The Pittsburgh Foundation

$1.74 million to further racial justice in Pittsburgh

Operating grants awarded to 24 organizations

PITTSBURGH, PA, DEC. 2, 2020 –The Pittsburgh Foundation has awarded $1.74 million from its Grantmaking for Racial Justice Fund to 24 organizations and collectives that are led by and serve people of color. Donations of $313,500 from Pittsburgh Foundation donors allowed for funding of more proposals that qualified under the criteria.

The fund was announced in September as the Foundation committed to redoubling its efforts to eliminate systemic racism in the region. The Foundation invited 53 Allegheny County-based nonprofits to apply, which led to applications from 35 organizations that meet the needs of low-income residents and work to accomplish systems change to eliminate differential outcomes by race and socioeconomic status.

“These grants are just the beginning of our efforts to ensure that Black- and Brown-led organizations  committed to securing racial justice have operating funding to work in whatever ways their missions dictate to achieve that goal,” Foundation President and CEO Lisa Schroeder said in announcing the grants.

For the past five years, the Foundation has been intentionally working to increase grants to organizations led by and serving people of color. From 2015 to 2019, grants from its discretionary grant-making portfolio to Black- and Brown-led and serving organizations increased from 12% to 21%, while annual dollar amounts increased from $1.5 million to $3.1 million. Calculations for 2020 are not yet available.

Earlier this year, Foundation board and staff named Racial Justice among its core values, along with Accountability, Collaboration, Community and Trust. The Foundation is also about to embark on a new strategic planning effort, to be completed in the next six months, that will be the framework for actualizing those values.

The Foundation’s program officers believe The Grantmaking for Racial Justice Fund grants will strengthen and expand the capacity of Black- and Brown-led and serving organizations and will support efforts in communities of color to build civic, cultural, economic and political power. The Fund also supports systems change – such as alternatives to police response for assisting individuals experiencing a mental health crisis – and is a means toward fostering deeper relationships between the Foundation and communities most impacted by racial injustice.

The grantees are as follows, and organizations receiving grants for the first time from The Pittsburgh Foundation’s discretionary funds are marked with *:

1Hood Media Academy: $100,000: 1Hood Media Academy (1Hood) builds liberated communities through art, education, and social justice activism and primarily serves Pittsburgh’s Black population through various direct service programming, advocacy, activism and mobilization activities that analyze and address the impact of systemic racism on Black and Brown people.

5A Elite Youth Empowerment: $50,000: 5A Elite Youth Empowerment is a trauma-certified organization with a mission to strengthen families and empower children by reversing the impacts of trauma and promoting holistic wellness. Its activities have evolved into The PeaceBuilder Institute for Social Change, which focuses on teaching students to design, implement and facilitate transformative human centered solutions that impact multiple systems.

Acculturation for Justice, Access and Peace Outreach (AJAPO): $100,000: AJAPO provides a continuum of care to immigrants and refugees residing in Allegheny County to help them to become self-sufficient and better integrated into their communities. Primarily functioning as a refugee resettlement agency working in concert with area social service providers and community-based organizations, the agency works with approximately 300 families from more than 26 countries and is often an immigrant or refugee family’s first point of contact as they transition to this country.

Afrika Yetu: $50,000: For 20 years, Afrika Yetu has been dedicated to sharing African culture through its annual arts programming that builds intercultural coalitions and promotes racial healing, sensitivity and awareness of differences through the arts. It serves as a conduit for acclimation and integration support and translation programs and works to ensure that African communities in Pittsburgh have a seat at the table and a voice in the overall landscape of support services in the Pittsburgh area.

Alliance for Police Accountability: $100,000: The Alliance for Police Accountability seeks to bring the community, police, and government officials to a working relationship and put an end to racial profiling, police brutality, and injustice within the criminal legal system. The Alliance has advanced the liberation of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass- mobilization, organizing and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of leaders.

Black Women’s Policy Agenda: $75,000: Black Women's Policy Agenda builds collective power among Black women, advocates for their needs and advances policy to achieve racial and gender justice, such as affordable health care, raising the minimum wage and rapidly responding to emerging issues that disproportionately affect Black women.

Black, Young & Educated: $49,045*: Founded by five Black teens, Black, Young, & Educated (B.Y.E) works to educate Black youth and young adults in Allegheny County on topics that affect their everyday lives and to provide opportunities to amplify their voices. B.Y.E focuses on the upcoming generation who will be holding positions of power in the future. Activities include educational panels, community food and clothing drives, educational support for students affected by COVID-19 and its Civil Saturdays weekly protest to advocate for changes to police use-of-force laws.

BOOM Concepts: $85,000: A creative hub in Garfield, BOOM Concepts is dedicated to the advancement of people of color and LGBTQIA creative entrepreneurs. In addition to knowledge sharing, peer-to-peer mentorship and storytelling, it has organized more than 50 exhibitions on-site and produced more than 200 events across the country. Founded by Black men and Black femmes, BOOM’s values and practices are rooted in traditional neighborhood values connected deeply to hip hop culture and use of artistic expression as a tool for community organizing.

Casa San Jose: $95,000: A community resource center, Casa San Jose advocates for and empowers Latinx people by promoting integration and self-sufficiency. It provides basic needs service coordination, case management and emergency response services and leadership development and advocacy trainings to Latinx people. Casa San Jose serves low-income individuals, non-English speakers, people of mixed-immigrant status, DACA recipients and immigrants who have been in the country for many years. It advocates at the state and local level for inclusive policies for immigrants and Brown people.  

Center that C.A.R.E.S.: $75,000: Located in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, the Center that CARES uses a community asset approach to build on the strengths of the neighborhood and respond to individual and collective needs. It empowers children, youth and families to grow, learn, and succeed through four key community-centered programs: The Jeron X Grayson Teen Afterschool Program; Kufikia Ukuu (Swahili for Achieve Greatness) project which supports post-secondary education and training; Creative BYTES after-school STEAM education; and the REACH Outreach and Prevention Initiative to prevent violence and disrupt racial disparity in the criminal justice system.

Circles Greater Pittsburgh, Inc: $50,000: Circles Greater Pittsburgh provides low-income individuals a path out of poverty, with a focus African Americans and other people of color, and women. The Core Circles Program helps people experiencing poverty and economic challenges to achieve economic stability and independence. Its Crisis Mitigation Program, launched during COVID-19, provides emergency household supplies and food, cash assistance, rental support and computers to families in need.

Community Empowerment Association, Inc.: $100,000: Community Empowerment Association restores, reclaims and transforms distressed communities through strategic planning, collaboration, advocacy, education and training. It addresses the needs of at-risk African American youth and families in Larimer, Lincoln-Lemington, Homewood, Wilkinsburg, Garfield, East Hills, McKeesport, Rankin and Braddock. Through its Community Wellness Component, CEA provides after-school services and mobile therapy to youth.

Kente Arts Alliance: $50,000: Kente Arts Alliance is an African American arts organization that presents high-quality art of the African Diaspora. Over the past 13 years, Kente has presented several cultural programs, including performances by four National Endowments for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship recipients. It will continue its nationally recognized presentation of art and support for artists, providing audiences with access to professional musicians, workshop visits and opportunities for Black youth to connect with nationally recognized dance troupes.

Latino Community Center: $100,000: The Latino Community Center empowers, advocates with and celebrates Latinos in Allegheny County and envisions a Pittsburgh community in which all Latinos are valued and have equal and equitable access to the resources needed to thrive. The center works with newly arrived or established Latinos, including children, the elderly, single mothers, non-English speakers and other marginalized groups. The majority are undocumented and/or first-generation living in mixed-status, economically disadvantaged, low-income households. The Center also advocates on behalf of families with government agencies, school districts and other service providers.

New Voices Pittsburgh, Inc.: $100,000: Founded in 2004 to mobilize women of color in Southwestern Pennsylvania to attend the national March for Women’s Lives in Washington DC, New Voices Pittsburgh has become a multi-state organization building a social change movement dedicated to the health and well-being of Black women and girls in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Through leadership development, education and training, community organizing, policy advocacy and culture change, it advances sexual and reproductive health, LGBTQ+ rights, health care access, environmental justice, and ending gender- based violence and mass incarceration.

POORLAW: $50,000*: A grassroots community-based organization, POORLAW is anchored in a social justice framework that integrates education and advocacy with programming designed to educate youth, strengthen families, and empower communities. POORLAW’s vision is for Hazelwood’s African American residents to have access to quality education, sustainable employment and accessible resources for a viable quality of life. The organization's strategy is rooted in economic justice and equity, community empowerment and advocacy, and social justice leadership.

Pittsburgh Black Worker Center: $60,000: Pittsburgh Black Worker Center is organized by a coalition of community and labor union activists to empower Black workers to improve the quality of jobs in key employment sectors and to prevent racial discrimination in hiring and other employment policies and practices. It is becoming a local chapter of The Movement for Black Lives, a national ecosystem of individuals and organizations creating a shared vision and policy agenda to win rights, recognition, and resources for Black people and Black communities.

Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh (BUGFPC): $100,000: BUGFPC establishes, educates and assists Black people in achieving sustainability and food sovereignty. Programming includes advocacy to help eliminate and transform the narrative of unfair practices that lead to “food apartheid” where policy has led to a systematic lack of healthy food in Black communities. BUGFPC collaborates with organizations at the local, regional, state and national level to change the face of urban farming education and farming policy and advocates for increased representation, increased funding for Black and Brown farmers, affordable land use, and other intersecting racial justice issues.

True T Pittsburgh: $50,000*: True T Pittsburgh is dedicated to serving one of Pittsburgh's most vulnerable communities, the Black LGBTQIA+ community, with a particular focus on Black trans women, whose lives are threatened every day by discrimination and hate crimes fueled by transphobia and unjust systems and policies. True T is working to address the systemic barriers and everyday violence encouraged by transphobic rhetoric by providing a safe and creative space and professional equipment to create awareness campaigns, providing access to health and direct service resources to the Black LGBTQIA+ community, and leading advocacy with the community they serve.

Ujamaa Collective: $100,000: Ujamaa Collective acts as a catalyst to advance conditions for women of the African diaspora by providing a fair-trade marketplace for cultural, artistic and entrepreneurial exchange through cooperative economics in the Historic Hill District and beyond. Ujamaa aspires to form a Black cooperative business network that works collectively to achieve the vision of providing economically vibrant, green and sustainable communities for people of African descent.

UrbanKind Institute: $50,000: Established in 2015 in the Hilltop Community of Pittsburgh, UrbanKind Institute is dedicated to advancing policies, practices and programs that are data driven and community grounded, to address and remove the systemic and institutional challenges impacting the ability of Black and Brown populations in Pittsburgh to survive, and thrive. The Institute uses rigorous community-engaged research and organizing methods that elevate and center the voices of those impacted - particularly youth - to identify and establish goals and priorities for action and change.

Willisae’s Agency for Vision & Empowerment (WAVE): $50,000: WAVE seeks to empower individuals who face barriers to housing to reach their potential through education, counseling, social services and long-term support. WAVE primarily serves single Black women with children who reside in subsidized housing in low-income communities. Because WAVE recognizes that many individuals it serves have been exposed to violence, its whole-person approach centers on identifying barriers and root causes of issues and helping participants move towards self-sufficiency defined by stable housing; preventing evction or homelessness; home purchase; or securing employment or financial stability.

Young Black Motivated Kings & Queens (YBMKQ): $50,000*: YBMKQ is a community- based, youth-led organization engaging middle and high school-aged youth in becoming the leaders of tomorrow while serving the community. YBMKQ has refocused its energies on hosting events for young people to use their voices to fight for the change they want to see within their generation and has organized large youth protests and back-to-school drives.

Youth Power Collective: $50,000*: Founded by two Black youth activists, Youth Power Collective is working toward building a collective centering Black youth who dream of an abolitionist future free of white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism and all other forms of oppression. Youth Power Collective continues to collaborate on civic engagement activities, such as youth-led demonstrations for school safety reform, peaceful protests calling for an end to police violence, advocacy for the Pittsburgh Public Schools K-2 suspension ban, and protests of George Floyd’s death.

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