- Last Updated on Monday, 02 January 2023 00:11
On Thursday, December 22, 2022, Steel Center for Career and Technical Education formally announced that the school will be receiving a $4 million dollar grant award from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program or “RACP”.
This grant program is administered by the Governor’s Office of the Budget and dedicates state funds for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational, and historical improvement projects. In November, Steel Center formally announced its plans for a $29 million renovation of its facilities. This renovation qualifies for the RACP grant because the school’s mission provides a positive economic impact to the communities it serves as well as the Greater Pittsburgh region. Steel Center partnered with the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County to complete the formal RACP application process in August. From that point forward, the school followed a carefully designed advocacy plan that involved meeting and speaking with legislators from both the Pennsylvania State Senate and members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives who serve the districts within the school’s footprint. Steel Center leaders also met with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald to gain his support and seek his advocacy to the Governor.
According to Steel Center’s Executive Director Mr. Kevin Rice, “The RACP grant is highly competitive and there are so many worthwhile projects that need funding right here in Allegheny County as well as across the state. Realistically, I was hoping for $1 million, but we would have been happy and grateful to receive any amount. $4 million dollars to help educate our students while strengthening the workforce is a big win for everyone”.
The Steel Center RACP grant application was one of one-hundred twenty such applications from within Allegheny County in 2022. Combined, these projects were seeking nearly $460 million from the state for a variety of improvement projects ranging from an expansion of the Andy Warhol Museum that includes a live performance and event facility, to a proposed student services center at Pittsburgh Technical College in Oakdale. For the 2022 RACP funding cycle, eighty-six of Allegheny County’s grant applications were selected to receive some level of funding. The average amount for these grants was $1.5 million dollars, and Steel Center’s was one of only five that received $4 million dollars or more.
“I believe we made a strong case that these funds will create a very positive impact for so many communities as well as the region”, said Steel Center’s Board President and Brentwood Borough School District member Mr. David Schaap. Mr. Schaap is also the President of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit Board and incoming President of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. “In Allegheny County and across the state, career and technical education schools like Steel Center have become more needed and valuable than ever before. I think the state knows this and that certainly helped make it happen” said Mr. Schaap.
A small ceremony was organized by State Representative Nick Pisciottano and Senator Devlin Robinson to present Steel Center with the grant award. Also attending the ceremony were State Representatives Jessica Benham, Natalie Mihalek, Representative-Elect Andrew Kuzma, staff from Senator Jim Brewster’s office, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Pennsylvania’s Deputy Secretary of Elementary & Secondary Education Dr. Jeff Fuller and his chief of staff, Dr. Carrie Rowe, and Associate Director of the Pennsylvania Association for Career and Technical Administrators Mr. John Pulver. During the ceremony, Steel Center Board Vice President and Duquesne City School Board member Ms. Calvina Harris addressed the group to express her appreciation of Governor Wolf and the bipartisan group of legislators. Ms. Harris said, “This (grant) will go a long way to help our kids and all of Allegheny County”. Following Ms. Harris’ comment, the attendees heard some comments from Ms. Kameron Hinton, an 11th grade Health Assistant student from West Mifflin. Allegheny County Executive Fitzgerald then addressed the audience, “That is what it’s all about, the future; the most important investment we can make is in the future of our students. The work that the Steel Center team does goes a long way to make sure that our young people have these opportunities”. The ceremony concluded with a presentation of the ceremonial check in the amount of $4 million dollars.
Note: Steel Center is a consortium Career and Technical Education School with eighteen programs and a current enrollment of 860 students. It is owned and operated by the following school districts: Baldwin-Whitehall, Bethel Park, Brentwood Borough, Clairton City, Duquesne City, Elizabeth Forward, South Allegheny, South Park, Steel Valley, West Jefferson Hills, and West Mifflin Area.