The Pittsburgh Foundation

Safety and Justice Microgrant Program  

The Safety and Justice Microgrant Program is designed to support community-led efforts to develop and implement solutions for and raise awareness about overincarceration and racial and ethnic disparities in the county. Nationally and locally, there is growing recognition of the issues associated with the documented increase in jail populations. These issues include the amount of time that people presumed innocent are held in jail awaiting trial, the prevalence of mental health and substance use issues among people involved in the criminal justice system, and the disproportionate incarceration rates of Black people and other people of color. In Allegheny County, Black residents consistently comprise over 60% of the jail population despite making up just 13% of Allegheny County residents. The Safety and Justice Microgrant program recognizes that solutions to these issues must include community-led strategies. The program is intended to uplift and provide resources for efforts to reduce jail population and racial disparities.

The program will fund efforts that are led by those individuals and communities most affected by these issues.

Read more about the program's background and full grant guidelines: 

Download grant guidelines


To be eligible for this grant, you must: 

  • Be a nonprofit with 501(c)3 status as determined by the IRS, or an organized collective that is fiscally sponsored by an organization that has 501(c)3 status as determined by the IRS. If you plan to utilize a fiscal sponsor, please see the Foundation’s fiscal sponsorship guidelines to ensure that your fiscal sponsor meets our requirements.  
  • Have a physical presence in, and work must primarily benefit residents of, Allegheny County. 
  • Address at least one of the four areas of interest identified for this program:
    1. Prevention: Projects and organizations that address the root causes of harm, victimization, incarceration or racial disparities in the criminal justice system. This could include, but is not limited to, direct services that address the unmet social, emotional and/or financial needs of people or communities that have experienced high rates of harm and incarceration. Supported projects will provide interventions that occur before an individual comes into formal contact with the system.  
    2. Community-based diversion models: Projects and organizations that provide alternatives to arrest or incarceration for individuals who have come into contact with the criminal justice system. Supported projects will divert individuals from the criminal legal system by creating a “system” of early identification, assessment and intervention that seeks to address the social/emotional, financial, behavioral and mental health needs of a person within the context of their family, school and community.  
    3. Reentry: Projects and organizations that interrupt the cycle of incarceration. This could include direct services for people who have experienced incarceration, operating costs for organizations that do work to support people reentering communities after incarceration and/or work to reduce recidivism, and other related projects.  
    4. Raising awareness about incarceration: Efforts to raise awareness about the causes and effects of over-incarceration and racial disparities in the system, providing the ability to bridge conversations in the county. 

Additionally, we have developed several priorities for this program. Preference will be given to proposals that: 

  • Demonstrate that the organization and/or program leadership has previous experience delivering programs that align with the four areas of interest, described above. 
  • Demonstrate that the organization and/or project is informed by and/or led by people who are currently or formerly incarcerated and/or their family members.  
  • Address the impact of overincarceration on Black, Indigenous and people of color (Asian, Latino/Latinx, Arab and Native American). 
  • Demonstrate that the organization has an established history in the communities that it serves and has ongoing relationships with community residents who inform its priorities. 


  • Organizational start-up support. 
  • Statewide or national organizations, unless they have an established local office or chapter that meets the above application and eligibility criteria and priorities. 
  • Projects that expressly advocate for or endorse a specific candidate for elected office. 
  • Efforts that encourage voter registration or voter turn-out for a particular political party. 
  • Efforts that use propaganda to lobby or otherwise attempt to influence legislation.  
  • Efforts to plan and/or bring a lawsuit, prosecution or judicial proceeding.  
  • Annual appeals or event sponsorships. 
  • Capital campaigns. 
  • Funding for individuals. 
  • Research. 
  • Debt-reduction. 
  • Educational scholarships. 


Applicants may request programmatic support for new or existing efforts or general operating support that helps the organization advance a mission that supports the goals of this grant program. Please consider the following definitions when determining the type of request that you will submit. 

  • Program support.
    • New programs: Efforts that have not previously been implemented by an organization/group and proposed to reduce incarceration and/or reduce racial disparities.  
    • Existing programs: Efforts that are already being implemented by an organization/group that can be sustained, enhanced or expanded with additional resources to reduce incarceration and/or racial disparities.  
  • General operating support. 
    Available ONLY to organizations that have a mission and core programs that are strongly aligned with the intent of this funding program. General operating support is an unrestricted grant that can be used to cover any of a nonprofit’s expenses. Fiscally sponsored projects are not eligible for operating support.   


We expect that at least eight grants will be awarded in two categories: 

  1. Established organizations/projects: Grants up to $50,000 each will be awarded to support organizations/projects that have been working on efforts to reduce jail population and racial/ethnic disparities for at least five years. Organizations will be best positioned to receive a grant in this category if they: 
    • Have at least one paid, full-time employee. 
    • Have a mission and programming that addresses more than one of the areas of interest (prevention, reentry, diversion, awareness). 
    • Can clearly demonstrate its capacity to advance the goals of this grant program. 
    • Has funding from at least three additional sources (government, foundations, individual donors, etc.). 
  2. Emerging organizations/projects:  Grants up to $25,000 each will be awarded to support organizations/projects that have been working on efforts to reduce jail population and racial/ethnic disparities for less than five years. Organizations will be best positioned to receive a grant in this category if they: 
    • Can clearly demonstrate it has the staff and/or volunteer capacity to carry out the work that this grant will be used to support. 
    • Have been in operation for at least 12 months and have experience delivering programs that are relevant to at least one area of interest (prevention, reentry, diversion, awareness). 
    • Have limited or no support from government or foundation sources. 


Organizations that wish to apply for this grant opportunity will have the opportunity to attend an OPTIONAL information session which will be hosted on Aug. 3, 2022, at 1 p.m.

Register for the information session


All organizations that would like to be considered for funding must submit a brief application through The Pittsburgh Foundation’s online grant portal. The application will request information about the organization and its programs, including a budget that shows how the requested funds will be used. Learn more about the application process

apply on grant portal

For best results, we recommend you use Google Chrome 14 or higher, Firefox 9 or higher, or Safari 4.   

You will be asked to create an account if your organization does not already have one. Once logged on, click “apply” and complete an eligibility quiz.  Once you pass the eligibility quiz, you will be able to access the Safety & Justice Microgrant application.  


All applications will be evaluated by a review team comprised of Community Advisory Committee members, and Pittsburgh Foundation staff. A scoring rubric will be used to determine how well proposals describe organization and/or project alignment with the focus of this grant opportunity.  


Program announcement July 19, 2022
Application deadline Aug. 30, 2022
Grant review panel Sept. 30, 2022
Decisions announced Early November


 The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) is a 12-member community stakeholder  group (there are currently seven active members) that meets monthly to learn about Allegheny County’s current strategies as a part of the Safety and Justice Challenge project. The CAC develops its own recommendations to reduce the jail population and racial disparities. Its charge is to identify gaps in the criminal justice continuum that allow disparities to persist.   

The committee is comprised of individuals with diverse perspectives from the faith-based community, people with lived experiences within the criminal justice system, immigrant and refugee populations, as well as other populations who have been affected by the justice system or who are committed to improving the justice system.