Our Why

The overwhelming majority of students we encounter are experiencing chronic stressors associated with the ill effects of intergenerational and historical trauma. Thousands of people of color in urban communities experience violence, systemic racism, and economic disadvantage. Overwhelmingly, young people ages 10-24 years old in communities that have experienced disinvestment do not have quality spaces or programs with which to engage. Disengagement from civic society and institutions can include antipathy to police and government, disregard for school, antisocial behavior, violence, and escapism. Young people do not always have the skills to identify the change they seek, or the skills to pursue that change. Because they are disproportionately involved in and impacted by the problems that beset their communities — they must become part of the solution. Additionally, impacting their parents, neighbors, coaches, and other community members around them exponentially increases the likelihood of their long-term success.

The prosperity that is evident in new commercial, residential, and civic development around the city of Pittsburgh is not connecting to literally scores of vulnerable communities. Companies are now, more than ever, making diversity a priority because they understand how having a diverse well-prepared workforce positively affects their bottom line. Companies have also begun to wake up to societal pressure to practice and advance racial equity both inside their companies and in their interactions with customers and the community. 5A Elite Youth Empowerment is an emerging social service agency entering our seventh year of official status and is poised to align with these critical needs and improve youth leadership and civic engagement.


Our Mission

5A is committed to strengthening families by reversing the impact of trauma and promoting holistic wellness and economic opportunities for young people in urban communities. Our educational programs equip students and student ecosystems with trauma-informed social change education and 21st Century leadership skills which serve as the foundation for success in empowering youth to drive sustainable change in their communities, their city, and society.

Our Vision

​Our urban communities are able to engage, equip, and empower youth to be the catalysts for change in themselves, their families, and in their communities - ultimately filling the world with diverse, educated, responsible 21st century global leaders who create the world in which they want to live, solving problems of violence, poverty, environmental disaster, and injustice.

Core Values


Effective leaders hold themselves and others to a reasonable standard of excellence and build trust through consistency and transparency.


Effective leaders understand the importance of living a balanced life, concerned with the holistic development of a person, an organization, and a community.


Effective leaders are effective collaborators, seek input from knowledgeable others, seek to learn valuable lessons even from unlikely teachers, and don’t assume they know everything there is to know.


Effective leaders regularly seek feedback and new information from trusted sources; they embrace data- driven improvement, creative innovation, periodic iteration, and aren’t afraid to fail with purpose.


Effective leaders understand the difference between equality and equity; they seek to embrace generational inclusion and to lift people up by empowering them in self- determined ways.

Our Approach

Our assumption is if we engage students of all races and socio-economic backgrounds promoting active racial reconciliation and collaboration using human-centered design, young people will be more likely to create community initiatives and enterprises founded in social justice and will be better prepared to become global leaders, who create the world in which they want to live.

5A’s curriculum is designed to be transformational in that it cultivates motivated young people to take ownership of the issues that face their communities and helps them develop the skills to affect change. We have received full organizational certification through Trauma-Informed Excellence (TIE). Our students apply social-emotional concepts, become conscious of their choices, and take responsibility for their actions – all skills that are desirable in work and in community leadership. We facilitate programs and initiatives in partnership with students in grades 6-12 and we indirectly impact students in grades 3-5 via peer teaching facilitated by high school students. This means young people and often, their whole families, gain the ability to process and channel their experiences into productive positive change while learning skills to succeed as leaders in our communities and in business. Our programs enable them to grow and prosper both economically and personally.

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5A One Pager

Our Team

Nathaniel M. Brown

President and CEO

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Jessica N. Brown

Executive Vice President

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