The Pittsburgh Foundation

Pittsburgh Foundation approves $5.5 million in third-quarter grantmaking

More than half of the grants support medical research

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 22, 2018 –  In service to its mission of improving quality of life in the region, The Program & Policy Committee of The Pittsburgh Foundation Board of Directors has approved 26 grants totaling $5.5 million to a range of organizations that support a vibrant democracy, healthy communities and self-sufficient individuals and families.

Ten grants totaling $866,000 align with the Foundation’s 100 Percent Pittsburgh organizing principle, which works to ensure that individuals and families who are among the 30 percent of residents living at or near the poverty level have opportunities to access the economic benefits of Pittsburgh’s renewed economy.

The August awards were reviewed in the third of the Foundations four annual grant cycles. More than half of the total funding – about $2.8 million – will support medical research. This includes a $240,890 grant to complete funding of the Richard S. Caliguiri Endowed Chair in Amyloidosis and Heart Failure at the University of Pittsburgh. To date, the Foundation has endowed eight medical research chairs at the University of Pittsburgh.

In announcing the grants, Pittsburgh Foundation President and CEO Maxwell King cited medical research as a longstanding priority for the Foundation and its donors. Over the previous five years, $10.4 million in medical research funding has been awarded to pursue scientific breakthroughs in areas including precision medicine, cancer and cancer immunotherapy, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, psychotic disorders, and drug development in immunotherapy. “Our hope is that the research we fund now will support revolutionary treatments that were unimaginable just a few years ago,” King said. 

In addition to funding for the Caliguiri Endowed Chair, other medical research grants awarded this cycle include:

  • $750,000 to support the creation of an endowed chair in Personalized Cancer Therapy at the University of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center to improve quality of life and survival rates for cancer patients based on molecular diagnostic tests or biomarkers.
  • $750,000 to the University of Pittsburgh to investigate the root causes of diabetes, insulin resistance and insulin deficiency. Projects include studying the gene that influences metabolic health and engineering cells to cure these conditions.
  • $600,000 for the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Psychiatry to support newly-appointed faculty through residency research fellowships, awards to promising researchers and shared research equipment.
  • $500,000 for two years to develop an imaging strategy at the University of Pittsburgh to clearly and objectively visualize molecular events occurring during sickle cell disease pain crises to ensure that treatments address underlying pathology.

Other notable grants this cycle include:

  • $50,000 to Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Co.* to support the world premiere production of “Savior Samuel” written by Mark Clayton Southers and directed by Monteze Freeland. The play is the first in a series by Southers exploring the lives and themes of African American life in the 19th century. The play exemplifies the 100 Percent Pittsburgh values of supporting racial equity and giving voice to people from affected communities.
  • $70,000 to Open Hand Ministries* in support of its work of helping low- to moderate-income families become homeowners in the opportunity-rich neighborhoods of East Liberty and Garfield. The program includes financial coaching and matches families to vacant houses that are rehabilitated by East Liberty Development Inc. on behalf of the buyer. The goal is to help 12 families become homeowners over the next three years.
  • $75,000 to Familylinks for a second year of support of the Caregivers First Initiative, a free service for Allegheny County caregivers age 60 and older, who can be especially overwhelmed by the challenge of caregiving. The program includes care coaches to help caregivers develop the behavior skills needed to manage challenging care recipients. It also provides caregivers with social and emotional supports to manage stress, encourage self-care, and treat depression that may accompany caregiving.
  • $45,000 to Youth Opportunities Development* in Clairton, where 30 percent of residents live in poverty and just 14 percent have a college degree. This initiative, which was designed by high school-aged youth, is committed to reducing violence, increasing academic achievement, avoiding drugs and alcohol and mentoring younger students. The program also has received grants from the Foundation’s Small and Mighty program. This new grant will cover program costs for 28 boys in grades 3-8 for the 2018-2019 school year.  

*This is a 100 Percent Pittsburgh-related grant.



Douglas Root
The Pittsburgh Foundation