The Heinz Endowments has launched a $250,000 mini-grant program to support community-inspired projects in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood that promote family and child well-being or increase comprehensive education opportunities for children and youth. The initiative is designed to provide a broad giving strategy that combines increased community participation, an emphasis on equity, and efforts to encourage partnerships that can leverage more resources.
Grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded to proposals that build on Hazelwood’s strengths while addressing its challenges. The Endowments’ Learning program team plans to expand this grantmaking approach to several other Pittsburgh neighborhoods in the future.
“The Heinz Endowments has a long history of investing in vulnerable communities and using creative approaches to help people and neighborhoods reach their full potential,” said Endowments President Grant Oliphant. “We hope this community-driven focus will help contribute to establishing what we’ve been calling a Just Pittsburgh to improve the quality of life and offer more opportunities for all residents.”
Applications for the grants can be found on the Endowments website, www.heinz.org, and must be submitted by Sept. 8. Grant recipients will be notified of their awards on Oct. 6. Implementation of the projects is expected to begin by January 2018.
As an initiative of the Endowments’ Learning grantmaking area, the mini-grant program focuses on two goals: family and child well-being, and holistic education. While applicants do not have to be based in Hazelwood, all of the work will take place in the neighborhood and incorporate input from community residents.
“We want to incubate new ideas in the community,” said Michelle Figlar, the Endowments’ Vice President of Learning. “This program creates an opportunity for us to listen to and support residents who have ideas that can create positive outcomes for Hazelwood families.”
Learning is one of three strategic priorities established last year to guide the foundation’s grantmaking, and focuses on a range of health, education, social and economic issues affecting families and children in the Pittsburgh region. The other strategic areas are Creativity and Sustainability. The three work together to advance the Endowments’ efforts to fulfill the promise of a Just Pittsburgh and to support innovative programs with the potential of serving as models that can be replicated elsewhere.
Developing the mini-grant initiative has included a series of meetings and workshops in Hazelwood this summer. More than 70 people attended an Endowments-sponsored community conversation in July to explain the program and provide an opportunity for residents and other stakeholders to discuss the neighborhood’s strengths and challenges. Several people praised its diversity, resilience and sense of community, but noted needs such as more job training programs, improved access to transportation and a wider range of social services.
The mini-grant program will focus on families and children, but is not limited to a particular type of project. Applications for funding might include efforts to increase the ability of mothers and their babies to thrive, strategies to enable after-school providers to work together more easily, initiatives that connect early childhood programs with local elementary schools, opportunities for families to share ideas about better parenting skills, or ways to help families and children participate more fully in existing opportunities. Endowments staff will be looking for applicants that “think outside the box” and leverage existing resources.
“It is exciting to partner with the community in a way that honors their wisdom, strengths and abilities to serve families and children in meaningful ways,” said Ms. Figlar.