Point Park University’s Rowland School of Business Launches the Chuck Cooper and Josh Gibson Center for Equity and Education Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Pictured from top left are Robert Derda, M.S., associate professor and chair of the Department of Sports, Arts and Entertainment Management; Stephen Tanzilli, J.D., dean of the Rowland School of Business; Chuck Cooper III, president of Chuck Cooper Enterprises, LLC and president of Chuck Cooper Foundation, and Sean Gibson, president of Josh Gibson Enterprise and the executive director of the Josh Gibson Foundation.
“The goal of the Chuck Cooper and Josh Gibson Center for Equity and Education is to create opportunities through education, training and community outreach. We know that when young people have access to mentoring, skill-building and academic support, they have the tools they need to succeed."
Rowland School of Business at Point Park University has established the Chuck Cooper and Josh Gibson Center for Equity and Education to help create equity and opportunities in education and employment for youth and families from communities of color.
The Chuck Cooper and Josh Gibson Equity and Education Center will be located within the Rowland School of Business on Point Park's Downtown Pittsburgh campus.
“The goal of the Chuck Cooper and Josh Gibson Center for Equity and Education is to create opportunities through education, training and community outreach," said Stephen Tanzilli, J.D., dean of the Rowland School of Business. "We know that when young people have access to mentoring, skill-building and academic support, they have the tools they need to succeed."
The center is named after two professional sports Hall of Famers, Chuck Cooper of the NBA and Josh Gibson of the Negro League Baseball. Cooper and Gibson were barrier breakers in their lives and storied careers. Through the work of the Chuck Cooper Foundation and the Josh Gibson Foundation, their legacies continue to impact the Pittsburgh region and beyond. Both foundations work with youth and young adults to combat social and economic inequity.
A legacy of sports and advocacy in Pittsburgh
The center’s goals include creating a pipeline from grades 9-12 to college or trade school and ultimately to successful careers. The center looks to achieve those goals by helping students increase their social capital and build networks of successful academic, business, athletic and community role models. Students will be educated about the value of these networks and encouraged to tap into them throughout their academic and professional careers.
“Our program is aimed at boosting those students that need that extra push – the ones that aren’t failing but not thriving," said Sean Gibson, president of Josh Gibson Enterprise and the executive director of the Josh Gibson Foundation. "They are the students that will benefit most from supplemental programs, support and mentorship to excel.”
"Average achieving students sometimes fall through the cracks," said Chuck Cooper III, president of Chuck Cooper Enterprises, LLC and president of Chuck Cooper Foundation. "The students who have difficulty in school, both academically and socially get support, and there are gifted programs tailored to high achievers. But what happens to the students in the invisible middle, that’s where we see a tremendous need and opportunity for education and career mentorship.”
Equity in opportunity is seen as key by business community
The center was established with a gift of $150,000 from Chuck Hammel, CEO of Pitt Ohio, a family-owned transportation network, and $25,000 from First National Bank, the largest subsidiary of F.N.B. Corporation.
“We’re proud to be a part of this effort that we believe will have a positive impact on our communities," Hammel said. "As a family-owned company, we believe in the importance of making a difference where we live and that’s why we’re proud to partner with Point Park and the Cooper and Gibson families to establish the center."
In awarding the $25,000 grant, First National Bank strengthens its commitment to creating opportunities for education and career growth in underserved communities throughout Pittsburgh and each of the markets where it operates.
“FNB continues to invest in our long-standing commitment to improve lives in all of the communities we serve, which includes connecting underserved and vulnerable groups with financial and educational resources to overcome economic and social inequality. With the establishment of the Chuck Cooper and Josh Gibson Center for Equity and Education at the Rowland School of Business, we are proud to play a leadership role in expanding opportunities to increase financial independence for everyone,” said Vincent J. Delie, Jr., chairman, president and CEO of F.N.B. Corporation and First National Bank.
Along with its founding contribution, FNB will provide financial education as part of the center’s programming.
The Chuck Cooper and Josh Gibson Center for Equity and Education will partner with the Sarah Heinz House on Pittsburgh’s North Shore to offer programming and events for Sarah Heinz House students and their families, as well as additional offerings available to the broader community. The Sarah Heinz House, established in 1901, serves 1,000 youth in 90 different schools throughout the Pittsburgh region.
“The impact of the pandemic has left many in our communities behind in terms of education and employment equity. Our hope is that the Center can offer young people and adults in these communities the freedom to explore their passion through education, mentorship and career guidance,” Tanzilli said.