Giving Tuesday 2023 Newsletter

What You Helped PULSE Achieve in 2022 and How Your Support on November 28 will Continue to Empower PULSE in 2023

Since 1994, PULSE has been connecting talented young professionals to local Pittsburgh nonprofits, helping organizations increase their capacity while the fellows grow as leaders. Thanks to the support of the amazing PULSE community, last year’s giving Tuesday Campaign raised over $15,000 which empowered the funding of an incredible 2022-2023 service year. The pie chart below depicts the breakdown of how these funds were allocated.

These past two cohorts have been smaller than usual, but the impact being made is nothing short of significant. As Giving Tuesday 2023 approaches, read about the impact the Giving Tuesday support had on last year’s fellows and the impact this year’s donations will make for this year’s cohort.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

Intentional Community Living

One of the most meaningful aspects of PULSE is the intentional community cultivated throughout the year amongst the participants of the program. Fellows live with one another in communal housing and are provided with free room and board with shared food and transportation stipends. Because of this, fellows share many memories, meals, and laughs with one another throughout their year of service. Over the years, there have been multiple fellows who have even ended up getting married, and many alums that still live with one another multiple years after their time with PULSE. A major segment of the 2022 Giving Tuesday funds went towards this core foundation of the program; funding the housing, utilities, and stipends that allow the fellows to cultivate this community free from the financial burden these expenses are accompanied by, especially for those just starting their careers.

So many meaningful bonds and lasting relationships were made throughout last year’s cohort. Some of the 22-23 alumni still live with one another, even continuing on the intentional community habits instilled by PULSE including regular house meetings and house norms. A fun tidbit of this group is that they even refer to their residence by their street names, as is PULSE tradition.

Throughout their service year, the 22-23 cohort did many communal dinners with one another and even crafted a cook book for the 2023 PULSE fundraiser that explained the different meals they shared with one another and the meaningful/funny corresponding stories from those meals. These memories and relationships are so special and are made possible by the living stipends and the financial coverage PULSE provides.

See the testimonies below from last year’s PULSE fellows about what this communal living aspect of PULSE meant to them.

“I love being part of the PULSE community because I’ve met so many fun and interesting people through my experiences with PULSE. I love enjoying all of the Pittsburgh sites with others in the cohort and my housemates.”

Rebecca Case, 22-23 PULSE Fellow

“My favorite thing [about PULSE] is definitely the emphasis on living in intentional community with the other fellows! I love making dinner with my housemates and eating together after long days at work, and spending time together just chilling at home. I also love visiting the fellows living in PULSE’s other house! We’re a fun-loving cohort- we play lots of board and card games, go to shows and community events together, and have so many inside jokes and bits from spending so much time together.”

Hannah Fierle, 2022-2023 PULSE Fellow

“[PULSE] has been an opportunity to create lifelong friends and experience a professional presentation alongside people that are in the same spot in life as me.

Rain McCoy, 2022-2023 PULSE Fellow

Although, it is still early in the year, this year’s fellows have shared the same sentiments regarding the benefit of communal living and the security provided by housing and utility coverage. So far, the fellows have already shared many meals together as each of the five of them cooks dinner one night a week. Some of these meals have included pumpkin spaghetti, sweet potato enchiladas, jambalaya, and vegetarian curry. This group also enjoys spending time with one another playing video games, having movie nights, and playing board games.

Check out what they have to say about intentional community and the benefits it has had for them so far:

“I think that having housing/utilities covered financially by PULSE allows us to focus on building relationships with each other without the financial stress of rent and bills. I also love the Stanton house and would not be able to live in a house like that without PULSE.”

Caroline Greaser, 2023-2024 PULSE Fellow

“Being able to live in a community allowed us to keep each other company as we moved to a new place. It also allowed us to create friendships that will go through ups and downs together which makes them stronger.”

Amie Li, 2023-2024 PULSE Fellow

“Not having to pay rent is huge. Being financially supported by PULSE has allowed me to build career experience without worrying about the logistics of moving to a new city.”

Liz Sherlock, 2023-2024 PULSE Fellow

With your continued support, PULSE can continue on this tradition of cultivating such a special community of young adults for many years to come!

Fellow Development Fund

In addition to the shared food and transportation funds and the monthly personal stipend, fellows also have access to other financial benefits. One of these funds is the Fellow Personal and Professional Development Fund which allows fellows to access community resources and events that help them explore their interests and professional goals. As depicted in the original pie chart, 8% of last year’s Giving Tuesday earnings went towards this fund. In the past, fellows have used these funds for things like ukulele lessons, certifications, conference attendance, and gym memberships.

Last year, fellow Holly Benson utilized the Development Fund to explore an art medium that she had particular interest in, analog glitch art. She used the monies to purchase a video mixer that allows her to make the necessary manipulations to videos to create such art. By making these funds available, fellows are able to engage in their unique interests, while also exposing their housemates, cohort members, and staff to mediums they may have never known about prior to that point.

Another of last year’s fellows also took full advantage of these funds to, read how she used hers to chase her career aspirations.

“One of my professional goals has always been to be a published author. I decided to use PULSE’s professional development funds to purchase books on self-publishing and how to market a book. I also used the funds to copyright my book and purchase a month subscription to Adobe InDesign to work on creating the book’s cover . All of these tools have helped me to further my professional goals and get me one steps closer to having them be real.”

Rebecca Case, 2022-2023 PULSE Fellow

The 2023-2024 fellows too have big plans for how they will take advantage of these funds throughout their service year. One fellow, Clay, has already used a good chunk of his funds for a membership to one of PULSE’s nonprofit partner’s, the Jewish Community Center, to take advantage of their incredible facilities in order to stay active throughout the year. He also has used funds to register for a conference related to his passion and interest in public transit.

As this year is still in its early stages, many of the fellows are still brainstorming how they will use their funds. Amie shared that she has been thinking about doing ceramics classes with the fund as she has always been curious to try out that skill while Chris hopes to use funds to continue publishing and filmmaking which has been a longtime passion for him. Check out how Caroline is thinking to use her funds and how it relates to her long-term goals:

“I am hoping that I can use my professional development stipend to help me participate in a local orchestra and potentially take some violin lessons as well. While I don’t have a clear path in mind for my future yet, I know that music will have it’s place and these stipends are another way PULSE is helping me build up to the future.”

Caroline Greaser, 2023-2024 PULSE Fellow

So many of the PULSE fellows that come through PULSE have such an innate passion for art and niche interests and this fund allows fellows to engage in those passions while sharing their talent and creativity with one another and the overall Pittsburgh community. Your Giving Tuesday donations are such a key player in giving these incredibly talented young adults this unique and worthwhile creative and intellectual platform.

Spring Retreat

Each year in the spring and fall, fellows spend the weekend together on a retreat designed to strengthen relationships with one another and give the group a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and their busy schedules. In the fall, fellows enjoy the weekend locally going to Moraine State Park and Schenley Park for a few mornings and afternoons filled with group activities, conversations, and comradery. In the Spring, the fellows and staff take a trip to Cook Forest and spend the weekend in cabins enjoying quality time unplugged and exploring the natural abundance of the area.

With the help of Giving Tuesday donations, last year’s Spring Retreat was an absolute blast for fellows and staff alike. On the first night, after a decently long day of travelling, fellows cooked meals with one other in their cabins and had dinner with one another. A funny anecdote from this leg of the trip which was joked about throughout the weekend and well after was that one of the cabins accidentally left a grocery bag full of their food in the kitchen of the Stanton house and did not realize until unloading groceries in the cabin. In the moments of panic that ensued, the fellows in that cabin were luckily able to scrounge together a semi-decent meal for the night with the groceries that they did remember. After the dinner escapades, fellows and staff were led on a nature hike by Dr. Harry Webster, who is an expert on the local flora. Much of this time was spent listening to Dr. Webster’s nature stories and the toads singing by the river. Fellows even went down by the river and saw the many toads jumping around on the shore. After the lovely nature walk, fellows gathered around the campfire, made s’mores, exchanged stories, and sung songs together.

The next morning, Dr. Webster led the fellows and staff on a nature hike in the forest, explaining the local landscapes, algae, and mosses. Fellows enjoyed learning more about the area’s nature as well as simply spending time with one another in the outdoors and being unplugged. Afterwards, the crew went back to their cabins, enjoyed lunch, and got ready for the next big adventure- canoeing and kayaking 4 miles down the Clarion River. This was a highlight for many of the fellows as they had a blast moseying down the river with one another and traversing the waters. For some, this was their first time in a kayak/canoe so it was an exhilarating learning experience. Afterwards, the group enjoyed some ice cream at the campsite and spent some time relaxing before preparing dinner for a pot luck cookout at a nearby pavilion. Because of the lack of telephone service, some difficulties were confronted including getting lost on the way to said pavilion and not having plates and napkins, but when the group was finally able to eat, the food was delicious and dinner was spent singing along to music and reminiscing over the PULSE year. That night, the fellows came together for a night of games, karaoke, and a few spent hours star gazing and sharing memories and feelings of the PULSE year.

The next day, the group packed up and drove back to Pittsburgh to get some much needed rest after a jam packed weekend. The experience was special for both fellows and staff as it felt like a culmination of amazing memories and relationships forged throughout the year of service. Being able to unplug and spend quality time in nature with close friends does the soul a lot of good and this was no exception. With the thanks of a good chunk of the Giving Tuesday Funds, this experience was possible.

Check out what some of the current fellows have to say about their fall retreat experience and what they are looking forward to in the spring.

“The fall retreat felt like a time to let go and really get back to getting to know each other. I really think it helps to do icebreaking things in order to form true bonds so it’s nice to know that pulse knows the simple essentials to creating a good time.”

Chris Tate, 2023-2024 PULSE Fellow

“I enjoyed the location of the fall retreat. I got to see the beautiful leaves. I look forward to living in a cabin for spring retreat [because] I’ve never lived in a cabin before. I think just getting exposed to each other and being able to hang out allowed us to feel closer because it’s hard to find a time for everyone to get together.”

Amie Li, 2023-2024 PULSE Fellow

“Spending quality time with people is the main way I work towards community. Quality time can be spontaneous, like an unprompted movie night, or it can also be intentional, like the fall and spring retreats PULSE builds into our calendar. I believe both are necessary when building a solid community. Lettings things happen spontaneously helps your relationship with those around you feel more natural and comfortable. Intentionally spending a weekend together helps communicate to one another that the community you are building is one that is worth planning ahead for. I really enjoyed fall retreat and the time we took to continue getting to know each other. Through the activities we got to see each others silly and artistic sides as well as getting to know more of each others storied through “about me” presentations. Spring retreat feels like a long ways away but I am already looking forward to reflecting on the year in this community!”

Caroline Greaser, 2023-2024 PULSE Fellow

This year, PULSE hops to utilize Giving Tuesday Funds once again to go on this trip in the spring and give this year’s fellows an equally fun and memorable weekend of comradery.

PULSE Seminar

Your 2022 Giving Tuesday Donations also helped PULSE fund the weekly seminars, which consist of professional development trainings, community service days, community building activities, and social justice oriented panels.

Some highlights of last year’s seminars include guided yoga sessions hosted by Domonique Irish in order to help center fellows throughout the hectic year. Although yoga is not everyone’s “thing”, many of the fellows gave feedback that they really enjoyed these seminars. Other seminars included professional development trainings on nonprofit strategic planning, nonprofit management case studies, and a two-part conflict resolution training hosted by PULSE Executive Director, Aaron Gray.

These seminar funds were also used towards holding the annual holiday party in December. Last year’s party was a highlight for many of the fellows as they convened at PULSE’s office space at the time, One Valley, and spent the afternoon doing crafts, decorating cookies, doing trivia, playing BINGO, exchanging gifts, and ending the night with a delicious meal catered by House of Soul. Coming together for these sorts of events further strengthens the sense of community amongst the cohort and allows fellows to strengthen the personal bonds they have with one another.

Another major benefit of seminars is allowing fellows to get out in the community through direct service and exposure to one another’s nonprofit sites. In the spring, fellows presented their nonprofit’s and the work they do to one another through presentations and/or site tours. Hannah even hosted a volunteer day in the Oakland through her nonprofit placement, OPDC. Fellows spent that afternoon doing yard work in an Oakland resident’s yard, helping to make sure her property was kept up to city code in order to avoid any fines. These presentations allowed fellows to learn about the important work being done throughout the community and specifically by each other throughout their year of service.

In addition to these presentations, seminars were also spent doing direct service volunteer days with various nonprofits throughout the community. Last year fellows spent seminar time painting little libraries in Homestead with Reading Ready Pittsburgh, and spreading gravel around a playground in Homewood with Grounded Strategies, amongst a handful of other meaningful service projects in the community.

So far this year, fellows have volunteered at the Kincaid Street Garden in Garfield, carrying on PULSE tradition as the garden was originally founded by PULSE fellows. In addition to that, the cohort spent a Wednesday in October volunteering at Global Links. In the personal and professional development realm, fellows were joined by a mental health professional for a DEI-framed Mental Health First Aid Training during another session.

Hear from some of the current fellows about the benefit they find from seminars.

“I always find myself looking forward to Wednesday afternoons. Not only is it a good way to split up the work week, I also enjoy spending the afternoon with the other fellows and PULSE staff. The seminar I’ve enjoyed the most would be the one where we volunteers at Global Links. Global Links is an incredible non profit and it was very cool learning about how many people they help all over the world.”

Caroline Greaser, 2023-2024 PULSE Fellow

“I love that PULSE is an educational experience as well as a service program. Spending Wednesday afternoons together as a cohort learning from guest speakers or volunteering at a local organization has been really rewarding. My favorite seminar so far was volunteering with Global Links to sort medical supplies that get sent to health facilities in need.”

Liz Sherlock, 2023-2024 PULSE Fellow

Amie, Clay, and Chris also gave similar feedback, that the service projects are some of their favorite seminars given that they are a nice break in the middle of the week that also allow them to get to know different nonprofits and the work they do. Amie and Chris also shared that some of the trainings provided like Conflict Resolution and Mental Health First Aid Training were also particularly interesting and beneficial to them.

PULSE aims to continue hosting a diverse array of seminars for these fellows throughout the remainder of the 2023-2024 service year due in large part by your continued contributions.

Nonprofit Partnership

PULSE’s 2023-2024 Nonprofit Partners

A major catalyst of the personal and professional growth fellows experience is the 35 hours a week of service with their nonprofit partners. Since PULSE’s inception, fellows have worked with close to 200 Pittsburgh nonprofits, contributing over 600,000 hours of service to the city and its residents. Of last year’s fellows, 67% stayed in region and were employed by local nonprofits, schools, or government agencies. Other fellows went on to do other equally incredible things like attend graduate school internationally, and travel to 11 different countries around South America. Read below how some of the fellows were impacted by their work with their nonprofit partners.

Using my knowledge and skills to make a change in my community and get involved with the community has been invaluable for me both personally and professionally.”

Rain McCoy 2022-2023 PULSE Fellow

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time with both PULSE and my placement, The Friendship Circle. On a professional level, working there gave me the experience I had been looking for, because, although I had previously volunteered with other Pittsburgh-based nonprofit organizations, I did so for a few hours a week, mostly helping with housekeeping and clerical duties. Being a part of the Friendship Circle made me feel part of a team, because I got to have a hand in planning events for the foundation, thus expanding both my skill set and level of confidence. On a personal level, I enjoyed meeting the other fellows in my cohort, and having both great times and interesting conversations, given that we all were on the same track (serving with nonprofits in Pittsburgh). I will hopefully be able to use these skills as I continue to search for other opportunities and am grateful for the experience PULSE gave me.

Richard Power, 2022-2023 PULSE Fellow

I’ve learned the inner workings of workforce development and workforce development programs. I’ve learned a lot of grant writing skills and what goes into funding

Adhika Ezra, 2022-2023 PULSE Fellow

These partnerships are mutually beneficial; not only do they help fellows gain meaningful professional experiences, but they also play an important role in helping partner organizations build capacity and complete projects that would otherwise not be possible. A supervisor with one of PULSE’s current partners, the AgeWell program with the Jewish Community Center shared that having a PULSE fellow helps them accomplish objectives for a competitive health grant (1 of only 2 granted in PA; 150 nation-wide) by increasing outreach to community Seniors, resulting in increased vaccination rates. Meanwhile, another current partner, the Crossroads Foundation, shared that their fellow’s (Clayton Manley) expertise in UX/UI Design has helped them improve student surveys, increasing response rates from ~62.5% to 87.5%.

Check out this statement from the fellow supervisor at one of PULSE’s longest partnerships, the Green Building Alliance, about the impact fellows have made at the organization.

“Having PULSE Fellows placed at GBA over the past decade has given us a great opportunity to expand the perspectives of our team in a wonderful way. Our PULSE Fellows have represented so many backgrounds, interests, and fields of study that have enriched our work and how we serve our communities.”

Leslie Montgomery, Nonprofit Supervisor with Green Building Alliance

The impact of fellow’s service with their nonprofit partners is undeniable and the financial support of the PULSE community during campaigns like Giving Tuesday empower the continuation of the connection of these talented individuals with these incredible organizations. Check out the full list of the nonprofits PULSE has placed fellows with here and more testimonies from nonprofit supervisors about the impact of PULSE fellows here.

DEI Funds

Another group of funds that fellows have access to throughout their year of service are the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Funds. Due to the limited monthly stipend provided to fellows, these funds exist to make this program more accessible to all people who could benefit from a year of service with PULSE. These funds are split up into three groups; the DEI Scholarship, Affinity Group Funds, and Transition Funds.

The DEI Scholarship is a need-based award that provides up to two times the monthly stipend to qualifying fellows, which allows them to live more comfortably financially throughout the year. According to a current fellow “Having housing and utilities covered by PULSE is definitely a very nice thing because we don’t have to worry about that. However, it is still hard to sustain a quality life only with the stipend.”. This scholarship helps make this quality of life more attainable, and less stressful while also maintaining the notion that this year is one of service and simple living.

The Affinity Group Funds are an additional monetary benefit that allow fellows to self-identify into different Affinity Groups (also known as ERC’s in other contexts) and have dedicated funds to go on outings, go to events, and spend time with others with similar identities. One of these affinity groups last year was comprised of the fellows of color. One way they utilized these funds was by attending a showing of the movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”. Another self-identified group was the LGBTQ+ writer’s group and one way they spent their portion of this fund was to visit the National Aviary in the North Side with one another. By providing this intentional space, fellows are able to feel more included and their identities/interests better recognized and celebrated.

Finally, the last part of these DEI funds are the Transition Funds which are need-based “mini grants” that aid outgoing fellows with rent, security deposits, utilities, groceries, and other expenses. Due to the limited personal stipend, fellows don’t have the ability to save much throughout the year so this allows fellows to land on their feet after PULSE and jump right into their next steps professionally and personally.

Find out how one of the 2022-2023 fellows used these funds to relocate and continue his studies internationally.

“PULSE provided me with the opportunity to jumpstart my career and the professional experience during that year gave me additional credibility in the field of social change. In my case, I was able to obtain a research assistantship position as well as an opportunity to pursue a master’s degree. The transition funds were tremendously helpful to support my relocation process and for me to continue my studies. As PULSE fellows were not able to save too much during the year, the transition funds became a crucial part of helping with shipping, moving out, and fulfilling other needs before starting a new role. The PULSE year, for all the fellows, is a year of identity building and it fundamentally shapes the career trajectory of the fellows for years to come. The financial support from various sources is one of the most important factors that allows for all the good work to happen!”

Adhika Ezra, 2022-2023 PULSE Fellow

With the help of Giving Tuesday funds covering many of the other funds, PULSE is able to provide these monies to the fellows as well. Your donations this year will help PULSE to continue providing these deeply beneficial supports to fellows.

Follow Along on PULSE’s Giving Tuesday 2023 Campaign

Thank you to the PULSE community for your continued support and dedication to our fellows, our nonprofit partners, and our mission. In the weeks leading up to November 28, we will be doing a major push on our social medias and email to live up to last year’s accomplishments and impact. Keep up with us there and share with your friends, family, and network to help us continue this important work in the Pittsburgh community.

Scan to Donate to the 2023 Giving Tuesday Campaign to Support These Amazing Fellows

Or donate by texting 23-5555 with the keyword PULSEFELLOWS or visit:

Serve. Live. Grow. PULSE.

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