The history of our school begins in 1993, when co-founder Jodie Moore set out to work with at-risk adolescents in Larimer, then and now one of Pittsburgh’s most desolate and underserved neighborhoods. What was then known as the Larimer Avenue Youth Club evolved into a nine-year summer-skill building program for at-risk 7th through 11th graders, run, with the help of Reverend Thomas Johnson, in the basement of Allegheny United Church of Christ. Ms. Moore and Pastor Johnson, who had met at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, quickly realized that the psychosocial burdens of poverty weighed heavily on these students. They believed that if these young people could be immersed year-round in a caring environment with high expectations, they could grow to lead fulfilling lives. With generous support from pioneering community members, this vision evolved into The Neighborhood Academy.
About Our Founders:
Josephine B. Moore, Co-Founder. Founder and Principal-in-Charge of the Pittsburgh office of a regional interior architectural design firm, Jodie put her design career on hold to answer a call to ministry. In the late 1980’s, supported by five East End churches, she started and led the Larimer Avenue Youth Club, three groups for inner-city youth in several distressed Pittsburgh neighborhoods. In 1998, after six years of partnering with Tom Johnson in founding and running a successful Summer School for at-risk teens, R.K. Mellon Foundation funded her study of successful inner city schools and the development of the business plan that would become The Neighborhood Academy on September 12, 2001. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Russian History and from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary with a Masters in Divinity.
The Reverend Thomas E. Johnson Jr., Head of School and Co-Founder. As board member, teacher, and coach for 10 years at his alma mater, Shady Side Academy, Tom honed the skills and garnered the experience necessary to partner in the funding and building of the Summer School and later the 8th – 12th grade at The Neighborhood Academy. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, he has served as pastor to Allegheny United Church of Christ on the Northside and East Liberty Presbyterian Church. Reverend Johnson speaks to audiences across the region on issues affecting education and low-income youth. He recently was honored through the Local Ministries program at the United Church of Christ’s (UCC) General Synod in Atlanta, GA for his “excellence in teaching”. He graduated from The College of Wooster with a B.A. in English and from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary with a Masters in Divinity. He also holds an honorary PhD from Bethany College.