Dozens of Local Project Benefit from Economic Relief Grants

The Richard King Mellon Foundation is providing $5.25 million in grants to 37 local projects.
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PHOTO BY DAVE DICELLO

When the Richard King Mellon Foundation issued a “Request for Ideas” to fund new initiatives in response to the economic downturn from the pandemic, the 235 submissions exceeded the number of proposals it received for all of last year.

According to Foundation Director Sam Reiman, $15 million was set aside for COVID-19 funding, and $5.25 million went to the Economic Impact and Recovery Funding. 

“When we got back the 235 responses, representing a combined 500 organizations, we were pleased, excited, and in awe of what the community was able to do,” Reiman says. “At the same time, it put all of the pressure on us as staff to make good and tough decisions.”

The Foundation came up with five categories to help narrow down the submissions and decide which organizations were most in need. This included looking at proposals that addressed the economic impact of COVID-19 on employees, the increased need for social safety net-related services, people in need of employment, academic assistance and jump-starting the regional economy. 

Using these categories, the Foundation accepted 37 proposals, representing more than 125 collaborating organizations, capping the grant request amount at $250,000 each. Reiman says his team is also speaking to the board about giving grant money to 24 other projects that did not fit in the recovery funding initiative but are equally in need of funding and attention.

Among the projects receiving funding is the Pittsburgh Promise, which helps students and families pay for post-secondary education.

On the health and innovation side, the Foundation has worked with local businesses in places, such as Homewood, by hiring people from the community to manufacture face masks, plastic shields and other personal protective equipment. The Foundation also worked with a California biotech company to provide access to free, COVID-19 tests to anyone who was high-risk or had symptoms of the virus. 

“There have been over 1,500 people tested in these federally qualified health centers with about 50 people testing positive,” Reiman says. “[These are] people who would have otherwise not been able to get that kind of access to testing.”

Click here to download the entire list of grants.

Categories: The 412