Champions of Learning Awards

The people in our community who take time to listen to kids, teach them, guide them or support them often are unsung heroes. That’s why the Consortium and United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania set aside a day each year to recognize them with our Champions of Learning Awards.

We take nominations beginning in November and select finalists in late January. Watch our website for dates and deadlines. Selection committees review nominations in each of five  categories, including Leadership, Educators, School Staff, Volunteers and Providers/Community Partners.

Winners are announced at an awards celebration in the spring.

The competition isn’t limited to professional educators. We honor both those who work to create innovative learning experiences for youth as well as adults in our community who go out of their way to support, mentor and give guidance to kids who need it.

Champions 2019

2019 Winners

  • Leadership: Melting Pot Ministries Executive Director Brenda Atkins Lockley
  • K-6 Educators: Plum Borough School District teacher J.R. Pilyih
  • 7-12 Educators: East Allegheny School District teacher Holly Spallone
  • Community Partners: Jewish Family and Community Services Volunteer Coordinator Andrew Van Treeck
  • School Staff: Chartiers Valley School District Custodian Dona Gaudio
  • Volunteers: Urban Impact Foundation Volunteer Abbie Manges
  • Special Tributes:
    • Manchester Bidwell Corp. Founder and Chairman, Bill Strickland
    • United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania President & Chief Executive Officer Bob Nelkin
Champions 2018

2018 Winners

  • The Arts – Attack Theater (Michele de la Reza, co-founder)
  • Business Partnerships – DMI Companies (Katie Hager, Workforce Development Manager)
  • Classroom Teaching – Corina Bonsall, Steel Center Career & Technical Education
  • Community Outreach – Youth Enrichment Services (Dennis Jones, Executive Director)
  • Leadership – Bart Rocco, Ed.D., Superintendent Elizabeth Forward School District
  • Special Tribute – Sarah Tambucci, PhD., retired Executive Director of the Arts Education Collaborative

Program Overview

  • Open to individuals and organizations going the extra mile to support kids in our community
  • Program active since: 2015

Award Categories

  • Leadership
  • Educators
  • School Staff
  • Volunteers
  • Providers/Community Partners


  • Call for Nominations in November
  • Nominations due in early January
  • Committees review nominations by the end of January
  • Finalists in February
  • Champions Awards Celebration in May

Program Point of Contact

Jennifer Sethman