In the inaugural round of Small and Mighty funding, $85,000 in operating support grants were awarded to:
Allegheny Youth Development: $10,000. This faith-based Northside agency provides out-of-school time programs to improve academic performance and behavioral outcomes for youth grades K-12 at Pittsburgh Morrow Pre-K-8, Pittsburgh Schiller 6-8 and surrounding schools. Programs include 90 minutes of academic support, dinner and 90 minutes of free electives such as Judo, rowing and scouting Monday through Friday, as well as weekend field trips. Annual operating budget: $282,819.
Coraopolis Youth Creations: $15,000. Since 2012, the organization has strengthened families and built community through youth enrichment programs that focus on social, cultural, educational and physical activities. Programming has included backpacks and school supplies for 325 children annually and Christmas gifts to 40 families, Harvest Fest for 150 children and 10 weeks of summer programs to promote healthy eating and physical activity. Funds will help recruit board members and transition from a volunteer to a paid executive director. Annual operating budget: $122,489.
Orange Arrow: $10,000. Since 2013, Orange Arrow’s flagship program, Overtime, uses sports-themed curriculum over four consecutive years with male student athletes ages 10 to 13 to foster leadership, decorum, peer coaching, arts and culture, entrepreneurship, financial management and career exploration. Currently, the program is offered in McKees Rocks, Shadyside, Regent Square, Garfield, West End and Wilkinsburg. College athletes from the University of Pittsburgh's Athletic Department and Robert Morris football team volunteer as assistant coaches for the Overtime program and offer summer academies on the college campuses. This grant will extend the program to possibly five new sites through Pittsburgh Public Schools. Annual operating budget: $106,250.
Prevention Point Pittsburgh: $15,000. For the past 21 years, Prevention Point has been the sole legal syringe access program in Western Pennsylvania, and is the largest provider of community-based overdose prevention training and free naloxone distribution services in the region, as well as counseling, safer sex education and STD testing at its Perry Hilltop, Hill District and Oakland locations. Prevention Point is losing its Oakland space and this grant primarily supports relocation within Oakland, as well as staff retention and expansion of service. Annual operating budget: $350,000.
The Isaiah Project: $15,000. Founded in 2009, The Isaiah Project gives high school-age youth a safe haven from the violence in Pittsburgh's Allentown, Arlington, Beltzhoover, Carrick, Knoxville and Mt. Oliver neighborhoods. The organization provides meaningful work experience, academic supports, violence prevention/life skills groups, community service opportunities and emotional support from caring adults. Some students are offered paid work experience from licensed tradespeople in carpentry, landscaping, electrical work, painting and culinary arts. This grant will help increase management capacity, service delivery and formalize partnerships with other organizations. Annual operating budget: $299,976.
Western PA Community of HOPE: $5,000. This Wilkinsburg-based nonprofit is dedicated to creating an environment where children, young adults and families are encouraged to make healthy choices. Programs include academic help, social support and life skills training; summer camp, community service, and family and community gatherings; and connecting families to additional services. This operating grant will support the organization as it serves at least 20 more children, raises $50,000 in funds, establishes communications guidelines and finds a new space. Annual operating budget: $85,478.
Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank: $15,000. One in three mothers in the U.S. report a lack of sufficient supply of diapers to keep their infant dry, clean, and healthy. Many child care facilities don’t allow parents to leave their children in the facilities without disposable diapers—meaning parents can’t work. Since 2012, this small, volunteer-run organization has worked with more than 30 nonprofit agencies, childcare providers and faith-based institutions to distribute 250,000 diapers at no cost to families in need. This operating grant will support The Diaper Bank as expands warehouse and delivery capacity, uses social media and speaking engagements to raise awareness of need, and unlocks a match from Huggies to significantly increase the supply of diapers available to families in need. Annual operating budget: $119,815.
In the inaugural round of Small and Mighty funding, $145,000 in program and capacity grants were made to:
5A Elite Youth Empowerment: $15,000 to support the pilot phase of the Peacebuilders Institute for Social Justice. An informal survey of youth by the Metro-Urban Institute of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary found that 79 percent of youth ages nine to 18 had a close friend or family member who had been shot. To help youth transition from victim or bystander to change agents, this grant funds the pilot Peacebuilders Institute for Social Justice and Non-violent Interaction program. Fifteen Urban Pathways Charter School high school students will come together each month to cultivate internal peace, define and address community needs, and build peace with peers and leaders. This work will lead to a Youth Manifesto, media event and a Peacebuilders Youth Summit. Annual operating budget: $181,574.
Acculturation for Justice, Access, Peace Outreach (AJAPO): $15,000 to support the cost of immigration services for refugee youth. Between 2000 and 2014 more than 18,000 immigrants and refugees arrived in Allegheny County. As the immigrant population regionally is expected to grow, AJAPO aims to empower refugees and immigrants, helping 320 people each year secure jobs, integrate into schools, adjust their legal status, and rebuild their lives after persecution in their homeland. This operating grant will help 35 young refugees, ages 10 to 24, obtain permanent residency and provides temporary staff to speed up medical and passport photos, application submission and follow-up required by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for 140 children. AJAPO is one of only two organizations in the region providing immigration services. Annual operating budget: $525,271.
Casa San Jose: $15,000 to support the Saturday Bridges to the Future Program. Since 2013, the trained, bilingual staff at Casa San Jose has assisted more than 1,000 low-income Latino immigrant families with referrals for housing, medical care, legal assistance, family issues; advocacy for immigrant rights and immigration reform; assistance with applications for work or social benefits; and after-school programming. This grant will fund the Saturday Bridges Program providing 20 youth ages eight to 16 with homework help, English as a Second Language instruction, Latino-centric art and cultural activities, “Noche de Ciencias (Science Night)” in collaboration with volunteers from the University of Pittsburgh’s Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, field trips through Tickets for Kids, and social activities such as baseball camp and a community garden. Annual operating budget: $126,299.
Open Hand Ministries, Inc.: $15,000 to support the 2017 Family Development Program Circles Cohort. This ministry by four churches in Garfield and East Liberty promotes home ownership by helping local families to become “wealth-builders” through debt reduction, budgeting, saving and investing as they work to become mortgage-ready. Open Hand also transforms vacant or abandoned properties into safe, energy-efficient, and affordable homes for its clients to purchase and provides up to three years of affordable and safe rental affordable housing for clients while they improve their credit, develop a budget, build savings and qualify for a mortgage. This grant funds 12-week “circles” that match client families to allies who provide support, act as a safety net during the wealth-building process and mentor clients as they work to achieve their goals. Annual operating budget: $391,000.
Proud Haven, Inc.: $13,000 to support the hiring of a part-time case manager. Since 2014, Proud Haven has provided safe shelter, emotional support and independent living skills for homeless LGBTQ+ youth ages 12 to 24 through a developing network of partners. The Allegheny County YOUth Count survey found that 38 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. Proud Haven is one of the only resources for safe housing for this population. This grant will fund a part-time case manager to conduct regular outreach, establish consistent office hours to help youth navigate supportive services, and better coordinate with board members to provide housing and social service referrals, transportation subsidies and personal care items. This grant will also support board and staff training on topics such as mental health first aid and comprehensive crisis management. Annual operating budget: $15,000.
Rainbow Kitchen Community Services: $15,000 to support the 2016-17 Anti-Hunger Program. For 32 years, Rainbow Kitchen has been a strong and reliable source of aid for people in need. Its food pantries provide five-day supplies of food to individuals and families. The Kids Café prepares and delivers meals to youth program sites and the breakfast program provides a hot meal each weekday morning to individuals and families, many of whom are homeless. Other quality of life initiatives include winter coat distribution, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, and service and volunteer opportunities for young people. This grant will fund wages for one part-time cook as well as food and supplies with the goal of providing 19,500 dinners through the Kids Café, serving at least 20,000 daily breakfasts, and providing weekly supplies of food to 475 families through its food pantry. Annual operating budget: $407,955.
Recovery United Pittsburgh, Inc.: $15,000 to underwrite the monthly program fee for 10 women in the Female Transitional Living Program. Overdose deaths in Allegheny County nearly double national averages, and our region has a shortage of residential options for those in recovery. Started in 2008, Recovery United Pittsburgh Foundation, Inc. serves Carrick, Mount Oliver, Brookline, the Hill District and surrounding communities. This grant supports programming and living expenses for 10 women in the Transitional Living Program. Programming includes relapse prevention, job training and counseling. Participants will also have access to the outpatient treatment services provided by Recovery United. Annual operating budget: $300,000.
Fight for Lifers West: $9,000 to support 2016-2017 public education and advocacy. Twenty percent of all juveniles in the United States in prison for life without parole are incarcerated in Pennsylvania. In 2012, a group of mothers of juveniles serving life sentences formed Fight for Lifers West to create public support for changes to Pennsylvania laws and to engage the state legislature in reform. This grant will support a two-day workshop by an attorney and Fight for Lifers volunteers at the State Correction Institution Forest in Marienville, Pa., where they will educate 100 inmates about getting their life sentences reduced, and two-subsequent volunteer days at the facility. They will also facilitate a panel discussion for the public and state legislators about the prevalence and impact of the inmate abuse in jails and prisons and will conduct a study of Pittsburgh Public Schools' discipline policies, perceptions and alternatives to the School to Prison Pipeline. Annual operating budget for fiscal sponsor Thomas Merton Center: $268,947.
Steel Smiling: $10,000 to support program costs for the second phase of its community-based mental health pilot program. Steel Smiling is a volunteer-run organization formed in early 2016 to provide African Americans in low-income neighborhoods with basic needs and referrals to quality, affordable mental health services. More than 40 residents in 12 predominantly African American neighborhoods have received financial assistance for basic needs and access to mental health care referrals. This grant will provide at least 50 Arlington Heights residents with three new services: a mental health advocate who will be the first point of contact in determining needs; a social worker to engage one-on-one with residents; and eight hours of mental health "first aide training" including warning signs, crisis response and how to connect people to initial supports. Annual operating budget for fiscal sponsor Thomas Merton Center: $268,947.
Youth Opportunities Development: $15,000 to support the Stay Positive Clairton project to reduce school absences, detention and suspensions. Formalized in 2014, the organization's mission is to ensure peaceful, prosperous communities through mentoring, education and empowerment of youth. The “Stay Positive Clairton” membership program works intensively with students to resolve barriers to school attendance and behavioral issues that result, sometimes unfairly, in school discipline. In 2015, a grade 4 to 8 program was added through the Clairton City School District to improve attendance and reduce detentions and suspensions. This grant will fund the development and implementation of five community projects for at least 300 community members, leading to a 30 percent decrease in detention, suspension and tardiness, and reduce new contacts with the juvenile justice system to less than five percent of members. Annual operating budget: $96,000.
Zellous Hope Project: $8,000 to provide Hope Chests and Hope Vouchers to low-income families in transition. Begun in 2011 as a program of Dress for Success Pittsburgh, Zellous Hope provides women in the Westside communities who are transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing with a "Hope Chest" of essential household items such as dishes, cookware, towels, bedding, and cleaning products. Hope Vouchers help clients pay for necessities such as photo ID for employment or a tire replacement for a car used for work. This volunteer-run program also provides peer advocacy and support for addiction and recovery, referrals to services and Christmas toys. Last year, with a program budget of only $3,000, Zellous Hope Project served 19 families. With this grant, Zellous Hope Project will increase the women served through its Hope Chest and Hope Voucher Programs from 19 to 100 families, providing them with weekly wellness checks to assure their transitions go smoothly. Annual operating budget: $21,500.