NECAT came to life in 2013, not long after our founder Maarten Hemsley met Bill Strickland, the social entrepreneur and charismatic leader of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation in Pittsburgh. Strickland had built a successful model of education and training nonprofits and Hemsley was inspired to create one in Boston. Today, NECAT is part of a network of 11 eleven locations nationally and internationally that actively utilize this model.
Strickland launched his first mentoring program in 1968 when he wanted to give back to his struggling neighborhood. He, himself, had been mentored by a teacher who taught ceramics and showed Bill the powers of art and education, helping him obtain entrance to the University of Pittsburgh. Bill started a small ceramics program in the Manchester neighborhood, engaging disenfranchised youth with art, and his models took off over the next five decades to include workforce development programs like NECAT.
In November, the Manchester Bidwell Corporation celebrated the 50 years of Bill’s remarkable career. This powerful video, “Half a Century of Making People Whole” explains the work that takes place at MBC today:
NECAT is proud to be a part of Strickland’s growing vision. Pictured below are leaders representing various Centers of Arts and Technologies (CATs) who gathered in Pittsburgh recently for strategic planning activities. Shown in this photo are NECAT’s Executive Director, Joey Cuzzi (fourth from left) and Founder Maarten Hemsley (fifth from left).