The City of Pittsburgh will place a special focus on the city’s growing immigrant population for their fall 2016 Civic Leadership Academy (CLA).

Applications are now being accepted for the latest CLA, a free 10-week intensive course designed to foster a more engaged community by showing residents the inner workings of Pittsburgh government. The program was created five years ago and has since offered two courses each year to the more civic-minded.

“It’s a really great opportunity to put a face on city government and really get an idea of how extensive our responsibilities are, and how many individuals we have in the city working hard to make this a better place for residents,” says CLA coordinator, Sally Stadelman, who has organized the program since 2014.

Around 40 applicants are accepted for each CLA, with a special exception. Stadelman explains that 15 of the 40 spots are reserved for members of the city’s immigrant communities, a move inspired by Welcoming Pittsburgh, the five-year plan Mayor Bill Peduto put into action in 2014 to make the city a more livable place for all.

“We generally try to get as diverse a group of residents as possible so everyone gets to meet different people and hear different perspectives,” says Stadelman.

Throughout the course, government officials and employees from 12 departments will offer insight on day-to-day operations, budgets, new initiatives and upcoming projects. CLA participants will also tour facilities, view demonstrations and ask questions as they meet face-to-face with presenters such as Mayor Peduto, city council members, and representatives from the police and EMS and fire bureaus.

While they often attract applicants with prior community experience, Stadelman says the CLA offers a foundation for beginners with a desire to become more involved.

“We try to bring people into the class who are clearly interested in being civically engaged, but they haven’t really gotten started yet,” says Stadelman. “Hopefully, they leave with a good tool set that makes it a little less intimidating to interact with the city.”

Applications are due Friday, August 5th and classes begin on Wednesday, September 14. Classes are held Downtown and in various locations throughout the city every Wednesday from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Amanda Waltz

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated...