Small Seeds Development's mission is to support, strengthen, and sustain families in order to build strong and safe communities.
A Brief History
Small Seeds Development, Inc. (SSDI) has provided social services and educational support in the Pittsburgh metro area since 1999. We started with the Mother to Son Program and have quadrupled our programming and operating budget since. The organization’s goal is to provide economic prosperity, promote social well-being, and strengthen the family unit. The families we serve reside in over 46 neighborhoods and are enrolled in 24 schools and 14 school districts within the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties. Each year, SSDI provides intensive and critical services to families and youth. We provide direct services to over 1,500 families, 2,300 children, 500 teens, and 350 young adults annually in order to combat violence, sustain and support families, and provide opportunities to families and youth so they thrive.
When Dr. James H. McLemore, founder of SSDI, came to Pittsburgh in 1996 to pastor the Hill District’s historic Mother Bethel AME Church, he brought with him a contagious energy and a plan for stabilizing and strengthening particularly African American families headed by single women in the greater Pittsburgh area.
Spurred by a staggering statistic that placed Pittsburgh second in the nation for single-parent households headed by women, Dr. McLemore set out to provide services and a program to address the unique needs of a population that then constituted nearly 75% percent of families in the greater Pittsburgh area. Despite the enormity of the problem, few were taking notice of the plight of these households, most of them African American. Adapting the program model for Mother to Son, which he had operated in Ohio, Dr. McLemore worked closely with members of Bethel AME Church and more than 40 organizations that provided community based services. With $65,000 in seed money from the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Dr. McLemore and a cadre of committed volunteers first opened for business in a 9’ x 12’ room in Bethel’s basement. Small Seeds Board Secretary and Bethel Church Trustee Katie Johnson, fondly remembers the many eight-hour volunteer days she worked to help build Mother to Son before paid staff members were brought on board.
The immense need for services eventually took Small Seeds beyond Bethel AME Church to other churches, housing projects, and community centers. Funding levels increased, and those leading Small Seeds successfully convinced dozens of community leaders and organizations that single mothers and their sons deserved their attention and intervention. By 2008, the demand for Small Seeds’ programs and services reached new heights, and its infrastructure grew to include a diverse and professional staff. That year, Andrew Cheeseboro became the organization’s first Executive Director, overseeing the launch of two new engagements Family Group Decision Making and Inua Ubuntu in 2009. Mr. Cheeseboro also oversaw the opening of the nonprofit’s new headquarters: Small Seeds moved in 2008 from a 3,100-square-foot facility in the Hill District to a space more than double that size on bustling Highland Avenue in East Liberty. In 2014 the organization moved again to a much larger building in the same East Liberty community to expand its work. Thanks to our stakeholders, partners, staff and volunteers for helping us to improve the quality of life for so many families in the Pittsburgh area.
Andrew Cheeseboro, CEO
Andrew is responsible for carrying out the strategic plans, services and policies as established by the organization and oversite of senior management. Small Seeds operates the Mother to Son, Teen Discovery, Graduate Great, Barbershop Boys, BEAM Summer Success Camp, Fathers and Sons Teaming Together, Girls Shine and Specialized Family Therapy engagements. The organization provides direct services to over 2,500 families, 4,050 children and 1,500 youth and 300 individuals annually in Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties. Single Mother Support Services, Financial Literacy Education, Teen Leadership Development, Family Counseling, Young Male Coaching, Health Education, Parenting Education, Child Safety Intervention, Self-Care Services, Violence Prevention Education, and School Intervention Services.
He has written 3 published articles on youth education and male development with over 25 years of leadership experience in human services, education and management. Andrew is a former Director at Resources for Human Development, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, Renewal Inc. and the Pennsylvania State University. A sought after speaker and he conducts training on the local and national level. He has experience working with Quality Process Improvement, Performance Evaluation, Risk Analysis, Policy Development, Change Management, Strategic Planning, Grant Writing, Project Management, Conflict Resolution, Executive Coaching, Assessment, Succession Planning and Program Development.
Andrew serves the following organizations; National Advisory Committee at the Poise Foundation, African American Strategic Partners (a Founding Director of the Board), UPMC Center for Engagement and Inclusion, The Strong Family Commission, Building United SWPA, Pittsburgh Public Schools Community Partners, U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, Allegheny County Department of Human Services Block Grant Advisory Committee and he is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
He earned dual bachelor degrees in Education and Business Administration and a Master of Public Administration all from the Pennsylvania State University. He is a native of Philadelphia, PA and enjoys spending time with family, watching wildlife and reading. In 2015 he was featured in the Pittsburgh Game Changers Project, and in 2017 he received an award from Parson Education, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois for his work with empowering African American males and he appeared in the “Up Rise” DVD Project.
A Message from the CEO
Since 1999 Small Seeds Development, Inc. has worked to empower families and to build a safer community. Our engagements and services are designed to teach participants about responsibilities, smart goals and self-care. The People we serve are important, the work Culture at Small Seeds is paramount, the Work we do is essential and our Impact is measurable. We are focused on equipping ourselves to better address the many challenges of empowering children, teens, single parents and two parent households. Our goal is to build capacity through improved data collection and assessment, increase the use of technology, improve outcomes and build the skills of staff and enhance our financial position.
Small Seeds programs and services meet the unique needs and desires of the communities we work with. The goal for us is to listen to the voices from the community and respond in a meaningful way. We provide professional services and empowerment activities via multiple engagements. The organization is dedicated to the philosophy of self-determination and positive outcomes. Our work could not be accomplished without the support of stakeholders, Board of Directors, strategic partners and of course volunteers. I hope you will learn more about us and find out how you can make a difference.
Andrew Cheeseboro, MPA
Chief Executive Officer