Martell Covington

Martell Covington (Photo: Jonathan Brown)

Martell Covington (Photo: Jonathan Brown)

Martell Covington knows all too well the importance of family. In fact, his own family is his proof. When Covington, born and raised in Homewood, was still a kid, his family founded the Community Empowerment Association (CEA). Since 1994, CEA has served more than 25,000 residents of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, many of them at risk to falling victim to gang violence, lack of mentorship, or both.

Growing up, Covington took part in other Homewood initiatives. He spent time in afterschool and summer camp programs at the Homewood-Brushton YMCA. He was also a part of neighborhood baseball and football teams. He even learned to play drums through the Afro-American Music Institute on Hamilton Avenue. Throughout it all, however, CEA was his home. Covington and his relatives learned the ins and outs of community planning through watching their family create events, host town halls, and provide mentorship that helped curb violence in Homewood.

Covington attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. While in college, he still managed to act as the Special Event Coordinator for CEA, planning events such as annual The Pittsburgh Black Family Reunion. When he returned to Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Hospitality Management, he dove headfirst into nonprofit work. He serves as the Youth Program Coordinator and Assistant to Director of Youth and Family Services of CEA, working not only in an official capacity, but also as a mentor. There he focuses on the African-American Leadership Institute, a CEA development program for young men. Additionally, he joined the Board of Directors for the Cameroon Football Development Program, an organization that created youth soccer leagues for youth development in Cameroon and in immigrant communities in the United States.

Covington has fashioned his life as a model for young people in Homewood. Though his family served as a steady support system for his many endeavors, he now hopes to be available as a reliable resource for others. As a long-time resident of the neighborhood, he is a living testament of the impact community programs have on the self-esteem and self-motivation of young people. He continues to cultivate his professional and creative skills, and works to develop the talents of his fellow Homewood residents — his extended family.