Above: A group of girls who participated in Open Field’s 2020 summer program.
Last September during New Sun Rising’s Ignite Vibrancy: Collective Impact, over 30 community leaders representing 10 collective impact projects were given the opportunity to pitch for $30,000 in total grants during the one-day workshop supported by the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.
The three pitch winners were: Coraopolis Community C.A.F.E (Coraopolis Alliance for Excellence), SURGE Braddock, and C.H.A.M.P.S Northview Heights + Crafton (Change Agents Mentoring Peers in Sport). In addition to funding, each received ongoing technical support from New Sun Rising’s GIT-COL initiative (Growing Impact Through Data + Collaboration).
We were able to catch up with Justin Forzano, Founder & CEO of Open Field, and part of the C.H.A.M.P.S partnership that also includes JFCS Pittsburgh, Somali Bantu Community Association of Pittsburgh, ARYSE, Youth Places, and the Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh.
Forzano’s partnership received $5,000 to help support their programming, which utilizes the global game of soccer to promote social cohesion, increase life skills education, and improve the health and well-being of young people in Northview Heights and Crafton Heights.
“Attending the workshop with NSR and our communication with [former Director of Opportunity] Leigh [Solomon Pugliano] was helpful because it forced us to get out of the day-to-day and think about the bigger picture,” Forzano said. “It was nice to do not only for the sake of our organization, but do it in consideration and collaboration with other organizations to see where our future goals align.”
With C.H.A.M.P.S working in two different neighborhoods, Foranzo said they had always held separate meetings with a couple community organizations in each area to take care of planning for that neighborhood, and the Ignite Vibrancy: Collective Impact workshop was the first time representatives from each neighborhood came together around a table to identify common issues.
“That was an unexpected surprise, because I hadn’t really thought about doing that before,” Forzano said.
In particular, Open Field’s work with youth in Northview Heights promotes physical activity, life skills, and leadership in a deeply disinvested community. Residents earn a median income that is only 30 percent of the Pittsburgh average and 90 percent identify as Black, a population that is reflective of those hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis. According to NSR’s Vibrancy Index, the community ranks worse than 96 percent of census tracts in Allegheny County on Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities, due to racial segregation and income distribution. Through collaborations like C.H.A.M.P.S, Open Field and their partners are helping residents to lead and benefit from initiatives, which improve Health (SDG 3), Education (SDG 4), and Employment (SDG 8).
“We are a pretty unique organization in how our intervention is sport based, specifically soccer… so one of the things we noticed is that all of these other organizations are providing a lot of wraparound services, and our interventions help address a lot of things they’re working on. So a consensus of us all talking together is ‘look at all these things we identify as issues that are common in both communities; look at all these things and all the ways an intentional sport for social impact program can address them; let’s work together to address these issues.”
Pittsburgh and a Global community will celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Open Field, during “A Taste of Africa at Home” on October 24, 2020. Although the virtual event is sold out, you can still show your support through their online auction or by making a donation.