Honoring the Past and Creating A Better Future

When Tyian Battle founded ACH Clear Pathways in 2010, it was in honor of her seven-year-old son, Amon C. Harris, who had recently passed away from an undiagnosed heart condition. Amon loved martial arts, but Tyian couldn’t afford to enroll him in classes, and it weighed on her after his death. Then, she said, “One day, God woke me up and said, ‘You’re going to do this for kids in the Hill District.’” She founded ACH Clear Pathways to give children in the Pittsburgh neighborhood where she grew up a place to explore creative interests like visual arts, writing, dance, and—yes—martial arts.

In the 11 years since, ACH Clear Pathways has become Battle’s calling, serving as many as 40 children per program. But the organization never had a permanent home, instead of renting space in a local recreation center and then a school. “We do a lot of huge art pieces, and it was challenging because you had to work on your art, break it down, and put it away,” Battle said. “How do you put wet paint and mosaics away?”

Then, in 2019, Battle received a call from Hill House, a longstanding community organization with historic real estate in the Hill District: Did ACH want to buy the Kaufmann Center? The Kaufmann Center had long been where ACH did its student showcases, but that wasn’t the only connection: Battle’s late father had worked for Hill House for years. She took it as a sign.

Bridgeway provided a loan to help ACH purchase the building and build a 2,700-square-foot addition. The new construction includes multipurpose rooms, a reception area (that doubles as a bar for events), kitchen and laundry facilities, and a large art studio so that students don’t have to pack up their works in progress.

“The kids love it,” Battle said. “They were chanting, ‘Whose house? Our house!’” An artist even painted the chant on a classroom wall. “I just can’t believe we’ve grown this much in memory of my son,” Battle said. “I’ll never be over that loss, but now this is missionary work for me. I’m so attached to these kids.”

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