Pittsburgh's second-largest foundation, behind the Richard King Mellon Foundation, currently awards grants totaling more than $70 million a year in the areas of arts and culture; children, youth, and families; community and economic development; education; and sustainability and environment. Announced in early February at the first of three planned meetings with grantees, the foundation's new strategic focus on sustainability, creativity, and learning includes making the Pittsburgh area more sustainable over the long term with initiatives related to clean air and water, green and energy-efficient buildings, healthy food, and services for veterans and military families. The foundation also indicated its grantmaking would include a focus on cross-cutting initiatives that advance technology, leadership, and racial and gender equity.
In addition, while the foundation expects to award fewer grants as a result of its strategic refocusing, the dollar amount of many of those grants could grow, said Heinz Endowments president Grant Oliphant. Grantees can also expect to receive more input in the early stages of the funding process — and to be asked to produce "data and metrics" that can be used to evaluate the impact of the work supported by their grants.
Instead of top-down decisions about who will receive money, Oliphant said he envisions a "new power" emerging in Pittsburgh that includes foundations, nonprofits, and government officials collaborating on critical issues. Behind the shift in grantmaking strategy is the belief that Pittsburgh, which has largely transitioned from its predominantly industrial past, must become a sustainable and creative center for innovative industries and the workers those businesses attract, the Post-Gazette reports. The moment is ideal, said Oliphant, to engage civic, cultural, and business officials, given the strong working partnership between Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County executive Rich Fitzgerald; new leaders at the city's largest universities; and a convergence of women in top roles at key regional institutions. "Power is changing. The region's beginning to move dynamically," said Oliphant. "There's new leadership and it's the ultimate carpe diem for the community."