The Pittsburgh Foundation

The Pittsburgh Foundation to rapidly disburse $1.62 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds

PITTSBURGH, PA, NOV. 24, 2020 –The Pittsburgh Foundation has been named by Allegheny County to oversee efforts to distribute $1.62 million in rapid relief grants to 28 nonprofits in response to the human services needs presented by COVID-19 pandemic. The Coronavirus Relief Fund distributes CARES Act funding to nonprofits in Allegheny County.

County officials went to The Pittsburgh Foundation because of its longstanding relationships with many small, grassroots nonprofits.

“These organizations were in a great position to meet the needs of communities most impacted by the pandemic and we were proud to be part of the process to get them funding to meet essential needs,” said Pittsburgh Foundation President and CEO Lisa Schroeder in announcing the grants. “The Coronavirus Relief Fund demonstrates how community philanthropy can help local governments distribute grants quickly and with confidence that support is going to organizations serving the most affected communities.”

The virus has disproportionately affected communities that experience systemic racism, discrimination, chronic health conditions, language barriers and other challenges, especially communities of color and LGBTQ communities. In September, 83 nonprofits led by and serving Black, Brown, Latinx, immigrant and refugee, and/or LGBTQIA communities were invited to apply to the Coronavirus Relief Fund. All nonprofits that applied were awarded funding, which were distributed by Nov. 4, to cover otherwise unfunded COVID-related expenses incurred by nonprofits between March 1 and Dec. 30.

“We are grateful to The Pittsburgh Foundation for helping us to rapidly distribute these funds, allowing us to quickly get support to underserved groups in Allegheny County. We are especially appreciative of these agencies who have been working to provide relief to those who have been hit hardest by the pandemic,” said Erin Dalton, a deputy director at Allegheny County Department of Human Services.

All proposals were reviewed, and funding recommendations made, by a joint committee of staff from The Pittsburgh and POISE foundations. Grant requests ranged from $13,000-$100,000. Activities eligible for funding are:

  • Meeting basic needs, such as food, shelter, rental assistance, mental health and wellness support, child care and senior assistance and educational support for school-aged children.
  • Providing food delivery to vulnerable populations in compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions.
  • Supporting COVID testing and Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Disseminating health and safety messaging to help reduce the spread of the virus and translating it as needed, including information about COVID and its symptoms and CDC-recommended practices.
  • Working to reduce the disparate impact of the virus and its aftermath on Black, Brown, Latinx, immigrant, LGBTQIA populations and communities.
  • Reducing social isolation by supporting safe community activities.

The Coronavirus Relief Fund awardees are:

1Nation: $58,000: 1Nation’s mission is to encourage positive behavior change and healthy life decisions by providing a holistic approach to change the negative narrative of African American youth.  During the pandemic, the organization has provided its youth and families with special support and services to strengthen families. These include mental health sessions, food assistance and workforce development support. 1Nation intends to create a safe space that is socially responsible and reduces social isolation while creating more opportunities for communities and families to support each other. 1Nation is also exploring development of a new app to communicate COVID safety concerns directly to the families it serves.

A. Philip Randolph Institute – Pittsburgh Chapter: $43,800: The Pittsburgh A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting for racial equality and economic justice. It is committed to social progress through programs that extend democracy, education and opportunity to those traditionally disenfranchised or discouraged from participation, including minorities, working people and lower-income families. The institute has successfully provided technical training, job readiness and placement services through its flagship program, Breaking the Chains of Poverty. The institute is providing food assistance to trainees, purchasing required personal protective equipment, and providing remote and virtual training and recruitment.

Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh: $1,200: The Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh’s (BCAP) mission is to ensure 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 provides direct services, connects members of the Bhutanese community to existing services, communicating important information and sharing resources and events with the community. The organization also advocates for inclusive public policies, celebrates Bhutanese culture, and serves the community directly with culturally and linguistically appropriate support programs that are not readily available in the broader community. The grant will help support additional space for storage, repackaging and distribution of personal protective equipment supplies, fresh food and dairy products to families,

Casa San Jose: $28,400: Casa San Jose is a community resource center that advocates for and empowers Latinx people. Its vision is to model a strong culture of acceptance and integration in which immigrants and other newcomers are treated with dignity, respect, and kindness and can freely preserve and celebrate their unique cultures while adapting to their new lives in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Casa San Jose serves Latinx people, particularly low-income individuals, non-English speakers and Latinx people of mixed-immigration status. In March of this year, as a direct response to the pandemic and the widespread loss of income across the Latinx community, Casa San Jose launched a donation program to provide food and supplies for individuals and families. It is part of the organization's efforts to pivot to meet community needs and cover costs to ensure that no Latinx person goes hungry, feels completely isolated or lacks access to basic services.

Circles Greater Pittsburgh Inc.: $42,200: Circles Greater Pittsburgh’s mission is to inspire and equip Pittsburgh area families and communities to end poverty and thrive. Circles believes that if given the right tools and support, families and communities can take charge of their destinies and achieve economic stability. Since mid-March, Circles has been providing emergency supplies and food to families in need with a focus on household and personal care items and technology for families who have children in online school. Through special events such as sidewalk sales, Circles has created opportunities to reduce social isolation and helped small businesses and families increase revenue.

Community Empowerment Association: $36,400: Community Empowerment Association’s mission is to restore, reclaim and transform distressed communities through strategic planning, collaboration, advocacy, education and training. The organization is looking to offer interactive workshops to help parents and families handle the challenges of the pandemic, such as managing online school and providing basic needs. Through these workshops, students and families will receive educational support for online school, mental health support and activities to help manage social isolation. Community Empowerment Association hopes that through these workshops parents will gain insight that will carry them through the rough times they are experiencing.

Coraopolis Youth Creation: $44,100: Coraopolis Youth Creations is dedicated to building community through youth enrichment and strengthening families by providing a variety of activities informed by youth. The organization provides a safe environment where students can learn, play, grow and express their uniqueness and creativity after school and on weekends. Coraopolis Youth Creation will distribute food, personal care items and cleaning products to those impacted by unemployment. It is also hosting community activities to reduce social isolation for youth and families. Through community outreach projects, crisis prevention services, mental wellness classes and other resources, Coraopolis Youth Creation is looking to reduce the disparate impact of the virus and its aftermath to help individuals and families achieve stability and self-reliance.

Greater Valley Community Services Inc.: $42,400: The mission of Greater Valley Community Services (GVCS) is to strengthen, educate and empower children and families through collaboration and resources while promoting safety, growth and strong community. GVCS is currently contracted by Allegheny County to provide in-home and foster care services. It hopes to support parents of school-aged children who would experience further educational setbacks due school closures related to COVID. As a community educational hub funded by the Department of Human Services of Allegheny County and the United Way, GVCS is a safe space for children to access virtual learning during the school day and engage in fun activities after school. The organization is looking to increase its staff, buy educational materials and personal protective equipment to continue supporting its community. 

Healthy Village Learning Institute: $65,400: The Healthy Village Learning Institute is committed to serving those in low-income situations,     are overwhelmed with problems associated with substance abuse, unemployment, low academic performance, delinquency, violence and other destructive activities. The institute seeks to provide the most comprehensive and holistic African-centered experience to a predominantly American African population in the McKeesport area. The institute is committed to focusing on solutions and takes a strength-based approach to issues such as education, health and wellness, institutional and individual racism and peer pressure with the goal of providing true justice for all. The organization is looking to support its community by providing food assistance, mental health, wellness and educational support.

Hello Neighbor: $94,000: Hello Neighbor works to improve the lives of recently resettled refugee and immigrant families by matching them with dedicated neighbors who guide and support them in their new lives. The organization is currently looking to bridge the gap between existing services in Allegheny County and refugee communities who need to access them. This includes distributing cash assistance checks and essential items such as food pantry boxes, car seats, diapers, personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer. It also promotes civic engagement, health education and provides a forum for safely interacting with others to break social isolation and build community.  Its programming is based on intensive relationships and mentoring and Hello Neighbor has pivoted  to ensure that basic needs are being met safely during this time and that this particularly vulnerable population has everything  needed to thrive.

1Hood Media Academy: $100,000: 1Hood Media Academy is a collective of Pittsburgh-based, socially conscious Hip Hop artists and activists who use art as a means of raising awareness about social justice matters. The organization aims to demystify the stigma associated with seeking physical and mental health support during this unprecedented time by providing new online programming that provides a safe haven where members of the Black community can engage, learn and share. 1Hood uses its online platform as a way to regularly connect the Pittsburgh Black community with health professionals to ask questions and find resources to support their mental and health care needs. Its “Ask a Black Doctor,” a biweekly online production, has had more than 150,000 views since May. “On Tilt,” a program to inform people about mental health through Facebook live streams, began October 23.

Hosanna House Inc.: $28,800: Hosanna House has served the Wilkinsburg and surrounding communities for 30 years. It serves 40,000 people annually and is co-located with more than 10 health and human service organizations providing health care, dental care, early childhood education and youth services. Its mission is to help people who are facing difficult life issues beyond their control and empower them to discover, acknowledge and develop their maximum potential physically, spiritually and economically to end a cycle of poverty for future generations. This grant funds costs Hosanna House incurred serving offering health and human services in a safe and protected environment to more than 300 adults and children during this pandemic.

Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation: $97,900: The Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation is a nonprofit which improves the health of the LGBTQ+ and HIV communities in western Pennsylvania by providing direct services, emergency assistance, referrals, consultation and training. It is working to reduce the disparate impact of COVID on BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities by prioritizing those populations in its outreach, messaging, staffing and program development. Due to the pandemic, the organization is operating a food pantry program to expand food access to its community members. The organization is looking to purchase individual personal protective equipment for homeless LGBTQIA+ individuals. In addition, it will launch new activities such as COVID QT Camp, a biweekly, in-person distanced event series for queer and trans adults. These events will promote health, emotional well-being and community engagement and reduce social isolation in the LGBTQIA+ community during COVID.

Jewish Family and Community Services of Pittsburgh: $25,000: The mission of Jewish Family and Community Services is to support people through life’s changes and challenges. JFCS provides immigrants and refugees with services, including employment and career assistance, mental health counseling, basic needs, food assistance, and aid to people who are aging and who have special needs. It also provides refugee resettlement service coordination, immigration legal services, peer support, neighborhood-based office hours, advocacy for immigrants and refugees, and works closely with local ethnic organizations to address immigrant needs in culturally competent ways. This grant will enable JFCS to increase health and safety messaging about COVID, decrease social isolation, and increase access to basic needs for immigrants and refugees in Pittsburgh. In recent months, JFCS has seen increased need for these services but has not had adequate funding to increase capacity.

Kingsley Association: $25,000: The Kingsley Association is a community hub and membership organization providing services to youth, families and seniors. Its mission is to inspire and promote community growth as a physical anchor and a social, wellness and service program provider. During the pandemic, the organization has offered educational support to parents of school-aged children. It also offers exercise classes, purchased letter boards to keep the community informed, and started youth programs to help reduce social isolation. The organization is dedicated to working closely with the community and its members as it realizes many small and nonprofit organizations are struggling to keep their doors open and embrace a different outlook of the future.

Kitchen of Grace: $69,500: Kitchen of Grace is a nonprofit social enterprise that acts as a catalyst for peace and healing in the community by offering opportunities to hire and raise up leaders through paid apprenticeship programs in culinary training and business development. Kitchen of Grace is on the frontlines of COVID pandemic response, working alongside leaders across several neighborhoods to provide essential meals to the most vulnerable community members who are  experiencing food insecurity. The organization has focused on addressing the injustice youth, families, and elderly are experiencing during COVID and has helped to feed people in senior centers, daycares and emergency response facilities in the Pittsburgh area.

Latino Community Center: $20,500: The Latino Community Center empowers, advocates with and celebrates Latinos in Allegheny County and envisions a community in which all Latinos are valued and have equal and equitable access to the resources needed to thrive. Supports for Latino families include after-school and summer school programming for elementary students, college and career readiness for high school students and mentoring opportunities with Latino professionals in Pittsburgh. Due to the pandemic, the center created new initiatives including a family education liaison who supports families with children in online school and a Community Emergency Response Fund for cash assistance. It also provides food baskets, upgraded its phone system and launched a mass texting platform. With the support of the grant, the organization will continue to keep the necessary personnel and programs in place to support its families as they navigate this crisis.

Melting Pot Ministries: $51,600: Melting Pot Ministries uses a positive youth development approach to provide services and support for youth and their caregivers to meet the educational, social-emotional and cultural life challenges of underprivileged families in the South Hills. The organization is providing educational support to families with school-aged children. Many of the parents it serves are  essential workers and are unable to assist their children with online school, Melting Pot Ministries provides virtual academic support and is looking to re-engage with in-person programming. To do so, it needs to create a safe and secure space for children, including a desktop shield for each student’s desk and the same assigned seat each day.

Nabhi Christian Ministries: $92,800: Nabhi Christian Ministries is dedicated to enhancing impoverished communities by reducing havoc and cultivating healthy environments through services that mentor, train and develop quality citizens of all ages. The pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on African American single moms and their children. To assist, staff at the ministries are now processing Dollar Energy Fund applications, which help low-income people avoid utility shut-offs and terminations. The ministries are also providing  crisis counseling and offering safe family recreation to reduce the impacts of isolation, leading to child well-being, family stability and self-sufficiency. This grant will support payroll expenses for three new staff members to support COVID-related needs and will cover costs for monthly deep disinfecting of its recreational facility, where families can safely engage and enjoy fun activities that reduce stress, anxiety and isolation.

NEED (Negro Educational Emergency Drive): $50,100: NEED helps Black students learn about, aspire to and enroll in higher education. Because of NEED, Black students served are more likely to graduate high school, graduate college and secure meaningful employment. The organization is alarmed at how many students have been delayed entering college and how many have left college due to COVID-related stressors. To support its students, NEED is creating a crisis support hotline and email to help students navigate the educational, occupational and personal issues that arise in their lives. NEED also plans to provide immediate financial assistance to students for items such as bus passes, food, toiletries, winter clothing and personal protective equipment.

New Voices for Reproductive Justice: $85,000: New Voices for Reproductive Justice inspires action and is building a social change movement dedicated to the health, well-being and human rights of Black women, femmes and girls. New Voices uses leadership development, community organizing, policy advocacy and culture change to help Black women, femmes and girls lead long, healthy and joyful lives. Funding will lead to the creation of the New Voices COVID-19 Community Relief Initiative, which will  purchase and distribute diapers, menstrual products and emergency contraception. Continuing to make diapers available along with menstrual products and making emergency contraception available emerged as important community issues within the organization’s current scope of work, expertise and capacity.

Persad Center Inc: $98,000: Persad Center works to improve the lives and well-being of LGBTQ+ people through counseling, psychiatry, groups and social support that meets the unique situations faced by the members of the LGBTQ+ community. This includes confidential mental health and substance abuse services  and meeting ever-increasing demand for services. This grant will help fund teletherapy software, electronic health record systems and upgrades in technology to allow its staff to serve clients from home. Persad Center believes that providing Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ+ community access to culturally competent mental health services is paramount to reducing the disparate impact on the mental health of our community members.

Project Destiny Inc.: $98,200: Project Destiny is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the Pittsburgh community. The organization’s mission is to REIGN: Reach out into the community, Educate, Inspire, Grow leaders and Nurture children, youth and their families in the Pittsburgh North Side community. In response to the pandemic, Project Destiny was the first agency to re-open daycare centers for first responders’ children under the new COVID guidelines and has worked with the school district in providing assistance as needed. In addition to those programs the organization has supported its community by distributing grab-and- go meals, fresh vegetables and arranging for delivery of educational supply packets to local youth.

South Hills Interfaith Movement: $100,000: South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM) mobilizes community resources and implements sustainable programs that compassionately help its neighbors meet basic needs, achieve self-sufficiency and build community. During the pandemic, SHIM  has provided the population with access to proper and accurate medical resources, information and testing sites. Through its network of partners, the organization provides service coordination and connects families to  food pantries, financial assistance grants, legal assistance, family support and external employment resources. In addition to the obstacles faced by low-income children, refugee children face many additional challenges to school success, including language barriers, social development and cultural differences. By adding a youth mentoring assistant staffer, the organization will host and assist more than 90 elementary, middle and high school students during the school day.

United Somali Bantu of Greater Pittsburgh: $100,000: The United Somali Bantu of Greater Pittsburgh was established to pool strengths and act as a hub for partner organizations to address issues affecting the Somali Bantu refugee community, including culture, safety and adapting to life in the United States. The organization facilitates and promotes the transition of newcomers into the broader Pittsburgh community by providing direct services and programs, service coordination and fostering cross-cultural understanding between the Somali Bantu and surrounding communities. Somali Bantu refugees have been dramatically impacted by COVID because of the precarious position they were in as newcomers with little English, low employment resiliency and families with six or more children. In addition to sudden job loss, there is a need for extra assistance to navigate unemployment and other forms and programs specific to COVID relief.

Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank: $48,100: The Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank is a nonprofit organization focused solely on the distribution of diapers, period products, adult diapers and basic needs supplies to families at low-income or poverty levels. The organization is looking to purchase more personal hygiene supplies for infants, adults and senior citizens who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID crisis. The need for diapers and personal hygiene supplies in Allegheny County has grown since March. The organization has been positioning itself to meet that need by developing and maintaining alliances within the refugee and LGBTQ+ communities. To meet this need, the diaper bank has increased the square footage of its facility and increased labor hours needed by its staff members.

When She Thrives: $21,200: When She Thrives equips single mothers in Allegheny County to move their families from poverty to prosperity. Believing that poverty and prosperity extend beyond financials, the organization uses a holistic approach to end poverty. It recognizes the value of social capital and empowers women to redefine prosperity for themselves and their families. When She Thrives will provide food to single mothers who are struggling financially and lack time and child care to run errands alone while also facing increased need for meals at home. Financial stressors compounded with existing health care disparities make the families that the organization serves more likely to struggle to recover from COVID. With this in mind, it is developing training and support to help families understand the importance of having conversations about finances and looking at their financial landscape. It is also providing training and support about the importance of budgeting to support their families during this pandemic and beyond.

Youth Enrichment Services (YES): $52,600: Youth Enrichment Services gives young people ages 10 to 21 from low-income and communities of color a vision of themselves as successful, empowered and confident leaders. The organization aims to empower youth and families to become their own best resource and believes its status as a Black-owned and operated nonprofit makes it positioned to support and empower Pittsburgh’s communities of color. The organization supports virtual learning academic enrichment, near-peer mentorship, socioemotional and holistic wellness, family stabilization, workforce development, and community engagement support services and resources. With the onset of COVID, changes to school have made it more difficult for youth to access education  and families’ have faced deteriorating access to resources and consistent income, therefore, YES has evolved into an around-the-clock provider.

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