Office of Community Health and Safety receives grant for Neighborhood Health and Safety Academy pilot
July 20, 2021
The City of Pittsburgh's new Office of Community Health and Safety (OCHS) has received a $17,500 grant from the Staunton Farm Foundation for the launch of their Neighborhood Health and Safety Academy pilot. This initiative aims to empower communities and neighbors with certifications, resources and skills to play an active role in providing for the wellness, health, safety, and wellbeing of their neighbors.
While community members are intimately familiar with the needs of their neighbors and neighborhoods, knowing the most effective way to meet those needs can be a challenge. The Neighborhood Health and Safety Academy will be a two-month training and education series for 20 residents to learn about the regional public safety and social service landscape so they are better equipped to identify and provide support in their communities. The majority of this grant funding will be used to provide stipends to selected attendees to reduce barriers to participation.
"Nobody knows the needs of our communities better than our community members," said Mayor William Peduto. "The Neighborhood Health and Safety Academy will bring together community leaders to share what's happening in their neighborhoods so we get a better sense of where they need support, but also will provide them the tools, resources, training and connections to services they need to help address neighborhood concerns."
Participants will learn about the public safety and health continuum of response to a wide range of issues. Educational trainings will focus on areas like housing, substance use, mental health, food security, violence prevention, police reform, criminal justice reform, homelessness, aging and youth. Each session will explore these topics from multiple angles by focusing on history, intersections of policy and practice, and a deep discussion of how each topic interfaces with poverty and systemic racism.
Participants will also have access to free certifications and skills training in CPR, opioid overdose care, naloxone administration, mental health first aid, de-escalation, bleeding control, federal benefits application workshop, public housing application workshop, sexual assault survivor assistance, advocate training, financial empowerment, and motivational interviewing.
"Community members have made it clear that they want to have a more direct role in providing for the health, safety, and wellbeing of their neighbors," said OCHS' Overdose Prevention Coordinator, Joshua Schneider. "The Neighborhood Health and Safety Academy aims to help residents navigate systems and understand how to provide direct support to prevent crises."
The Neighborhood Health and Safety Academy pilot is being designed based on feedback provided by the community through the city's EngagePGH platform to ensure course material and subject areas are relevant to what neighborhoods are experiencing and content will be guided by a board of community advisors.
The 20 members of the Neighborhood Health and Safety Academy inaugural class will become community ambassadors that will continue to work with the Office of Community Health and Safety to address community needs and consult on future initiatives.