In the early 1990s, PULSE founder John Stahl-Wert recognized that Pittsburgh was losing its young people at a rapid rate. This loss of young people contributed to a need for educated, skilled workers in the city’s nonprofit sector. At the same time, Stahl-Wert observed that recent college graduates across the nation were struggling to find creative, meaningful employment, particularly in the arts.
In response to these needs, PULSE was formed in 1994. Many of the early participants came from Mennonite backgrounds. Stahl-Wert specifically noted the need for new service opportunities for Mennonite young adults who have a history of active involvement in postgraduate voluntary work. While PULSE still has ties and connections to Mennonite churches and universities, it is financially and managerially independent and includes participants from different backgrounds that adhere to the mission and values of PULSE.
Since PULSE’S inception, over 250 participants have contributed some 400,000 hours of service to more than 125 Pittsburgh nonprofit organizations. PULSE’s unique model, which focuses on participants, nonprofit partners and city neighborhoods, has created lasting change in the lives of thousands of individuals and organizations.