The Pittsburgh-based Heinz Endowments has announced its intention to invest $10 million over three years to enhance the well-being of young children in southwestern Pennsylvania.
With the goal of ensuring that all children in Allegheny County are school-ready when they reach kindergarten age, the initiative will support efforts to provide holistic early childhood care, education, and support to the families of young children. Key components of the initiative include targeted healthcare services for expectant mothers, in-home visits to the families of newborns, and a focus on equitable access to family planning, quality child care, and early learning activities. Funds also will be used to support the efforts of service providers, parents, and nonprofits to advocate for policy changes that address the root causes of poor outcomes for children and families.
Grants already awarded through the initiative include $200,000 to the Allegheny County Health Department to advance health equity as a framework in addressing infant and maternal health mortality; $200,000 to Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania to provide family planning and reproductive health services to un- and underinsured women; $750,000 to Research for Action in support of a pilot project that will examine educational disparities in Allegheny County; and $150,000 to the Women and Girls Foundation in support of the organization's efforts to empower future leaders.
"Kids show up to kindergarten at age five, and we expect them all to be ready," said Michelle Figlar, the endowments' vice president of learning. "But the reality is that access to quality health care and child care, clean air and water, and early learning opportunities can vary greatly from family to family. By working together with both the city and county, we hope to help level that playing field and prevent the need for future interventions down the line."
"The endowments' commitment to prenatal to age three well-being is integral to our vision of a 'Just Pittsburgh' where all have an equitable opportunity to reach their fullest potential," said Heinz Endowments president Grant Oliphant. "Informed by data from recent studies highlighting issues that can disrupt a child's healthy development, this two-generation approach addresses the needs of both parent and child."
(Photo credit: Allegheny County Health Department)