Malik Bankston has dedicated his career to working on behalf of African American people living in neglected neighborhoods whose lives clearly reflect the impact of a wide range of disparities.
At the Kingsley Association, Mr. Bankston has worked to both promote and inspire the involvement of neighborhood residents in reimagining the future of their neighborhood while honoring the legacy of its past. Central to his work is a commitment to empowering residents to be the driving force for change.
This began with a recommitment of resources, services, and energy to the neighborhood of Larimer, which comprises two of the poorest census tracts in Pittsburgh. Here, Mr. Bankston and the Kingsley Association worked with neighborhood residents to develop a shared understanding of a sustainable community and how they can build it together.
Mr. Bankston and the Kingsley Association continue to empower the Larimer community through helping neighborhood stakeholders develop ongoing plans, investing in demonstrations, and educating the public about the benefits of green technologies.
While many regard the $30 million Choice Neighborhood Initiative grant to be the most significant accomplishments of their collective work, Mr. Bankston believes it is part of their larger success as a neighborhood: Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro has stated that the most significant achievement is having neighborhood residents who display an understanding of the impact of sustainable practices on their everyday lives and are able to facilitate their integration into the work being carried out in the neighborhood. This community understanding is helping a more balanced housing development program unfold, while families are being strengthened to take full advantage of the upswing in equitable investments.
Mr. Bankston chooses to stay in Pittsburgh because “it is home.” He adds that while it is compared unfavorably to other cities for African American leadership opportunities, Mr. Bankston believes that “the ingredients for overall success are available.”
As for the green future of Pittsburgh overall, Mr. Bankston believes that “continued growth of sustainability and green innovation practices will link directly to the degree to which practitioners and advocates work intentionally to both educate and cede some measure of control of the strategies that are adapted to the most vulnerable populations they impact.” He is working to build community resiliency by providing vital services and education.
On behalf of The Kingsley Association, Mr. Bankston remains committed to helping the residents and stakeholders in the Larimer community achieve the goal of making Larimer “… the greenest community in the City of Pittsburgh.” He looks forward to “helping promote the development of the next generation of leadership that will engage neighborhoods like Larimer to play a role in this fast-growing field of work.”