The 2nd Annual Love My Neighbor! Gathering brought together over 100 community members to celebrate connecting with each other, building relationships of trust, becoming stronger together, and working toward building healthy neighborhoods.

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The Gathering culminated the 2018 grant application and selection process of the Love My Neighbor! grant program, which is designed to build neighborhoods by identifying, empowering, and supporting projects imagined by and for residents of our community. In it’s third year of existence, the Love My Neighbor! program received 50% more applicants whose creative project ideas are reaching and supporting more residents in the Pittsburgh region than ever before.

This year, the Love My Neighbor! grant program received over 50% more applications than last year – 65 applicants this year versus 40 applications in 2017. Additionally, this year’s grant ask was over 200% of last year’s ask – $150,000 this year versus $72,000 in 2017. As a result of the increased efforts by the residents in our communities, Neighborhood Allies increased the grant pool from $63,000 to $100,000 for the third round of Love My Neighbor!. That means, in 2018 alone, 50 resident projects in nine neighborhoods will be receiving grants totaling nearly $100,000 of direct investment into communities from the program! However, the gathering event was not about honoring those projects; it was about honoring the gifts, talents, and passions that filled the gymnasium.

Shikha Jerath, who developed and manages the Love My Neighbor! Program, explained the importance of connecting and building relationships during the event.

In this room, we have neighbors from nine different communities in the Pittsburgh region. And, as you know this type of crowd normally doesn’t get together. Typically, members of a particular community meet to make change happen. What if we operated differently? What if we drew inspiration and shared our knowledge fluidly across neighborhoods? What if we leveraged individual strengths and knowledge to brainstorm and develop solutions across our traditional boundaries?”

-Shikha Jerath, Neighborhood Allies

Shikha asked the group to share their knowledge and think of ways to operate different as we create change in neighborhoods. Neighbors shared ideas about ways of connecting beyond social media such as visiting projects and learning from other neighborhoods, providing volunteers support on clean up days, or hosting a large concert as a way to bring people together in a fun and exciting way.

Neighbors also shared their unique gifts and talents and approaches to community change.

In 2018, Love My Neighbor! will support 50 projects in nine neighborhoods. Stay tuned for the announcement of the creative projects and the residents behind them! For more information on the Love My Neighbor! Program, visit this website.