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The Gismondi Foundation has committed to more than $1 million to support Pitt’s community engagement efforts

Tags
  • Community Impact
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Gismondi Foundation — created by Pitt trustee John Gismondi (A&S ’75, LAW ’78) and his wife, Lisa — has topped the $1 million mark in giving to the University of Pittsburgh to strengthen and expand the educational support it provides in school and out of school across its Neighborhood Commitments in Homewood, the Hill District, Oakland and Greater Hazelwood.

The latest $750,000 gift creates the Gismondi Neighborhood Education Program.

The program is creating the core infrastructure and staffing necessary to sustain and grow elementary school and community-based organization partnerships in Pitt’s Neighborhood Commitment areas; lowering barriers to family participation in various out-of-school-time programs through support, including transportation and meals; hiring and training Pitt School of Education students serving as tutors; expanding access to an instructional coach to assist tutors and enrichment providers to produce culturally centered, developmentally appropriate content; and much more. 

The Gismondis previously gave $325,000 to create and launch the PittEnrich program, which uses a unique blend of in-school tutoring and Saturday learning-through-play sessions to help Homewood students improve their reading and math skills.

“John and Lisa Gismondi originally supported the development of the PittEnrich program in our Homewood neighborhood commitment. By generously expanding their support, we are significantly expanding our impact in other communities,” said Lina Dostilio, vice chancellor of engagement and community affairs. “This new transformative gift enables Pitt to establish a sustainable approach to its partnerships and programs that provide educational support to elementary- and middle-school-aged youth.”

Upon its establishment in 2018, the Community Engagement Center in Homewood quickly became an important part of the fabric of the neighborhood. PittEnrich expanded the educational and social offerings available to students both inside and outside the center. 

“Lisa and I have seen firsthand how the PittEnrich program has benefited the children, families and schools in the Homewood community and, at the same time, given Pitt students who aspire to become educators a deep and meaningful learning experience. We would like to bring these same benefits to the kids who live in the Hill District, Hazelwood and Oakland,” said Gismondi. “The Gismondi Foundation is pleased to support this new initiative for the next five years, and hopefully more, with this gift.”

Each neighborhood’s programs have unique features that are based on community partnerships, community goals and University collaborations that make them possible: literacy and math tutoring and enrichment in Homewood, STEAM and digital equity in the Hill District and life science education in Greater Hazelwood. However, all of the Neighborhood Commitments will have expanded in-school tutoring and reading activities done in partnership with elementary schools serving those communities. In addition, by establishing the Gismondi Neighborhood Education Program, the University will coordinate efforts across the neighborhoods to achieve goals that could not be realized if each neighborhood program were run separately.

“John and Lisa’s vision for helping Pitt to provide educational support is of vital importance to us, not only as a university, but also as we reach out to the community to help as many young people as possible achieve their dreams,” said University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Joan Gabel. “This new level of programming and the synergies created by the Gismondi Neighborhood Education Program will help to build long-term capacity and lasting change in our communities — and help the University provide experiential, hands-on learning to students who are ready to take on the challenges of the future.”

Through Pitt’s Neighborhood Commitments, the University partners with residents of the Oakland, Homewood, Hill District and Greater Hazelwood neighborhoods to provide long-term staffing, infrastructure and coordination of mutually beneficial programs.

“Across all of our Neighborhood Commitments, our neighbors have asked Pitt to invest in our young people and support our schools and community-based organizations,” Dostilio said. “We have developed creative programming to meet these requests and the Gismondi Neighborhood Education Program is the latest and most robust of those efforts.”

 

— Photography by Tom Altany