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The Social Impact Grants and Scholars program — created by the Department of Community Engagement and Center for Inclusive Excellence — funds interdisciplinary social impact projects connecting Point Park University to organizations in the region to effect social change. 

2019-2020 Grant Recipients

The logo for Allies.

City of Pittsburgh LGBTQ Community Mental Health Needs Assessment

Todd Raymond Avellar, Ph.D., Sarah Schulz, Ph.D., Leatra Tate, Ph.D. and Cris Wildman, Psy.D. student
Department of Psychology

The purpose of this multi-phase project is to better understand the health and mental health needs and health care experiences of members of the LGBTQ community in the City of Pittsburgh.

In partnership with Allies for Health + Wellbeing, the grant funding will focus on access to mental health care by holding focus groups with individual members of the community. Data collected from preliminary meetings and community focus groups will be used to create a needs assessment survey instrument, which will be disseminated widely to members of the population across the city. Ideally, once the data is collected and analyzed, results will be used to advocate for data-driven social action and policy improvements to enhance inclusivity and equity for members of the LGBTQ community.

The logo for The Ellis School

Let's Chalk About It

Britney Brinkman, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology

Let’s Chalk About raises awareness about street harassment in Pittsburgh, particularly Downtown. The campaign includes a day of action during Sexual Violence Awareness month for high school and college students to document their experiences of catcalling on the sidewalks. Filming will take place to capture the reactions of pedestrians as they navigate Market Square and read the catcalling statements.

Brinkman and Point Park Psy.D. students will conduct six workshops with students at The Ellis School to learn about street harassment, prepare for the chalking day of action and prototype a process for interviews about street harassment.

The United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania logo.

Stories of Home Care Attendant Communities

Robert Ross, Ph.D., and April Friges, M.F.A.
Department of Literary Arts and Social Justice and School of Communication

This project aims to raise awareness of and advocate for home health care workers in Western Pennsylvania. In partnership with United Home Care Workers of Pennsylvania, the grant will support the production of a storytelling and photography project that reveals the lives and communities of a multiracial, geographically diverse cohort of caregivers in Western Pennsylvania.

Students and faculty will participate in the project through a combination of conducting interviews, writing, photography, making a map, and designing a book and online materials used for advocacy and fundraising for caregiver-driven projects in the state.


2018-2019 Grant Recipients

Pictured is Robert McInerney, Ph.D. Submitted photo

Robert McInerney, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology
Mobile Thriving Respite (MTR) with Operation Safety Net (OSN)

MTR is a pilot project of the M.A. clinical-community psychology program, led by McInerney and the psychology department. The project utilizes the outreach partnership with OSN to create a place at shelters, like OSN's drop-in center, to socialize, learn, grow and feel empowered. 

Pictured is Jennifer Schaupp. Submitted photo

Jennifer Schaupp, M.A.

Instructor, School of Communication and Department of Literary Arts and Social Justice
Cross-Cultural Communication with Hello Neighbor

Point Park students and refugees will work together on increasing confidence in speaking through shared storytelling exercises via an on-campus event and on the radio. 

Aleina Smith, Ed.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Community Engagement
Connecting Communities Using Experiential Learning and Asset-Based Community Development

In partnership with the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center and the Greater Hazelwood Family Center, this grant will create a six week student-led program designed to serve the Native American Community in the Hazelwood section of Pittsburgh.  


2017-2018 Grant Recipients

Pictured is Helen Fallon.

Helen Fallon, M.A.

Professor of Journalism, Honors Program Director 
Honors Service Learning with A Giving Heart

Students in the Honors Service Learning course volunteered with A Giving Heart, assisting at the organization's Allentown facility with grant writing and promotional materials.

Pictured is Matthew Opdyke.

Matthew Opdyke, Ph.D.

Professor of Environmental Science
Project Bee Watch: Increasing the Awareness of Pollinators Through Citizen Science 

Students in the Ecology course constructed artificial bee shelters to attract native pollinators at the Audbon Greenway in Sewickley Heights, Pa. Citizen scientists from the Allegheny Land Trust surveyed and monitored pollinators in the field. 

Pictured is Brent Robbins, Ph.D.

Brent Dean Robbins, Ph.D. 

Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology
Pittsburgh Catholic Workers Homeless Project  

Robbins and graduate students partnered with Pittsburgh Catholic workers – which provides food, blankets and clothing to the homeless in Pittsburgh's North Side – to develop a plan for the organization to stimulate discussion and creative solutions for the homeless.

Pictured is Andrew Conte. Submitted photo

Andrew Conte, M.S.

Director, Center for Media Innovation
Media Deserts YouthCast Project 

Many communities around the country have seen their local newspaper close and now have a lack of local news coverage creating media deserts. Conte and students partnered with YouthCast (Community and Schools Together), the McKeesport Mayor's office and neighborhood groups to provide journalistic training.