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Organization for black Pittsburghers hopes website redesign expands reach

Megan Guza
| Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, 11:10 p.m.

Leaders of Pittsburgh's Black Political Empowerment Project hope a mobile-friendly website and new partnerships will allow them to better spread the word about employment opportunities and job training to the area's minority population.

“We want every person that can to go to college and graduate … but we also help those who may not be college-oriented but obviously need training and jobs and opportunities and income to have opportunities as well,” B-PEP leader Tim Stevens said.

A group of Robert Morris University students worked with Stevens and other B-PEP leaders and spent eight weeks designing the website to fit the organization's needs.

“Particularly for working-class African Americans, using a mobile device is how they access the Internet,” said Robert Morris University professor Letrell Crittenden, whose communications class designed the look. “We wanted to have something that was specifically friendly to mobile devices.”

The revamped website includes a section listing jobs and job-training opportunities in the area that might normally not have reached the inner-city population, Stevens said.

“What we have done is create the opportunity for partnerships — which we expect to be ongoing partnerships,” he said.

Those partnerships include the Allegheny Conference on Community Development's Imagine Pittsburgh initiative and the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania. Both organizations have committed to working with B-PEP to spread the word of job openings and training they offer.

“We're trying to get the word out as to what opportunities are in the building trades,” said Jason Fincke, executive director of the guild. “It's always been a challenge to try to find good applicants for the building trades.”

The new format features a section for individuals to post job openings and opportunities they might come across, as well as a community calendar listing upcoming events and meetings. Individuals can add events to the calendar.

The redesign also applies to the website of the Greater Pittsburgh Coalition Against Violence, an independent B-PEP initiative.

The coalition includes a “strategies for change” page that lists tips for building a more peaceful community. Some of the strategies address specific populations, such as what athletes and teachers can do, while others target situations, such as how to prevent domestic violence and teen dating violence.

In addition to the redesign, the coalition unveiled two specific strategies: preventing violence against women and girls and preventing violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community.

“This is a grass-roots effort,” B-PEP official Lois Toni McClendon said. “We want to do whatever we can to end violence in those communities as well.”

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519 or

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