Chatham News

PGH Party for a Purpose’s March 23 “Speak Easy” event will benefit Chatham University’s Words Without Walls program

By: Amanda Leff Ritchie, Senior Public Relations Specialist
March 7, 2012

PITTSBURGH (March 7, 2012)… Chatham University’s Words Without Walls program has been selected as the beneficiary for the March 23 PGH Party for a Purpose. “Speak Easy,” the theme of the event, celebrates the prohibition era with music, dancing, and a poetry slam. The party kicks off at 9 p.m. at the Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave. Suggested donation is $10.

Featured talent will include: DJ Thermos, DJ Soulstrings, SolSis, Tim Seibles, Toi Derricotte, Heather McNaugher, and Sheryl St. Germain, director of Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. Original artwork by inmates at the Allegheny County Jail will be on display. For more information, visit

PGH Party for a Purpose (PPP) hosts fun, creative, and affordable parties for diverse young-minded individuals, while raising funds and generating support for non-profit organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Three young professionals looking to host a party while also giving back to Pittsburgh’s non-profit community started PPP in December 2006. Since then, they have hosted quarterly parties while donating 100 percent of the proceeds to local non-profits. More than $28,000 has been raised to date, benefitting more than 13 organizations that serve Southwestern Pennsylvania. Recent beneficiaries have included Venture Outdoors, Girls on the Run, and Growth Through Energy & Community Health (GTECH).

About Words Without Walls
Words Without Walls is a creative collaboration between Chatham University’s MFA in Creative Writing program and the Allegheny County Jail. It fosters and supports creative expression and personal growth by exposing men and women at the jail to literature, award-winning visiting authors, and the opportunity to publish their work. Words Without Walls grew from a residency program started by artist Sandra Gould Ford. Because of the program’s reach, Chatham University committed to continuing the program’s creative writing classes at Allegheny County Jail in June 2010. Because of its innovative approach to learning and teaching, Words Without Walls has received support from the A. W. Mellon Education and Charitable Trust Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation and the Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh Fund, a partnership of The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation.

About Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing program
Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing allows students to focus on tracks in creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and writing for children, while encouraging them to explore two tracks simultaneously. Students take innovative field seminars that include travel to such places as Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, and Germany. In 2007 Poets & Writers named the MFA one of “Nine Distinctive Programs” and The Atlantic Monthly named it one of five innovative/unique programs in the country in its “Best of the Best” graduate program listings. In January 2012, The Writer named it one of the “4 top schools you should consider” and in 2009, named it one of ten programs that offer a specialty focus. Chatham University also offers an undergraduate BFA in Creative Writing, an online Master of Professional Writing, and a low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. For more information, visit or contact Sheryl St. Germain at

About Chatham University
Chatham University prepares students from around the world to help develop solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. Consistently ranked among the top master’s level institutions in the Northeast by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review, Chatham University is also ranked in the top five percent of graduate-intensive institutions nationally and experienced the fastest-growing enrollment in the Pittsburgh region over the past decade. Founded in 1869, Chatham University includes the Shadyside Campus, with the historic 39-acre Woodland Road arboretum and Chatham Eastside facility; and the 388-acre Eden Hall Campus north of Pittsburgh. For more information, call 800-837-1290 or visit

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