The Pittsburgh Foundation

Next-generation givingPittsburgh’s influx of young professionals brings with it several changes: new restaurants, hip boutiques and changing neighborhoods. It also brings charitably minded people like Rosalind Chow and Jeff Galak to a city that struggles with poverty and other problems. The young couple has decided to give back to their adopted home—and to encourage the “New Pittsburgh” to do the same.

Fund establishers Jeff Galak and Rosalind Chow with their daughter, Lia, at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, where the couple married and now volunteers.

Susan McLaughlin

By Susan McLaughlin

Susan McLaughlin is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh.

When most twenty-somethings get married, have a baby and move to a new city to start their careers, starting a charitable fund isn’t exactly a priority.

But Rosalind Chow and Jeff Galak aren’t most twenty-somethings. Meet The Pittsburgh Foundation’s youngest fund establishers.

“We both grew up in families that emphasized the importance of education and the importance of being grateful for what we had. Our families also emphasized that we had a responsibility to give back to those who didn’t have the same opportunities as we did,” says Chow, associate professor of organizational behavior at Carnegie Mellon Univer­sity. “My experience in college with Big Brothers Big Sisters opened my eyes. I’d been learning in my sociology classes about class-based differences. My Little Sister—who was on a challenging path, even with support at home—made those lessons come alive. I came away from that with a passion for programs that positively impact the lives of people facing disadvantages.” 

Chow and her husband have experience putting that passion to work. They volunteer for several organizations, including the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh. They’re generous financially, too, donating a quarter of their income to charity each year. While taking part in Leadership Pittsburgh, Chow learned about the Foundation as a one-stop shop for achieving their charitable goals. 

The Foundation’s programs are perfect for young people, says Galak, associate professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon. “The Foundation is a wonderful broker for individuals who want to give, but who aren’t always sure what they want to give to,” he says. “We love Lindsay [Aroesty, the Foundation’s director of donor services and planned giving specialist]. She connects our interests in alleviating poverty and promoting education with the needs of different organizations.”

The couple’s focus on helping people in need of assistance has led them to support global efforts such as the Comprehensive Rural Health Project, an organization in India that empowers women from lower castes to act as change agents for their peers. The women become counter-stereotypical role models for others—an outcome that is profoundly powerful to Chow and Galak. 

On a local level, they support The Neighborhood Academy, a school in Pittsburgh’s East End that provides urban students of color with access to a college preparatory education. The couple learned about the Academy, which has a 100 percent college-acceptance rate, from the Foundation. “Jeff and I once joked that if we won the lottery, we would want to open a school to help disadvantaged youth,” Chow says. “When we learned about The Neighborhood Academy in the Foundation’s Wish Book, it was a no-brainer to get involved. We like being able to see the tangible impact our investments have in the community.” 

That tangible impact also drives them to encourage other young people—including their daughter—to get involved in philanthropy. “She’ll grow up knowing she has a good life,” says Galak. “We want her to be aware of that and to give back, too. Every little bit makes a difference.

Communities thrive when residents commit to making their neighborhoods a wonderful place to live. It’s all about being engaged, finding a passion and giving what you can.”

We like being able to see the tangible impact our investments have in the community." Rosalind Chow, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Carnegie Mellon University.

Original story appeared in the 2015-16 Report to the Community