The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship-Pittsburgh is a chapter of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, a national organization with 14 chapters. Locally known as Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows Program (PSFP), the program prepares the next generation of leaders who will serve and empower vulnerable people to live healthier, happier lives and create healthier communities. With the parallel goals of developing leaders in service and providing direct service to needy citizens, PSFP taps one of Pittsburgh’s most valuable resources, its many graduate students, and has been able to mobilize their idealism, commitment, and knowledge over the past 20 years. As the only yearlong, direct service, interdisciplinary, experiential learning program for graduate students that addresses the needs of disadvantaged citizens in SW PA, PSFP attracts outstanding and dedicated emerging professionals who have a direct impact on vulnerable people in our region. Annually approximately 5,000 disadvantaged citizens in our region are served by Pittsburgh Schweitzer Fellows.
PSFP serves disadvantaged youth in southwest PA with experiential direct service projects aimed at closing the gap in education and the hopes and dreams of youth. Projects are delivered by emerging professionals (graduate students) selected as Schweitzer Fellows and, through the Fellowship, are trained in experiential learning strategies and inductive reasoning approaches to make subject matter come alive for project participants. Projects range from teaching teens about intimate partner violence, to supporting and educating girls living with diabetes how to better manage the disease, to teaching leadership to youth via rock climbing, to helping refugee teens acclimate to their new world, to providing STEAM education to rural youth, and many more. Our core team of Schweitzer Fellows is well suited to teach disadvantaged youth in our region because they have an uncanny ability:
- to win the trust of vulnerable youth
- serve as role models and mentors for them
- to increase self-esteem and broaden perspectives
Fellows establish rapport with participants with ease, we believe, because of their passion, age and ethnicity. By their presence, encouragement, and dedication, Fellows increase youth’s awareness of their ability to do anything they want and are role models with whom participants can identify.
An unexpected consequence of graduate students who are Schweitzer Fellows is that many, each year 46-48%, remain in our region to launch their careers or further their education.