Diocese Poster & Essay Contest

We are excited to announce the 2017 Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh Poster and Essay Contest winners! These students chose to either write an essay or design a poster relating to how they can help children and families experiencing homelessness in our community.

Claire Stevens of Blessed Trinity Academy wrote this year’s first-place essay, and Alexandria Westray of the Campus School of Carlow University came in second place. Alexa McKee of Saint Maria Goretti won first-place for her poster, and Colin Hollihan, also of Saint Maria Goretti, was the second-place winner. Jazmin Martin of St. Agnes School received an honorable mention for her poem. See below for all the winning entries.

As is tradition for the Poster and Essay Contest, the awardees made and served sandwiches for veterans experiencing homelessness at Shepherd’s Heart. They were presented with their awards during a lunch ceremony.

1st Place Essay Claire Stevens
2nd Place Essay Alexandria Westray
Diocese Contest Honorable Mention Poem 2017 (002)


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Intern Profiles: Christa Brashier

Christa Brashier is the Development & Outreach intern for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund.

My name is Christa Brashier and I am a senior at the University of Pittsburgh (PITT), where I major in Media & Professional Communications. Prior to Pitt, I attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) where I was in a collaborative program with Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) called their “Urban Track” of Education, hoping to teach elementary school students in underprivileged urban areas.

My desire to teach came from what I admired most when I was growing up. I grew up in section 8 housing on Pittsburgh’s North Side, one of three children being raised by a single mother. I attended public schools (most of which have since been shut down.) As a young child, I was no stranger to family struggles with incarceration, drug abuse, mental illness, and poverty. School provided stability, encouragement, positivity, and from time to time a meaningful connection to an inspiring adult who seemed to really care about me. Consequently, I excelled at academics from a young age – a fact which has opened many doors for me.

These experiences taught me the value of educational opportunities for at-risk youth, which led me to the CCAC/IUP teacher education collaborative. Unfortunately, my time at IUP taught me that I was just not cut out for elementary education. I left IUP to seek a different path. Eventually, my interest and skill in writing and communications coursework brought me to PITT, where an advanced undergraduate Grant Proposal writing seminar asked me to partner with a local nonprofit and write a full-length PA Common Grant application on their behalf.

I immediately thought of the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, where I have occasionally volunteered for an old family friend, Susy Robison (HCEF’s Director of Outreach.) Though my grant application wasn’t needed to fund any of HCEF’s programs; it gave me a better understanding of the work that they do, earned me an A in an advanced writing seminar, and got my foot in the door with their new Director of Development, Angelica Perry. I love HCEF’s values and mission and I hope that I can help the organization reach their goals as I spend this summer getting hands-on experience in non-profit development, communications, and outreach.

For more information on internship opportunities with the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, please contact us at 412-562-0154 or by email at info@homelessfund.org. 



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2016 Hope Through Learning Award Winners

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Mircalene (center) receives her award from HCEF Executive Director, Bill Wolfe (left) and Chair of the HCEF Educational Resources and Programming Committee, Jeff Martin (right).

On Thursday, July 21, HCEF honored five inspiring young people with the 2016 Hope Through Learning Award. We celebrated these college-bound recipients with a ceremony at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

The Hope Through Learning Award is a financial award available to young people who have persevered against homelessness and are applying to post-secondary education programs. Recipients can use their award for tuition, school-related expenses such as books or a computer, or living expenses, such as transportation, child care, or housing.

We are excited to introduce you to this year’s awardees:

  • Michael graduated from Harari College Worldwide and was accepted to study education and political science at Dartmouth.
  • Camille graduated from Imani Christian Academy and was accepted to Ohio University to study mechanical engineering.
  • Dakira graduated from North Hills Senior High School and was accepted to Temple University to study biochemistry. She eventually wants to attend medical school at Duke.
  • Khai graduated from Pittsburgh Science Technology Academy and was accepted to Siena Heights University to study physical therapy.
  • Mircalene graduated from Obama Academy of International Studies and was accepted to CCAC to study nursing. She eventually wants to become a physician’s assistant.


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