Verticals Community Learning Centers provide more opportunities for local the helper

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Alyssa Shoniere

Verticals Community Learning Center has expanded rapidly in its second year of launch in Brownsville, offering young people from underserved communities more opportunities in classes such as robotics, drones, and sports. increase.

(Capital-Star file)

William James, a former NFL player from Brownsville, is returning to his hometown to open his center in May 2021. He leads both Verticals and his brother’s non-profit, Team Humanity, to provide educational opportunities to local students that may not be available at school.

“We’ve been very active in the community,” James said. “We have done everything from STEM education to gardening education to talent development.”

Team Humanity is an after-school program that offers a variety of activities including sports, computer skills, storytelling, web design, and a hummingbird petting zoo. Both nonprofits exist to support and encourage local children in creative learning environments.

The 10-room Verticals Community Learning Center is located at 13 Arch St. in Brownsville. The school has applied to participate in the program and is currently affiliated with the Brownsville, Laurel Highlands, and Monessen school districts. This program is designed to complement the school education of middle and high school students.

Their classes will begin in November and will begin the next session with an inter-school competition to “creatively express the issues they’ve focused on on t-shirts and videos.” This year’s focus is on “Problems Facing Our Community”.

Last year, the celebrity judges chose Brownsville as the winner of the T-shirt contest and Laurel Highlands as the winner of the video contest.

After kickoff, basic programming for the academic year begins with the first block of 4-6 weeks of classes that take approximately one hour each week. Classes include drone operation, robotics and coding, shoe design, entrepreneurship development, photography and videography, an introduction to digital content creation, and Life’s Living Laboratory.

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Students from Brownsville Area High School helped paint giant murals on two walls showing hikers traveling up the mountain inside the Verticals Youth Community Center (Uniontown Herald Standard).

The Learning Center received a $10,000 grant from EQT to expand its photography and video program and build a studio with green screens. A studio that enables students to create creative social media content to market their ideas. James said he wants to provide students with cutting-edge technology that “feels interesting and cool” to help them develop their creativity and skills.

Shoe design classes allow students to prototype shoe designs that come to life on a 3D printer.

Life’s Living Laboratory is a new addition to their program to teach students about the “business of produce from seed to shelf.” They added an outdoor learning center to the property, where students grow two organic heirloom produce, including an herb garden of peppers, tomatoes, melons, arugula, basil, lemongrass, peppermint, lavender, and parsley. I planted a community garden.

James said students would go to Whole Foods and use Whole Foods prices and plant yields to calculate potential profits to understand how profitable the industry could be. After the organization has partnered with Hiller’s Kiefer’s Pizzeria, students will have the opportunity to sell their own produce. The pizzeria agreed to buy the student’s basil and tomatoes for his pizza Margherita.

James said he hopes to expand the offering further through donations. He wants to buy additional robotic equipment and remodel his one of the rooms so he can start an esports center.

“These days, universities offer scholarships for eSports, and I don’t want students to miss out on that opportunity just because no one else in the area is offering it,” he said.

For more information or to donate, please visit and Checks can be mailed to 13 Arch St., Brownsville, PA., 15417.

Alyssa Shoniere I am a reporter for the Herald Standard in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Helper’s assistance is a collaboration between Uniontown His Herald Standard and Pennsylvania Capital Star. Readers can email him: [email protected].


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