health of place; safe and convenient transportation and mobility infrastructure; healthy and active living; and clear pathways to education and employment.
McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation
McKees Rocks and Stowe Township have been plagued with property blight for many years. McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation (MRCDC) was formed in 2003 to address the blight through revitalization and programming efforts. However, it was not until 2010 when MRCDC began to receive funding from UPMC Health Plan that the community began to see change. Today, downtown McKees Rocks is home to a vibrant arts and cultural center and developing mixed-used spaces, including the renovation of an 88-year-old theatre which will become a live music venue in 2017. MRCDC has also been able to facilitate the reconstruction of the community's economic engine: a 130 acre brownfield that is fully committed for private development, anchored by the 50 acre CSX Intermodal facility. Programs such as "Ready To Work Sto Rox" allow enable community residents to overcome barriers to employment as well as provide a dialogue between employers and hopeful applicants. MRCDC has also created and sustained a youth partnership that keeps over 30 organizations communicating and cooperating to build capacity and initiatives in and outside the home.
Multicultural Community Resource Center
There are more than 10,000 refugees living in Erie, Pennsylvania. For the majority of these individuals, English is their second language. They encounter significant barriers when it comes to understanding and managing their health. The Multicultural Community Resource Center (MCRC) is working to close this gap by establishing a Wellness Center that offers health risk screenings, educational seminars, and other activities specifically for this population. With UPMC Health Plan’s support in 2014, MCRC administered flu shots at five different clinics and held more than 40 educational sessions on topics ranging from epilepsy to hygiene. MCRC also provided transportation to and from medical appointments and referrals to doctors.
Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation
The Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) brings together residents and business owners in Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights to cultivate growth, development and investment toward an even stronger and more livable community. One of the principal projects of MWCDC is the redevelopment and management of Emerald View Park, a beautiful green space overlooking the Monongahela River with trails, woods, and picnic groves and located in Mount Washington, Duquesne Heights and Allentown. In 2011, MWCDC created Emerald Trail Corps to train and hire at-risk adults in the community, and use their talent to maintain and rebuild Emerald View Park. Since 2012 MWCDC has been implementing our 10 Year Housing Strategy. Working with the City of Pittsburgh and local developers they are able to acquire blighted, abandoned properties and return them to the market to create an inclusive, viable and sustainable housing stock in the neighborhood. With a significant commitment of funding from UPMC Health Plan, MWCDC continues to advance some of Pittsburgh’s greatest neighborhoods.