PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A local man received a prestigious honor in Washington, D.C. today.

Bill Strickland, who founded Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild on the North Side, was honored on the floor of the U.S. Senate as this year’s “Black History Month Nominee.”

He’s one of only seven people in the history of Pennsylvania to receive this recognition.

Strickland seems larger than life – not just his stature, but his grand ideas – ideas that he turns into reality.

In addition to the facility on the North Side, Strickland now has five affiliated centers, with more opening in Sharon and Brockway this summer.

“The goal is to build 200 centers – 100 in the U.S. and 100 around the world,” Strickland said.

He’s in talks to build them in Japan, Israel, Costa Rica and London.

Today, Strickland was honored by Congress. Sen. Bob Casey recognized him for his amazing journey from Oliver High School, where Strickland was inspired by his ceramics teacher, Frank Ross, who steered him away from the choices of his peers.

“Prison, trouble, drugs, street, death. It was pretty sobering. So, the fact that Frank provided me with a clear pathway out of that situation was very powerful,” Strickland said.

Strickland wanted to offer others the same opportunity.

Manchester now has four arts programs, which are free to Pittsburgh Public School kids. The programs are in clay, photography, digital imaging and drawing.

The Bidwell Division has job-training programs in medical and chemical technology, a green house program and culinary training.

“We’ve gotten very good at training gourmet cooks in 10 months that get extraordinary rates of performance and job placement,” Strickland said.

It’s no exaggeration that Manchester Bidwell is saving lives thanks to the vision of Bill Strickland.


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