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Community Work Day in Pittsburgh’s West End

By June 21, 2024Blog, West End

On Saturday, June 8, 2024, the energy and enthusiasm of Pittsburgh’s youth took center stage in the West End. Riverlife, in collaboration with H.O.P.E. for Tomorrow and mural artist Scott Brozovich from Rivers of Steel, led a transformative community action day. This event marked a significant milestone in Riverlife’s ongoing mission to create accessible, vibrant riverfronts, showcasing the power of community and youth engagement.


This action packed work day marked the completion of connections that have been built over the past two years. Riverlife and H.O.P.E. for Tomorrow have been working together to develop and plan this early intervention project. Riverlife’s Project and Planning team started to engage with these young leaders to utilize funds from a Partners for Places and the Funder’s Network mini-grant to plan and implement an early intervention to better connect the West End neighborhood to the rivers.

Existing conditions make it difficult for pedestrians to access the West End Bridge or the river trails that link to public spaces on the Monongahela, Ohio and Allegheny Rivers. The aging, built infrastructure prioritizes the link to these spaces in cars. Riverlife’s community-driven process led to early conversations with these young community members who will be affected by interventions and improvements to the conditions.

The full engagement series involved multiple workshops, community engagement activities, and collaborations with local artists and educators. The effort began in February 2023, with planning sessions, nature walks, water safety education, kayaking trips, and the creation of a community mural. All of these efforts were co-created, and informed how the funds of the mini-grant were ultimately utilized.

Project completion

On a sunny Saturday, the realization of the early action project was completed. The members of H.O.P.E. for Tomorrow fixed and finished the mural they had painted the previous summer, after the work had been tagged sometime between painting and finishing the project. In addition, they built a bench, and beautifying the trail space next to the mural. The finishing touches of a sunshade and completion of the mural came a few days later.

The collaborative spirit was palpable as youth participants, Riverlife staff, and community members worked side by side, bringing their shared vision to life. The mural serves as a symbol of community driven development and environmental stewardship, while the newly installed bench and freshly planted trees enhance the area’s aesthetics and functionality.

The event not only highlighted the tangible improvements to the riverfront but also underscored the importance of involving young voices in the planning and development processes. By empowering the youth to take an active role in their community, Riverlife and its partners are nurturing the next generation of environmental stewards and community leaders.

The impact of this workday extended beyond physical improvements. It was a celebration of community spirit, collaboration, and the vibrant potential of Pittsburgh’s riverfronts. 

Early action and community engagement for a larger vision

These early action projects are a pivotal piece of the community-driven development of the larger infrastructure work Riverlife is working to realize at the West End Bridge. 

In November 2023, Riverlife announced a strategic investment in design and engineering to create accessible connections leading to the West End Bridge from the West End and Manchester neighborhoods. This critical infrastructure design aims to introduce key enhancements and multimodal improvements to the historic bridge structure.

Community engagement is a pivotal element of Riverlife’s design process. In addition to this series, Riverlife has hosted a series of community meetings to inform the overall design of the access structures, and is continuing to solicit feedback from the community.

Partners and Funders:

This project is made possible through the support of Partners for Places and The Funders Network, with contributions from H.O.P.E. for Tomorrow, the City of Pittsburgh, and the West End Community Group. Columbia Gas and the NiSource Foundation supported the planting  effort. Workshop series partners include Watersheds of South Pittsburgh, Rivers of Steel, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Assemble, and Landforce.

About H.O.P.E. for Tomorrow:

The mission of H.O.P.E. is to develop youth in the West End, in partnership with their families,  to compete in the global community by addressing academic, socio-economic and relational risk factors.