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  • 23-Apr-2019 11:34 PM | Melanie Marie Boyer (Administrator)

    City of Champions Magazine:

    Overcoming Homelessness in Pittsburgh

    At the City of Champions Magazine, our mission is to provide immediate employment, advocacy, and a voice for the individuals and families who have recently experienced homelessness.  Our core belief is all individuals have an intrinsic desire to succeed, but for some, life has presented obstacles which have caused the unpleasant and unnatural state of homelessness.  The overarching goal of City of Champions Magazine is to empower the homeless by providing the dignity of earning a wage, and therefore, becoming a part of the solution to ending homelessness in Pittsburgh. Our strategy incorporates a highly effective business model utilized in approximately 100 cities around the world into the Pittsburgh community. Our mantra: “Equipping People to Overcome Homelessness Through Commerce.”

    - People who used to beg will become ENTREPRENEURS.

    - People who were desperate will become HOPEFUL.

    - People who were starving will become PROVIDERS.

    - People who were hopeless will become VISIONARIES.

    - People who were incapacitated will become EQUIPPED.

    - People who were unaccountable will become SELF-GOVERNED.

    It’s been over 20 years since Pittsburgh has had a street newspaper, and I can’t wait to see the smiles on the vendors’ faces as they interact with people in town, who in the past, wouldn’t look them in the eye.  I have a strong belief in the altruistic nature of mankind and I am driven by a desire to assist in making people feel loved, appreciated, and cared for. I know that I’m not alone when I say that. In fact, that’s what will make this a success. People want to help, I know they do. When you boil it down, all we’re doing here with the magazine is providing a way for people to interact and have a means where they can help their fellow neighbor in need without needing to wonder if they are doing more harm than good by just giving a handout.

    When we connect with people experiencing homelessness and provide them opportunities and cast a vision for how things can be better in the future, they will want to grow, improve, and that will get them excited about life.  I believe that if you are able to get people excited about life and give them the proper tools and a recipe for success, they will be willing to make sacrifices and do the work to make the world a better place and the impact is immediate! Most of the work that I do on a professional basis is about delayed gratification for the clients that I work with.  I help people to save, invest, plan for the future, protect and provide for their loved ones, and give generously to causes that they are passionate about - all really great things that I love to do. The difference between that and what I get to do with the City of Champions Magazine is that with the magazine I get to equip people in Pittsburgh who have some of the greatest needs and help them to provide for themselves and their families by training them to become entrepreneurs and the impact to them is immediate and significant.

    Why Does Pittsburgh Need A Magazine Like This?

    I firmly believe that every city needs to have a magazine like this and I firmly believe that every person in our City who learns about what we are doing and why we are doing it will want to support our efforts. Frankly, I’m very surprised that nobody in Pittsburgh has stepped up to start a paper like this since the last one dismantled back in November of 1999.  Most people don’t realize it but Pittsburgh had a street paper that was started back in 1998. The name of the paper was, “StreetVoice.” and it was headed up by then CMU Student, Brian Mendelssohn. "The reception in the city was very positive," Mendelssohn says. "We started out with 1,000 [papers] for the first publication; we sold that out in a week." Within a year, he says, StreetVoice had increased its circulation to 8,000. After a few editions, StreetVoice transitioned from a newspaper format to a magazine format since many other organizations had experienced success with the magazine format.

    The “Paradigm Shift”

    The general model has been such a terrific success all around the world and we are happy to do the work to bring that model here to Pittsburgh. If you ask people, most want to help people who are experiencing homelessness but some just have a negative connotation about handouts.  While we are in the process of establishing our organizational structure as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, our program is not a handout. I really like the term that many groups in our industry use which is to buy the paper and give “a hand up, not a handout.” Instead of having people rely on handouts, we are equipping people, training people, and eventually we will train them to train others. Our hope is that we will help people shift their entire view of life from being ashamed that they are begging people to confidently looking people in the eyes, communicating with them, and making a sale. It’s extremely exciting to be a part of a project that will have such a significant impact on people who are in such great need.  

    As a business owner, how are you prepared to lead this organization?

    Thankfully as a business owner with a lot of experience on nonprofit boards and leadership positions, I have built great relationships with amazing people in this city who are excited to see our vision come to fruition.  I’m so grateful for the tremendous support and encouragement from so many people who share a compassion for people who are experiencing homelessness here in Pittsburgh. I’ve also wanted to write a number of books about living a meaningful and rewarding life and this is a great outlet to be able to encourage and uplift people across the city with uplifting content on a regular basis.

    One of my biggest responsibilities is to set the vendors up for success by doing the marketing and public relations work so that people know and understand who the vendors are.  We don’t want to show up out of nowhere and have people wonder who we are and what we are doing. Thankfully, I have the support of my wife Betsa, my business partner, Karl Ohrman, and many other community members that want to do whatever they can to help make this project a success for the soon to be vendors.  I’m also working with a terrific team of college interns who share a passion and excitement for what we are doing. Another organization that has been a huge supporter of this project is Rotary District 7300. Singh Ajmani, Dennis Crawford, Sue Kelly, and other foundation board members have been extremely supportive of our efforts and I’m so grateful for them and the support that they are giving us.   In addition to working with business and Rotary leaders, I’m thankful for people like Bill Flanagan of the Allegheny Conference who believes in what we are doing and is willing to help connect us with business and government leaders. When you have people like Bill behind what you are doing, it gives you more and more enthusiasm to keep pushing forward. Soon I hope to connect with Bill Peduto and his team along with the local police departments so that we can work collaboratively with them.  It’s a team effort and we are agile and want to do whatever we can to make this a success here in our city.

    “What are some of the biggest questions that people ask you about the magazine?”

    Something that many people ask about revolves around the concern that vendors may take the money that they earn and use that money to buy drugs or alcohol.  That concern is fair and well received. People that ask that have a genuine concern. As you can imagine, this is something that we too have considered and are very cognizant about. Our hope is that by giving vendors a vision of where they can be in the future and giving them a way out of the current situation they are in - they will have more incentive than ever to fight the good fight and battle addiction.  Additionally, on a part time basis, we will hire experienced and qualified people that want to work with people who are dealing with addictions to help them get out of the cycle. We won’t try to replace other service providers, but we want to have in house people who can help connect people with the help that they need.

    Another way to look at the issue of drug and alcohol abuse is to ask ourselves, “What would we do and how would we respond if we felt marginalized by society, abandoned by our friends, and burdened by the reality of becoming homeless?”  When people have nothing to lose and nobody holding them accountable, can we expect them not to drink or do drugs? In all fairness - if anyone has a reason to numb the pain or escape the reality of their situation - it’s people who are experiencing homelessness. So instead of criticizing them, I think it’s important that we are empathetic to their situation and that we give them something to get excited about. By helping them become enthusiastic about the future we are able to hold them accountable to improving their situation for the better.

    What’s your vision for the impact you will have?

    First, let me say that I realize that my vision for how we will help people may be optimistic, but  frankly, my optimism is what drives me to keep pushing forward even when we hit difficulties along the road. But I like to break down the numbers based upon us having 100 active vendors.

    If 50 of those vendors sell just 10 magazines per day that would be a total of 500 magazines per day.  If 40 other vendors sell 20 magazines per day, that adds up to 800 magazines per day. Lastly, if we have 10 high performing vendors sell 30 magazines per day, that’s a total of 300 magazines per day.  The daily total with those numbers, which I think are very possible, would be 1,600 magazine per day. If we assume that they take some days off and work 25 days per month, that would add up to 40,000 magazines per month.  Based upon a profit per magazine of $4.25 (Buy each magazine for 75 cents and sell for $5.00) that would add up to a total monthly impact of $170,000 per month to provide immediate employment and impact to people experiencing homelessness.  On an annual basis that would add up to $2,040,000. Over $2 Million dollars! That’s amazing and we think that it’s reasonable. It would be an average of about $1,700/month of income for 100 people. That’ pretty awesome. Then once people become more stable and are able to get on their feet, we want to help them transition to new opportunities.  We don’t want people to treat this as a career, but we want to provide an opportunity for people who need it to get back on their feet.

    Money isn’t everything and money money certainly does not guarantee happiness - but there is a certain amount of money that people need in order to live a life where they can provide food, shelter, and basic entertainment for themselves and their loved ones.  We believe that we can help people provide for those basic needs and help people grow, be challenged, and prosper now and into the future.

    For us it’s about transformation.  We want people who were begging to become entrepreneurs. We want people who are desperate to become hopeful. We want to take people who are hopeless and help them to become visionaries.  Furthermore, we are taking an entire population of people who are not held accountable and we are helping them to become self governed. To us, that is extremely important not just for the vendors, but for the community as a whole.  

    As a city, we need to realize that the negative consequence of stable and increasing home values is that it becomes easier and easier for people to become displaced from their homes.  According to a January 2018 article from, millions of people in America are one paycheck away from being in the streets. Many people have a safety net of support such as friends and relatives - but many people don’t have that luxury.

    What inspired you to pursue this project?

    While I personally believe that God has been preparing me for this project over the course of my entire life, there was a triggering event recently that sparked the project on. One of my best friends, Milan recently invited me to join him in a community outreach that he helped to organize with some members at our church.  The team had prepared hot food, refreshments and snacks to provide to anyone who was interested. Though everyone was welcomed to join us, we were hoping to help provide for people in need and have the opportunity to talk with them, encourage them, support them, and even pray with them if they were interested.

    One of the gentlemen that we met said that he was formerly a teacher but a DUI caused him to lose his teaching license.  In addition to losing his job, his marriage fell apart and without a safety net to fall back on, he lost his income, assets, and his home.  It was a very rough situation but as we spoke with him he told us that one of his goals was to provide a voice for people who have experienced homelessness. When I heard him talk about this interest of his, I asked him if he had ever heard of the newspapers and magazines written in part and sold by people experiencing homelessness and I was astonished to hear that he had never seen them or heard about them.  At that point, my mind started to connect all the dots between friends, contacts, community members, etc and I knew that not only was this possible - but this had to happen. And here we are just about a month away from launching our first edition.

    “100 Percent Pittsburgh” and our hopes for a “City of Champions Magazine Day”

    One of our hopes is that we can work with the City of Pittsburgh to declare a “City of Champions Magazine Day.”  A proclamation like that would be amazing and would communicate that as a city, we care about everyone - especially those who are going through tough times.  Another blessing from a timing standpoint is that The Pittsburgh Foundation is focused on an initiative called, “100 Percent Pittsburgh.” One of their goals is to connect every member of our community with opportunity and we are deeply driven by the same principle.  We hope to work with them and their “Small and Mighty” program to allow us to get the funding and support that we need to have a lasting and significant impact on people who need it most.

    Do you think people will pay $5?

    I sure hope so! Price is only relevant in the absence of value and I can assure you two things - First, anyone and everyone will obtain far more than $5 of value by purchasing and reading the magazine. Secondly even though we may not sell as many magazines as we would if we sold them for $2 per magazine - we don’t think we will lose 50% of our potential buyers.  Therefore, $5 per magazine makes good business sense and it allows us to make a more significant impact without the additional logistical pressures that we would have if the vendors had to sell twice as much volume to make the same amount of money. I realize that people don’t always have $5 cash on them so we will also allow people to purchase the magazine through Venmo.

    Pittsburgh’s Call to Action!

    Somebody once said that we will be judged as a community and as a society based upon how we treat the least fortunate and most vulnerable among us.  Will we continue to just ignore the needs around us? Or will we become more attentive to the needs of others above our own? It’s not a question of whether or not people can afford to buy a magazine for $5.  99% of people working in downtown Pittsburgh have the means to buy a $5 magazine. City of Champions Magazine simply provides community members a way to spend just $5 per month on a magazine that will change people’s lives.  Sales is tough, there is no doubt about it, but when you buy one of our magazines from a vendor and do so with a smile and an encouraging word, you may be the tipping point in changing that vendor’s life forever. You will never know the ripple effects that you will have on countless lives, all because you supported a vendor. It’s a beautiful thing!

  • 23-Apr-2019 11:15 PM | Melanie Marie Boyer (Administrator)

    Creating opportunities for

    small and diverse businesses

    Covestro introduces new supplier diversity program in North America  
    Program builds on company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, strengthens innovation

    PITTSBURGH, Apr. 9, 2019 -- Today, Covestro LLC announced the launch of its North American supplier diversity program, building on its continuous commitment to create a more diverse, inclusive and innovative culture. The new program opens the door for small and diverse organizations that have an interest in doing business with the global high-tech materials provider, which has operations throughout the United States and Mexico.

    To learn more about Covestro’s supplier diversity program, visit the website at: company/diversity-and-inclusion/supplier-diversity.

    “We believe that our supply base should reflect our company values and the diversity of the communities where we live and work. Our supplier diversity program paves the way by giving us a platform to connect with smaller, historically disadvantaged firms that share our passion for sustainability and innovation,” said Stacey Vigliotti, head of business procurement services at Covestro LLC.

    That initial connection is made through an online portal, where potential suppliers can register for the opportunity to compete for Covestro’s business. The Supplier Diversity Portal acts as a hub of supplier information, which Covestro will use when considering new vendors for a product or service.

    “Through this program, we hope to forge strategic alliances that allow us to better serve our customers, strengthen our culture of innovation and promote the growth of diverse businesses,” explained Micah Caporali, supplier diversity manager at Covestro LLC.

    Covestro has long recognized diversity and inclusion as integral to its business and innovation strategies. That commitment extends throughout every aspect of its operations, including the supply network.

    “We often look to our suppliers and business partners to bring new ideas and fresh insights to the table. And we believe that everyone should have a seat at that table,” said Haakan Jonsson, president and managing director of Covestro LLC. “By formalizing our commitment to supplier diversity, we aim to build relationships with forward-thinking, collaborative suppliers that want to grow with Covestro.”

    “We’re early in this journey, but we’re committed to further developing our supplier diversity program through feedback and ongoing collaboration with suppliers,” he added.

    Learn more about why the company is investing in supplier diversity:

    About Covestro LLC:
    Covestro LLC is one of the leading producers of high-performance polymers in North America and is part of the global Covestro business, which is among the world’s largest polymer companies with 2018 sales of EUR 14.6 billion. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, electrical and electronics, and healthcare industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employed approximately 16,800 people at the end of 2018.

    Find more information at

    Forward-Looking Statements
    This press release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Covestro AG. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Covestro’s public reports which are available on the Covestro website at Covestro assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.

    This press release is available for download from our website. Click here to view all our press releases.

    Editor’s Note: Follow news from Covestro on Twitter:

  • 23-Apr-2019 8:48 PM | Melanie Marie Boyer (Administrator)

    The Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Thanks

    Mariajose Figueroa

    for her dedication and volunteerism

    2 Semesters, 6 Ongoing Roles, 5 Organizations, 3 Conferences, 3 Scholarships and ONE INSPIRATIONAL LATINA! 

    (Interview  & Contact Information Below)

    Mariajose Figueroa is a Colombian/Honduran, Pittsburgh Native. This Penn State (Main) freshman was accepted in to the Engineering program. In only her first year she has taken on becoming a Teaching Assistant and Grader for Computer Science course, Freshman Representative Chair for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Social Media Chair for the Society of Women Engineers, Director of Communication for the Society of Women Engineers (elect August 2019/May 2020), Sophomore Women Ambassador Team Envoy (fall 2019-spring 2020) and ambassador for the college of engineering.

    She is a member of the Collegiate and National member of the Society of Women Engineers, Collegiate and National member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Women Engineering Program, Participant of Women Engineering Program Orientation and the Society of Women Engineers Benefitting THON.

    Mariajose has attended the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers National Conference (Cleveland, Ohio), Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Regional Leadership Conference (Washington D.C.), Society of Women Engineers Local Conference (Baltimore, Maryland).

    As a result of her first year activities Ms. Figueroa has accepted the Bunton Waller Merit Award Scholarship, Engineering Scholarship and the Society of Women Engineers “Most Active Member” Scholarship.

    University: Pennsylvania State University, University Park(main campus)

    Degree: Computational Data Science Engineering

    Favorite College Course: CMPSC 132 (Python language)

    Why did you choose this career path? I chose to study Computational Data Science Engineering because of my interest in computer science and artificial intelligence. Throughout High School I learned Java, HTML and later Python. With these skills and my knowledge for math and science I knew that this field was the perfect fit for me.

    What is your dream job? My dream job is to one day be a Data Scientist. I want to hold a position where I would be responsible for interpreting large amounts of data using statistics, and machine learning to collect, organize and clean through data.

    What is your Hispanic background? Colombian (mothers side) Honduran (fathers side)

    How did you get involved with the Chamber? I started volunteering for PMAHCC my freshman year of High School, my first event being the Gala in the fall. I loved being around people from different countries around the world and listening to everyones incredible story. I later got my sisters involved and made it a fun thing that I liked to do with them.

    What motivates you? Every time I learn something new and find a way to apply that knowledge I feel motivated to keep learning, and acquiring new skills to become better student, thinker, and future engineer.

    Where do you see yourself in ten years? I see my future self having a job where I love doing what I do possibly with a family.

    Tell us about a cultural experience you have had./ What is your greatest achievement? My greatest achievement is studying abroad in Colombia when I was younger. I was very fortunate to be given this opportunity at a very young age. It opened my eyes to a new culture and outlook on life. I learned how to speak the language, more about my background, and family.

    What do you like about volunteering for PMAHCC? Every time I volunteer for PMAHCC I love how every event feels like a family/friend gathering where people come together to catch up while meeting new people and have a nice time.

    What do you like to do if your downtime? In my downtime at Penn State I like to take advantage of all the resources given to me. I go to the gym, sporting events, and I am involved in many of the clubs and organization around campus. I am the Treasurer of the first STEM sorority on campus that I am in the process of building and a Chair for the Society o Hispanic Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers. I will  also be a SWAT (Sophomore Women Ambassador Team) Envoy next year in the College of Engineering.

    Tell us one interesting thing about you: I thought I’d never be interested in being an engineer. My father is a Mechanical Engineer so I always thought I had to find what I loved and wanted to study and for some reason I never thought it would be the same as his. I guess it’s in our blood.

    Connect with Mariajose on LinkedIn

    Email Mariajose:

  • 23-Apr-2019 8:26 PM | Melanie Marie Boyer (Administrator)

    International Cultural Exchange Services is an international nonprofit youth exchange organization committed to educational study abroad programs. For almost three decades ICES has promoted a more peaceful world by advancing international awareness and cultural understanding to thousands of American families and exchange students from all over the world. Volunteers in the Pittsburgh area are needed to host an international student for the upcoming 2019/2020 academic year. There are currently over 20 students that requested to spend their exchange year in Pennsylvania, like Giulia from Italy who specifically chose to come to Pittsburgh!

    Giulia is from northern Italy and will turn 17 this summer.  She lives with her parents, older brother, and dog, Pluto, and says family is the most important thing in her life.  She loves having a loyal and protective brother and would love to have host siblings and pets!  Her parents say she is kind, respectful and thoughtful, making sure to include others in conversations and activities.  She describes herself as lively, inquisitive, a bit of a dreamer and sure of herself!  Giulia loves to dance and has danced since the age of 6, participating in dance competitions at both national and European levels.  Dance helps her relax and express herself, and she would love to continue to dance and train this year, if possible.  Her greatest passion is fashion, and she hopes to study fashion and become a stylist.  Shopping and makeup are two other favorite pastimes, and she’s considering becoming an actress or working in Hollywood. When she’s just hanging out with friends she likes to ski in winter and spend summer days at the lake or going for motorbike rides. She likes to travel and loves the ocean.  She is thrilled about the possibility of making new friends in the U.S.! Will she be a good fit for your family?

     Our students come from 39 countries and are supervised by trained coordinators and compassionate student counselors.  Students are arriving in mid-August and have their own spending money, insurance, great English skills, and hands-on local support. All host family dynamics are welcome and you do not have to have teenagers in your home to host. You can host for a few weeks, a semester, or a school year. If you’re interested in enriching your life and becoming a host family, please contact Yazmin Peña at or visit our website at

  • 23-Apr-2019 8:21 PM | Melanie Marie Boyer (Administrator)




    Notice is hereby given that sealed proposals will be received by the Steel Rivers Council of Governments office

    located on the first floor of the Steel Valley Human Service Center, Room 100, 1705 Maple Street, Homestead

    PA 15120. Bid proposals will be received until 10:00 A.M. prevailing time on May 15, 2019 whereupon bids

    will be publicly opened and read immediately thereafter for the following project:

    1) CD 44-3.10.5 – Street Reconstruction Phase 2, Dravosburg Borough: The project consists of asphalt

    milling, 1990 SY binder asphalt, 1990 SY wearing asphalt, 600 LF wedge curb, keyway, utility

    adjustments, miscellaneous work items as specified.

    Copies of the Contract Specifications, Instructions to Bidders, General Conditions, Form of Proposal and

    Agreement can be obtained at the offices of the Steel Rivers Council of Governments, Room 100, 1705 Maple

    Street, Homestead PA 15120 upon payment of a non-refundable fee of $50.00 made payable to the Steel Rivers

    COG. Documents will be mailed upon receipt of an additional $10.00 postage and handling fee. Each proposal

    shall be delivered in a sealed envelope bearing the name and address of the bidder on the outside, addressed to

    the Steel Rivers COG and marked with the project name. Proposals to receive consideration must be

    accompanied by a Certified Check or Bidder’s Bond from a Surety Company authorized to do business in

    Pennsylvania, made to the order of the Steel Rivers Council of Governments and/or Municipality in an amount

    equal to ten percent (10%) of the Proposal as a guarantee that, if the Proposal is accepted, the successful Bidder

    will immediately enter into Agreement after the Notice of Award of the Contract and commence start of

    construction immediately thereafter.

    Predetermined wage rates as established by the U.S. Department of Labor apply. “Compliance is required with

    the Davis-Bacon Act and other Federal Labor Standard Provisions; Title VI and other applicable provisions of

    the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Department of Labor Equal Opportunity Clause (41 CFR 60-1.4); Section 109

    of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974; Executive Order 11625 (Utilization of Minority

    Business Enterprise); Executive Order 12138 (Utilization of Female Business Enterprise); in compliance with

    Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; the Allegheny County

    MBE/WBE Program enacted July, 1981, which sets forth goals of 13 percent Minority and 2 percent Female

    Business Enterprise; and the Allegheny County Ordinance #6867-12, setting forth goals of 5 percent Veteran-

    Owned Small Businesses. Further, notice is hereby given that this is a Section 3 Project under the Housing and

    Urban Development Act of 1968 (as amended), and must to the greatest extent feasible, utilize lower income

    residents for employment and training opportunities and Section 3 Business concerns and all contracts and

    subcontracts for this project shall contain the “Section 3 Clause” as set forth in 24 CFR, Part 135.38. Moreover,

    compliance is required by the prime contractor and all subcontractors with Federal General County Conditions

    included in the contract documents between ACED and the operating agency. These Federal General County

    Conditions are to be incorporated by reference into all construction contracts between operating agency and

    contractor, contractor and subcontractor(s), and subcontractor(s) and lower tiered subcontractor(s).”

    The Steel Rivers Council of Governments reserves the right to waive any informalities or to reject any or all

    proposals, or any part thereof. No Bidder may reject his/her bid for the period as specified in the project bid

    documents after the scheduled closing time for receipt of bids.


    Pittsburgh Post Gazette Local Xtra - Advertisement Dates:

    April 19 and April 26, 2019

  • 23-Apr-2019 7:37 PM | Melanie Marie Boyer (Administrator)

    WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced additional guidance regarding the adjudication of spousal petitions involving minors, following up on the agency’s February update to its policy.

    The guidance, published as an update to the USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), instructs officers to conduct an additional interview for certain I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor. Generally, the bona fides of the spousal relationship are assessed in person by USCIS when the alien spouse applies to adjust status, or by the Department of State when the alien spouse applies for an immigrant visa. However, I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor party warrant special consideration due to the vulnerabilities associated with marriage involving a minor. As such, USCIS is modifying its policy to require in-person interviews at this earlier stage for certain I-130 petitions involving minor spouses.

    “As part of our continued efforts to strengthen guidance for spousal petitions involving minors, we have instructed USCIS officers to conduct an additional in-person interview earlier in the immigration process for certain petitions that warrant additional scrutiny,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “While USCIS has taken action to the maximum extent possible to detect and closely examine spousal petitions involving a minor spouse, Congress should address this issue by providing more clarity under the law for USCIS officers.”

    Interviewing earlier at the I-130 petition stage provides USCIS with an additional opportunity to verify information contained in the petition and assess the bona fides of the claimed spousal relationship. USCIS officers will now conduct interviews for the following I-130 spousal petitions as part of the adjudication of any I-130 spousal petition where:

    • The petitioner or the beneficiary is less than 16 years old; or
    • The petitioner or the beneficiary is 16 or 17 years old and there are 10 years or more difference between the ages of the spouses.

    While there are no statutory age requirements to petition for a spouse or be sponsored as a spousal beneficiary, USCIS published guidance earlier this year detailing factors that officers should consider when evaluating I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor. USCIS considers whether the age of the beneficiary or petitioner at the time the marriage was celebrated violates the law of the place of celebration. Officers also consider whether the marriage is recognized as valid in the U.S. state where the couple currently resides or will presumably reside and does not violate the state’s public policy. In some U.S. states and in some foreign countries, marriage involving a minor might be permitted under certain circumstances, including where there is parental consent, a judicial order, emancipation of the minor, or pregnancy of the minor.

    In addition, per regulation, USCIS may use its discretion to issue a request for evidence (RFE) where appropriate.  As with any benefit, the burden is generally on the petitioner to demonstrate the validity of their petition and the bona fides of their spousal relationship.

    These AFM updates are part of USCIS’ continuing efforts to ensure that our policies and processes remain current and are compliant with existing immigration law. USCIS also created a flagging system that sends an alert in an electronic system at the time of filing if a minor spouse or fiancé is detected. After the initial flag, the petition is sent to a special unit that verifies that the age and relationship listed are correct before the petition is accepted. If the age or classification on the petition is incorrect, the petition will be returned to the petitioner for correction.

  • 23-Apr-2019 7:11 PM | Melanie Marie Boyer (Administrator)


    NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that specifications and proposal forms for furnishing labor, materials, and construction for

    Electrical, HVAC and Plumbing trades for the following project entitled:

    Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation Incubator Build Out - 2018-CITF-0058

    may be obtained at the offices of the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation (PHDC) located at 1660 Broadway

    Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, 15216, from 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., Monday through Friday, beginning April 26, 2019.

    Electronic copies of specifications for this project can be provided at no cost upon request by prospective bidders. Hard

    copies of bid specifications requires a non-returnable fee of $50.00 (plus $ 7.00 postage & handling). BIDS FOR ALL

    PROJECTS WILL BE RECEIVED until 5 P.M. on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Bids will be publicly opened at 1 PM Wednesday,

    May 22, 2019 at the PHDC offices at the location indicated above.

    Bids must be on standard proposal forms in the manner therein described and be enclosed in a sealed envelope, bearing

    the name and address of the bidder on the outside, addressed to the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation,

    1660 Broadway Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15216 and marked with the project name.

    Bids must be accompanied by a certified check upon a National or State bank, drawn and made payable without

    condition to Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation in an amount not less than five percent (5%) of the bid, or a

    bid bond of not less than 5%, and be delivered to the place and hour named.

    The Build Out site, located at 1555 Broadway Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15216, will be open for inspection 9 AM to Noon,

    May 7. All questions must be submitted by e-mail.

    Compliance is required with the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act of 1961, P.L. 987, No. 442; Title VI and other

    applicable provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Department of Labor Equal Opportunity Clause (41 CFR 60 -1.4);

    Executive Order 11625 (Utilization of Minority Business Enterprise); Executive Order 12138 (Utilization of Female

    Business Enterprise); in compliance with Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Americans with Disabilities Act of

    1990; the Allegheny County MBE/WBE Program enacted July, 1981, which sets forth goals of 13 percent Minority and 2

    percent Female Business Enterprise; and the Allegheny County Ordinance #6867-12, setting forth goals of 5 percent

    Veteran-Owned Small Businesses.

    If there are additional questions, please contact Guillermo Velazquez, Executive Director, at Pittsburgh Hispanic

    Development Corporation at

  • 26-Feb-2019 8:55 AM | Melanie Marie Boyer (Administrator)

    The Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Thanks

    Ameya Bhat

    for his dedication and volunteerism

    Ameya Bhat, a 2017 Pittsburgh Business Times 30 Under 30 awardee, is a Carnegie Mellon University graduate and entrepreneur in residence at the Venture Development Center at UMass Boston. 

    Mr. Bhat is native of Mumbai, and has no Latinx background but enjoys volunteering at PMAHCC events and contributing to a cause that involves both business and a diverse population. He has been volunteering for  the chamber for two years.

    "As an entrepreneur, you have to make decisions around uncertainty. The key is not to worry about making the right decision but to quickly learn and adapt from failures in order to make better decisions."

    While all entrepreneurs like to talk about changing the world, one could easily say that Ameya Bhat actually saves lives. Ameya grew up in India where he got his bachelor’s in Electronics and worked as a software engineer at an online gaming startup after graduation. Now he is the Cofounder of RistCall — a healthcare startup made possible by the GEIR program at UMass Boston. We recently talked to Ameya about his experience with moving to the US and starting a company here.

    On coming to the US

    Ameya moved to the US in 2013 in order to study Engineering at Carnegie Mellon. While there he got to know some of the best engineering minds in the university, and soon they decided to combine their vision and embark on an entrepreneurial journey by creating AlertCall — an app that helped improve safety for students, and would later pivot to become RistCall. After working on the new startup for more than a year, Ameya faced a challenge — the company was succeeding but his work authorization was about to expire*. That’s when a contact of his told him about the GEIR program and introduced him to William Brah. The rest, as they say, is history.

    On becoming an entrepreneur

    Bhat had always imagined himself starting a company. In fact, he was attracted by the startup environment in the US that encourages risk-taking and fast failures. He enjoys solving real-world problems, empowering people through technology, and is ready to take on the challenge of disrupting industries that have seen little innovation in the past.

    On RistCall

    The idea for RistCall was born when one of the co-founders of AlertCall had to be hospitalized, but was unable to effectively communicate with the nurses during his stay in the hospital. The founding team realized that the communication system between the patients and the nurses had not been updated for over 30 years, and decided to pivot. By bringing IoT and healthcare together, the company helps patients easily communicate with care-givers via a smart device strapped to the patients’ wrists and avoid potential incidents. After raising an initial funding of $250, 000, RistCall is currently being deployed in hospitals in Pittsburgh and employs a total of ten people.

    On the challenges of being an immigrant entrepreneur

    Ameya knows first-hand how hard entrepreneurship can be, especially if you’re developing a hardware device, which is a lot more capital intensive and takes a long time to perfect. As such, he finds the visa extension given to international students after the completion of their studies insufficient. The lack of a startup visa complicates things by not giving entrepreneurs the time to develop their ventures fully. Ameya credits the GEIR program for a good part of his success because it allowed him to stay in the US and work on RistCall. He is especially grateful for the fact that the Founder and Executive Director of the VDC, William Brah, has the entrepreneurs’ best interest in mind, and is sincerely looking for ways to help them.

    On choosing the US

    Despite the fact that India has a robust startup scene and a large market, Ameya thinks that the US is the best place for RistCall. He believes that the healthcare technology is more advanced in the States, and people’s openness to it can accelerate the adoption rate. He’d like to see the RistCall device become popular on the American healthcare market first, as he believes that hospitals and healthcare providers here are more prone to embracing innovation.

    His advice to foreign-born entrepreneurs

    When asked what advice he’d give other immigrant entrepreneurs, Ameya says that they should never give up. He views tenacity and persistence as the key to being a successful founder.

    On entrepreneurship

    “As an entrepreneur, you have to make decisions around uncertainty. The key is not to worry about making the right decision but to quickly learn and adapt from failures in order to make better decisions.

    “Any new idea/innovation has to go through a series of iterations (failures) before it becomes successful. The key to entrepreneurial success is to persist through the failures with a long-term view [vision] of building the future.”

    *Ameya hopes to remain in the USA working for tech companies and making the world a better place through his entrepreneurial endeavors and is therefore seeking immediate permanent work. For interviews, job openings or general networking you may connect with Ameya on LinkedIn, at or call him at 412-482-0106.

    University/ Degree: Carnegie Mellon University / Masters in Engineering & Technology Innovation management

    Favorite College Course: Human Centered Design

    Why did you choose this career path: Passion to solve relevant problems with innovative technologies

    What is your dream job: Taking a product from idea to scale

    What sets you apart from other recent graduates (a skill or experience): Multidisciplinary perspective to solve challenging problems

    Tell us about a cultural experience you have had: Coming to US to pursue Masters and working talented people from across the world.

    How did you get involved with the Chamber: Inspired by the work chamber does for Pittsburgh community

    What motivates you: Belief that each one of us has the ability to impact the course of humanity positively

    Where do you see yourself in five years / ten years: Solving a critical problem in healthcare

    What is your greatest achievement: Building a healthcare start up that improves patient safety, experience and quality of care

    What do you like about volunteering for PMAHCC: Meet interesting people in Pittsburgh community and celebrating Hispanic culture

    What do you like to do if your downtime: Read non-fiction books, volunteer, explore nature

    Tell us one interesting thing about you: Ameya can communicate in 4 languages

    Portions of this article were originally published on at

  • 01-Feb-2019 6:03 PM | Melanie Marie Boyer (Administrator)
    Image result for in this issue
    • Past Events - Part 1
    • Upcoming Events - Part 1
    • Business Opportunities - Part 2
    • Member Events - Part 2
    • Volunteer Spotlight (NEW!)
    • Scholarships
    • News


    Sean Manuel Malloy

    If you have been to a PMAHCC event in the past year, you have met one of our most dedicated Sean Manuel Malloy! A recent Graduate of Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, with a Bachelors Degree of Computing in Cybersecurity, Sean has just entered the job market.

    In college, Sean spent a year studying abroad in Germany. The difference in thought, education, transportation, and other aspects of the local culture opened Sean's view to how important a cultural and traditional base is to holding together communities. While in Germany, in addition to speaking Spanish, Sean became fluent in German. His linguistic skills in addition to a deep understanding of new currency technologies and how they work in conjunction with cybersecurity, set him apart from others in his field.

    Mr. Malloy considers his consistent volunteerism to be his greatest accomplishment. Not only does he volunteer regularly with PMAHCC but has made annual trips to volunteer at an orphanage in Guatemala. He said"I find the most motivation to work when the outcome produced will help someone.".

    To read the entire interview with Sean check out ourVolunteer Spotlight Blog Post

    Connect with Sean on Linkedin

    Email Sean:

    The Chamber is now accepting 2019 Scholarship Applications from Hispanic Students in the Greater Pittsburgh Area.

    For more information please visit OUR WEBSITE.

    All applications must be submitted by April 30, 2019.

    Donations to our Hispanic Student scholarship fund can be made anytime on our website. If you would like to donate now please click the "donate" photo above!

    Golden Door Scholars provides scholarships for DACA students who wish to pursue a career in Computer Science, Tech, Engineering, or a related field. 
    Eligible students may be currently enrolled in college pursuing an undergraduate degree, high school seniors or recent high school graduates.

    Thank you Golden Door ScholarsForward 787 & Red Ventures


    If you would like us to feature your event/ business/ story/ job listing etc. in the PMAHCC Newsletter? Submit your information including photos and contact information to

    Our newsletter reaches thousands of Latino's and supporters of the Latino community in the Greater Pittsburgh Area.

    The Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is committed to supporting our members, promoting Latinx culture, the economic interest and prosperity of the Latinx community in the Greater Pittsburgh region.

    Note: In the future advertising in our newsletter may require chamber membership. 

    PMAHCC Small Business Member, Casa Brasil has been featured in both the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (Restaurant Week 2019) and Next Pittsburgh this month!

    "... unlike a Brazilian steakhouse that’s all about meat on a stick, Casa’s menu is a small assortment of appetizers, side dishes and entrees that highlight underrepresented regions of the South American country. Nearly all menu items are gluten-free and the main courses, which change periodically, can be made vegan-friendly or with beef or chicken."

    -Next Pittsburgh

    A Note From Casa San Jose: We all know the desperate conditions and challenges immigrants face at our border, and we know that some of our Amigos have already traveled down to the border or are planning on going soon. If you would like to join the effort, Mary Nell Cummings, a volunteer member of Casa's Emergency Response Team, and a Pittsburgh attorney and law professor, is coordinating arrangements. Please see the information below if you would like to join them.

    If you are interested in volunteering at the border, please contact Mary Nell Cummings (

    The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (SPC) seeks your input to prioritize strategies which will help guide the way our region grows and invests now and in the future. You can provide your input, via our new MetroQuest survey, here, and through this link

    The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) and Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy have partnered to award scholarships to CHCI alumni pursuing master’s degrees at Heinz College. This unique opportunity provides emerging Latinx leaders with the financial support they need to access education that will advance them in their path towards careers in Public Policy and STEM.

    Through the CHCI-Carnegie Mellon University partnership, qualified CHCI alumni will receive scholarships that cover a minimum of 30% of tuition per semester when enrolling in Heinz College’s master’s programs. The nationally acclaimed programs provide students with the analytics, technology, and policy skills necessary to solve complex societal problems in an increasingly connected world.

    For more information Click Here

    "Filling out applications is stressful to me. In addition to the tedium of filling out the same answers over and over again, I have an identity crisis every time I have to check one of the race boxes. As a person of multi-ethnic heritage – both white and Hispanic – I don’t know which box to check.

    While it may seem like a trivial detail, it has actually caused me to ask some big questions. When an application does not allow me to check multiple boxes and asks me to choose between the specific options “White (not hispanic)” and “Hispanic (not white),” I have to choose between two equally important sides of my ethnic identity."

    "According to the Pew Research Center, in the 2010 census, 97 percent of respondents who checked the box “some other race” were Hispanic, and 37 percent of all Hispanic respondents checked that box. In fact, in the past two censuses, the “some other race” category has become the third-largest race group. This data shows I am not alone in the confusion: Many people of Hispanic origin struggle to identify with the race options offered to them. 

    Adding a more accurate race option for Hispanic people is a necessity. Pew Research indicates that two-thirds of Hispanic adults believe their Hispanic origin should be related to race, not just ethnicity. Since Hispanics are a significant percentage of the population, America should include all types of diversity." Read More

    If one thing is clear as we start 2019, it's that America is changing. According to a Claritas report (registration required), in the United States today, there are 131 million multicultural Americans, making up 37.5% of the U.S. population, with Hispanics accounting for the largest portion at 19.6%.

    Minority groups now represent the majority of the population in more than 400 U.S. counties. There can be no doubt that America is becoming multicultural and that Hispanics are a significant part of this change.

    Newsletter By: Melanie Marie Boyer

    PMAHCC thanks you for your continued support and hopes to see you at one of our upcoming events! For information on memberships, scholarships and more please visit:

    Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 

    One Oxford Centre, 301 Grant Street, Suite 4300  Pittsburgh PA 15219 U.S.A.

    Please Like, Follow and Subscribe us at:

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  • 01-Feb-2019 5:54 PM | Melanie Marie Boyer (Administrator)

    Image result for in this issue
    • Past Events - Part 1
    • Upcoming Events - Part 1
    • Business Opportunities 
    • Member Events 
    • Volunteer Spotlight (NEW!) - Part 3
    • Scholarships - Part 3
    • News - Part 3

    Image result for payroll icon

    Novus Group seeks a Payroll professional with at least two years of experience to join our Moon Township operation. This position requires you to be reliable, very detail oriented and a quick learner.

    This is a Part-Time position with Flex Hours & Excellent Pay! Minimum 2 years’ payroll experience, payroll certification a plus.

    Click Here to Apply

    Duquesne Light Company is now offering The Electrical Distribution Technology (EDT) program. It provides training in the basic skills, knowledge, and abilities applicants would need to apply for skilled craft positions in the electric utility industry. The program design, including pre-qualification testing and course content, is intended to not only produce candidates who possess the skills to safely and confidently perform the manual tasks associated with electrical utility work, but also build the foundational skills that will allow them to advance further in their careers.

    The EDT program consists of a 1 year 44 credit course. Students will be responsible for paying their own tuition for the classes at CCAC, however there will be 2 paid internships at the end of each semester as part of the program. Upon graduation, students who excelled during the program and demonstrated the right skills and attitudes will be considered for employment with Duquesne Light through its standard hiring practices. This year-long program runs from April 2019 through July 2020.

    For more information please Click Here or contact Kylie Vaughan at 412.393.1486/

    Mexi-Casa restaurant is being sold by its owner. The restaurant is in a great location, just 5 minutes from the Liberty Tunnels at 3001 West Liberty Ave in Dormont. The restaurant is fully operating and already has a loyal local customer base. It has a Facebook Page "Mexi-Casa" and website

    Interested parties are welcome to visit the location. For questions call or text Jennifer Hess at 724-255-0462.

    Call for Proposals Now Open!

    Got ideas? Inspiration or lessons to share? Bring them to the 2019 Community Development Summit!

    PCRG's Community Development Summit has become the place where ideas are shared, lessons are learned, and partnerships are formed in the name of creating accessible, thriving communities for all. We hope that you consider submitting a session. We seek outstanding sessions on all topics relating to community development. This year, we are putting a particular focus on access to capital and building capacity within communities.

    Past sessions have covered everything from land banking to workforce investment, from education to arts in the community. Presenters can include anyone from individuals who work in business, nonprofits, and government to activists and residents - from ages 8 to 80! Sessions should generally discuss how people and systems interact with land, capital, and/or access and mobility.

    Even if you don’t have a fully developed session, feel free to submit whatever ideas you have. We encourage you to think outside the box! Interested in learning more? .

    Proposals are being accepted through February 22.

    Submit your session idea today! Click here.

    The UPMC Health Plan Member Services Team is currently hiring full-time Bilingual Customer Service Concierges to be an advocate for our English and Spanish speaking members and to proudly wear the badge of UPMC Health Plan. With a close-knit work environment and a dedicated culture of service excellence, our Member Services Team educates and guides our customers through coverage, claims, and other program inquiries.

    Click Here for Info

    Allegheny county is hiring an Epidemiology Research Associate Supervisor for Environmental Issues. The person in this position conducts epidemiologic surveillance and special studies of public health conditions, provides quantitative input on program implementation and evaluation, and supervises public health personnel involved in disease investigations.  The objectives are to monitor the incidence of public health conditions, to measure and understand associated risk factors, to provide epidemiologic input to develop best practices for prevention and control, and to evaluate the impact of interventions that are implemented to address these conditions, with added goal of mentoring professional and technical staff.

    Please visit their WEB SITE,, CAREERS for an online application form and job announcement.   

    The Red Cross is currently seeking a Disaster Program Specialist. This position will work 8:30 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday, and some weekends and evenings will be required during times of business need. Travel will also be involved up to 10% of the time.

    The Disaster Program Specialist (DPS) is responsible for either providing functional expertise to the Disaster Program Manager (DPM) and Volunteer Leadership at a territory or regional level, or, taking full cycle responsibility to provide service delivery programs within a subset of the Disaster Program Managers assigned geography and under the supervision and authority of the DPM. The DPS will accomplish this responsibility largely through the support, development and operational guidance of a team of trained volunteer leaders, volunteers and partners, as well as participate in the implementation and development of initiatives to increase Red Cross visibility through program/service delivery.

    To apply and for more information Click Here

    To view more than 8,000 jobs in South Western PA 


    Image result for member events

    February 19

    Pittsburgh Career Fair 

    Pittsburgh provides the job seeking candidates with the opportunity to meet top employers and to interview for several positions during the course of the day. There will be a variety of vendors attending and there will be many positions available. You are encouraged to dress professionally and bring multiple copies of your resumes.

    For more information Click Here

    February 7

    Get Behind the Numbers & Increase Your Profits

    Do you want to grow your business? Are you considering hiring a new employee? Do you want to invest in new equipment? Are you seeking new clients? Would a “yes” to any of these be a profitable decision? No one has a crystal ball to know for sure, but successful business owners analyze their current financial situation and project the impact of their decisions. You can too and you don’t have to be an accountant - just a smart entrepreneur. Own your numbers!

    A representative from Wilke & Associates, CPAs will offer clear examples for using these statements to make informed decisions, identify potential problems within your business and set realistic financial goals.


    February 16

    Good Vibes Latin Social, February Edition

    Come spread some good vibes and leave with more than you came with at the Good Vibes Latin Social!

    Music is played by DJ Tay and will be a delectable mix of your favorite Latin genres (and sometimes Kizomba): Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, Cha Cha & Bolero Campesino

    For more information Click Here

    February 28

    Best Techniques to Build a Website for Your Business

    This workshop is designed to help entrepreneurs build and create a cost-effective website for their business. Building a website has now become an essential step for businesses to increase their sales. Although building a website can be complicated, this workshop will help you help with a few tips and tricks.

    Chris Vendilli from ProFromGo will be our guest!

    Register Now

    February 27

    Pittsburgh Rotary Ethics Excellence Awards & Luncheon

    Attend Pittsburgh's annual awards luncheon and ceremony honoring our region's top leaders in business ethics. Hosted by the Rotary Club of Pittsburgh, in partnership with PBX, we invite you to join us for this special regional event! Award finalist will include the large, medium, and small company categories, as well as large and small non-profit organizations. The luncheon Master of Ceremonies will be Dr. Chris Howard, President of RMU and the event will also include a keynote from Kurt J. Lesker IV, CEO of Kurt J. Lesker Company.


    Newsletter By: Melanie Marie Boyer

    PMAHCC thanks you for your continued support and hopes to see you at one of our upcoming events! For information on memberships, scholarships and more please visit:

    Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 

    One Oxford Centre, 301 Grant Street, Suite 4300  Pittsburgh PA 15219 U.S.A.

    Please Like, Follow and Subscribe us at:

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Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization

1555 Broadway Avenue Second Floor  Pittsburgh PA 15219 U.S.A.

Phone: (412) 533-9300  ● email:

*The PMAHCC Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization 

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