Community Empowerment Association (CEA) was founded in 1993 in order to establish an organized, structural approach to address the specific needs of at-risk youth and families in distressed, marginalized communities. CEA's 25 year success emanated through its grassroots origins ervingresidents of nine predominantly low income
undeserved communities inAllegheny County andthe City of Pittsburgh: Larimer, Lincoln-Lemington, Homewood, Wilkinsburg, Garfield, East Hills,McKeesport, Rankin, and Braddock.
CEA's mission is to restore, reclaim and transform distressed communities through strategic planning, collaboration, advocacy, education, and training. Additionally, by consistently generating jobs and economic sustainability, CEA serves as an
institutional foundation for the strengthening of Black communities.
CEA developed its own Afrocentric Paradigm. This model centers around African American culture and experience as a moral compass, viewing our people as subjects in our stories rather than as victims who operate on the fringes of society. In this way, we strengthen and nurture the self-esteem and ethnic identity of Black youth while simultaneously
improving their abilities to reason, be attentive, and build high aspirations and resilience.
With CEA’s base operations and networks in predominantly resource-poor African American
communities, CEA's ability to reach, serve, and uplift socially disadvantaged African Americans is
strengthened by its sensitivity to historical risk factors.
CEA's successful intervention outcomes have been well documented by contemporary academic refereed journal publishers in following national and internationally ranked articles:
Byrdsong, T. R., et. al. (2013). Afrocentric
Intervention Paradigm: An Overview of Successful Application by a Grassroots Organization. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment. Volume 23 (7) 931-937.
Byrdsong, T. R., et. al., (2015) A Ground-Up Model for Gun Violence Reduction: A Community-
Based Public Health Approach. Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work. Volume 13 (1) 78-86.
Byrdsong, T.R., et. al. (2017). Historical Overview of Black Suffering in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA: Depth of Contemporary Social Work Challenges. International Journal of Social Work. 4(2), 15-25.
T. Rashad Byrdsong, Founder, President and CEO: “The force that continues to motivate me is the
tragic condition of black youth, (especially black males) and the violence that continues to saturate our communities. I have journeyed into the deepest, darkest corners where the most at-risk youth reside to offer leadership, manhood development and mentoring services as well as negotiate peace treaties amongst rival gangs exist. As a 24 year member of the National Urban Peace and Justice Council, I have traveled throughout the United
States, bringing members of gangs and other street organizations together in efforts to offer mediation and conflict resolution services. I have been welcomed in these circles because they genuinely feel that I have an understanding of the conditions
that they face. I have worked with countless youth and parents who have lost family members to
violence. These experiences fuel my passionate desire to fight for change – to restore hope in the
system and in the lives of the people affected.”
As a community-based, grassroots organization committed to the restoration, reclamation and transformation of distressed Black communities, CEA will continue to be at the forefront of developing strategies in collaboration with diverse organizations and individuals; CEA will never stop educating youth and their families, mobilizing them to reignite their resiliency; and CEA will always remain dedicated to equipping the community with the necessary tools to move towards self-determination, self-sufficiency, and sustainability.