'A bridge between college and the working world': Faith-based program offers grads jobs, housing

Linda Wilson Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Religious News

Fellows work for their employers Monday through Thursday. On Fridays they attend classes at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge. They take two classes per semester and come out with a leadership/professional development certificate and 12 graduate school credits.

Fourteen of this year’s grads landed jobs — many with the companies that hired them as Fellows. The 15th was a bit of an outlier, choosing to move with his brother to Arizona to try something different.

Most Fellows stay in the Pittsburgh area, Smith noted. The board feels they have supplied the local market with dozens of hard-working, high-quality young people who will contribute to their community.

Brownfield worked nine months with Birgo Realty and has been hired by NVR, a division of Ryan Homes.

The very active alumni association spreads the word about Pittsburgh Fellows.

Nella Matthews, 33, grew up in Maryland and learned about the program when she was a student at Geneva College in Beaver Falls. She was a Fellow in 2011.

“I had an unusual assignment. My parents are deaf, so I know American Sign Language. I got a job in the business office of the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf,” which is not one of the regular partners with Pittsburgh Fellows.

Since then she has always had good business and marketing jobs, with steadily increasing responsibilities, advancements and pay. She lives in Avalon, a suburb north of Pittsburgh.


“It’s crazy how successful people can be with the right support,” Matthews said. The faith-based component is important to her because “religion is the lens through which I view the whole world.”

There are 30 Fellows programs across the country. The first one was in Falls Church, Va. The program was attended by the son of Becca and Geoff Chapman, who was then the pastor of St. Stephen’s. They loved the experience their son had, so St. Stephen’s started the country’s fourth Fellows Program in 2006, with Mrs. Chapman as executive director.

In the early days help came from many, including corporate heavy hitter C. Fred Federoff, president of Alcoa, Smith said.

Both Chapmans are now retired. McCormick took over as executive director five years ago.

“I love working with these young adults,” McCormick said, “and I love working with the employers.” One of the ways she shows her love is by hosting all of the Fellows for a home-cooked meal in her Sewickley home.

Colleges and universities named in this story are also faith-based. Waynesburg University is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Geneva College is governed by the Reformed Presbyterian Church North America. The Grove City College website says it is a “Christian liberal arts college” that is not affiliated with a church.

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