The Pittsburgh Foundation

$308,000 in Small and Mighty grants awarded to small organizations with big impact

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 5, 2018 – The Small and Mighty grants program of The Pittsburgh Foundation will provide a total of $308,821 to 22 organizations with annual budgets under $600,000. The program is a direct outcome of the Foundation’s 100 Percent Pittsburgh organizing principle, which seeks to ensure that those among the 30 percent of Pittsburgh’s population living at or near the federal poverty line have access to opportunities in the region’s revitalized economy.

Though the organizations are smaller and often less visible than the bulk of the Foundation’s grantees, they have an outsized impact on their communities, and are often staffed by residents of the neighborhoods they serve. Eligible organizations have missions to meet basic needs and primarily reach populations identified through 100 Percent Pittsburgh research.

Any nonprofit meeting the $600,000 budget limit may apply, but preference is given to those that:

  • Assist residents in economically underserved neighborhoods.
  • Include the people they serve in the development of programs and priorities.
  • Serve youth ages 12 to 24, or single women raising children.
  • Target racial or ethnic groups disproportionately affected by poverty.

“Many of these organizations can be overshadowed by larger nonprofits that have more resources and connections in seeking financial support,” said the Foundation’s President and CEO, Maxwell King, in announcing the grants. “By dedicating a program to support smaller, community-based groups, we help more people access services and programs that will enable them to become full participants in the strong local economy.” 

Small and Mighty has a 60-day funding decision turnaround, which is important for small organizations that often need funds quickly to cover operations and programming. Coaching and other supports are offered throughout the application process, which can be difficult for small organizations with less experience pursuing funding. This year, in addition to community information sessions, the Foundation partnered with Program to Aid Citizen Enterprise to provide grant writing workshops for applicants to improve their skills and give them more confidence in preparing grant proposals.

“We learned a lot in the first round of Small and Mighty,” said Jeanne Pearlman, the Foundation’s senior vice president for Program and Policy. “One important observation is that many of the grants are used to undertake unique programs or expand those already in operation.”

Fostering equity and access in grantmaking: The Small and Mighty initiative, announced in September 2016, was based on staff research that determined smaller nonprofits have been underrepresented in the Foundation’s grant-making portfolio.

“As we had hoped, Small and Mighty is helping us reach individuals and communities that we might not have previously,” said Michelle McMurray, senior program officer for Health and Human Services who manages the project. “For 32 of the 40 organizations receiving grants in both years of funding, it was their first time applying. Additionally, 70 percent of these grantees are organizations led by people of color – a historically underfunded segment of the nonprofit sector.”

McMurray said that without this tailored approach to serving smaller organizations, the Foundation might never have known about vital work many of them are doing to strengthen the safety net for individuals and families struggling to meet their basic needs.

In the second round of Small and Mighty funding, a total of $308,821 was awarded to 22 organizations:

  • 1Nation: $13,000.  This organization provides programs for African-American males at Brashear High School with the goal of interrupting the school to prison pipeline. Students receive 45-minute life training sessions Monday through Friday focusing on de-escalating conflicts, making positive life choices and building positive relationships with authority figures such as teachers and administrators. Outside of school, 1 Nation Mentoring works with parents, students and community organizations to produce positive neighborhood events. The funds will be used to focus on 15 African American students and develop a data-driven model for service delivery. Annual operating budget: $82,000.
  • Message Carriers of Pennsylvania, Inc.: $15,000. For more than two decades, this advocacy and recovery services organization has worked to combat the stigma and discrimination facing people with substance misuse disorders. Created by a group of recovering individuals and family members, services include peer support, outreach and education and an after-hours helpline. More than 400 people in 2017 have been assisted with accessing treatment, safe housing and other services. These funds will be used to evaluate community needs, increase access to the recovery helpline and establish a recovery training institute. Annual operating budget: $148,524.
  • Off the Floor Pittsburgh: $13,000. For 13 years, this organization has provided furniture to families making the transition from housing insecurity to stable living environments. Furniture has been donated by individuals, businesses and other organizations to hundreds of families and youth (or young adults) aging out of foster care. The funds will go toward operating support for the furniture bank, where the pieces are stored. Annual operating budget: $138,000.
  • The Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh Co-op: $16,500. BUGS aims to educate and assist black people in establishing and maintaining gardens and small farms, supplying fresh fruits and vegetables to residents. Established in 2015, Homewood-based BUGS seeks, through farmer’s markets and free food distributions, to address the food desert problem that persists in many majority-black communities. The grant will be used to execute its design for a year-round urban farm and implement farm-based programming. Annual operating budget: $50,470
  • Coraopolis Youth Creations, Inc.: $15,000. Since 2012, the organization has worked to strengthen families and communities through social, cultural, educational and physical programming. Weekly, bi-monthly and monthly meetings include tutoring, group mentoring for girls age 10 and up and a single moms group. A first-round Small and Mighty grant enabled the organization to open its community youth center. This round of funding will go toward implementing new programming and supports. Annual operating budget: $161,208.
  • Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank: $15,000. Rev. Phillip and Mrs. Cathy Battle founded the diaper bank in 2010 to bring awareness to a little-talked about and known problem: Food assistance does not cover diapers for families in need, making it hard for families with young children or seniors to access these necessary items. This organization collects diapers and other personal care items and distributes them to organizations who serve those in need. This is the second Small and Mighty grant for the organization, which plans to develop a strategic plan, increase staff capacity and partnerships. Annual operating budget: $162,415.
  • 100 Black Men of Western, PA, Inc.: $9,978. For three decades, volunteer-run 100 Black Men has been helping black youth explore careers, improve financial literacy, foster a healthy lifestyle, set life goals and build academic skills. With this grant, the organization will develop and implement a STEM enrichment curriculum to help 40 black youth learn more about science, technology, engineering and math. Annual operating budget: $118,275.
  • Acculturation for Justice, Access and Peace Outreach (AJAPO): $15,000. AJAPO provides a continuum of care, which empowers refugees and immigrants to become self-sufficient and integrated into the Pittsburgh region. Founded 16 years ago, AJAPO focuses on five areas: refugee resettlement, family cohesion and empowerment, immigration services, youth development and employment services. This funding will go toward retaining more staff to help decrease a waiting list of people seeking services. Annual operating budget: $525,271.
  • Advance African Development, Inc. (AAD): $15,000. Since 2012, AAD has been working to address health disparities, human rights and other social justice issues through intervention programs. This funding will support the organization’s 2018 youth health literacy programming. The goal is to help reduce health disparities in the African American community. Annual operating budget: $14,339.
  • Arsenal Family and Children’s Center: $15,000. Developed by famed pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock, the organization has been providing services and programs to families since 1953. Programs are aimed to toddlers and children up to age five and their parents as they strengthen skills and improve communication and relationships. This funding will allow Arsenal Family and Children Center to subsidize childcare for up to 15 children who do not qualify for a subsidy through Child Information Service. Annual operating budget: $565,000.
  • Free Store Wilkinsburg d/b/a Civically, Inc.: $15,000. Civically, Inc. provides goods and services that address basic needs in Wilkinsburg, such as clothing and home goods, at no cost to residents. Civically also offers financial and basic literacy skills as well as community conversations on local culture and economic development. This funding will go toward rent at the free store and expansion of programming and conversations. Since its inception, the Free Store Wilkinsburg has been a community-led organization that has relied entirely on volunteer staff and donations from corporations and residents.  This is its first foundation grant which will cover the totality of its projected 2018 expenses. .
  • First Step Recovery Homes, Inc.: $15,000. Located in McKeesport, this organization provides recovery support housing for adult males experiencing homelessness who also have a substance use disorder. The goal is to ensure sobriety and help the men stay out of the criminal justice system. This grant will support the family support reunification program, which includes counseling, case management and supportive services for families. Annual operating budget: $402,298.
  • Friendship Community Church: $11,675. For the last seven years, the organization has created community programs, event and initiatives through its flagship program, “The Corner.” The west Oakland gathering place provides arts and social safety net programming and a safe “third space” for residents to gather. This funding will go toward capacity building including an intern and new computers. Annual operating budget: $97,553.
  • Hebrew Free Loan Association of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: $15,000. Through this grant, the organization will establish a fund for single mothers seeking interest-free loans. Some low-income single mothers may have difficulty securing traditional loans, which can come with high interest rates if they do qualify. Through this fund, they could borrow up to $1,200. Annual operating budget: $123,765.
  • Hope Empowerment Project: $15,000. Now in its third year, Hope Empowerment Project seeks to be a hub of resources and programs for at-risk youth and their families residing in Duquesne. In addition to hosting charitable events, the organization helps reintegrate high school males who had juvenile detention placements back into the school system. With this grant, Hope Empowerment seeks to expand its Community Meals and Backpack Feeding programs, which provide free, nutritious meals to children and families in need. Annual operating budget of $86,775.
  • Kitchen of Grace, Inc.: $15,000. Established in 2016, Kitchen of Grace’s primary service is a workforce training program, providing at-risk youth ages 16 to 20 with classroom-based and hands-on training related to the food hospitality industry. The $15,000 grant will support the organizations efforts to continue development of its training program, utilizing Cafe on the Corner in the North Side as the primary training lab. Annual operating budget: $50,400.
  • Omicelo Cares: $4,800. This organization uses real estate and business principles to advance the education of community members in gentrifying neighborhoods such as the Hill District, Hazelwood and Homewood. The organization’s programs help community members understand how they can benefit from revitalization in their neighborhood. The $4,800 will provide financial compensation to a small group of high school interns in the spring so that they can apply their newly acquired business education and skills to the early planning of the DreamOn Festival, a free music and ice cream festival. Annual operating budget: $21,145.
  • Rainbow Kitchen Community Services: $15,000. Founded in 1984, Rainbow Kitchen Community Services provides a vital safety net for low-income individuals and those experiencing homelessness in Homestead and surrounding communities. In 2016, Rainbow Kitchen served 1,030 individuals, distributing more than 366,000 pounds of supplemental food and produce through its anti-hunger programs. The organization helps individuals achieve self-sufficiency and works closely with the local magistrate's office to provide court-ordered community service for young people charged with misdemeanor offenses. This grant will benefit the organization’s Anti-Hunger Program which serves low-income residents from six neighborhoods, providing at least a five-day supply of supplemental groceries, as well as toiletries, paper products and diapers. Annual operating budget: $418,757.
  • Serenity Living Transitional Home: $14,868. Born out of a youth mentoring program hosted by a husband and wife in their backyard, this organization provides social supports and shelter to young women between the ages of 18 and 23 who are at risk of homelessness. The organization also provides services to women experiencing truancy or involvement with the Allegheny County Department of Human Services' child welfare system. The $14,868 grant will help fund housing and mentoring programs to help youth develop independent living skills. Annual operating budget: $55,100.
  • Shadow Student Athlete Development Services, Inc.: $15,000. Created in 2010 and incorporated in 2012, this organization provides coaches and mentors to youth and families living in the South Side, Allentown and Hilltop communities of Pittsburgh. Unlike traditional mentoring programs where participants meet with their mentor just once per week or a few times per month, this organization provides mentors to young people for the entire school day, five days per week. The grant will support activities that engage character development, strategic life planning and fellowship/leadership training. Annual operating budget: $403,937.
  • SisterFriend, Inc.: $15,000. Established in 2015, SisterFriend, Inc. is dedicated to the menstrual hygiene management needs for vulnerable women and girls in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The organization distributes more than 5,000 feminine hygiene kits annually, serving girls and women who are veterans or experiencing housing insecurity. The $15,000 grant will allow SisterFriend to expand access to feminine hygiene products. It will also support initiatives to increase awareness of menstrual hygiene issues for at-risk and underserved populations. Annual operating budget: $18,550.
  • SisTers PGH: $15,000. Fiscal sponsor: Proud Haven. This organization serves transgender and gender non-conforming youth in Pittsburgh with a focus on transgender women of color. Trans youth are four times more likely to live in poverty as cisgender youth. Led by a transgender woman of color, SisTers PGH aims to amplify the voices of transgender people in community conversation about housing. This grant will be used to develop a life skills training curriculum for transgender youth and plan a long-term housing initiative. Annual operating budget: $8,324.