Pittsburgh Public Schools to expand anti-violence, mentorship program with $2M grant | #schoolsaftey

A program aimed at reducing youth violence in Pittsburgh Public Schools will use more than $2 million in state grant money to expand.

The Safe Passages program, operated by Pittsburgh-based Operation Better Block, brings adult community leaders into schools to mentor students, help curb problematic behaviors and mediate potential conflicts, city officials said. The initiative also offers stipends to student ambassadors who take on leadership roles in the program.

Pittsburgh City Council voted Wednesday to allow the city to enter into a partnership with the school district and Operation Better Block and dedicate the grant money to the program’s expansion.

Council President Theresa Kail-Smith, D-West End, said she remains “concerned about the money we’re spending in stopping the violence and not seeing all the results we want,” but credited the people and organizations who are continuing efforts to address the issue.

The Safe Passages program started as a pilot at Perry Traditional Academy in the North Side. Assistant Public Safety Director David Jones said the program played a role in there being fewer fights at the school and created an environment that was “more conducive for people to learn.”

Attendance roughly doubled at Perry since the program launched, according to Chief Operating and Administrative Officer Lisa Frank.

The two-year grant will allow the program to grow and hire additional full-time adult staff and student ambassadors.

In addition to operating at Perry, the program will expand to Carrick High School, Westinghouse High School in Homewood, Allderdice High School in Squirrel Hill and John Morrow Elementary School in Brighton Heights.

Julia Felton is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Julia by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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