About us


The Franklin Center of Beaver County facilitates access to life-changing opportunities for the low-income, the underserved, and those in need. 

our vision

A world where opportunity is accessible by all.


Ours is an unusual beginning. The establishment of the Franklin Center of Beaver County was spurred by a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work by the late Professor James V. Cunningham and seven graduate students. The study explored the impact of the continuing decline of the steel industry on typical steel towns. The city of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, where our organization would be ultimately located, was primarily a one-industry town that was included in the study. 

Although the study’s results indicated that the industrial collapse was having devastating economic and social impacts on the Aliquippa community it also stirred hope among the city’s leaders for a way out of its predicament. ''Aliquippa,'' the study said, ''has more than 50 organizations and institutions with sufficient interest and resources to help improve the community. There does seem to be the talent and energy among the leaders of the organizations and institutions for such an effort.'' 

As a follow-up to recommendations in the study, a coalition - named the Aliquippa Alliance for Unity and Development by its members - was formed to assess the strengths of the community and possible sources of aid. Recommendations also included development of plans to address public safety and social issues including security against crime and fair representation for African Americans in local government. The coalition was co-organized by one of the graduate students who had aided in the study: 32-year-old Cathy Cairns, who became our organization’s first executive director. Mr. Lorenzo Williams, the coalition’s chair and a leader in the Aliquippa community, oversaw the organizing of the various committees that were charged with pursuing grants, seeking new business ventures, etc. In November 1984, the coalition incorporated itself as a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization and began to collaborate on and spearhead economic initiatives as well as provide human services to the Aliquippa community and the immediate surrounding municipalities.  

In the years that followed, our organization has seen changes such as expansion of services and of our geographical footprint. A name change in 2009 from the Aliquippa Alliance for Unity and Development to the Franklin Center of Beaver County reflected those changes as individuals and families living in communities beyond the original service area demonstrated a need for our services. A long-standing anchor institution in Aliquippa and Beaver County, the Franklin Center also has had a regional presence in the counties of Lawrence, Mercer, and Butler, Pennsylvania. In 2017, the Franklin Center provided direct services to over 5,211 individuals and their families, and fielded 9,600 information and referral inquiries.

In the spirit of the original charge to our organization to create and access opportunities for people greatly impacted by adverse circumstances, we respond to the needs of individuals, families, and communities via relevant programming, information and referral services, community initiatives, and special events; and we continually adapt our services to meet the immediate and long-term needs of the people we serve