The Pittsburgh Foundation

Foundation awards $351,000 in Small and Mighty Grants

Latest round brings total from program to $1.6 million

PITTSBURGH, PA, JAN. 7, 2021 –The Small and Mighty grants program, a special initiative of The Pittsburgh Foundation, has made 22 new grants totaling $351,100. Small and Mighty is meant to increase the Foundation’s grantmaking to small, community-based organizations. Grantees have budgets of $600,000 or less and work to address poverty and inequity by meeting basic needs in areas such as physical and mental health, food, shelter, child care and education.

Since its inception in 2016, the Small and Mighty program has awarded grants totaling $1.6 million to 63 organizations, 57% to nonprofits led by people of color.  

Pittsburgh Foundation President and CEO Lisa Schroeder credits the Small and Mighty program with inspiring the Foundation to simplify its grant-making processes to make funding more accessible to small organizations. Many of the program’s grantees have never received a foundation grant before.

“In working with Small and Mighty Program grantees through four years of grant cycles, we’ve learned that simplifying the application process is as important as the funding itself,” Schroeder said in announcing the grants. “As a result of grantees’ helping us shape that process, we’re now able to award funding rapidly. And because of the focus on organizations that deliver essential human services in communities of color, our grantmaking is becoming more racially equitable.”

In 2015, Program and Policy staff embarked on a detailed evaluation of the Foundation’s grantmaking and realized that grants to small nonprofits and to organizations led by people of color were far fewer and smaller than grants to larger, white-led nonprofits. The Program staff then embarked on a series of focus groups and interviews with dozens of leaders of smaller nonprofits—many of whom were people of color—whose recommendations have helped the Foundation address funding inequities.

From 2015 to 2019, the Foundation’s discretionary grants to organizations led by people of color increased both in percentage and amount. The percentage of grants from its discretionary grant-making portfolio increased from 12% to 21%, while annual dollar amounts increased from $1.5 million to $3.1 million annually.

"Small and Mighty was designed with an understanding of the national underinvestment in small nonprofits, particularly Black and Brown-led organizations, an assessment of our own grantmaking and feedback from the organizations we hoped to serve through this program,” said Michelle McMurray, who organized the program and directs grantmaking for the Foundation as its vice president for Program and Community Engagement. “Too often, despite their importance and impact, these organizations are under-resourced by philanthropy. While Small and Mighty alone cannot resolve funding disparities, it demonstrates how, by intentionally examining our practices and seeking solutions from the community we serve, philanthropy can create more equitable access to funding.”

This cycle’s Small and Mighty grantees are listed below. Five are first-time grantees of the Foundation. Those marked with * have received Small and Mighty grants previously. Many have since transitioned to eligibility for the Foundation’s regular discretionary grant-making stream:

*1Nation Mentoring ($15,000): 1Nation Mentoring was founded in 2015 to provide holistic support to youth and families in Allegheny County. The organization primarily partners with Brashear High School to deliver a “Leader in Me” curriculum about positive life choices and positive relationship building techniques. Due to social distancing requirements, in March the organization shifted to piloting its program with Brashear students in a virtual setting, enrolling all 25 of the students in the program. It has also consistently provided groceries and personal protective equipment to students and families unable to obtain them. Only half of the students have been able to consistently attend programming. The other half of the students could not attend due to unforeseen technological challenges students and families were experiencing. With this grant, 1Nation plans to support the students by purchasing devices, internet hotspots, groceries and personal protective equipment for students and families.

*Anchorpoint Counseling Ministry ($12,000): Anchorpoint Counseling Ministry provides therapeutic interventions for children, teens, adults, couples and families across the northern Allegheny County region. The organization also offers a tutoring and mentoring program to help address the educational needs of students in grades K-12 who are struggling with mental health issues, educational workshops and therapeutic support groups serving all ages, faiths and backgrounds. In response to COVID-19, the organization initiated virtual/telehealth services and developed an Emergency Client Aid Fund to assist clients experiencing financial challenges. Anchorpoint has a strategic priority to increase access to affordable services by expanding programming to communities including Bellevue, Etna, Millvale, Sharpsburg and West View. Anchorpoint will support the Child and Parent Place program, an outreach program designed to increase access to outpatient mental health services for youth ages 12–24 and single mothers to address increases in anxiety, depression, family conflict and other mental health issues due to COVID.

*Arsenal Family and Children's Center ($15,000): Arsenal Family and Children’s Center promotes and advocates for the healthy development of children while supporting their parents in building a nurturing relationship with each child. The organization has identified two critical factors that are essential to the healthy development of children: opportunities for active learning through play and passionate involvement of an adult in the child’s life. The organization includes those factors in its programming by including classes for toddlers, involvement of parents and preschool development programs. The preschool program serves approximately 40 children, ages three to five years old, from neighborhoods experiencing poverty, including Garfield and East Liberty. With this grant, Arsenal Family and Children’s Center seeks to provide tuition assistance to children from families experiencing poverty to allow them to attend the Developmental Preschool program.

*Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh ($20,000): The Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh (BCAP) mission is to ensure a high quality of life for all members of the Bhutanese community in Pittsburgh and to support their integration into American society through culturally informed services and activities. BCAP is a year-round resource that offers literacy and civics education, family and youth programs, in-language services and outreach for older adults, and cultural programming. Due to COVID, the organization enhanced its basic needs support in April. Calls for assistance with food, housing, health and safety needs and education assistance increased from 80 calls per month to more than 300. BCAP intends to sustain its existing programs serving youth, women and older adults with basic needs while also addressing the increased emergency needs emerging in the community due to the pandemic.

*Brothers and Sisters Emerging ($20,000): Brothers and Sisters Emerging (B.A.S.E.) offers high-quality after-school, summer camp and mentoring programs for youth of all ages. Due to COVID and in compliance with CDC safety guidelines, B.A.S.E. provides summer camp programming to youth ages 5-15 and their families in the community of Garfield and other East End neighborhoods. It offers activities that focus on academic enrichment, maintaining school attendance above 90% and strengthening positive social behaviors. With this Small and Mighty operating support, the organization will continue to provide quality after-school and summer camp programming, mentoring, post-secondary education and career preparation. The organization plans to make a part-time program assistant a full-time staffer and will deepen strategic partnerships that support the program’s capacity to fully meet the human services, employment readiness and academic achievement outcomes of participants and their families.

BTC Center, Inc. ($10,000): BTC Center, Inc. supports the residents of Homewood through programming and services leading to equitable, sustainable and resilient communities. The organization has provided various programs that are responsive to community needs, including computer classes for seniors, substance abuse and mental health counseling, and meal distribution. With this grant, the organization will provide greater access to food for individuals experiencing poverty through its community garden and food pantry. It will expand the number of individuals who are able to access the community garden and provide more fresh produce to community members. Due to COVID, the center has experienced a greater demand for food in the community and has increased and adapted its services to better address this need. The organization has also provided virtual programs focused on healthy eating and living to be responsive to those who cannot, due to COVID, access in-person resources.

Christopher's Kitchen ($15,000): Christopher's Kitchen provides food to families caring for admitted children at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. In response to the COVID crisis, Christopher’s Kitchen started supplying pantry staple foods to families who visit the hospital’s Community Advocacy Center. Each of the pantries at Children’s has a kitchenette outfitted with two to three cupboards, a refrigerator, freezer, and microwave. Food in the pantries include macaroni and cheese and soups, string cheese, Jell-O, pudding, fruit cups, granola bars, peanut butter or cheese crackers, fruit snacks, oatmeal, and frozen breakfast items. Due to COVID, the organization canceled two of its main fundraising events which reduced its ability to purchase food to supplement donated items. This grant will be used to cover the cost of purchasing food and administrative and rental fees for a storage unit.

*Coraopolis Community Development Foundation ($20,000): Coraopolis Community Development Foundation works toward the equitable growth and revitalization of Coraopolis by providing residents with the tools to lead to self-sufficiency, continuing to grow the town’s business district and improving the overall quality of life. The organization’s food pantry and a community garden provide immediate food relief for those who experience food insecurity. Due to COVID, demand for food support has increased 100%. Between March and July, Coraopolis Community Development served 3,328 people through new drive-thru and delivery food services. In addition to its pandemic response, the organization hired two additional staff, implemented a Snack Pack program that served 57 children for 36 weeks and purchased a new donor management system corporation. With this operating support grant, Coraopolis Community Development Foundation seeks to increase the efficiency and reach of its weekend snack pack program and food pantry.

*First Step Recovery Homes, Inc. ($15,000): First Step Recovery Homes, Inc. is a McKeesport-based residential facility that serves the Mon Valley and surrounding communities. It provides recovery support services for men who are homeless and have a history of chronic substance abuse. The organization seeks to ensure that each person has the tools, resources and supports in place to maintain their independence and recovery. Its programs are interracial and nonsectarian and the majority of clients served are African American. The organization has served 35 unduplicated clients this year. This grant will support its Family Support Reunification Program, which provides counseling, case management and supportive services for residents' families throughout the length of stay.

Fishes and Loaves Cooperative Ministries ($9,100): Fishes and Loaves Cooperative Ministries provides fresh, healthy food to the Greater Hazelwood community at reasonable prices to ensure that fresh healthy options and social support are available in this urban food desert. This grant will strengthen the organization’s operating procedures, data gathering and tracking, volunteer coordination and client intake to ensure that more people experiencing food insecurity are able to access healthy food. The organization aims to increase its volunteer capacity for food delivery and meal service and to stabilize its annual budget through increased individual donations and grants. The organization seeks to strengthen relationships with individuals the organization serves. It plans to do so by increasing social media engagement and participation in community meetings.

*Foster Love Project ($20,000): Foster Love Project provides love in action to foster children and their families through a donation center where children in foster care can “shop” for free. It also provides thousands of placement bags, filled with new belongings for children and new foster families. The organization supports communities through events, information and supplies. With this grant, Foster Love Project will continue to expand access to free basic needs resources for children and their foster families through in-home drop-off or donation centers where children and families can select items they wish and need.

*Friendship Community Presbyterian Church ($15,000): Friendship Community Presbyterian Church creates community responsive programs, events and initiatives in its West Oakland neighborhood. The Corner, a community outreach program of Friendship Community Church, is a trusted community gathering space and resource center for the families it serves. The Corner provides arts and social safety net programming. The Corner is staffed by one full-time staff member and relies on a network of volunteers and student interns. With this grant, The Corner plans to hire a part-time community outreach coordinator, an events and social media ambassador and a student intern. The organization is also looking to host at least eight virtual neighborhood council meetings, which function as informal convening spaces for community members to voice concerns and organize in response to resident concerns.

*Hilltop Urban Farm ($15,000): Hilltop Urban Farm seeks to promote education about food insecurity, nutrition, entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability and community partnerships. The farm works with area partners to recruit and facilitate nutrition education programs for children ages 3-19 from local neighborhoods. With this grant, Hilltop Urban Farm plans to shift operations from providing direct-service educational enrichment to providing free boxes of food to approximately 50 families living near the farm. Families will be able to pick up boxes once a week, with deliveries made on an as-needed basis. Families will be selected at a first come, first serve basis and outreach will include phone calls, emails and social media posts to spread the word.

*His Place Contact Center ($15,000): His Place Contact Center serves students in grades K-8 and their families from several North Side neighborhoods. Students remain in the program for an average of four years, which allows staff to build solid relationships with them and their families as they make academic progress. His Place provides a high-quality, strengths-based after-school program called Believe & Achieve, which operates Monday through Thursday throughout the entire school year. In March, the organization shifted to providing in person and virtual programming for students to align with COVID safety precautions. Each participant receives a box of supplies and has experience of working virtually with the organization.

*Hopebound Ministries Inc. ($15,000): Hopebound Ministries promotes the spiritual, intellectual, physical, social and emotional development for children and families through its Mooncrest Neighborhood after-school programming and summer camps for children in grades K-5. Classes include GED, ESL and Citizenship in partnership with Literacy Pittsburgh. The ministry also provides food distribution and rental assistance, internet access to students at its community center, translation services and support for parents who do not speak English and deploys its mobile medical unit in collaboration with Squirrel Hill Health Center to transport supplies and equipment for coronavirus testing.

Lettuce Turnip the Beet Community and School Garden Association ($15,000): Lettuce Turnip the Beet Community and School Garden Association builds, cultivates and sustains a beautiful life through sustainability education programming and access to fresh local food. It offers sustainability education programming for children from birth up to grade 12. These out-of-school support programs are sequential, active, focused and offer explicit skill-building activities that emphasize character development and social skills. This grant will support its Our Helping Meals (OHM) program, which provides no contact delivery of prepared meals, dry goods, gardening supplies, personal care items, and local produce and dairy to single-family households and economically disadvantaged, immunosuppressed, and elderly individuals. OHM incorporates free wellness workshops for all participants as well as school staff, economically disadvantaged college students and young adults.

*Nabhi Christian Ministries ($15,000): Nabhi Christian Ministries was established to respond to the needs of families impacted by the gang violence that was occurring in Pittsburgh’s Black community. It cultivates healthy environments through the provision of services that mentor, train and develop citizens of all ages. With just two paid staff and 60 volunteers, the organization serves approximately 540 individuals each year in the predominantly African American communities of Lincoln, Lemington and Belmar. This grant will support emergency energy relief assistance to help low-income families at risk of utility shut-off apply to the Dollar Energy Fund program, which provides one-time household utility assistance grants.

*Pittsburgh Dream Center ($20,000): Pittsburgh Dream Center reconnects people to God and a community of support by providing free human services that address immediate and long-term needs including hunger, poverty, homelessness, education and human trafficking. It serves people in Clairton, East Pittsburgh, McKeesport, Monroeville, Pitcairn, and Pittsburgh. This grant will  increase food assistance to individuals experiencing poverty. This includes the mobile food bank program, partnerships to provide support to individuals in additional communities and establishing a process to evaluate the need for and impact of the organization’s services beginning with food assistance.

*Serenity Living Transitional Home ($20,000): Serenity Living Transitional Home educates, equips and empowers at-risk women and girls with the tools to overcome life’s obstacles to success. Serenity Living Transitional Home offers two core services: residential services and youth mentoring. Serenity Living purchased a new building in Wilkinsburg with donations from board members, individuals and a grant. This new space will allow the organization to serve additional youth. Renovation of this space is slated for completion in July 2021. The organization also plans to support youth with its transitional housing and mentoring programs, complete renovation of new space and increase fundraising efforts.

*Shepherd Wellness Community ($20,000): Shepherd Wellness Community provides programs and a supportive and caring community for individuals living with HIV/AIDS. It is a significant source of wellness information and social support for approximately 400 people living with HIV/AIDS. Due to COVID social distancing requirements, the monthly OUTrageous Bingo Fundraiser has been suspended, resulting in more than $35,000 of lost revenue in 2020 and a projected loss of $20,000 for the first quarter of 2021. Shepherd Wellness will continue to tailor programs to more individuals living with HIV/AIDS by reaching out to individuals who have not recently attended programs. It will also plan special community outreach events, expand support group options and participation to include family members, a request of current participants.

*Stem Coding Lab, Inc. ($15,000): STEM Coding Lab provides computer science classes to elementary and middle school through a partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools. STEM Coding Lab provides equitable education opportunities for students who would otherwise be even further disadvantaged than their peers who have access to this content. STEM Coding Lab will provide a weekly virtual class for up to 120 students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade. Using the Standards Aligned System, a comprehensive, research-based resource to improve student achievement developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the lab plans to work closely with participating classroom teachers to customize content to incorporate the teacher’s lesson plan goals. The goal is to engage up to five teachers as partners and to work with each student to create a computer science animation culminating project directly connected to their studies.

Za’kiyah House Housing ($15,000): Za'kiyah House is an eight-bed residential home in Homewood with a mission to reduce homelessness, recidivism and addiction for men and trans people ages 18 and older. Za’Kiyah House seeks to meet the basic needs of residents as they transition to independent living. Residents also receive one-on-one support from volunteers who have also navigated homelessness, incarceration and addiction. With this grant, the organization will underwrite the programming and living expenses for eight residents during the first four months of their stay. It will also fund services such as a monthly bus pass, and assistance paying for state IDs and birth certificates. It will also purchase two new laptops to assist residents with job searches, participation in telehealth appointments and other services that are offered virtually due to COVID physical distancing guidelines.

For more information regarding the next cycle of Small and Mighty grants, please visit the program’s website. Images of many of the Small and Mighty grantees, courtesy of the nonprofits, are available upon request.