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Penn State Plans Outreach Center in City's Heart

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
October 04, 2017
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Penn State Greater Allegheny Campus will open an outreach center in the heart of Downtown to offer computer literacy classes, homebuyer counseling and other services.
 
Jacqueline Edmundson, Greater Allegheny chancellor, said the university is preparing a space on the third floor of the former YWCA building on Ninth Avenue in an effort to re-connect with the Mon-Yough community.

The building is also home to the Ninth Street Clinic and a temporary office for medical cannabis company PurePenn. Those tenants are expected to remain.

The Ninth Avenue location is "an opportunity for us to engage the community in a number of different opportunties, and we'll have students involved in that outreach as well," Edmundson said in an interview.


The Ninth Avenue building is one of several ways that Penn State Greater Allegheny is trying to re-connect with the Mon-Yough community, she said. Other initiatives include matching Penn State students with local high schools that need tutors, and connecting student volunteers with Habitat for Humanity.

In addition, the campus' Frable Building will soon be the first university campus site for a "Free Store" like the one set up four years ago in Braddock by Gisele Fetterman, wife of borough Mayor John Fetterman.

The Braddock Free Store receives surplus and donated goods and redistribute them to area residents in need.

"We're thrilled to be able to work with Gisele and to be able to make that available to the community," Edmundson said. The Penn State Free Store will be "totally student-run," she said.


The Ninth Avenue building was formerly the headquarters of Womansplace, but in 2012 that charity merged with Pittsburgh-based Center for Victims of Violence and Crime to become the Center for Victims.

In May of this year, the charity donated the building to the city, according to Allegheny County real estate records.

The donation included a 4,500-square-foot parking lot at the corner of Ninth Avenue and Locust Street.

The building, which includes approximately 14,000 square feet of space, was built in 1954 for the YWCA, which closed its McKeesport center in 2006.


Until recently, the former YWCA also was the headquarters for the Consortium for Higher Education, but that organization has since relocated to offices in the old Maglev Inc. building at the RIDC Industrial Center of McKeesport.

McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko was traveling and unavailable for comment, but Edmundson said that Penn State is hoping to have a formal ribbon-cutting and announcement before the end of October.

"The city of McKeesport and Mayor Cherepko have been wonderful partners," Edmundson said, "and we are working with them to make sure services will be available to the community."

Many aspects of the type of programming to be offered in the building are yet to be determined by Penn State staff, Edmundson said.


But the university envisions computer literacy classes and general equivalency degree, or GED, preparation, she said, and offering a counseling program for first-time homebuyers in cooperation with Dollar Bank.

In the late fall and winter, Edmundson said, the university hopes to be offering safety classes on Saturdays.

Penn State also wants to use the building to help grow small businesses, Edmundson said. She hopes that some services will be "up and running" by the middle of this month.

"We are really trying to develop some programming that will be responsive to the needs of the community," Edmundson said.

Originally published October 04, 2017.

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