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2018 Benjamin Rush Individual Award – Bill Strickland, Jr.

Benjamin Rush Individual Award

Mr. Bill Strickland, Jr., is the 2018 Benjamin Rush Individual Award recipient. Established in 1947, the award recognizes an individual that is not a physician, who devotes time, skills or resources to assisting others and contributes to the advancement of healthcare.

Mr. Stickland grew up in the Manchester neighborhood of Pittsburgh and graduated from Oliver High School. As a youth, he was inspired by high school art teacher and skilled artisan Frank Ross, who pressed upon him the powers of arts, education and community.

While he was still an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh, Mr. Strickland founded the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG) as an after-school program to bring arts education and mentorship to inner-city youth in his neighborhood. Following graduation, he continued to build the MCG program into an innovative nonprofit agency that uses the arts to inspire and mentor inner-city teenagers. Today, the MCG Youth & Arts and MCG Jazz are both programs of Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, serving nearly 500 youth each year through classes, workshops, lectures, mentorships, residencies and more.

In 1972 Mr. Strickland assumed leadership of the Bidwell Training Center (BTC), which offered vocational training to displaced and underemployed workers after the decline of the steel industry. Over the years, BTC’s model of career development has grown to provide market-driven career education created through strong partnerships with leading local industries. The center now offers accredited Specialized Associates Degree and diploma programs in fields as varied as culinary arts, horticulture, laboratory technician, and several rewarding and exciting health careers including medical assistant, medical claims processor, medical coder and pharmacy technician.

Mr. Strickland’s involvement in both MCG and BTC doubled the strength of Manchester Bidwell Corporation’s ability to help the community. He envisioned a template for social change, and began to form relationships with businesses, government officials, and individuals who shared his vision. MBC has evolved into a national model for education, culture and hope.

Mr. Strickland has served on the boards of the National Endowment for the Arts, Mellon Financial Corporation, and the University of Pittsburgh. For his work, he has won various awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship “genius” award in 1996. He also has been honored by the White House and received the Goi Peace Award in 2011.

Mr. Strickland stepped down as president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation in July 2018 after 50 years. He now serves as executive chairman, helping to raise money for the organization and replicating the workforce training programs he established.

Mr. Strickland and his family reside on the North Side of Pittsburgh.

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