Award #70: YNGBLKPGH

Brian Burley can barely contain his enthusiasm when asked about YNGBLKPGH. That’s because the author, businessman, mentor and Pittsburgh son is eager to change society’s view about what it means to be young, black, and living in the city of Pittsburgh.

Burley was spurred into action during one of his mentoring sessions. A student questioned him on the lack of successful stories about black leaders, and noted the more often negative media representation of the black community. “I ask the simplest question in the world,” Burley said, “and that is, what does seeing the only depictions of people who look like you, being involved in crime, do to you if you are a child? What does that show you for what you can be for your future?”


As a firm believer that exposure and imagery changes lives, Burley set out to rewrite the current narrative and authored Young Black Pittsburgh, a coffee table book featuring inspiring personal stories of success from over 140 Pittsburghers. He says the premise of the book is simply, “you can, too.”

“This project is 100% about showing our next generations that with hard work they can be anything in this world that they want to be, especially being from a city like Pittsburgh.”

The success of the book has now morphed into a movement. Awesome Pittsburgh awarded Burley a $1,000 grant, and he intends to use the funds to build out a K-12 curriculum to get YNGBLKPGH into an educational space.  The mission—build a community that exposes the next generation of young black leaders to positive images, restore hope, and build on the notion that they, too, can accomplish amazing things.

Awesome Pittsburgh Trustee Jeb Feldman agrees.

“This is powerful. By just promoting a healthy self-awareness, children will be more excited about their future if they know they can break any barriers.”

For his part, Burley says they are just getting started. “The impact of YNGBLKPGH is, in my own personal opinion, just beginning to crack the surface.  We are 100% aware that the only way that this book and movement can impact our youth in the ways that we are looking for it to, is to be in the hands of more of our young people.”

For more information on Brian Burley and YNGBLKPGH, go to