Celebrating 10 Years of Grant Making: 2008-2018

McAuley Ministries proudly celebrates 10 years of grant making

“Ten years have gone by so quickly,” said Patricia McCann, RSM, a Sister of Mercy and a founding board member of McAuley Ministries, recalling the Mercy Community meeting in 2008 at which the Sisters of Mercy intentionally decided to direct 100 percent of proceeds from the sale of Mercy Hospital to establish the McAuley Ministries Foundation.

“The Sisters were firm about keeping the focus on continuing to serve the neighborhoods in which we’ve served since 1847: the Hill District, Uptown, and West Oakland,” Sister Patricia added.

Freedom Corner in the Hill District

“In this first decade, we’ve witnessed the evolution of the McAuley Ministries into a wonderful partnership with churches, service organizations, and leaders in those neighborhoods who share Sisters of Mercy founder Catherine McAuley’s commitment to improving life among our neighbors,” she added. The grant-making foundation is named in honor of Catherine’s life in service to others.

“When we began the foundation, we did exactly what Catherine did,” said Sheila Carney, RSM, a founding McAuley Ministries Board member. “We went into the neighborhoods, and we talked to the people about their needs.”

Robinson Street in West Oakland

“From those conversations emerged a set of priorities which became the basis upon which we make grants. In this way,” added Sister Sheila, “McAuley Ministries draws from the courage of its past the energy to move into the future.”

Uptown (Photo by James Simon)

Grants awarded to community partners by McAuley Ministries have supported numerous health and wellness programs; job training and employment assistance; educational support; affordable housing; sustainable gardening; and community improvement ventures.

“McAuley Ministries’ vision is to be a good neighbor whose support has contributed to neighborhoods that are safe, vibrant, and celebrated, and where residents are healthy and enabled to reach their full potential,” stated Susan Welsh, RSM, a founding board member, and chairperson of the McAuley Ministries Board of Directors.

“We can think of no better way to honor the tradition of Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy and their deep-rooted commitment and tradition of service to the Pittsburgh community,” Sister Susan added.

“It’s been a win-win story, for sure – one which fosters bright hope for future collaborations,” Sister Patricia said.

Learn more about who we are and what we fund.

View the grants we’ve awarded by year.

Stories from Our Community Partners

In celebration of 10 years of grant making, McAuley Ministries is pleased to share stories from several of our community partners. The stories are categorized according to our grant-making priorities:

  • Health & Wellness
  • Community & Economic Development
  • Education
  • Capacity Building
  • Legacy Programs
  • Special Initiatives
    • Affordable Housing
    • Out-of-School Time
    • Workforce Development.

Stories will be updated periodically through the end of the year. We invite you to read them, share them, and check back for updates.

To submit a story for consideration, please contact us.

Health & Wellness

Sisters Place

W. has been in our Permanent Housing Program since 2009. When she arrived with her pre-teen daughter, they had been homeless for several years. Her daughter was an excellent student, but she was quite angry for the ongoing homelessness. W. has a severe medical condition which became the major factor in her inability to negotiate life for herself and her child. Since coming to Sisters Place, she has set and met multiple goals designed to improve her health and help her daughter stabilize. Two years later, the daughter is an honors student in school, and her behavior has improved dramatically.

W. tells us that Sisters Place saved both of their lives. We think they saved their own lives with a little help from us.

Duquesne University Pharmacy

A 72-year-old man presented to one of our screenings early in the summer. Thirty years ago, he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. He explained that he had not been able to afford his medications for the past month and usually skips two or three of his 10 prescribed, oral medications due to not being able to afford every copayment. His lab values were significantly out of range. Additionally, he had not been to his physician regularly over the last few years. When presenting for his first medication therapeutic management appointment, the patient was referred to the emergency room due to an issue with his feet. He returned for a follow-up appointment. We adjusted his medications with a more appropriate regimen, monitored him weekly for the first six weeks, and then stabilized his labs. He now adheres to his new medication regimen and utilizes an electronic pill reminder and insulin watch.

His A1C has dropped 4 percent, and he is more stable. He commented that getting his medications for free saved him.

Grow Pittsburgh

Fresh produce grown in a Hill District community garden

My name is J., and I live on Moultrie Street. I understand that it was your ministries that made the Martin Luther King Community Garden possible. I wanted to personally thank you for this. I had a plot this year (plot 14) as did others. This little garden plot was an absolute joy to tend and harvest. I am 52 years old now, but when I was a child, we would play football and baseball on the field. To be on the field again brings back many memories from my childhood. I consider this a blessing of sorts. I moved away for 13 years and recently moved back. Pittsburgh is changing; the neighborhood is changing. To be involved in something new with memories of the old is truly a wonderful gift. Thank you so much.

Pittsburgh Mercy Family Health Center

Some of the individuals I see are at the beginning of their health journey. One man, who is experiencing homelessness, comes to mind. He started coming to Pittsburgh Mercy Family Health Center in September. Along with a long list of chronic health issues, including diabetes, he was in severe dental pain. I met with him and he was seen by an oral surgeon for multiple extractions. I have continued to meet with him to provide dental education, and finally, I began cleaning his teeth and applied a fluoride varnish. When I was done, He got up and looked in the mirror and with a huge smile he said, “No one has ever cleaned my teeth like that before.

A dental screening at Pittsburgh Mercy Family Health Center

Thank you very much!” I will to continue to see him and help him start making other healthy choices with his diet and lifestyle.

On the other end of the spectrum is an individual who has been in treatment with us since November 2012. When he first came to the health center, he was not taking care of himself. He was homeless, had body lice, alcohol and substance use, and other medical complications. He made an appointment to have his teeth cleaned. He is on his way to caring for himself, has stable housing, and is looking for employment. A success story for the care provided at Pittsburgh Mercy. I am honored to be a small step on his health journey.

Health & Wellness (Affordable Housing)

A youth from Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh makes necessary repairs for a Hill District homeowner.

Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh

J., a homeowner we served on Webster Avenue, sent a thank-you card stating, “I would like to express my humble thanksgiving for the gift of a new roof. I was never as taken aback as when I asked how much it was costing me for my part. I was told nothing, not a cent, that it was free. It brought tears to my eyes. I actually cried. I will be eternally thankful.

“You have given me peace, and I am so grateful.”

Community & Economic Development

FOCUS Pittsburgh

One testimony to the progress of trauma-informed community development occurred during a very unfortunate experience. One of the residents of the 2900-block of Webster Avenue in the Hill District passed away suddenly. Prior to the project, many people would have mourned her loss, as she truly impacted many people in her life. However, what was different now was the over-pouring love and support showed to her family by the block members. If her passing would have occurred before the project began, no one on the block would have known her or been able to support her family. At the subsequent block meeting, the members began with a tribute to her that was absolutely beautiful and touching.

Hill Community Development Corporation (Hill CDC)

Today, the Hill Community Development Corporation (Hill CDC) closed on its first Hill District 100 home! The staff of the Hill CDC worked closely with the home buyer, the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, Dollar Bank, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to assure the successful completion of the renovations and sale.

It was not an easy project, but when the new homeowner shed tears at the closing, we knew we made a difference.

Now, one more Hill District resident can shift their attention from the risk of displacement and focus on wealth building.

Community & Workforce Development

Community Kitchen Pittsburgh

Preparing food at Community Kitchen Pittsburgh

D., an individual who was chronically unemployed, had a history of misdemeanors, and recently received custody of his son, came to us wanting to obtain a job that would allow him to provide stability for his son. He successfully completed our program, found an appropriate apartment during his time with us, and obtained above-minimum-wage employment with health benefits for him and his son, through a large food service company. He has successfully completed 12+ months of retention and remains employed today. He and his son live in an apartment within walking distance to his job.

Travelers Aid of Pittsburgh

K. relocated from Homewood to the Hill District four years ago. She is a single parent of three children. She was referred to the UPMC – Energy Innovation Center (EIC) Environmental Services Technician Training/Employment Program by her brother, who is an alumnus of the program. K. stepped out on faith and quit her $8/hour part-time job for the chance to obtain training and possible employment at UPMC. Until the assistance of the McAuley Ministries and Travelers Aid of Pittsburgh, K. walked to the Energy Innovation Center for classes which began in November, 2017. When given her first bus pass, she commented, “I was so happy that I didn’t have to walk to class anymore.” She accepted employment at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in December 2017, working the overnight shift. “Sometimes, if it weren’t for the bus pass, I wouldn’t be able to get to work. I may have been broke, but I could still go to work.” When asked what was the biggest benefit of this gracious gift, K. explained that the funds that she would have used for transportation was able to be put to other needs for her family. She is very grateful in that she is now earning $13/hour, working full-time with benefits, and was able to save enough money to purchase a vehicle for her and her family. The vehicle makes it safer for her to work the overnight shift (+overtime) and not have to wait for buses late at night and early morning from Oakland to the Hill District. The traveler assistance program assisted K. from walking to training, to taking buses to work, and putting gas in her vehicle.

Eliminating the transportation barrier has far more benefits than just a ride.


Macedonia Family and Community Enrichment (FACE) Center

One of this year’s students, who also attended Girls Circle in 2015-2016, has shown remarkable behavioral improvement over the course of the program. At the end of the first module, the student, who was deeply involved in the disturbances in the spring of 2016 at her school, made a point to comment to Family and Community Enrichment (FACE) Center coordinators that she enjoyed Girls Circle so much because, “I feel like I can think about my decisions and I don’t feel like fighting as much … I can process my thoughts.” The girl, who had significant suspensions last academic year, has not been suspended or even sent to the office in 2016-2017. A second participant was only peripherally involved in the school-wide disturbances in 2015-2016. This year, the student has expressed amazement to program staff at her new discoveries of working in crafts and writing.

She explicitly credits participation in Girls Circle for helping her “feel like I actually like doing things with other girls.”

Program staff have noted a new confidence and openness in the student. She now shares much more freely about her family and the challenges and joys she finds day-to-day in school and in social settings.

Reading is FUNdamental Pittsburgh

McAuley Ministries focuses on providing quality early childhood development programs to the areas that need it most.

Our first visit to Pittsburgh Miller’s PreK this year was also a first for many students; many of the youngest preschoolers had never been on the Storymobile before. In one class, a returning student took it upon himself to make sure that everyone felt welcome. As his classmates were getting settled into their seats for the start of programming, the student proceeded to take charge. He welcomed his classmates to the Storymobile and let them know what was going to happen. He said, “I know that many of you are new to the Storymobile, but this is what we do: we sit down, we listen to Ms. Traci, we sing our songs, we listen to a story, and we play games. The best part is when we choose books and get tattoos. Then, we say ‘goodbye’.”

As everyone was leaving the Storymobile, the student proudly proclaimed, “See? It happened just like I said. I told you it was going to be fun on here.”

Education (Out-of-School Time)

Higher Achievement

Higher Achievement scholar T. started as a shy, soft-spoken, and reserved 5th grader. She was scared to speak in front of crowds. During preparation for last year’s poetry competition, she wrote an excellent poem but was hesitant to submit it because she had to speak in front of everyone. Staff convinced her to submit it anyway and began working with her on her presentation skills. T. performed her poem and was a finalist chosen to go to the Literary Love Poetry Performance at the Hill House Kaufman Center. She was really nervous about this because she would have to perform in front of adults and not just her peers. Furthermore, she had to dress up, and she didn’t like to dress up. Her mother convinced her to participate and wear a dress. Although she was extremely nervous, she performed really well. Her parents shared that it was her first time public speaking, and they were extremely proud of her. Since then, she has participated in our public speaking elective, our Ambassador Town Hall networking event, and our Shark Tank event. She shared with staff how proud she was of getting business cards from people at the networking event because she thought she would only get one due to her shyness.

She overcame her timidity and now has more confidence.

Oakland Planning and Development Corporation School2Career (S2C)

A. is a student at Pittsburgh Milliones University Prep High School. She enrolled in School2Career (S2C) as a freshman. In addition to adjusting to the rigors of high school, A. encountered many challenges at home. We could see through her “teenage attitude” that she was going to do great things. We realized that to help her achieve her career goal to become a psychologist, we needed to help A. improve her self-confidence. We placed her with the Grace Robinson Insurance Agency. Working with Mrs. Robinson, A.’s tasks were to greet clients, make and answer calls, file, learn to input insurance claim information, and print information for clients. A. has the opportunity to shine using her professional, computer and office skills. A. has also excelled in the Microsoft Word 2010 certification program. She was the first student to pass all three levels (basic, intermediate, and advanced) with a score of over 900 out of a possible 1,000 points.

Not only is A. an incredible S2C youth who participates with distinction, she also is a Center for Advanced Studies high honor student and student council member.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh: Hill District Location

A. was among the teens who participated in and completed the Summer Skills Intensive program. An aspiring artist, A. wrote, recorded, and performed an original song to a supportive group of peers and adult mentors. Because of this grant, she had access to professional-quality microphones, audio interfaces, and software used in the music business.

She connected with artists and was able to use this experience to build her résumé.

Capacity Building

Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship

D. came every day to our Drop-In Center last year. She has a history of excessive alcohol use. She had tried several treatment programs, but she was unable to stay away from alcohol. Her partner is also addicted to alcohol. Most people said she was hopeless. We helped her get into a treatment program and helped her find a short-term residence. She’s now sober and enrolled in an educational program to learn how to work in a professional kitchen. This program will help her find a job after she completes her education.

This once “hopeless” person is full of hope for her new life. We pray with her and thank God together for all that He has done in her life.

Generation NEXT: Ciara Sing

Ciara Sing (Photo by Jacquelyn McDonald)

I would like to sincerely thank you for not only the gift card, the beautiful pictures, and the kind words, but most importantly for this opportunity that you give to young African-American youth in Pittsburgh.

In today’s world, especially most recently, it seems like I’m always conflicted with many emotions, but mainly exhaustion and disappointment. It seems like we can’t go another day without huge trauma affecting our world. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night because of the fear that next it could be someone I know or worse. Talking to a lot of youth around Pittsburgh, we tend to forget a lot of times about the importance of self-care. Now it’s to the point where we can no longer try to digest these deep sorrows.

It’s refreshing knowing that not all adults expect the worse from us. It’s refreshing knowing that not all adults have already given up on us. It’s refreshing knowing that there are adults like you and all of those who are part of your organization who applaud youth and highlight those who aren’t trying to get caught in the stereotypes.

I can never thank you and Ms. Renee Aldrich (the feature’s writer) enough.

No matter how much I may think that what the youth in Pittsburgh are doing is falling on deaf ears, we always have people like you and God supporting me and supporting youth, which will forever make me strive harder for a world I want to grow up in. You give me hope. God bless you.