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Batch continues to pour into the community

It was just under five years ago that Charlie Batch and Latasha Wilson-Batch stood on a dirt patch on one of the main streets in Homestead, Pa., hard hats on and shovels in hand, for the ground-breaking of the dream they envisioned for years.

Fast forward almost five years, with a lot of work and overcoming obstacles, and the dream is now a reality.

On Wednesday, Batch, the former Steelers quarterback, hosted local dignitaries, including Steelers President Art Rooney II, for the ribbon cutting for the new home for the Best of the Batch Foundation.

"It's been a long time coming and a lot of conversations and talking about the vision and trying to bring this to fruition," said Batch. "To finally come to the finish line, it's exciting. From the original vision for the building, to what it is now, I hope as people walk through it, they can see everything that we explained throughout the process and how it came to life. We hope people can see why the kids now don't want to leave the building when they come here."

Rooney was part of the groundbreaking ceremony five years ago, so being at the ribbon cutting and seeing it come to life was inspiring.

"My grandfather (Art Rooney Sr.) really started the Steelers connection to the community," said Rooney. "He encouraged the players down through the years to be involved. Charlie's been an unbelievable inspiration and example of what it means to be involved in the community, give back to the community. We are so proud of him and Latasha and what they have accomplished.

"I was here for the groundbreaking and it's great to see what it has turned out to be. Charlie and Latasha have made unbelievable efforts to make this happen. That is why we're so proud of them. If you were here and saw what they started with, a little house on the corner, for this to be what they have now it's such an asset to all the communities around here.

"This is what it's all about, coming together to make your community better. There is no better example than what Charlie and Latasha have done here in Homestead."

The foundation's mission is to provide children in grades K-12 in Western Pennsylvania free programs focused on education, health and wellness, outreach services and more, with the majority of the activities taking place in the 'Clubhouse,' a welcoming, safe place where kids can hang out with their friends and learn at the same time.

"We provide a lot of things that I didn't have access to growing up here," said Batch. "That's the reason we do this. We're an extended arm to help families with children in school that don't necessarily have access to resources that exist in other areas of the city.

"When kids walk in the building, it doesn't remind them of school, where they're taught to sit down and be quiet all day. Here, we expect them to burn that energy off. At the same time, we require them to finish their homework and present their report cards first, so we can hold them accountable and to make sure they're upholding their end of the deal."


The Best of the Batch Foundation was originally housed in a 5,300 square foot building in the Homestead area. The new building, originally planned for 21,000 square feet, through additional development is now a state-of-the-art educational facility that is 33,000 square feet for the foundation, that is now in its 25th year.

"If you would have told me 25 years ago this would be happening, I would have told you that you're crazy," said Batch. "To see the type of growth we have had is amazing. The people that believe in the mission and vision of what we're trying to accomplish, it's humbling and we're grateful for that. And to see where we are from the initial conversation of opening a new facility to now. What you are seeing in the building isn't everything we initially discussed. We added things that stakeholders wanted to see happen. It was great to see everything evolve and grow into this. Originally, we were only supposed to have one parcel that we were going to add on it, and ultimately, we were able to get three parcels added on. That changes conversation at for what we can actually put into there. The gymnasium wasn't even part of the initial diagrams and the blueprints. Latasha did a great job steering the course and making sure that everything aligned to where everything needed to be. She deserves more credit than I do with this particular project because she stayed on it. She was making sure whatever detail that needed to be handled, she was on it."

The original plan was to open the new headquarters in the Spring of 2020, a potential one-year building process. One obstacle they had to overcome was something they had no control over, the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing construction to a halt when they thought things would be picking up. While they got through it, it also allowed them time to add on to their plans and build a facility that went above and beyond everyone's expectations.

"The old building was so small, whatever program we were focused on at that time, that's what the building looked like," recalled Batch. "If it was back to school time, you had nothing but school supplies around the building. Ultimately, we had to pack that away, put it in stores and then get ready possibly for our event, In the Pocket. Then it was time to put that stuff away and get ready for the holidays. At the same time, the most important thing is we had the kids in the building, trying to make sure none of this stuff interrupted their daily routine. When we say we used every inch of space of that building, that's exactly what we did.

"Now, we have so much space for the kids and families to offer them services, it's amazing."


Best of the Batch Foundation Programs:

Serving as a community "safe space" on the walk home from school, the environment created by Best of the Batch Foundation is one where kids are free to be kids. In addition to educational programming, participants utilize the Clubhouse to hang out with their peers, participate in games, read, utilize the computer lab, dance, and play.

While the Activity Pod will be a hub of learning for up to 30 children at each age level, it will look and feel much different from the typical classroom environment. Each piece of furniture will be interactive, allowing children to rearrange the space to best accommodate their personal learning style or to cluster together for team projects. Each Activity Pod will be furnished with cutting-edge technology like Smartboards and large computer and television monitors to streamline communication within the room and open up opportunities for larger group collaboration. Equipment and technology for the Activity Pods include:
Interactive Tables & Chairs / Large Screen Television & Computer Monitors / Smartboards / Traveling Instructor's Desk / Laptop Station / Charging Ports / Secure Storage Units.

Homework help and tutoring services are available to every child at the Batch Foundation. In collaboration with a child's parents/guardians and teachers, the Foundation develops individualized personal success plans to provide them with the tools, resources, and support to reach their academic goals.

The Best of the Batch Foundation incorporates STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) learning into its programming. Skills learned here will allow youth to learn differently and innovatively. This provides an outlet for healthy, creative thinking and learning about their passions (coding, 3D printing, robotics, music production, etc.), which prepares them for future growth and career success. Surrounding school districts and community groups currently identify and reward "above average" students with their STEAM-oriented programs. As an extension, the Batch Foundation strives to captivate and engage "average" students by consistently seeking new avenues to inspire youth to reach academic goals, and to discover future career opportunities under the STEAM umbrella. The addition of the state-of-the-art technology in the new STEAM Lab allows the Batch Foundation to provide hands-on experience with evolving technology to boost young people's confidence in STEAM topics, and build teamwork, entrepreneurial, and presentation skills.

The Batch Foundation partners with non-profit and business leaders to provide STEAM programs and upper-level skills. By joining forces with science-driven community partners, such as Carnegie Science Center's "Fab Lab," youth have the chance to learn about real-world topics and applications from industry experts. The growing partnership equips participating children with advanced hands-on skills and fosters mentoring relationships between themselves and STEAM professionals to expand their knowledge and understanding of potential careers. The youth trained by Carnegie Science Center staff act as the Batch Foundation's "STEAM Lab Stars" who assist inexperienced youth and community members with STEAM Lab technology – ultimately creating an ongoing cycle of peer education and success. STEAM Lab materials & technology include:
Laser Engravers / Embroidery Machines / CNC Routers / Direct to Garment Printers / Vinyl Cutter-Printers / 3D Printers / Sound Lab / Video-Photo Lab / Collaboration Space / Podcasting Space.

Critical to its success, the Batch Foundation incorporates a Dynamic Mentoring & Leadership model. The Foundation hires its own alumni as college and high school interns – young adults who previously spent years of their youth participating in Best of the Batch programming – from their elementary school years through high school. Young attendees are inspired by these natural role models who share similar experiences to them, relate to them, look like them and are actively and consistently concerned about their futures. This system creates dynamic mentoring relationships that often last into adulthood.

Girl Talk is a national non-profit program in which high school girls mentor middle school girls, by building self-esteem, developing leadership skills, and recognizing the value of community service. Since 2015, Girl Talk at the Batch Foundation has supported girls' positive growth and development during their formative years with weekly meetings throughout the school year. Talented Steel Valley High School mentors adapt lessons provided by the Girl Talk national organization to fit the needs, environment, and questions of the Steel Valley Middle School participants they mentor. Since the beginning of the program, more than 153 female students have been served through Girl Talk. While some lessons are more light-hearted, such as making new friends and the importance of teamwork, other lessons speak on life's more difficult situations, such as racial prejudice, eating disorders, and unhealthy relationships. The root of all lessons is to share correct information, helpful resources, and meaningful and relatable experiences and advice.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Best of the Batch Foundation remained open and operational, safely adjusting programming to best serve Mon Valley youth and families. Pandemic response programming began with the "Comfort in a Basket" initiative, which provided more than 1,000 families with care packages full of shelf-stable pantry items, household and personal hygiene items, snacks, and educational enrichment projects and workbooks. During the first few months of nationwide pandemic restrictions, many of the supplies gifted to families were not available on store shelves. Since the pandemic, the Batch Foundation continues to provide necessary supplies to children and families upon request.

To learn more about the Best of the Batch Foundation, visit

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