the Healthy Village Learning Institute

What we Do!

We provide valuable culturally aligned learning processes designed to educate, inspire, and engage people to become change agents within their community(s).    We use technology, art, history,  science, and  research modules to address "solving" issues.

Upcoming Events

We will be providing upcoming events soon.  Our Open House dates are being finalized along with some possible public service volunteer dates.


“Going into this endeavor, not fully prepared, allowed me to keep an open mind and embrace the raw emotions that enveloped me. Learned concepts through typical education were utterly shattered by the visuals of slavery and lynching leaving me speechless, ashamed of our past, and determined to align myself further towards social justice.” 

Bobby Ryan, LPC NCC

Our Community-School Based Behavioral Health Team at Edgewood Primary found our tour experience at the Health Village Learning Institute to be emotionally impactful, awestrucking and culturally enlightening.  Our team found the following to be the most moving: 

"I enjoyed the start of the tour. Witnessing the chains used to enslave my ancestors was a powerful moment for me. I felt a sense of renewed strength in understand how they spiritually and emotional prevailed through an indescribably horrific experience." - Brittney Singletary, LSW

Because of the name, “Healthy Learning Village Institute”, I was unsure of what to expect when I arrived for the tour. Shortly upon arriving, Keith made the name, “Healthy Learning Village Institute” make a lot more sense to me. Keith greeted us warmly and spoke passionately about the importance of the health of a village as a whole and how necessary that is to raise healthy individuals. He then tied that back to the African cultural emphasis of healthy villages. Keith was very knowledgeable and used the artifacts in the first level of the HLVI to tell a story. The story Keith told was of the evils and brutality that African American people faced when they were sold as slaves and arrived in this country to be treated as less than human. This is a story that I believe most Americans know well, but Keith brought a new reality to the story through the interaction with artifacts, photographs, and artwork he had collected. 

 As I followed the tour from floor to floor, I felt that I was watching Keith’s dreams for his “village” unfold before my eyes. He had rooms filled with Macs and iPads, art supplies, drums, and places for women to gather together and men to gather together. The Healthy Learning Village Institute has truly been thought out to be a place that promotes healthy living – mind, body, and soul – and a place for the community to gather together. Truly, the most moving part of my whole experience at the HLVI was Keith himself. Keith is one inspiring individual, who has put his dreams for lifting others up into motion, and in a unique and meaningful way. But if you had to ask me of one THING that moved me the most, I would absolutely say the slave chains. To hold something that someone actually wore as shackles was one of the most powerful things I have ever experienced. I still can’t believe the weight. I definitely walked out feeling far more connected to the history than I did before I walked in. 

 The only thing I can think of as an addition to the Healthy Learning Village Institute, which could be in place already without me knowing, would be community meals. Maybe cooking classes or potlucks? In my experience, nothing brings people together like food!  Kaitlyn Scott, BHW Twin Rivers 

The experience was truly moving. I especially enjoyed the comprehensive scope of the HVLI – making unique resources accessible to those entering the doors! I enjoyed learning about the deep historical and cultural influences within the HVLI; whether it’s subtle or obvious – a connection within the various rooms/exhibits/classrooms was always present and meaningful. I may be speaking for a small population, but I think responding to narrow and specific feedback questions is easier for the respondent and it typically increases the rate of response. I hate to say people – including myself – are guilty of being lazy. Just thoughts for consideration.  

Matilda Theiss Early Childhood Behavioral Health

Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC

WPIC Early Childhood Trauma Treatment Center

Twin Rivers Primary and Intermediate School

Upon entering the Healthy Learning Village, I was in awe at the afro centric ambiance. The artifacts and all the literature that filled the first floor brought me a sense of peace and belonging. I was surprised to see all the detail and thoughtfulness Keith put into the design and choosing of every piece that he decided to use. As we ascended to each floor, again I admired Keith’s thought to detail. The knowledge and wisdom that Keith possessed illuminated in the HVLI mission and purpose. There were several activities offered in the HVLI, STEAM activities such as, math, coding, and art with an emphasis on African culture. I felt proud knowing that there was a place in the McKeesport community where I or others could go to learn about the proper history of our people. I loved how he incorporated McKeesport and surrounding communities to include the Mon Valley with specific color rooms. As we ascended further my favorite room on the top floor which was painted gold and had a gorgeous view of the Mon Valley brought on a feeling of completeness and empowerment of the vision of the HLVI. I am hopeful that HLVI will expand into many surroundings communities and be that place of hope, education and refuge for many community residents.

Tierra Thorne B.A 

Behavioral Health Worker

Community and School-Based Behavioral Health Team at Twin Rivers Primary and Intermediate School

Matilda Theiss Early Childhood Behavioral Health

Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC

WPIC Early Childhood Trauma Treatment Center

Twin Rivers Primary and Intermediate School

The thing about Healthy Village Learning Institute that amazes me is not just the fact that it targets to support and guide the youth of McKeesport, but how the organization creates that possibility. HVLI targets the areas of individual, family, school, peer, community, and technology all while including the significance of African culture, providing a well-rounded experience. I was amazed to see the different rooms, each one offering unique and educational experiences - from literature to coding to music. I especially enjoyed the beautiful artwork and the historical meaning behind each piece! Keith, a McKeesport native, offers a connecting link between HVLI and the community because he knows the neighborhood, he is able to relate with the kids on a deeper level, and he is an advocate for self-success. Most importantly, Keith has a vision and he is able to link students with their African Culture, the global world, and themselves. It takes a village!

Molly Michael

Bro Keith,

Thank you so very much for inviting me to the Healthy Village Learning Institute. “I finally Made it!”. LOL I could not have visited the HVLI on a better day. What a rare opportunity and especially when the pioneer found himself within your collage. Wow, wow, wow is what I have been saying to myself.

As you continue with the shaping and molding of each room and hallway. I am certain all who visit will find pride in claiming the HVLI as Sacred space and will link up with intent of rising up and living up to the expectations of those whose shoulders we stand upon. I say , “Go forth Joshua!”

I am impressed with the personalities each room possess and the intent of their individual theme supporting the overall context.

Will a plaque adorn each entry? Will the principles of each room be visible or scribed?

I would say protect the books from the sun; add shades on the lower half of the windows or a deflective cover over the book shelves while not in use! Or maybe even wood mini blinds which can pull up for use or drop down when not in use. The vast depth of literature needs to be preserved from the strength of the sun.

 Again Thank You for Being!!

Teri L Gilmore Life Coach
Pedology As
Child Development & Family Relations BS
Applied Developmental Psychology MS'18

Had the pleasure of experiencing this gem of a space. The outside does not prepare you for the weight of what lies inside. The artwork and history featured throughout the building was beautiful and impactful. The students were engaged and moved by the weight of the chains that had shackled African ancestors. It may the bondage and hardship they endured real. 

The students  were impressed by the history, library, art room and the women's meeting space. Access to current technology was visible throughout the building.  The students seemed to enjoy and be engaged throughout the tour. We were all very impressed by the treasures, knowledge and potential the Institute presents. I highly recommend it to anyone who want to learn  and get a tangible sense of African history in America.  

Tracy Thorpe Scott
TTS Coaching & Development, LLC

Get involved

There are great opportunities available for everyone and we encourage you to engage in the work of being an agent for change.  We are not a sit on the couch or chair type fo agency.  One of our new priorities in support of the Western Pa. United Methodist Conference is  dismantling racism.  We as a people must find ways to deal with tough societal issues without feeling personally attached.  Our approach is simple.  Let's have honest conversation and begin tearing down that which separates us.

We want to grow and expand our current location

We are currently engaged in working toward having a new state-of-the-art facility connecting to our existing one.  Be on the look out for the new design that will be posting soon.  McKeesport and the surrounding area will soon become part of the larger conversation as to how a "Healthy Village" can become a reality.

Please ask or suggest how we can make do better

As we always say if you have questions, we must work toward providing answers.