Keystone Crossroads

Joshua Franzos / Pittsburgh Foundation

 

A foundation in Pittsburgh will dedicate 60 to 70 percent of its grant making to address poverty and disparity in the region. 

Depending on the news outlet, Pittsburgh is a lot of things: it’s Steel City or the Paris of Appalachia; it’s the new Brooklyn; it’s the best place to eat, it’s the most underrated American city. 

But for many, the debate about whether or not Pittsburgh merits all this chatter is immaterial: 30 percent of people in the region live at or near poverty.

Mahanoy City: The End Of Coal Country

Sep 21, 2016
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

On episode 01 of Grapple, we explore how Mahanoy City transformed from a vibrant coal town into a distressed community struggling with job loss, low home values, blight, and fire. 

 

Keystone Crossroads launches its first podcast Sept. 21.

Grapple will give voice to people living and working in distressed communities both big and small.

Preservationists Praise State Tax Credit Program, But Hope For More

Sep 20, 2016
Ron Larson / Ace Hotel

 

Dozens of historic buildings in Pennsylvania — from an 1815 tavern in Erie to a Frank Furness church in Philly to an early 20th century YMCA in Pittsburgh — have been saved thanks to a tax credit program established by the commonwealth in 2012.

PHOTOS: Re-Imagining Abandoned Train Line To Rail Park

Sep 16, 2016
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

At the Reading Viaduct, it's hard to imagine that this shaded and quiet section of Philadelphia was once a part of a bustling thoroughfare to transport goods and people into Center City. 

When the viaduct was built more than 125 years ago, Philadelphia was know as the workshop of the world — a mismatch of small industries and small businesses— from hat makers to textiles manufacturers to meat markets. At the time, Philadelphia's City Hall was under construction and considered one of the tallest buildings in the world.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

A dumpster parked curbside, piled high with construction debris or outdated building guts, is not an uncommon city sight. But a certain dumpster just off one of Pittsburgh’s main business corridors is different. For starters, it’s painted bright yellow.

“We love the yellow,” says Phoebe Downey, project manager for Envision Downtown, a public-private partnership between the mayor’s office and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

State Starts Deciding On More Than $1B In Delayed Redevelopment Assistance Requests

Sep 12, 2016
Emily Previti / WITF

 

Nearly 400 agencies are waiting to hear from a long-standing, occasionally controversial grant program months past when they’d normally get word.

State officials have funneled more than $5 billion through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program since its inception in 1986. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

 

In Pennsylvania, seven out of 10 workers don't have a college degree. That's a demographic that has been particularly hard hit by unemployment and wage declines since the 1980s. 

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

By 2050, 70 percent of the world's population will be living in cities, according to a United Nations estimate. Mayors could be more influential than ever.

That's why it's important to start training city leaders now, says Jorrit de Jong, faculty director for the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative

Can A Computer Algorithm Be Trusted To Help Relieve Philly's Overcrowded Jails?

Sep 2, 2016
Emma Lee / WHYY

 

Of the roughly 7,400 people sitting in Philadelphia's jails right now, more than half of them aren't there because they've been found guilty of a crime.

They've been accused of one and are waiting for trial. Many of them just can't afford to pay bail.

That's what happened to Joshua Glenn.

When he was 16 years old, Glenn was arrested for allegedly shooting another guy in the arm — a crime he says he didn't commit.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

A developer wants to build an ice cream factory on a stretch of vacant lots in your city. The city is eager to have the ice cream companies and woos them with tax abatements and other public subsidies.

"Jobs!" the city council cries. "An increased tax base!"

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 

On Wednesday, a court will decide whether a referendum to change Pittsburgh's home rule charter will remain on the November ballot. The city argues the proposed amendment unduly hampers city government.

Brad Larrison / NewsWorks

 

Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the last six presidential elections. But this election season, analysts say it's possible that the state will swing Republican. 

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

On a Friday night in Altoona, the Blair County Convention Center was packed to the rafters with supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. There was an overflow room downstairs and a crowd waiting outside that couldn't get in. Trump discussed everything from ISIS to Supreme Court justices. 

Emma Lee / WHYY

 

With its new student-weighted school funding formula, Pennsylvania took a big step forward this year to begin to correct decades of inequities.

Decision Days Away In Lancaster Refugee Case

Aug 23, 2016
Emily Previti / WITF

 

Five full days of testimony wrapped up Monday in the lawsuit against the School District of Lancaster.

The case claims six student refugees were denied enrollment altogether or placed at Phoenix Academy, a magnet school with an accelerated credit program where they allegedly didn't get adequate support learning English.

They’re seeking admission to Lancaster’s mainstream McCaskey High School.

Bastiaan Slabbers / Newsworks

Pennsylvania continues to wrestle with an essential question for the future of its people and its economy: What should a high school diploma mean, and what should it take to earn one?

Trial Starts Over Refugee Student Enrollment In Lancaster

Aug 18, 2016
Ed Zurga / AP

 

As many as 700 refugees are resettled each year in Lancaster, a high number for the city's population.

Four of them are spending today in court, where they'll testify in a lawsuit against the School District of Lancaster.

National Cancer Institute

 

new study finds a link between the racial makeup of Philadelphia neighborhoods and the number of primary care doctors who work there.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Christiana Care Health System, the University of Pennsylvania, Boston University, and the French Institute for Agricultural Research, measures primary care doctors per resident in Philadelphia's census tracts.

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

 

Pennsylvania has more trash in its landfills, per person, than every other state, except Nevada. There are 35.4 tons of trash for each person in the state, according to ananalysis of data from the Environmental Protection Agency's Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, conducted by the energy company SaveOnEnergy.com.

Glenn Koehler / NMIH

 

Visitors to the new National Museum of Industrial History, open today in Bethlehem, will be engaging with history before they even set foot inside the museum. It's built on the nation's largest privately-owned brownfield site, in what was Bethlehem Steel's electric repair shop.

Lawsuit Brewing Over Refugee Education In Lancaster

Jul 19, 2016
Alex Brandon / AP

 

About 17,000 school-aged refugees move to the U.S. in an average year, an estimate that's a few years old and likely growing along with overall resettlement activity.

But no one is tracking how young refugees fare in school here.

Georgetown University released a study earlier this year looking at education access by students with limited English proficiency.

It focused on undocumented immigrants.

PA Cities Vary In Response To Firearm Ordinance Rulings, Legislative Activity

Jul 18, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

 

Allentown City Council is looking at reinstating as many as three ordinances previously repealed to avoid lawsuits facilitated by Act 192. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

On a windy June day, Don Smith is proudly giving a tour of a former Jones and Laughlin steel mill site in Pittsburgh. 

Margaret J. Krauss / Keystone Crossroads

 

"Are you registered to vote?" Dave Tessitor asked a man as he walked past the library in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

"Yes," the man said, not stopping.

Tessitor fell in step. "We're collecting signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot," he said, walking up the street with the man. He only turned back several blocks later, the cargo pocket of his shorts one pamphlet lighter. He shrugged and smiled. And then a young couple came out of the library. "Excuse me, are you registered to vote?"

Marielle Segarra / WHYY

 

On a Wednesday evening, about 30 people — mostly kids — sit poised on their bikes on a street in downtown Reading.

It's 6 p.m., and they're about to head out for their weekly ride through the city.

A man in a white t-shirt goes over some safety rules.

"Be aware of your surroundings," he says. "No stupid stunts, none of that. And please stay together."

With that, they take off, to the tunes of Marc Anthony's "Vivir Mi Vida," playing from speakers on the back of one guy's bike.

CJ Dawson Photography

 

  Early-stage companies need cash. The state is helping them get it, by giving them tax credits they can sell.

On Thursday, the Department of Community and Economic Development spoke to about 35 people, many of them early stage tech company CEOs, about the Keystone Innovation Zone program. 

Judge Strikes Down Ban On Renting To Felons

Jun 21, 2016
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

A Cambria County judge has overturned a borough's prohibition against renting to drug felons.

Judge Tamara Bernstein issued the ruling Thursday, more than four months after Darcy Smith sued the borough of Gallitzin.

Smith, 38, filed her lawsuit after getting an eviction notice upon moving into a new home with her three children. She'd been living elsewhere in the Gallitzin since her release from prison over a year prior.

Pennsylvania Cities Respond To Orlando Shooting

Jun 14, 2016
Branden Eastwood / NewsWorks

 

Early Sunday morning, a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fl. Omar Mateen killed 49 clubgoers and injured at least as many in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Mateen was killed at the scene after a prolonged hostage situation.

There were tributes offered across the country, from the White House to the Tony Awards. Over 1,000 miles north of Orlando, Pennsylvania residents reacted to the news with vigils, fundraisers and security concerns.

The parade must go on

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