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Press Release

Eric Sloss

For immediate release:
May 5, 2005

Carnegie Mellon Students Win Competition with Plan to Bring Much-Needed Grocery Store to Hill District

PITTSBURGH—A team of eight students from Carnegie Mellon University has won the prestigious JP Morgan Chase Community Development Competition in New York City with their project "Centre Food: Bringing a Non-Profit Food Store to Pittsburgh's Hill District Neighborhood." Their victory means that The Hill House, a non-profit organization in the Hill District, will receive $25,000 in seed money to pursue the students' plan to bring the neighborhood a long-needed grocery store.

The interdisciplinary team included students from the Tepper School of Business, the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, the College of Engineering, the School of Architecture, and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Team members Rebecca Aarons- Sydnor, Lena Andrews, Nick Ennis, Renee Roy, Erica Shinohara, Stanley Sun, Ryan Will and Rob Wilson addressed the need for a grocery store in the Hill District, a predominantly African-American neighborhood that is underserved by existing food outlets.

"I think it will spark revitalization. They are so in need of a grocery store, and there is a lot of development going on there already, and I think this is a key part of what's missing," said Project Manager Lena Andrews, a Heinz School master of public policy and management student.

The plan calls for a not-for-profit, full-service grocery store to be created in partnership with The Hill House, a non-profit organization that offers an array of social services. The project's ultimate goal is to spur quality development in the Hill District, one of Pittsburgh's most economically distressed neighborhoods, and to ensure that the profits from local businesses are funneled back into the neighborhood.

The project was a result of a collaboration between the Urban Laboratory in the School of Architecture, the Heinz School and the Tepper School. The Urban Laboratory has been working in the Hill District since 1991 on a variety of community-based projects, said David Lewis, director of the Urban Laboratory and a Distinguished Professor of Urban Studies.

"This project is a wonderful example of the role of the Urban Laboratory in the Pittsburgh region. Since 1990, the Urban Laboratory and the Heinz School have been supporting Pittsburgh neighborhoods by putting multidisciplinary teams of students to work side by side with citizens, public officials, public and private organizations and different stake holders in order to create visions for future development," said Luis Rico-Gutierrez, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts.

"In all of this we have built up wonderful friendships in the Hill, and we have built tremendous credibility for our students. And the Hill has been good for our students. The Hill not only faces severe problems, but problems that are faced by every inner-city neighborhood in the United States," Lewis said.

The students received advice and support from Carnegie Mellon faculty and staff members including Lewis, Rico-Gutierrez, Bob Gradeck, Kristen Kurland, Jerry Paytas and the Heinz School Career Services Office. Numerous Hill District residents as well as faculty in various departments and professionals around the city provided their time and expertise to advise the project. The competition is open by invitation and this represents the first time that Carnegie Mellon and the city of Pittsburgh have entered a proposal.

For more information and a link to the project, please visit


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