Introducing the Hill District Global Engagement Coalition! Pittsburgh’s youth are making international connections as part of this new initiative to promote equity in global educational experiences.

Global education represents one of the largest spending gaps in all of education. In some wealthy communities, the opportunity to travel abroad has become universal. The Hill District Global Engagement Coalition (HDGEC) represents a major step towards making global education more equitable by connecting underrepresented minority youth in Pittsburgh with international travel and mentorship opportunities.

The HDGEC wouldn’t exist without the dedication and excitement of our three partners in the Hill District: Ujamaa Collective, Center that CARES, and Reaching Back. These organizations carefully chose supportive adult mentors and nominated 30 bright young people to create the 2019 Cohort of Global Engagement Ambassadors.

As participants in this year-long program, the Global Engagement Ambassadors and their mentors are excited to travel Ghana, Jamaica, and Trinidad, where they’ll work with local organizations tackling issues like human trafficking, the need for computer skills, and sustainable agriculture. “It’s a great opportunity for myself and the children of the community to get exposure on other cultures and nationalities, plus this opportunity will give our youths a chance to experience a hands on service learning project, “ said Melvena Daniels, a mentor with Center that CARES who will travel to Trinidad.

It’s a great opportunity for myself and the children of the community to get exposure on other cultures and nationalities, plus this opportunity will give our youths a chance to experience a hands on service learning project.

The first year of the Hill District Global Engagement Coalition starts now! The 2019 Cohort is already applying for new passports and visas, thinking about what to pack, and most importantly, learning how to be engaged global citizens. In just a few weeks, the participants and mentors will attend the first of three workshops that will prepare them to engage with the communities they visit. The topic: development and solidarity.

“I’m a young adult myself and have never been out of the country, so I can only imagine how beneficial this experience will be, not only for myself but for 16, 17, 18 year old youth who may not get opportunities like this” -Cheyenne Campbell, a mentor with Reaching Back.

Here’s an idea of what’s coming up for our Global Ambassadors in the next few months:

March: The Cohort attends their second workshop, focusing on needs analysis.

April: An Induction Ceremony will be held at the Energy Innovation Center on Friday, April 26 at 6:30pm to honor our 2019 Cohort.

May: In workshop #3, we’ll study an important skill: project management.

June: Time to travel! The Cohort splits into groups of 10 to travel abroad for 1-2 weeks.

July: After returning from eye-opening experiences abroad, the Cohort will reunite and explore ways to tell their stories.

August and beyond: We’ll continue to practice storytelling and brainstorm ideas for projects in the Hill District Community. Once the group has an idea, work can begin!

I’m a young adult myself and have never been out of the country, so I can only imagine how beneficial this experience will be, not only for myself but for 16, 17, 18 year old youth who may not get opportunities like this.

We can’t wait to see what needs the cohort identifies in their community, and how they decide to address them. Completing projects in the Hill District brings the experience full circle, which is what Frankie Harris, a mentor with Ujamaa Collective, is most looking forward to: “I’m excited to see how they transport their experiences and build on them here to bring it all home.”

Visit the HDGEC page to learn more, meet the 2019 Cohort and their amazing mentors, and check out the latest updates.

The Hill District Global Engagement Coalition is made possible by generous grants from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation and the Remmel Foundation. Thank you for your support!