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CEO and founder of Manchester Bidwell Corporation brings awareness to inner-city projects

CEO and founder of Manchester Bidwell Corporation brings awareness to inner-city projects

On Tuesday, March 26, Bill Strickland, the CEO and founder of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, spoke at the three-day event sponsored by the Sellinger School of Business titled “Building a Better World Through Business,” held annually to highlight the benefits business can bring to society through transformative development.

Strickland is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the United States. He described himself as a “poor kid from a black neighborhood.” In high school, he was walking down his high school corridor, and he came across an art teacher making ceramics. He found interest in them and asked the teacher, Mr. Ross, to teach him how to do it. Strickland remembers Ross, assuring him that he was “not going to let him die like the rest of his friends.” Ross drove Strickland to the University of Pittsburgh where he filled out a college application and got in on probation.

Strickland is now a trustee of the university. At his installation ceremony, he told the audience, “Don’t give up on the poor kids because you never know what’s going to happen to them in life.”

He continued by describing some pictures he showed of a building he built in Pittsburgh. Strickland reiterated that this city has one of the highest crime rates. He hired an architect to build a school for poor students in the community. The pictures showed a beautiful school with a fountain in the courtyard, stunning woodwork, and world-class art.

“The building was built in a tough neighborhood where people have been given up for dead. And my view is that if you want to involve yourself in the life of people who have been given up on, you have to look like the solution and not the problem,” Strickland said. “In my view, it is this kind of world that can redeem the soul (sic) of poor people.”

Strickland also has a million-dollar kitchen in his building, built by the Heinz Company. John Heinz had heard about Strickland’s building and wanted to show his support. Heinz wanted him to add a cooking program where students can be trained to work at the company. Strickland’s partnership with Heinz allows students to cook gourmet food to remind them that they have value. They also train pharmaceutical technicians, medical technicians, and chemical technicians for many different companies.

Students come to Strickland’s school with high school diplomas that they cannot read. Through hard work and dedication to these children, Strickland and his team get them up to speed. Strickland also built an art gallery in addition to a computer lab with the help of the owner of eBay. The school has a music hall thanks to Dizzy Gillespie, a famous jazz artist. Many famous people have come to this center, and Strickland has done many recordings in his studio, which led him to win multiple Grammys.

Strickland has continued to build these centers in many different cities around the world such as Cincinnati and Cleveland. He has even built one in Israel. With many more in implementation, he has built an empire to help poor students around the world.

Photo Courtesy of Bill Strickland’s website.

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CEO and founder of Manchester Bidwell Corporation brings awareness to inner-city projects