Making our region work for all
The Pittsburgh region is changing, experiencing a time of great growth and possibility – many are calling it a vision for the “New Pittsburgh.” But economic growth, however, hasn’t reached everyone. In many communities across the region, there is evidence of persistent barriers, including racial disproportionality, relating to the incidence and impact of poverty. Our research reveals that these barriers affect about 30 percent of the regional population. Alarmingly, 18 percent of children under age 18 in our region live in poverty. Wages have stagnated as the costs of housing, education and child care continue to rise, making it harder and harder for families to get by. The effects of poverty include poor-quality schools, inadequate transportation to jobs and job-training opportunities. And, there is disproportionate representation of people living in poverty, and specifically people of color, in the criminal justice system.
We at The Pittsburgh Foundation want to be part of sustaining the New Pittsburgh by building bridges that connect all of our families, friends and neighbors to the region’s new opportunities.
Changing the way we operate: Locally funded and locally focused, the Foundation and its donors have spent nearly 75 years working to improve quality of life in the region. But we recognize that our efforts haven’t always succeeded in addressing the root causes of the challenges that Pittsburghers face. To do that, we have to take aim at the cycle of generational poverty and lack of opportunity systemic forces that that limit access to economic opportunity and create inequities in people’s ability to meet their basic needs. We can’t do it alone. To get better results, we have to operate in fundamentally different ways.
100 Percent Pittsburgh guides our work: Since 2014, we have relied upon an organizing principle—we call it “100 Percent Pittsburgh,” comprised of a set of values, principles and activities that are foundational to our grantmaking and that have become the core of our convening, research, public policy and advocacy efforts, all of which are operationalized through a racial equity lens. We focus on working with nonprofit organizations seeking to meet the basic needs of individuals and families who find themselves facing what may seem like insurmountable economic and social challenges. We invest in large anchor institutions as well as smaller, grassroots organizations working in the fields of education, human services, the arts, economic and community development, and public policy and advocacy.
Engaging those most affected in developing solutions: Because we believe those with lived experience are the experts on how to reform the systems that create and sustain poverty, we work with our grantees to incorporate the voices of those we serve as we create new initiatives and programs. We’ve begun by engaging single women raising children and youth ages 12 to 24 – two groups largely left behind in our region’s resurgence –and will broaden our focus in the coming years. Other significant areas of focus include affordable housing and eviction and basic needs that are otherwise going unmet. By collaborating and sharing ideas, time and resources, we are building a stronger Pittsburgh region—where a single woman raising children and working two jobs doesn't have to choose between paying for child care and medicine, and teenagers in poverty have a path toward success rather than a path into the criminal justice system.
Those of us lifted by Pittsburgh’s economic resurgence can’t afford to leave our neighbors behind—especially people of color and others who have been excluded in the past. Our continued growth depends on building a Pittsburgh where 100 percent of our community can share in expanded opportunity and improved quality of life.
When 100 percent of our neighbors have equitable access to opportunities in Pittsburgh’s resurgence, our entire region is stronger and we all win.