BTG Hope

“Bridging the Gaps … is a great vehicle of exposure and learning for the ‘providers of the future.’ For the past four summers we have hosted these students and been able to educate and mentor students from various disciplines, and our agency has benefited from their final projects. Thanks BTG.”
Sharon Jones, MS, CCDP
Clinical Supervisor
Sojourner House
Home >

BTG CHIP 2017-18 Report

University of Pittsburgh Program Activities


Program Established: 1997.

Program Period: June 5 to July 28, 2017.

Students/Projects/Sites: 18 students worked on 9 projects at 9 community sites in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Professional Disciplines: Medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, and social work.

Service Days: Students provided 500 days of health-related service.

Types of Sites Served: Day camps, in the field/community, community organization offices, client homes, shelter (homeless or other), treatment centers (day or other), schools, and community health centers.

Student Activities: *Planning health activities, assessing community resources, community social activities, client interviews, development or administration of surveys, health-related client education, oral health activities, evaluation of existing programs, research on health issues, community outreach, linking clients with health resources, advocacy activities, literacy activities.

Population Demographics: Mixture of females and males; all ages; mixture of races and ethnicities, but predominantly African American; primarily English-speaking.

Community Health Issues:* Diet and nutrition, poverty, oral health, access to health care, child care, cultural beliefs and practices, exercise, mental health, race/ethnicity, budgeting and personal finances, communication, homelessness, violence, insurance/social services, obesity, personal hygiene, transportation, environmental health.

Mentor Workshop: Prior to the start of the program, Pittsburgh held a Successful Mentoring Workshop for all new community and faculty mentors that was well attended with representatives from most community sites and all new community sites.

Didactic Sessions: The Pittsburgh curriculum included guest speakers who represented community-based program providers, researchers and individuals from underserved backgrounds. The students came together for 5.5 hours a week to participate in a curriculum that included readings and journaling and presentations on the following topics: Inequalities Within Women’s Health; The Problem Isn’t Homelessness, It’s Lack of Housing!; Experiential Poverty Exercise; EHS Parent Perspectives on Meeting the Needs of Children; Oral Health for the Underserved; Walking Tour of Braddock; Community Violence and Homicide Review Board; Community Advocacy—Affordable Care Act and Medicaid; Needle Exchange and Opiates in Allegheny County; and Remote Area Medical Film.

Oral Health Activities: On June 28, 2017, Dr. Brian Martin, Chief of Pediatric Dental Services, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, gave a presentation on Oral Health for the Underserved. The presentation focused on both preventive care and advocacy efforts. A week earlier, all interns were required to complete an online oral health tutorial developed by School of Dentistry faculty to expose the interns to the most common oral health terms and concerns. The School of Dentistry student working with BTG provided all of the interns with oral health education resource lists and updated materials tailored to their populations. The program provided free oral health supplies (toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and denture care products as appropriate) to all program participants at 10 community sites in addition to supplies for several sites to carry into the fall.

Community Event: Pittsburgh hosted an Annual Mentor-Student Social on the evening of July 12, 2017. The gathering was hosted at the School of Social Work.. Students provided a homemade-dessert potluck as thanks to their mentors. This event was very well attended by community mentors, faculty preceptors, students and community members, and gave everyone a chance to network and socialize.

Symposium: Pittsburgh’s  Annual BTG Day of Presentations was held on the last day of the program, July 28, 2017. The key note speaker was Diana Bucco, Executive Director of the Buhl Foundation, speaking on Systems Change.  A resource table was provided for community members and students to retrieve information on local housing advocacy, hunger response programs, disability advocacy, Medicaid advocacy and needle exchange.   All student teams presented posters on their projects and had sign-up sheets provided for all attendees to have final products shared via email after the event.  This event was well attended by a variety of community and faculty mentors, students, community members, and advisory board members.

*The information provided here reflects only those categories reported by 40% or more of students participating at this BTG program location.


2017-18 University of Pittsburgh Program Participants

Program Staff and Faculty
Thistle Elias, DrPH, MPA, Program Director
Joan Harvey, MD

Academic Preceptors
Todd Bear, PhD, MPH
Thuy D. Bui, MD
Shannon E. Connor, PharmD
Thistle I. Elias, DrPH, MPA
Rachel Fusco, PhD
Elizabeth Miller, MD, PhD
Anne Mitchell, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, 
FIAAN, FAAN
Tracy Soska, PhD, MSW, LSW
Martha Ann Terry, PhD

Community Preceptors
Joy Cannon
Pam Dickinson, BS
JoAnn English
Deborah Gallagher, MEd
Jessica Gumbert
Brandi Harrison
Sharon Higginbothan, PhD, COO
Laura Kelley, MSW
Casey Rich
Tamera Stafford
Karen Upsher, MSW


2017 University of Pittsburgh Community Partners

For a complete alphabetical list of all 2017 BTG CHIP community partners and to view community project summaries by site, click here.

  • Bethlehem Haven
  • Braddock Youth Project
  • Center of Life - Summer Camp
  • Community Human Services, Oakland
  • Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC), Early Head Start and Greater Hazelwood Family Center
  • Gwen’s Girls
  • Heritage Community Initiatives
  • Sojourner House, Inc. - MOMS
  • South Hills Interfaith Movement -  Prospect Park Family Center
Support BTG With Your Gift
BTG 20 Years Video
BTG 20th Anniversary Tribute
“With the aid of my amazing community mentor, I was able to ... have a much better understanding of the intersection of poverty, mental health, poor access to services and the housing crisis. I have also gained an intimate understanding of the process of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.”
Breanna Jay
University of Pittsburgh
School of Social Work
BTG 20 Years Video
What BTG Means to Us

BTG Photo Gallery BTG Video Archives