Bill Strickland was born in 1947 and grew up in Manchester, an inner-city neighborhood of Pittsburgh. His life changed when he became inspired by high school art teacher Frank Ross, a skilled artisan on the potter's wheel. The relationship that Ross and Strickland initiated with a revolving mound of clay gave form to the future vision of Manchester Craftsmen's Guild. The Guild began as an after-school arts program in a donated North Side rowhouse that Strickland secured while still a college student at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1969, he graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in American history and foreign relations. The decline of the steel industry created widespread unemployment, and Bidwell Training Center addressed the problem by offering vocational training to displaced and underemployed workers. Due to Strickland's successful track record with MCG, he was asked in 1971 to assume leadership of BTC and guide its transition to providing skills relevant to Pittsburgh's emerging market economy. Today, Manchester Bidwell Corporation has evolved into a national model for education, culture and hope. MCG Youth & Arts and MCG Jazz are both programs of Manchester Craftsmen's Guild: MCG Youth serves approximately 3,900 youth each year through classes and workshops in ceramics, photography, digital imaging and design art.