Greater Allegheny students, McKeesport mayor collaborate to improve community

Students in Penn State Greater Allegheny?s Foundations of Civic and Community Engagement class (CIVCM 211) have developed two surveys that will be used by the City of McKeesport in strategic planning.

The class was discussing ways in which they could get involved in the community. A perfect opportunity came along when the City of McKeesport announced plans to create a strategic plan to address a wide range of issues that have an impact on residents who live in the city as well as people attending local schools and those commuting into the city for work.

Environmental Planning and Design of Pittsburgh (EP&D), which is contracted by McKeesport to help with the strategic plan, approached Director of Academic Affairs Margaret Signorella with the idea of having students help create the survey, which asks the opinions of students, faculty and staff at the campus. Signorella said, ?This was a great way for students to be engaged in a meaningful community project. To be able to use the skills learned in the classroom to assist a city in proactively moving forward is a perfect example of what we strive to accomplish in all our classes.?

Jen Cristobal from EP&D came to the CIVCM 211 class to discuss and tweak the campus survey. A separate survey has been developed and sent out to area residents by the McKeesport Planning Committee. 

City of McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko, a Penn State Greater Allegheny and University Park alumnus, visited the campus to talk to the students about the plans. ?The public?s input is important for the future of McKeesport and we want to know how we can make this a better place for you. McKeesport?s motto is, ?Respect. Hope. Love. Dignity. Working together for a better McKeesport.??

Cherepko encouraged the students, faculty and staff to take the survey, and to offer their opinions on various topics such as job and entertainment opportunities in the community. He said, ?Today we want to focus on young adults. We want to see what McKeesport can be 30 or 40 years down the road.?

Members of the campus community have until Oct. 10 to take the survey. Survey results will be given to the city and taken into account when designing the strategic plan.

The CIVCM 211 class is required for all students in the civic and community engagement minor offered at Greater Allegheny and seven other campuses at Penn State.