The roots of New Sun Rising’s history are embedded in the belief that advocating for culture, sustainability, and opportunity will cultivate Vibrant Communities.
Strengthening Culture allows a community to build awareness for shared values that in turn creates trust and identity. Promoting Sustainability and designing for environmental impacts strengthens the health of our people, planet, and economy. And creating Opportunity closes the opportunity gap through knowledge, connections, and resources for equitable growth.
There are three organizations that have individually exemplified these pillars of the Vibrant Communities Framework, and on Friday, March 1 they will be celebrated for their achievements at the Ace Hotel Pittsburgh for New Sun Rising’s first ever Vibrancy Awards.
Global Wordsmiths, PearlArts Studios, and Millvale Community Library will each receive $10,000 for their excellence in creating vibrancy throughout the region.
Mary Jayne McCullough, executive director of Global Wordsmiths, said she isn’t used to getting recognition for the type of work her organization does and winning the award for embodying Opportunity was “really validating.”
McCullough is a trained translator and interpreter, and for years she worked with social service providers to help immigrants and refugees navigate daily life like trips to the doctor or a parent teacher conference. The need for interpretation was so great that McCullough also spent much of her free time accompanying people to these appointments, which led her to ask why hospitals and organizations were not already providing this service.
The biggest reason was cost, and thus Global Wordsmiths was created by McCullough to provide nonprofits with free language translation and interpretation, as well as language access consulting and training. Every dollar of profit earned by Global Wordsmiths goes back into the organizations and is used to finance its innovative Social Impact Initiatives.
“[New Sun Rising is] really focused on getting results and on creating opportunity, which is what we’re trying to do, so there is a lot of syngergy in our missions,” McCullough said. “It’s great to work with people who also want to create positive change.”
The award for Culture goes to PearlArts Studios, an organization that defines itself as a dance company and a nonprofit. STAYCEE PEARL and Soy Sos, co-executive directors of PearlArts, started the company in 2010 and since the beginning they have worked to collaborate with cultural organizations and individual artists.
From 2010 to 2013, the STAYCEE PEARL dance project was the resident dance company at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, the first long-term KST resident. It was there that PEARL and Soy Sos set the tone for high-quality and diverse representation of dance for the community theater. Being able to use the time, space and resources provided by the KST allowed PearlArts to solidify their mission, aesthetic, and reputation, and when the residency ended the company premiered as an investigation of race, gender, and personal identity in relation to conversations around Post-Blackness in fine and performing arts.
PEARL said the company started working with New Sun Rising almost five years ago, and during the early years the guidance they received was “amazing.” She also said that the company is currently part of NSRs Grow Residency program, which “feels like we’re moving into another phase of our existence and expanding in different directions that we didn’t expect to.”
As for the Millvale Community Library, the award for Sustainability is also well deserved. Its doors officially opened in 2013, and since that time the library has been designated as a Sustainable Small Business through its actions and leadership that promotes environmental stewardship as well as financial stability.
Originally fiscally sponsored by New Sun Rising, MCL started as a children’s library in 2008. The community that came together to build the library initiated the larger community conversation about what sustainability and resiliency meant to the people of Millvale, and the library now leads a movement towards education and equity in those realms. Not only has that resulted in the award winning Millvale EcoDistrict Pivot 1.0 and 2.0 Plans, but also tangible projects that improve the quality of life for citizens such as a rain garden to retain storm water, a tool lending library, paid teen solar fellowships, free access to high-speed internet, and a solar installation which saves money while reducing their carbon footprint.
Brian Wolovich, founder and current board member of the MCL, said that at the beginning, having the support of New Sun Rising was critical to their success.
“We were able to focus on immediate tasks like acquiring and renovating our building, strengthening relationships, and providing youth and GED test preparation programming to our community, while NSR provided financial management, operations, and strategic support.”
In partnership with NSR, the MCL has inspired a sustainable future for residents and leaders in Millvale, and their upstream neighbors in Etna and Sharpsburg, and downstream into Beaver County.
For more information on the Vibrancy Awards and to purchase tickets, click here. A “pay what you can” has been included so that cost is not a barrier. The Vibrancy Awards are made possible by the generous support of the Henry L. Hillman Opportunity Fund, and sponsored by Buchanon Ingersoll & Rooney PC, Neighborhood Allies, BNY Mellon, Crawford Ellenbogen, Robert Morris University Massey Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, First National Bank, Walker Philanthropic Consulting, and Innovation Works.