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

Bethlehem Haven

C. came to Bethlehem Haven’s emergency shelter after she was evicted from her boyfriend’s apartment. C. had a history of trauma and anxiety; she was self-medicating and addicted. After meeting with the therapist, the team learned that she had been raped multiple times by family members as she was growing up. This likely led to her anxiety and addictive behaviors. The team quickly realized that she would need to address her addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder to remain employed and stable in housing. She entered treatment at the Bethlehem Haven Health and Wellness Clinic. Within weeks, she was placed in a transitional housing program for women in early recovery from addictions.

“C. is now working again and has remained sober since beginning the program.”

Consumer Health Coalition

Consumer Health Coalition participated in an outreach event that was a resource fair for small business owners. At the event, a consumer approached the table looking for information on health care. He informed Kayla, our health care navigator, that he was losing his health insurance at his job due to switching from full-time to part-time status. He did not know how to go about getting health insurance on his own, but because of his medical problems, he wanted to ensure he would have coverage. He lives in the Hill District and qualified for a Special Enrollment Period in Marketplace Insurance. Kayla scheduled an appointment with him the following week.

“She assisted the individual with completing the application and enrolling in a health insurance plan that would begin when the health insurance he received from his job ended so there would be no gap in coverage.”

He was very grateful for our services.

Duquesne University Pharmacy

A middle-aged woman presented at a health education event hosted at the YMCA. The results of the screening: total cholesterol 260 and blood pressure greater than 160/100. The pharmacist counseled the individual on the associated risks and urged the patient to see her primary care physician at the Hill House Health Center and tell the nurse the results when she called to make the appointment. The patient explained that she had not been taking her high blood pressure medication due to a lack of medical insurance, and she had not seen her doctor. The Hill House Health Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center; they see persons who lack the ability to pay. We were able to explain this to the individual and assure her that they would provide care and that the Duquesne University Pharmacy would work with them to provide her medications.

“The next day the woman was seen by her physician and presented to the pharmacy with prescriptions for her medications. She said to the pharmacist, ‘The doctor told me you just saved my life.'”

The impact of the Pharmacy outreach program demonstrates daily value and positive health outcomes. We appreciate the support of McAuley Ministries in continuing the mission.

A visitor enjoys the sensory room at Pittsburgh Mercy

Pittsburgh Mercy

We stopped at Pittsburgh Mercy’s Ross Center Adult Training Facility, a day program for adults with intellectual disabilities. As I walked by the sensory room, a staff member told me how wonderful the room is and how so many of the people truly benefit from it. Just wanted to thank you and let you know it makes a difference.

The Thelma Lovette YMCA

Families who joined when we opened in April 2012 continue to benefit from consistent use of the wellness center and pool. Parents are able to exercise while their children are safely watched by our staff or participating in a program.

One family in particular has been able to utilize our after-school program in addition to the wellness facility. This mother works full-time and has three school-age children who attend Hill District schools.

The Thelma Lovette YMCA

“The chance for a parent to have even an hour of time for themselves to clear their mind or stay active and healthy has a huge benefit for the whole family and is often a hard opportunity for single-parent families to find.”

She can remain at work and be assured her kids will be in a safe environment after school. When she picks them up at 5:30 p.m. they can stay and play in the gym or watch other children while she has a chance to work out.

Health & Wellness (Affordable Housing)

A youth from Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh works on home repairs for a Hill District home owner.

Nazareth Housing

D. is 60, single, and disabled with a severe neurological disorder and osteoarthritis. He lives in the home he inherited from his parents. His monthly income is $933. He received musical training through the public schools and private lessons, and plays jazz saxophone for his church. He also has a degree in interior design. Prior to his disability, he had a successful business. He has computer skills and is creating an interactive website for his church. His urgent home repair needs included spot pointing, capping the chimney, rebuilding a section of the exterior wall that had dropped several inches, replacing a dangerous front step and concrete pad, building interior steps into the kitchen, replacing windows, and repairing a damaged porch ceiling.

Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net®

E. is a 47-year-old man who lived in a tent under a South Side bridge. During the three years he resided there, he witnessed many horrific things, faced many challenges, and experienced many losses. E. was referred to A River to Home, a permanent supportive housing program supported by Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net®. He moved into an available unit in the Hill District. Since he moved in, E. has made so many positive advances. He has obtained short-term employment assignments, applied for Social Security benefits, and enrolled in a GED program through Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania. He began attending weekly mental health counseling at Pittsburgh Mercy. He also attends Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings twice a week. Due to his personal experience with being homeless, he has empathy for others who are still facing that obstacle. As a result, he made the personal decision to volunteer his time both at Pittsburgh Mercy’s Winter Shelter and Wellspring Drop-In Center.

“E.’s goals are to help others and spread the knowledge that one can rise above their current circumstances.”

His long-term goal is to obtain his GED so that he can apply for positions in the human service field. The one thing that E. says he is most proud of since obtaining housing is having the opportunity to rebuild his relationship with his niece from whom he had been estranged during his period of homelessness. He enjoys preparing meals for her, playing video games, and spending quality time with her at his home.

Community & Economic Development

Amani Christian Community Development

Our seniors appreciate our service. They provide us with water in the summer and offer coffee in the winter. We have dug out their cars in the winter and cut the weeds coming over their fences in the summer. It is the friendly interaction with seniors that is an added benefit to actually doing the work. One of my favorite clients, Q., lives alone and is a shut-in. She has a ramp from her front door to the sidewalk. She rarely comes outside, but in the winter, she travels to the store, her doctor’s office, and the pharmacy.

“The removal of the snow from her ramp and the sidewalk enhances the entrance and exit to her home for her caretakers.”

We have a row of homes that are a part of our service base. One resident, C., has been chosen to be the contact person. C. will call when the residents need services. The youth in our program who actually do the work are from the Upper Hill and the Bedford Hill community. These young men are my neighbors and started out with me on the project. We’ve developed a camaraderie that I think we all enjoy, except when I wake them up early in the morning. I enjoy them and our time together.

Friendship Community Presbyterian Church & The Corner

A University of Pittsburgh student attended our jazz night celebration in April, and then began attending Friendship Community Presbyterian Church and volunteering at The Corner Café. She wrote the following in a recent email: “I honestly feel as though I owe you thanks. Friendship Community Church (FCC)/The Corner is such a special place (a place I can’t imagine my life without), and I never would have known if it weren’t for the jazz night that you organized. So, thank you! You’re making a difference!” This student recently moved into an apartment in Oak Hill where she and her roommates will be hosting a Bible study for college students. She has also invited and escorted a local senior shut-in to FCC services.

“The student and a few neighbors, including a long-time resident who’s a retired social worker, are now working together to help meet the senior resident’s many other needs.”

Oakland Planning and Development Corporation

Thanks to support from McAuley Ministries, Oakland Planning and Development (OPDC) awarded façade improvement grants to four homeowners in West Oakland this summer. Grants enabled residents to replace front windows; seal window openings to improve efficiency; paint front porch railing and posts; weatherize front doors and windows, seal and stain a front porch, install a railing on front steps to meet city code; replace landscaping on a front hillside; replace front steps, which were unsafe and crumbling; implement preventive measures to preserve and extend the life of a concrete retaining wall; replace a damaged retaining wall; repoint a chimney; and repair front fascia. OPDC awarded $11,511 in matching funds for these projects, leveraging a total investment of $28,787 in West Oakland.

Small Seeds Development: Mother to Son Program

My son and daughter are benefiting from the Mother to Son (MTS) program through education, support, activities, and group mentoring.

“I’m learning how to better engage my children in activities that I can afford. I’ve learned how to spend quality time with my family and not to feel guilty because I work.”

I was experiencing parent/child conflicts with my son. Things have calmed down because of resources and support that I didn’t have before. We’ve gained the support of families and staff in the program. MTS staff is committed to the work of socializing, educating, and empowering families.

Uptown Partners of Pittsburgh

Takara C. paints Auset B.’s face at a community event in Uptown. (Photo courtesy of Uptown Partners of Pittsburgh)

Uptown Partners (UP) planned and implemented a community festival last fall to focus on safety and stress in our low-income residential sector. Some 100 residents enjoyed socialization, games, bonfire, prizes, resource information, health screening, child protection devices, free lunch, backpacks, meditation CDs and stress-relief booklets, music, and an opportunity to explore EMS and SWAT vehicles. Some 12 police officers interacted with families to build relationships and trust. UP engaged two community residents, providing small stipends for their assistance teaching families in multi-family, subsidized housing.

Community & Economic Development (Workforce Development)

Community Kitchen Pittsburgh

 One of our young men, V., just secured a great job at Paragon Foods in Warrendale with a starting wage of $12 per hour with room for advancement and benefits in six months.

“The only reason he was able to secure this job is that he was able to get his driver’s license through the grant you provided.”

There is no public transportation from the city to their location. A big thank you – these seemingly “small” things really do make a big difference. We are very thankful that we are able to offer this support to our clients.

Neighborhood Learning Alliance

Through this grant, we were able to hire a Hill Warrior who had just completed her first year at a local university. B. is interested in working with children, but is still figuring out whether she wants to be a teacher, a social worker, or something else. She noted that working as a Reading Warrior gave her the chance to hone her education skills and put her in a direct-service position, something that she recognizes as a rare opportunity for a college student. She continued her work with the Warrior program into the 2016-17 school year. Another Hill Warrior had just completed 8th grade and was on his first job experience with Neighborhood Learning Alliance this summer.

“At first, very shy and seemingly unsure, C. blossomed in his role working with children at the Thelma Lovette YMCA.”

Our program partner at the Y mentioned how much this particular Warrior had grown over the summer and how exceedingly kind and polite he was. He chose to continue on as a Warrior into the 2016-17 school year and continued to help Hill District elementary children through his placement at Pittsburgh Miller.


Hill House Association

As we prepared to take off on our flight to Ireland, one of the students spoke about the impact of the trip. “I’ve never been on an airplane before. I’m nervous. I can’t believe that my first flight is going to be out of the country. Nobody in my family has ever been out of the country. Now I have a passport and will be flying over the ocean to Ireland. I’m still not sure what to expect, but I can’t wait to see what’s there.” By the end of the trip, this student was bitten by the travel bug. “Now, I want to become a nomad. I want to travel around the world and see other places … When I become a parent, my family will be a nomadic tribe … going from place to place.” A parent shared her reflections: “I was excited about my child being chosen for the trip. African-Americans need to think about ways to get their children into the world.

“This is not just an opportunity for families with the resources … it should be something that we aspire to for our kids.”

But, I was nervous, too. None of my children has been so far away from home … from me … But, this is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I trust Hill House with my child.”

Macedonia Family and Community Enrichment (FACE) Center

A family who is caring for a teenager experiencing homelessness was referred to Macedonia FACE. Due to the addition in the household, it caused a disruption with the family schedules. As a result of Community Truancy Intervention Program (CTIP) involvement, a discussion ensued about family schedules and needs of all of the children within the home. Within a short time, there was significant improvement with the younger children in the home. At the time of the referral, one of the children in the home was failing three classes and had two Ds in other classes. In the recent marking period, the student in question earned one A; Bs and Cs; and one D. Another family was referred to CTIP because the student had been late 10 times within the previous month. As a result of working with the family, a bus pass was provided to the family. Within the last month the student has been late only one time.

Reading is FUNdamental

Reading helps prepare youth for educational success.

The parents of the children in Pittsburgh Miller’s Pre-Kindergarten classrooms are becoming engaged in our program. A single father shared that his daughter loves to be read to, and together, they read her Reading Celebration book every night before bed.

“The father has now asked his daughter’s teacher for recommendations of other books that they can read together.”

For Christmas, the dad bought his daughter a bookshelf to organize her new, growing collection. One shelf is reserved for her special Storymobile books.

Education (Out-of-School Time)

Ozanam Inc.

The next generation, girls basketball tradition at Ozanam Inc., housed at Ammon Recreation Center in the Hill District, is in good hands with D., a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Pittsburgh Miller PreK-5. D.’s doing incredible work, learning how to balance academics and athletics. She’s a high honors student. “I pay attention in the classroom, I complete and turn in homework assignments on time, and I study and pass tests,” D. added. D. She attends the Ozanam After-School Program where she receives homework help from tutors and Ozanam staff. “I read books and get tutored in multiplication and division with my school math work. I work on writing sentences, paragraphs, and stories, which includes working on my spelling. The [tutors] helped me to get ready for math and reading tests.” D. has been part of Ozanam After-School Program for two years.

“According to D., ‘The best part of coming to Ozanam is getting help with homework then going to the gym to play basketball and exercise.’”

D. enjoys playing basketball. She’s one of a handful of girls playing in the boys under 10 league. “I have fun with friends, eating snacks, and playing different sports like flag football, basketball, and dodgeball,” D. said.

Capacity Building

Bayer Center at Robert Morris University: Skills-Based Volunteer Project

Community Kitchen Pittsburgh (CKP) reported that procedures were put into place that improved their operational efficiency.

A young man prepares food in Community Kitchen Pittsburgh

Whereas the organization had been saddled with multiple and daily corrective deliveries before the project, they’ve been able to reduce the number of corrective deliveries to one to two per week. Because they are spending less time correcting errors, they’re able to spend more time training participants in their Transitional Job Opportunities program.

“Streamlining operations has improved the culture and environment, and has had a direct impact the bottom line.”

CKP was giving out thousands of dollars in credits each month last year for delivery mistakes, and those credits have dwindled.

Center that C.A.R.E.S.

For 15 years, the Center that C.A.R.E.S. has been involved in doing the work that means a great deal to us and to the community. During the process of renovating the former Ozanam Cultural Center into the Jeron X. Grayson Community Center, we greatly benefited from the process of evaluating our history, our mission, and our vision for the next 15 years – and beyond. With the support of funders like you, we were able to complete a three-year fiscal plan, an organization overview, and a program evaluation. Being on the inside, it has been helpful to have sets of eyes that offer supportive, yet objective points of view. Our consultants helped us to see ourselves, understand and value our processes, and have critical conversations about moving forward. Many parents depend upon the strength of C.A.R.E.S. Much of that strength comes from building relationships over years of service, and this process is going to increase our ability to be a strong community partner.

“Since the opening of the Center, students that have grown through our pre-kindergarten through 6th grade program have returned to us. Many in our community have exclaimed that they are glad that we have ‘something for them’ or a ‘place for them’ during the year.”

We have expanded our programming to include portions that focus on the strengthening of families, and we are already seeing early results from a pilot group. This is just the beginning of what we hope the Center becomes.

Higher Achievement

Thank you for sponsoring Hill District providers to attend the Forbes Funds’ Nonprofit Summit. I especially valued the “Purpose-Built Communities” workshop. The “First-Time EDs” workshop was valuable, too! I couldn’t have attended without your sponsorship!

Program to Aid Citizen Enterprise (PACE): Executive Coaching Program

“I believe there is value in African-American executive leaders receiving coaching from African-American coaches because of their ability to relate to one another without a great deal of effort, fact finding, or testing the waters.”

Mentoring and coaching helps prepare youth for success.

There are disparities African-Americans face every day that are not present when receiving coaching from another African-American.

This is a wonderful program. Leadership is not easy. The coaching model will certainly benefit our organization going forward. I would highly recommend it for others.