Sessions at the All for All Summit on Sept. 13, 2018, explored all aspects of immigrant integration in Pittsburgh. Photo by Jodi Tandet.

For immigrant communities and their allies, the last several years have been a trying time in Pittsburgh and around the country.

“There is a challenging and dangerous national discussion” around immigration, says Betty Cruz, founder of the local advocacy group All for All. “It can be hard to find moments to celebrate. It’s all the more reason for us to go further in our solidarity.”

That’s why All for All unveiled an expanded edition of their annual summit today. Running from Thursday, Oct. 10 through Saturday, Oct. 12, this year’s summit will feature three days of events dedicated to making every sector of our city more welcoming to immigrants.

Cruz tells NEXTpittsburgh that the conference will examine “what are the successes and opportunities we can point to locally, and what is the work that still needs to happen?”

The summit will kick off on Thursday with neighborhood tours to community organizations and cultural landmarks where business owners, local leaders and artists will speak about their Pittsburgh experiences. These conversations will explore the perspectives of immigrants, Black Americans and young people grappling with issues of economic development and community building. The tours are being developed in partnership with The Global Switchboard.

The second day will include talks from national and local leaders, action-oriented workshops and networking opportunities at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Session topics will include The Changing Face of Our Workforce, Using Language Access Services and How to Build a More Welcoming U.S. Jasmine Cho, founder of Yummyholic, will emcee.

On the final day of the summit, Cruz and her team will wrap things up with an all-ages block party in East Liberty along Penn Avenue between S. Whitfield St. and S. Highland Ave. In addition to local food and craft vendors, the party will feature live performances by local artists including 1Hood Media and national acts including New York’s Cumbia River Band.

Speakers at the summit will include:

-William Strickland, CEO of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation, who will have a “fireside chat” with Kelly Strayhorn Theater Executive Director janera solomon.

Brian Burley, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development’s director of economic inclusion and founder of YNGBLKPGH.

-Satvika Neti, a local social justice activist.

-Ciera Young, The Ellis School‘s director of equity and inclusion.

While the speakers will focus mainly on economic development, Cruz says they will take a holistic approach to the issue: “When we’re talking about economic development,” she says, “it should include all aspects of community.”

In keeping with that inclusive spirit, every talk, event and party will be free to the public (though the neighborhood tours do have limited space).

“The All for All Summit is about more than being welcoming,” says Frederick Thieman, chair for civic leadership at the Buhl Foundation, and a member of the All for All steering committee.  “It is about recognizing that a thriving Pittsburgh is one where all of us, whether we were born here or halfway around the world, can experience economic opportunity and feel a sense of belonging.”

Learn more about the summit here.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.