Forging Forward: The Future Is Now!

Forging Forward 2022 is a series of six articles about organizations helping our region make progress on the significant issues challenging our friends and neighbors. The series is presented with the generous support of The Pittsburgh Foundation.  

The #ONEDAY Critical Needs Campaign, a day of online giving to organizations doing vital work, is on August 9: mark your calendars and plan to be part of something great!

Among 2020’s relatively few positive messages: the event production and broadcast industries have learned how to survive, pivot and thrive during uncertain times. As the world learns how to exist with Covid-19, the event and media sectors have made strides to keep people connected through both distanced technologies and safer in-person experiences. While we can’t go back to “normal,” the goal for professionals now is to see how the next generation will innovate when creating gatherings and cultural events right for tomorrow’s world.

But even industries like this one aren’t always easy to break into. The lack of accessibility to the tech world has created barriers for people looking to work as installation professionals, audio engineers, lighting designers, projectionists, digital content creators, project managers and more. Even though the cultural sector in our region is booming (over 32,000 jobs worth $641million in household wages, according to the Pittsburgh Arts Council), without a traditional four-year degree from schools like Point Park University, entry opportunities in this industry are limited at best.

Tech25, a 501c3 nonprofit organization operated by 25 Carrick Ave Project, is looking to change that by making event technology education and training more accessible for those first breaking into the industry, or more established pros who want to add some new skills to their portfolios (or buff up the old ones). Located in the South Hilltop neighborhood of Carrick, youth and adult program participants benefit from entry-level access into positions that pay living wages.

“Because many of our students come from underserved communities, we rely on subsidies from foundations, corporate sponsors and individual donors to support our programs,” said Jordan Gillam, director of education. “This allows our students – many of whom traditionally lack access and experience inequities – and our educators to focus on the training. Our ability to offer these programs for free, and compensating trainees through paid earn-to-learn apprenticeships, have helped bridge the gap for those who rely on their daily income and can’t afford the cost of traditional schooling,” he added.

Through Tech25, underserved and under-resourced youth engage in workforce development programs, audio engineering workshops, summer camps and more. “Tech 25 allowed me to really get my foot in the door to a career path that I really enjoy and also feels incredibly rewarding,” said Eddin Delic, a 25-year-old from the South Hills and a recent graduate of the program..

Eddin left college during the pandemic quarantine because he found online classes difficult for his style of learning. Discovering Tech 25 allowed him to move his career forward during these tumultuous times.  “The most powerful tools we have as humans are education and communication. Programs like Tech 25 help bridge those and further develop the skills to make a real Impact on people’s lives for the better,” said Eddin. “Since attending these courses, I’ve worked at numerous venues and buildings around the city and was able to build my own network as well to help other people follow this same career path that I’ve chosen.”

Let’s continue to work together and fund opportunities that keep talent in our region, create economic growth and provide living wages to people who make our world a more enjoyable place to be. Join The Pittsburgh Foundation’s ONE DAY campaign to provide support to Tech 25 on Aug. 9. Together, we can create a vibrant, more equitable world!

Learn more about Tech25 HERE and support their essential assistance to low income families who need help navigating our complex legal system.

At work in the Tech25 classroom with Carolyn Slothour, lead educator, Andre Schrock, apprentice, and Eric Hoodwink, educator and former apprentice. Photo by Justin Merriman.
Greg Hooks, a Tech25 apprecntice, installs event technology. Photo by Justin Merriman.
Apprentice Brandon Gilliam adjusts an installation in the Tech25 classroom, while fellow apprentice Greg Hooks observes . Photo by Justin Merriman.

Apprentice Brandon Gilliam adjusts an installation in the Tech25 classroom, while fellow apprentice Greg Hooks observes . Photo by Justin Merriman.

Get to know other organizations doing vital work to help our neighbors in Western Pennsylvania by reading more in our Forging Forward series, presented with the support of The Pittsburgh Foundation:

Tech 25: The Future is Now

Outreach Teen and Family Services

Neighborhood Legal Services

Fishes and Loaves

Build the Community Center

Healthy Start



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