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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Growth Through Energy & Community Health (GTECH) Strategies

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: Growth Through Energy & Community Health (GTECH) Strategies is a nonprofit social enterprise that cultivates the unrealized potential of people and places to improve the social, economic, and environmental conditions of our communities. We achieve this by investing in community revitalization through appropriate green initiatives.

Results: In 2014, we: - Helped reclaim over 247,500 square feet of blighted land for community benefit, in collaboration with over 40 communities. - Recruited, trained and contracted 36 new community Ambassadors to advance community capacity for a green economy and put their own ideas into action. - Launched 3 new Ambassador programs and received applications for 78 more. - Activated 15 lots with projects including playspaces, community gardens, parklets, game stops, gateway gardens, hop farms and more. - Through the Healthy Homes Incentive Program, helped support over $153,000 of energy efficient and home comfort retrofits, preventing a total of 140 tons of CO2 emissions from entering our air. - Directly collected and recycled over 5,700 gallons of wasted cooking oil. - Recorded 950 volunteer hours. Check back in the spring for 2015 numbers!

Target demographics: work with people to transition land use liabilities into community assets and improve the economic, social and environmental health of our communities.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 500+

Geographic areas served: Southwest PA

Programs: -ReClaim Ambassadors: Empowering neighborhood leaders to use vacant land as a platform for ground-up revitalization in their communities -Green Playces: Taking action against blight, connecting young people to fun, open green spaces and using those spaces as a platform for environmental education. -Lots to Love: Providing the tools to help guide community organizations and residents who are interested in transforming vacant lots into well-loved spaces

Community Stories

20 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

GTECH is a group of highly competent, creative, and compassionate people dedicated to developing innovative, sustainable solutions to community development. I worked with Megan and Andrew from the ReFuel team and I was consistently impressed by their hard work and critical thinking around problems facing the Pittsburgh community. The project I worked on with GTECH focused on how to turn an invasive species, knotweed, into a value-added product. I worked with the ReFuel team to evaluate the possibility of turning knotweed into biochar to be used as an agricultural additive to remediate urban soil. Biochar production is still a little developed field and the fact that GTECH was willing to take on a project in such a new field, is testament to the organizations willingness to innovate and think outside the box. Im thankful to have had the opportunity to work with GTECH and look forward to seeing what cool projects they will undertake next!

Brian122

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first started volunteering with GTECH after learning about their work on vacant properties. They work to turn blighted properties into clean and functional pieces of land. Since then, I've learned that they do much more. GTECH is a creative and determined group with a lot of experience in harnessing community support. They use innovative methods to help solve serious local problems. I look forward to seeing what they are able to do in the future.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Hugely innovative organization with outsized impact...one of the very best nonprofits in the region!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

GTECH has really engaged members of our community through their ambassadors program and helped us bring some great projects to the South Side Slopes. The Little Free Libraries and the Knoxville Incline Overlook Park are fantastic additions to our community and they would've not happen without GTECH's leadership

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I first worked with people from GTECH when I joined the Larimer Community garden 6 yrs ago. A very friendly and knowledgeable group I felt comfortable with Megan and Andrew Immediately ! I am a paper maker and I grow my own plants for pulp.
I also harvest invasive plants from city lots. I approached Megan and Andrew of GTECH about my art and we wrote a Sprout grant together I would harvest Japanese Knot Weed for paper making and GTECH used the plants to make Biochar. The project was called Knots on Lots, a big success! The project never would of happened if it was not for the expert grant writing knowledge and project planning from the team from GTECH.
Thank you GTECH

Volunteer

Rating: 5

GTech is the ulimate in "tree huggers". GTech is a good steward of the earth and its natural resources. GTech affiorded me, a social worker who is consumed with saving the world and opportunity to save the world. As an African American I was consumed with "rescuing" the most at-risk low income black community.

Being involved with GTech allowed me an insight of how to work more effectively. Blighted buildings [crime] pollution [increase in health disparities] adding more green spaces [gardens - lend to healthy eating, decrease in obesity/cancer].

GTech is closely involved with one of the greatest natural resources of the planet and that is -- people. GTech invests in the development of people by sharing resources, offering skills and mentoring those with unrecognized skills, dreams and talent that have gone unfulfilled. Because of their investment in me; I can better serve the members of my community and in my profession.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

GTECH is a wonderful organization with an important vision and an exceptional team. We had the pleasure to collaborate with GTECH on a few multimedia projects that were exciting and fun. The team is very organized and thorough, which made the processes efficient and successful. GTECH's mission is inspiring and the communities its partnering with are inspiring as well. It's a tremendous organization to work with. Couldn't recommend it more highly.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I was a GTECH ReClaim South ambassador last year. They helped me create a new park in a vacant lot. Weeknights and Saturdays, the group always showed up and gave their best efforts. I would love to work with them on future projects!

Nick35

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The folks at GTECH are wonderful. They are cheerful folks with awesome personalities. They support extremely worthwhile causes that help bring life back into our surrounding communities.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Not only are they a fun crowd of people to hang out with, they are all very passionate about their work, and it really shows in their final products. I got to know GTECH through their ReClaim South program which really got a lot of community members reinvested in their neighborhoods and has had a ripple effect throughout the community. Volunteering for their Two Wheels Lots of Green Event was also a great way to learn more about how far-reaching and diverse their many programs are, and how many neighborhoods they have had a positive effect on. Keep up the great work!

Corrie P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with GTECH and their annual "Two wheels: Lots of Green" bike ride they put together for Bike Fest every year. I helped to lead the shorter bike ride, which was about ten miles. On the bike ride, we stopped at a variety of reclaimed sites GTECH has worked on. Some were very successful, such as the community garden and the free little library in Garfield. What I was impressed by though is that they stopped at site that haven't been as successful or have run into problems. The unique thing about GTECH versus other nonprofits in the environmental field is that they are willing to share the lessons learned from shortcomings and they don't give up. Also as a side note, their employees actually practice sustainability in their own lives, like riding bikes to commute to work. They live what they preach.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Northside ReClaim Program has been a great way to bring awareness to the community about vacant land and what we can do to change it! A wonderful way to empower and educate neighbors. More cities could benefit from programs like this!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Amazing and consistent work and vision that results in meaningful growth for neighborhoods.

David270

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The ReClaim South Ambassador program was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed the classes on community development and vacant lots. I learned a lot of new skills about how to get the most out of living in a great South Side neighborhood. The GTECH staff were great to work with on the projects and were a big help rounding out the resources I didn't have (especially tools!) Have you seen some of these lots? They look amazing! I even got a compliment from the transit agency about the amazing enhanced bus stop in Arlington. Great job, GTECH! Can't wait to see what happens next year in McKeesport!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was pleasantly surprised and enlightened at the expertise and efficiency with which my mentors guided me . . . Evaine, James, Lydia and anyone I may have missed were helpful and patient. I was an ambassador with ReClaim South and was able to accomplish the beginning of a project that continues to be a work in progress. This was a huge undertaking and I was skeptical of its outcome. Thanks to GTECH and its professionalism we are on our way. I sincerely hope GTECH continues with its good work. I cannot say enough good and positive words for these young people . . . as well as the other ambassadors I came know. Thanks guys . . . Suzanne

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was involved with GTECH as an ambassador in the Reclaim South project. It was a wonderful experience to work with the GTECH staff (Evaine, Lydia and James). Their dedication and enthusiasm in reinventing unused vacant lots in our neighborhood spurred the thirteen ambassadors to tackle their projects eagerly. It was a wonderful collaboration and the GTECH staff's efforts to make our neighborhood as better place was truly appreciated by all.

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a member of the board of directors at GTECH, I've had a unique opportunity to observe the planning and operations of an organization that I have admired since its inception. GTECH is a learning organization from the top down. Programs and approaches are consistently evaluated and input is sought from subject matter experts, board members, staff, and participants. It's been my honor to serve an organization that is having a significant impact in Pittsburgh communities and sit beside a group (board of directors) of high-level professionals that contribute to that impact.

Client Served

Rating: 5

GTECH has been an enthusiastic partner in Millvale's efforts to activate the Millvale Ecodistrict community-wide sustainability plan by smartly leveraging community-based partnerships. Our collaborations have ranged from education, design assistance, and hands on efforts to create pleasant and productive landscapes in previously underutilized spaces. Projects have included turning vacant land into community gardens, helping residents to lower energy use, design and creation of a rain garden in a municipal parking lot, and design efforts that resulted in the creation of a rain garden at our public library. We look forward to continuing this great working relationship.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been on the Board for three years, and through that time have been proud to be a friend of GTECH. It is great to be a part of an organization that is having a visible, lasting impact on the communities in which it works. GTECH leadership and staff are born problem solvers, and their pure enthusiasm and ingenuity continually impresses me.

As far as management and operations goes, this group is the most conscientious I have worked with, developing process and procedures to ensure that community resources are utilized as efficiently as possible. GTECH has struck a nice balance between the inherently entrepreneurial approach needed to solve societal problems and a structured methodology for managing risk.

9 Regina

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

In just a short time, GTECH Strategies has made huge strides in the Pittsburgh area. I now hear people talking about brown spaces, brassica plants, sustainability, and green-collared jobs. Andrew and Chris are dedicated to improving the landscape of Pittsburgh and empowering all of us as Pittsburgh citizens to do more. Pittsburgh is fortunate to have such an innovative nonprofit within the city. GTECH is moving forward on complicated and daunting concepts and reaching major goals for the health of all of us. Thank you GTECH!