Pittsburgh Struggling Students Association


Pittsburgh Struggling Student Association(PSSA) supports students and families who are at-risk of school failure.

Pittsburgh Struggling Student Association’s goal is promoted through advocacy and educational programs directed toward parents, teachers and the general public; developed through conferences, committees, projects, and programs . The association works with the schools and community to provide quality education for all children and youth, and seeks to participate in the decision-making process establishing school policies

PSSA is a noncommercial, nonsectarian, nonpartisan nonprofit for the charitable and educational purposes within the IRS 501©(3) nonprofit code.


It all started because "they" gave my son an "A". My son was 10 years old at the time and diagnosed with Autism. After almost an entire school year spent yelling at my son, wondering how he could do the work in school and get A's but couldn't do the homework, in April of 2011; I caught on that my son's Math teacher had literally "shoved him into a corner and left him to glean whatever morsels of information he could catch. The legally binding IEP was of no concern for this teacher as "she was doing me some sort of favor" by continually rewarding my son's impeccable manners and school ethic by giving him a continued spot on the High Honor Roll and an "A" at every report card quarter.

Lisa Freeman is the Founding Director of the nonprofit -- Pittsburgh Struggling Student Association. The foundation of PSSA was a direct result of the denial of FAPE (free and appropriate public education) and lawsuit against the Pittsburgh Public School system.

Pittsburgh Struggling Student Association (PSSA) is a 501©3 nonprofit that is developing several avenues to offer mentorship, job training for young adults with mental/physical disabilities; advocacy and support to families whose children need assistance in reaching educational success. Our programs support the educational opportunities at my local neighborhood school: Pittsburgh Manchester Elementary School, but PSSA respond to requests wherever they arise.


Math Doctors Program

Competing against themselves, our students become “doctors” fixing their patients math problems as quickly as possible. This innovative and individually tailored approach has improved Manchester Elementary 3rd grade Math scores 10% in each of the last two years. The program emphasizes Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division.

Mr. Wallace is a long-time resident and pillar of the Manchester community. He is the creator and brainchild of “Math Doctors”. By the end of 2017, Mr. Wallace Sapp will have been “embedded” in Manchester Elementary School on an essentially full-time basis as a volunteer for 10 years.

Mr. Joseph Kennedy joined and partnered with Mr. Wallace at Manchester Elementary School in 2014. At the end of 2015 the Manchester Model had been developed. The model includes:

Mr. Kennedy’s expertise and countless hours and thousands of dollars of his savings combing census data, roaming graveyards and collecting photos and recipes from far-flung relatives. The search soon took on a life of its own. When he joined his mother for a road trip in 2009, he brought along his laptop and spent most of the drive using his cellphone as a wireless modem. He couldn’t bear to squander even a moment of research time. Mr. Kennedy is reknown in genealogy, research, and digital technology. Mr. Kennedy is the Founder of his own nonprofit, Riverbends and works with schools, religious and corporate groups and other organizations to develop presentations and curricula tailored to their needs.

Lift Every Voice

Recording their progress on digital video, our students required to read, interpret, memorize and recite James Weldon Johnson’s iconic lyrics, which serve as an enlightening and inspirational window into the richness of the African-American experience. Emphasizes Reading, Poetry, spoken English and African-American History.

Manchester Miracle Library

Culturally relevant Books, DVDs and other materials for our children and families. Integrates materials already in the Manchester Elementary library with over 1,000 items on long term loan from the Riverbends Library. Sponsoring Family History Night – a weekly Workshop, Dinner & Movie in support of family history research.

Culturally Relevant Curriculum Supplements

14 lessons plans in social studies and science, focused on family history and African-American history. For middle school and High School students, with activities and recommendations for families.

Substitute Teacher Academy

Training substitute teacher and equipping them will the tools they need to succeed with our children. Provides internships in urban education, applying for Manchester Model of child-centered, culturally relevant, community-driven interventions.

Our Philosophy

We are working together as African-Americans interested in improving the lives and the chances of children in our community. We are an association of stealthy educators and self-appointed “Dutch Uncles” who are determined to bring an innovative suite of educational experience and service to these students.

We like to stay focused on the three “R’s”.

Reform: We believe that it is necessary to change the educational environment to meet the actual needs of the Black children who comprise a majority of the student body.

Representation: We believe that it is important for students to see Black men and women from their communities who care enough about education to be present and involved in it daily.

Replication: We believe that the innovative approach we are employing should be replicated throughout the district, making use of the materials and strategies that we are developing along the way.

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Interested in learning more about Manchester Growing Togehter Farm? Looking to volunteer or sponsor our efforts? Fill out the form below or give us a call at 412-290-9294.

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Manchester Growing Together Farm

1436 Columbus Avenue | Pittsburgh, PA 15233