Since he died in May at age 44, Justin Ehrenwerth’s memory definitely has not faded.
The Mt. Lebanon native, who ascended from law school to the Obama administration to nationwide efforts to tackle coastal resilience, has continued to shine brightly in the hearts of those who remember him.
“I sometimes come home and find I have three different people calling, wanting to talk with me about Justin,” his father, David Ehrenwerth, said. “That’s going to be something that goes on for a long time.”
Now, Pittsburgh’s Jewish Healthcare Foundation is working to ensure Ehrenwerth’s work legacy lives on as well.
In September, the downtown-based grantmaking foundation announced more than $1 million in grants, including funds to establish the Justin Reid Ehrenwerth Award and support a second phase of growing the 10.27 Healing Partnership.
To preserve Ehrenwerth’s life’s work, JHF approved a one-time grant of $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League’s Cleveland chapter. Ehrenwerth served as an active ADL board member while living and working in Louisiana.
JHF also greenlighted $200,000 to establish a JHF fund that will provide an annual award supporting organizations in Pittsburgh, Louisiana and Washington, D.C., which perpetuate the values, ideals and aspirations that Ehrenwerth exemplified in his lifetime, officials there said.
Ehrenwerth graduated from Shady Side Academy, Colby College in Maine and attended Brasenose College at Oxford University, where he received a master’s degree in philosophy, politics and economy.
He attended law school at the University of Pennsylvania, where he developed a passion for civil rights and public interest, leading to his involvement in politics. Ehrenwerth later served as legal counsel to President Obama and headed the coastal resiliency group The Water Institute.
“The Justin Reid Ehrenwerth Award is a deserving way to honor the countless lives Justin impacted, and we’re proud to help carry on his legacy through recognizing organizations that embody his values and priorities around anti-hate, the environment, good government and mental health supports,” said Karen Wolk Feinstein, JHF’s president and CEO.
A selection committee consisting of members of the Ehrenwerth family and their designees, among others, annually will select an organization to recognize with an award amount determined by the committee, officials said.
“What we’re trying to do here is to try to find organizations that can continue his work,” David Ehrenwerth, a former JHF board member, said. “It is, in a way, having his goals and work continued, through the generosity of the foundation.”
JHF in September also approved funding up to $275,000 over four years to implement the second phase of funding the 10.27 Healing Partnership, located at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill. The funding will help to expand the organization’s programming and services beyond those affected by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the Pittsburgh Jewish community, providing alternative healing therapies and community presentations, and coordinating efforts to build impact among school-age populations impacted by ongoing trauma, officials said.
The second phase also will pay for work with AgeWell at the JCC’s Virtual Senior Academy to better understand the trauma experienced by seniors within and beyond Squirrel Hill.
“Our September grants address a number of important areas, but of note is the grant to the 10.27 Healing Partnership to spread their work across all segments of a community, to help us stand together against hate and targeted gun violence, and learn more about trauma resolution,” Feinstein said.
“The 10.27 Healing Partnership serves an important healing role and also as a deterrent to future acts of hate,” she added.
Jason Kunzman, president and CEO of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, said his organization is grateful to JHF for the support.
“We know that many people have been impacted by the Oct. 27, 2018, attack, both directly and indirectly,” Kunzman said. “This grant will help us maintain our current services, as well as expand our outreach and programming in the broader community.”
In other news, JHF approved funding up to $100,000 — or $50,000 for each grantee — to establish a hub to combine Pitt Public Health’s expertise in data science with Carnegie Mellon University’s world-renowned expertise in AI, machine learning and computer science, officials said.
The grant will be used for a one-day workshop of University of Pittsburgh and CMU faculty to explore the components of a Pitt/CMU collaboration, for public health collaboration pilot awards, and for publication costs and personnel expenses. PJC
Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.