Building a Foundation for Growth in Garfield


For the past six years, Garfield Jubilee has operated out of a rented building on Penn Avenue that previously sat vacant for 10 years. The building required serious repairs, which the organization and its students undertook. So when buyers started eying the property, Monroe knew they needed to act. “We did all this work,” said Garfield Jubilee Executive Director Joann Monroe. “It made no sense for somebody to come and take it.”

Since 1983, Garfield Jubilee, a Christian-based nonprofit community development corporation, has been serving low- to moderate-income residents of Pittsburgh’s East End. The organization has been integral in protecting housing for lower-income residents in the quickly gentrifying area in and around Garfield. They offer home-ownership classes to teach financial literacy and budget counseling and have worked with partner groups to rehabilitate and build more than 300 homes.

Also central to Garfield Jubilee’s mission is its YouthBuild Pittsburgh program, which allows youths aged 16-24 to earn their high school diplomas and receive occupational skills training in construction, healthcare, or customer service. YouthBuild pays students’ college tuition and provides community service-learning experiences, from cleaning vacant lots to helping at local childcare centers. “The key is giving back to the community,” said Executive Director Joann Monroe. “And for the community to recognize that there are young people dedicated to impacting and revitalizing the community.” In a recent year, YouthBuild achieved 92 percent job placement, with a retention rate of 100 percent.

For the past six years, Garfield Jubilee has operated out of a rented building on Penn Avenue that had previously sat vacant for 10 years. The building required serious repairs, which the organization and its students undertook. So when buyers started eying the property, Monroe knew they needed to act. “We did all this work,” Monroe said. “It made no sense for somebody to come and take it.”

Garfield Jubilee received a loan from Bridgeway to purchase the building. With their homebase secured, Garfield Jubilee is also interested in potentially finding another building that could be used solely for construction training, so that students can build a model home — from framing to electrical — right in the classroom. They’re also focused on expanding their programming. Currently, they serve approximately 70 youth per year, but Monroe would like to see that number reach 200 or more. “We know we’re only reaching the tip of the iceberg,” Monroe said.

 

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