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Creating Possibilities for At-Risk Kids


Growing up in Pittsburgh’s working-class Manchester neighborhood, with little interest in school, Bill Strickland seemed headed nowhere. Then a ceramics teacher taught Strickland to throw pots.

Pottery admitted Strickland to a life of arts and ideas, and led him to Pitt. By graduation, Strickland had already opened a ceramics studio for at-risk kids like he had been. His Manchester Craftsmen's Guild eventually grew to embrace the visual arts, jazz, culinary arts, horticulture, medical technology, and other ways to teach and reach kids. Some 80 percent of his students go on to college.

In 2011, the Goi Peace Foundation honored Strickland with its Goi Peace Award for outstanding contributions toward the realization of a peaceful and harmonious world. He's also received a "genius award" from the MacArthur Foundation, though Strickland claims no genius. The Pitt trustee explains simply, "Kids need people in their lives who make sense and matter to them."