Allegheny Foundation gifts $1.5M for Center for Media Innovation move

(POINT PARK UNIVERSITY) – The Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University is announcing a $1.5 million gift from the Allegheny Foundation to support its permanent move into a University-owned space and secure its long-term future.

The Center has been located at the corner of Wood Street and Third Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh since its inception in 2016, but YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh has announced plans to sell the building. The Center will have a new, permanent home on the main floor of the University’s West Penn Hall, which sits at the corner of Wood Street and Fort Pitt Boulevard.

“The Allegheny Foundation has been a huge supporter of the Center from the very beginning, and I am deeply grateful that they thought enough of the work we do to ensure that will continue,” said Andrew Conte, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Media Innovation. The original Center for Media Innovation was announced in October 2015 and made possible, in part, with a grant from the Allegheny Foundation.

Since opening its doors, the Center has taken a leading role in educating a new generation of media professionals while positioning itself as a critical resource for professional journalists.

The Center has successfully launched several grant-funded initiatives focused on preserving local journalism and engaging citizens in storytelling:

  • With support from the Allegheny Foundation, the Center debuted its Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship, highlighting and supporting the work of journalists across the United States with a focus on media deserts.
  • The Community Newsroom Project works with citizens on local journalism in former “news deserts” such as McKeesport and McKees Rocks, which lost their traditional news outlets. This program currently receives support from the Harry W. and Irene L. Freye Fund, and the Raymond C. And Martha S. Suckling Fund #2 of The Pittsburgh Foundation.
  • The Pittsburgh Media Partnership brings together news outlets from across southwestern Pennsylvania for collaborative reporting and support. The Heinz Endowments and Henry L. Hillman Foundation support the partnership. 
  • All-Abilities Media helps people with disabilities create their own journalistic content by giving them tools and skills to tell stories. It has received funding from the FISA Foundation, the Staunton Farm Foundation and a private fund that chooses to remain anonymous.

Visitors to the Center and its Media Innovators Speaker Series have included journalists and newsmakers such as:

  • Jim Acosta, broadcast journalist for CNN
  • John Clayton, Hall of Fame NFL writer, sports radio host and former longtime ESPN personality
  • Andy Grammer, singer, songwriter and record producer
  • Sarah Koenig, host and executive producer of the podcast Serial
  • Jon Lovett, former speechwriter for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and host of the podcasts Pod Save America and Lovett or Leave It
  • DeRay Mckesson, civil rights activist, podcaster and former school administrator
  • Chris Ruddy, CEO and majority owner of Newsmax Media
  • Yusef Salaam, one of the Exonerated Five and a motivational speaker and justice advocate
  • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf

“This move into a permanent location will allow the CMI to continue its work of helping young people, journalists and the public to ensure that Pittsburgh has a thriving media ecosystem into the future,” Conte said. “Recent years have seen major disruption to local news, but also creative innovation. The Center will continue to play a key role in giving life to new ideas for maintaining and growing journalistic storytelling.”

Point Park is in the process of selecting an architect and construction firm to design and build the new location, which will be on the main floor of West Penn Hall opposite the recently completed Michael P. Pitterich Sales & Innovation Center.

“While the Center has delivered on its mission of training and supporting journalists, it’s also enriched the entire University with its multidisciplinary approach,” said President Don Green. “I am thrilled we can establish a permanent home and allow the Center to continue its important work.”

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