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What are the benefits of membership?

Membership enables members to vote in annual Penn Hills CDC board elections and on issues that the board may put up for a vote. This is where the power of membership lies – the ability to vote. Every membership gets one vote. So, if the Johnson family of 6 buys one membership for the household, then they get only one vote. If they want 6 votes, then this family would have to purchase 6 memberships, one for each person in the household. One membership = one vote. When voting time comes, members must bring their membership card as proof of eligibility to vote. No card, no vote.

Other benefits of membership include the ability to voice your opinion at meetings on issues you would like the Penn Hills CDC to tackle, work on committees that address issues of importance to you, and network with other people who love Penn Hills and want to work to make it the best community it can be.

How much does membership cost?

Membership costs $10 per year (renewable in July of each year). The Penn Hills CDC wanted to make membership affordable so that people from all income levels and backgrounds could become members relatively easily.

Each member will receive a membership card. While individuals can have a membership so too can households, organizations, and businesses. For example, if the Johnson household of 6 wants a membership, they may purchase one membership for the household, rather than 6 membership per person in the household.

Who is eligible for membership?

We have three categories of members: (1) residents of Penn Hills, (2) owners of businesses in Penn Hills, and (3) other persons whose activities or interests demonstrate a clear stake in Penn Hills, and are consistent with the purpose of the CDC.
Additionally, All members must be at least 18 years of age.

Can I make a donation to the Penn Hills CDC?

Yes! Yes! Yes! All donations are welcome and are key to the work we do in Penn Hills. Donations in any and all amounts are graciously welcome. Please send donations to:

Penn Hills CDC
“Attention Treasurer”
P.O.Box 17730
Penn Hills, PA 15235

Has the Penn Hills CDC received any donations yet?

Yes! And we are so thankful to those who have kindly donated money and materials. We would like to thank the following organizations for their generous contributions to our work:

Kerr Presbyterian: for their donation of $100.
Penn Hills Lawn and Garden: for their donation of soil testing services and mushroom manure and top soil for the garden.
Harmon Aggregate: for their donation of gravel for the garden road.
Home Depot: for their donation of wood, deer fence, garden tools, water barrels, and screws for our garden.
The Municipality of Penn Hills: for their donation of land and water for the garden.
Penn Hills Rental: for their donation of land clearing services for the garden.

How does the Penn Hills CDC get the money it needs to undertake its projects?

Our money comes from a variety of sources. The first source of revenue comes from our membership. The second source of revenue is from monetary donations. The third source of revenue comes from donated materials, such as land for the garden or gardening supplies. Finally, revenue comes from private and public grants.

Where is the Penn Hills CDC community garden?

The Penn Hills CDC community garden is located at 1162 Jefferson Road, near the intersection of Laurie drive and Jefferson Road. Please feel free to send the CDC an E-mail at [email protected] if more information is needed.

I hear the Penn Hills CDC started a community garden. How do I sign up for a plot in the garden?

The Penn Hills CDC started the first Penn Hills community garden! The garden is located on Jefferson Road. All plots are 4ft x 12ft. To purchase your own plot costs $25 yearly. All gardeners are required to donate a portion of their harvest to a local food bank. To get a plot application please see the beautification page under committees.

What do I do if I have an idea I think the CDC should work on?

We love new ideas! If you have an idea that you would like to see the Penn Hills CDC work on please email the CDC at [email protected]

I want to better understand what CDCs are and what they do. Are there any examples of some in Western PA?

There are several CDCs operating in the Pittsburgh area. Several examples of different CDC models to look into include:

McKees Rocks CDC: http://www.mckeesrocks.con/CDC.html
Pittsburgh Hilltop Alliance: http://www.pghhilltopalliance.com
Mount Washington CDC: http://www.mwcdc.org/index.htm
Bloomfield Garfield Corporation: http://www.bloomfield-garfield.org

If suburban CDCs are rare, how did you guys know how to put one together?

Luckily, since our inception we have had the fortune of being advised and guided by Margie Howard, the Director of Community Initiatives at the Community Technical Assistance Center (CTAC). Margie has lent us her expertise in developing our bylaws, applying for 501(c)3 status, forming committees, and fundraising. To learn more about CTAC, check out their website:


Why does Penn Hills have a CDC? Isn’t that something for urban neighborhoods?

Traditionally CDCs have been urban institutions. Many of the neighborhoods in the city of Pittsburgh have a CDC, including East Liberty, Lawrenceville, and Bloomfield-Garfield. These CDCs have been credited for turning around their respective neighborhoods. Because of their success many suburban communities have looked to the CDC model to make changes in their own community, though this is a recent development. In many ways the CDC initiative in Penn Hills is a pioneering one!

Shouldn’t government do the work the Penn Hills CDC is trying to do?

Absolutely not. Though our local government is in charge of many CDC related functions, local government simply cannot accomplish all the projects a CDC can. For one thing, there are significant pots of money that are accessible to CDCs that are not available to local governments. This means that in some cases, the CDC can accomplish initiatives easier because it has the funding to do so. It is also easier for a group of residents via a CDC to bring together different organizations to work on a project than it is for local government.

What is a CDC?

According to Wikipedia, a CDC is “a broad term referring to not-for-profit organizations incorporated to provide programs, offer services and engage in other activities that promote and support community development. CDCs usually serve a geographic location such as a neighborhood or a town. They often focus on serving lower-income residents or struggling neighborhoods. They can be involved in a variety of activities including economic development, education, community organizing and real estate development. These organizations are often associated with the development of affordable housing.”

In general, CDCs come in many forms and take on different functions. Every CDC is shaped according to community needs and capacities.

Why should I become a member of the CDC?

Membership to the Penn Hills CDC has many benefits, the most obvious being that it makes you eligible to vote for the Board of Directors and for any initiatives that the Board may bring to membership for a vote. The Penn Hills CDC is a membership organization, meaning YOU, our members, dictate its goals and priorities. Voting privileges enable members to voice these goals. Though anyone may attend our general body meetings, only members are allowed voting privileges.

For businesses and organizations like churches or other nonprofit institutions, membership to the Penn Hills CDC symbolizes for clients, constituents, members, and congregants that the organization is interested and involved in community affairs. Additionally, member organizations will be recognized on our website and in print materials which provide additional advertising and exposure in the community.

What is the relationship of the Penn Hills CDC with Penn Hills council? Mayor? The School District? The Chamber of Commerce?

The Penn Hills CDC is its own organizational entity, separate from each of these valuable institutions in our community. The Penn Hills CDC does not replace existing institutions and their functions. That being said, every initiative that we undertake will require that we work with other organizations in Penn Hills. For example, in order to rehab housing we will need to work with code enforcement officials and the planning department; to bring business to Penn Hills we will need to work closely with the Chamber of Commerce; to enhance public safety cooperation with the Penn Hills police and the existing crime watch program will be critical. The Penn Hills CDC may acquire its own grant monies to pursue desired projects, but we will not be able to accomplish them without community and organizational cooperation.

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