About Brandon Mendoza

Brandon Mendoza Brandon Mendoza is a Brooklyn expat who has lived in Boston, northeastern and central Pennsylvania. The government affairs associate at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, he now calls Pittsburgh home.
Brandon Mendoza

WattleyEarlier this year I had the opportunity to participate in Leadership Development Initiative XXI (LDI), a program of Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. Because of thisprogram I was able to work alongside 40 emerging leaders in the Pittsburgh region to plan Bright Night: A Larimer Light Festival.  And while learning leadership was the goal, the experience also provided the opportunity to explore Larimer, a great Pittsburgh neighborhood that like many other communities in our region, is currently reinventing itself and preparing for future prosperity.

Located in Pittsburgh’s East End, Larimer is bordered by Highland Park, East Liberty, Homewood, Shadyside, Point Breeze and Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar. The neighborhood recently was selected as a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhood Initiative recipient, an award that will invest more than $30 million to revitalize the community. The investment will go towards high-quality mixed-income housing, improving educational/skills attainment, and creating an atmosphere for public and private partnerships. The funding will undoubtedly be a catalyst for additional public and private sector investment.

After DuskThroughout Larimer’s past struggles, its residents were the glue that kept the neighborhood together. It was the residents that galvanized support for the Larimer Plan and it is because of them that Larimer is positioned where it is today.  Furthermore, Larimer already has many existing assets that make it a special place – the Kingsley Association, the Larimer Consensus Group, the Larimer Village Green, the Environment and Energy Community Outreach Center – the changes in Larimer will no doubt be accelerated because of these assets. It is an exciting time to be in the Pittsburgh region, which received more than $2.4 billion in private sector investment last year, but for the region to continue to grow, places like Larimer must continue to revitalize themselves. Luckily, times are changing in Larimer and it is on the cusp of lasting change.






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Brandon Mendoza

When was the last time you’ve been to an outdoor laser light show? This Saturday, May 17, I hope you’ll attend Bright Night: A Larimer Light Festival, featuring live music, great food and a laser light show – among other offerings.

For the past six months, I have participated in Leadership Development Initiative XXI (LDI), a program of Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. This opportunity has afforded me the pleasure of working with 40 emerging leaders in the Pittsburgh region to plan Bright Night. We have had great partners in the community of Larimer, namely the Larimer Consensus Group and the Kingsley Association. Larimer is distinguished by its residents’ strong sense of community and its paradigm-shifting revitalization plan. This plan, which envisions a mixed-income, environmentally friendly community where both newcomers and natives are welcome, has earned a place as a finalist for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s competitive $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant. Bright Night will further highlight Larimer’s assets and using the theme of light and renewal to foster a perceptual transformation of the neighborhood for Larimer residents, Pittsburgh neighbors and the civic community.

While the event has been exciting to plan and the community has been a tremendous partner, the best part of the process for me has been learning alongside my fellow LDI classmates. Our class has spent countless hours meeting with community members, elected officials and vendors for the event and the lessons learned along the way are invaluable. Over the past few months, we have learned leadership tools from each other, community leaders and established business/nonprofit leaders, but nothing has taught leadership more than planning Bright Night.

The event features a car cruise, live musical performances, a laser light show, educational exhibit, food trucks and free food samples from the Food Revolution Pittsburgh Cooking Club. I hope to see you there this Saturday, May 17th from 6-10 p.m. on Larimer Avenue between East Liberty Boulevard and Meadow Street. All are welcome to this free community event and if you have not been to an outdoor laser light show, now is your chance. More details, including maps and parking information are available at PopUpPittsburgh.com and Facebook.com/PopUpPittsburgh. You can also follow us at  Twitter.com/PopUpPittsburgh.

About Leadership Development Initiative and Leadership Pittsburgh Inc.
The Leadership Development Initiative (LDI) program is a 10-month leadership training program for high-potential young professionals. This creative and innovative program has served as a model for several others around the country. Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to developing a diverse group of leaders to serve southwestern Pennsylvania.

About Larimer
Located in Pittsburgh’s East End, Larimer is bordered by Highland Park, East Liberty, Homewood, Shadyside, Point Breeze and Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar. Larimer has recently been selected as a finalist for a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Brandon Mendoza

Pittsburgh’s innovation-led economic renaissance continues to capture the attention of influential news outlets. Recently there was Politico’s “What Works,” a year-long series focused on transformative technologies, polices and strategies that chose Pittsburgh for its debut article. This week the emerging-technologies blog GIGAOM made a splash with its story about Strip District-based Astrobotic and its lunar ambitions.


A spinout of Carnegie Mellon University, Astrobotic is capitalizing on the convergence of Pittsburgh’s robotics, tech and engineering acumen in its quest to become the first private company to land on the moon — perhaps as soon as 2015.  GIGAOM’s coverage teed up the Feb. 19 announcement  that Astrobotic was advancing to the “Accomplishment Round” of the Milestone Prizes offered by the Google Lunar XPRIZE. Of the five teams selected for this round, only Astrobotic and one other qualified for the full $1.75 million.

The Google Lunar XPRIZE is an international incentive based prize that “aims to do something humanity has never accomplished: the safe landing of a private craft on the surface of the moon.” The final prize is estimated to be in the $30 – $40 million range.

Astrobotic CEO John Thornton told GIGAOM that the XPRIZE will “drum up revenue and customers for Astrobotic.” In fact, the prize itself was the catalyst for the company to go into business.

“You can think of us as a FedEx or UPS service to the moon,” said Thornton.

Being the first private company to land on the moon might be “one small step” for Astrobotic, but it will be a giant step in opening up the potential of the moon to become Earth’s next continent and a place for interstellar commerce and tourism.

From Pittsburgh to the moon, à la Astrobotic!

You can read GIGAOM’s story on Astrobotic here.

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