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Crazy guy from Pittsburgh seeks millionaires

Bill Strickland: "Don't give up on the poor kids."

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Crazy guy from Pittsburgh seeks millionaires

Bill Strickland talks to a crowed of about 150 at the Artist-Lecture Series Oct. 3, 2018 in Akin Auditorium.

Bill Strickland talks to a crowed of about 150 at the Artist-Lecture Series Oct. 3, 2018 in Akin Auditorium.

Bill Strickland talks to a crowed of about 150 at the Artist-Lecture Series Oct. 3, 2018 in Akin Auditorium.

Bill Strickland talks to a crowed of about 150 at the Artist-Lecture Series Oct. 3, 2018 in Akin Auditorium.

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As the second speaker in the Artist-Lecture Series this year, Bill Strickland flew in from Pittsburgh to educate the Wichita Falls Community how his Bidwell Training Center model can uplift disadvantaged kids of every community Oct. 3 in Akin Auditorium.

“The kids I work with are poor kids, and you know when you’re poor you don’t have much hope, Strickland said. “When you don’t have hope you can’t see ahead in terms of how life could be lived.”

Strickland said using art helps stimulate kids imaginations. Introducing those kids to those experiences changes their behavior.

“That’s the secret to building a world-class environment. Put[ting] these children in those environments let them know there’s nothing wrong with them,” Strickland said.

Further he said, “People have to lead by example. You can’t just talk the stuff, you gotta live it. I’m not building a program, I’m building a movement.” 

According to Strickland it was the art teacher at his high school that got him excited about clay which he said saved his life. His art teacher told him he was too smart to die, and that he would be going to college instead of the penitentiary. So the art teacher hounded him until he filled out a college application. 

Strickland said he failed his SAT which gave probationary acceptance to the university and flunked his first term, but the second term he was on the Dean’s List. Eventually, Strickland said he graduated with honors from the University of Pittsburgh where, years later, they gave him an honorary doctorate. 

He gave a commencement ceremony speech at the University of Pittsburgh in front of 13,000 people.

Strickland said he told the crowd, “Don’t give up on the poor kids. They might end up being the commencement speaker.”

Strickland now has 11 centers across the country and in Israel.  

His goal is to build 5,000 centers all over the world and he’d love one in Wichita Falls. So he’s seeking a few millionaires to make that happen. 

“Start thinking about how we can still the center in Wichita Falls. Our country is in trouble [and] we’re losing too many of the kids,” Strickland said.

Strickland said the only way to make change is to get everyone engaged in the conversation. 


  • Rebekah Proffit, radiology sophomore | “If you see an issue, and think that there’s no way you could help or make an impact, you’re wrong. My biggest take away was how truly inspiring the speaker was. It was so cool to hear a personal story of how someone rose above poverty, but also didn’t forget where he came from. He chose to help out the poor in the best way possible, giving them a beautiful facility to get an education.”
  • Kayleigh Stone, political science sophomore | “Never give up on anyone. We all have talents that are worth something. Everyone should be looked at as the same; doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor. My biggest take away was that anything is possible and to not give up on your dream.”
  • Carolina Beltran, nursing freshman | “The message was to inspire us to take action and help build better schools for the underprivileged didn’t.”
  • Haley Page, nursing freshman | “We should have started yesterday. It’s all about us and those that come after us.”
  • Grace Weaver, education freshman | “To make the world a better place, we have to do it ourselves. Don’t forget where you came from.”
  • Dakota Wilson,  computer science freshman | “No matter what we can’t forget the less fortunate they deserve just as much attention as the top 1 percent. We’ve been doing education wrong and this is a simple way to fix it.”


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Crazy guy from Pittsburgh seeks millionaires