McAuley Ministries Awards 24 Grants Totaling Over $1.6 Million to Nonprofit Organizations

PITTSBURGH (February 19, 2024) McAuley Ministries, Pittsburgh Mercy’s grant-making foundation, has awarded 24 grants totaling over $1.6 million to support capacity building, disaster response, education, empowerment, environmental care, essential needs and social services, peacemaking, and whole-person health initiatives in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, Uptown, and West Oakland; its three focus neighborhoods. Over the past 15 years, McAuley Ministries has awarded 975 grants and community support totaling over $56 million.

“These grant awards are a representation of the strength of our community assets and the vitality of our neighborhoods,” stated Marisol Valentin, executive director of McAuley Ministries. “In 2023, the McAuley Ministries Board of Directors, together with our Advisory Council members and our community partners, spent time re-envisioning education along the Mercy Corridor covering the Hill District, Uptown, and West Oakland. We are rich in assets that support our children, schools, and families, but we do not have a community plan to coordinate the resources. By partnering with A+ Schools, we can build the ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ movement where we, as a community, wrap around our kids and support the vision our public schools have for their spaces.”

A+ Schools Pittsburgh Executive Director James Fogarty stated, “A+ Schools is proud to support the work of so many great organizations working in the Hill District with McAuley Ministries. There are incredible assets supporting our children and families, and working together we can remove the barriers and coordinate the resources so that every kid is in every school every day. This model has proven to be effective in schools in the North Side, especially Pittsburgh Perry Traditional Academy, where support from the Buhl Foundation has led to a teacher-led plan that leverages community supports to create opportunities for children. We look forward to continuing the work of learning from schools, families, and organizations about their opportunities and challenges, and we’re honored to have the support of McAuley Ministries to do this work,” Fogarty continued.

Grouped by grant-making priorities, the recipients of McAuley Ministries’ most recent grants are:

Capacity Building

  • Bethel-Trinity Community Development Corporation (BTCDC): $51,000 for general operating support. Bethel-Trinity CDC’s vision grew out of the deep racial inequities experienced by the Bethel A.M.E. Pittsburgh’s congregation. In reclaiming a measure of restorative justice by coming to an agreement with the Pittsburgh Arena Real Estate Redevelopment LP and the Pittsburgh Penguins, BTCDC is directly confronting the systemic racial inequities in the Hill District neighborhood and beyond by working to create a new model of community development, by and for the community and its people. BTCDC community center will offer safe and beautiful spaces for learning and living and will model a program that promotes home ownership and generational wealth-building.
  • Hill Dance Academy Theatre (HDAT): $10,000 to support 15 students and six faculty to attend the 34th Annual International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance in Memphis, Tenn. Held in January, the conference focused on artists, education, leadership, and youth. In 2025, HDAT will host the 35th Annual International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance in Pittsburgh, making it the first academy to co-host the annual Conference and Festival. This historic moment will take place during HDAT’s 20th anniversary year-long celebration. HDAT’s mission, to provide professional level training in Black Dance traditions, history, culture, and aesthetics that engages and empowers students to pursue careers in Black dance, has remained the core focus and intentionally drives the curriculum, programs, performance, and development of faculty and students.

Disaster Response

  • Salvation Army: $7,500 to support families impacted by the August 12, 2023, house explosion in the Rustic Ridge development in Plum Borough.

Education

  • A+ Schools Pittsburgh: two grants totaling $112,000 to provide the data, tools, strategies, facilitation, and coordination of resources at the family, school, and community-wide levels to address the barriers that are the root causes of chronic absence and student academic failure. For too many residents of the Hill, the economic disadvantages that families face are a function of years of systemic racism and oppression. A+ Schools will work with school staff, community partners, students, and families to identify issues, needs, and barriers to coordinate community resources to address the community challenges (housing, health, transportation, etc.) that impact attendance and co-create interventions with schools, so they are places where students and families want to be.
  • Homeless Children’s Education Fund (HCEF): $20,400 for out-of-school time (OST) and cultural enrichment programming. Students experiencing homelessness have an increased need for high-quality out-of-school time learning. Housing instability brings a multitude of stressors that impede their ability to focus on academics and build positive relationships. HCEF’s out-of-school time learning is a critical way to reach students experiencing homelessness in Allegheny County and bridge their formal and informal learning. Working collaboratively with three major housing agencies, HCEF designs holistic and open-ended learning opportunities for its children and families.
  • Neighborhood Learning Alliance (NLA): $51,000 for the Energizing Tomorrow’s Future Career Leaders & Workforce program. Neighborhood Learning Alliance strives to improve education and opportunities of lower-income families within Allegheny County through strategic partnerships with the community and faith-based organizations. In line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and inspired by Pittsburgh’s new federal workforce development hub designation, NLA aims to create elementary afterschool and summer camp career pathway activities that expose low-income and minority elementary students to mid-to-high paying career fields through interactive design labs.
  • Strong Women, Strong Girls Inc. (SWSG): $25,500 to empower girls to reach their full potential. SWSG acknowledges that racial inequities have led to academic and wealth gaps, meaning that higher education is less accessible to girls of color. The purpose of this project is to empower girls in the Hill District to envision a broader future for themselves. SWSG will implement their core mentoring program at four program sites in the Hill District: ACH Clear Pathways, Wesley Center, Pittsburgh Miller, and Pittsburgh Weil. This is a curriculum-driven, female-centered mentoring program that will reach 30 girls in grades 3-5 in the Hill District.

Empowerment

  • Catapult Greater Pittsburgh: $51,000 for homeowner and homebuyer support in the Hill District. The homeownership program is focused on helping low-income, primarily Black families improve their financial health, become first time homebuyers, and/or protect their existing homes as a key asset for generational wealth building. Focused on Hill District residents, Catapult will provide a comprehensive trauma-informed financial counseling and education program (SAVE), a repurchase counseling and support program (DOOR), as well as an existing homeowner programming (KEY) that will focus on education around home maintenance, understanding mortgage, escrow, tax, and insurance payments; estate planning; and avoiding predatory lending. Their newest initiative will include Tangled Title clinics and financial support for critical home repairs.
  • Pittsburgh Scholar House: $102,000 for the Wayfinders Program PILOT in the Hill District. The Pittsburgh Scholar House’s Wayfinders Program addresses the barriers that impede degree completion for single-parent families in the Hill District. Many of these families are highly motivated to earn degrees but face significant challenges due to poverty, which hinder their progress. These challenges include limited access to childcare, transportation, and the resources necessary to navigate higher education. This program provides critical education navigation support, conducting comprehensive family needs assessments and developing academic success plans.
  • Ujamaa Collective: $306,000 over three years to grow and sustain a hub of Black cooperations. Ujamaa Collective was founded with a social mission to act as a catalyst to advance Africana Women by providing a fair-trade marketplace for cultural, artistic, and entrepreneurial exchange through cooperative economics in the Historic Hill District and beyond. The funds will support an ongoing cooperative development for Black creative businesswomen through shared marketing, sales, placemaking, and training, as well as to additionally nurture and contribute to the ecosystem and relationships that will undergird the cultural shift necessary for these values-based businesses to thrive.

Environmental Care

  • Women for a Healthy Environment (WHE): $20,400 for a pilot program that will explore the correlation of absenteeism and environmental triggers in the home. WHE believes environmental triggers which exist often in the home can be a cause for an underserved child to seemingly miss more school. Working with various community organizations as well as school building personal in the proposed schools to identify students who are missing instruction time due to asthma or allergy issues. WHE’s overarching goal is to ensure all children, especially focusing on those in our selected communities, have access to equitable programs and resources to succeed in school.

Essential Needs & Social Services

  • Acculturation for Justice, Access, and Peace Outreach (AJAPO): $10,000 in emergency funding to support housing for newly arriving refugees. AJAPO is a refugee resettlement nonprofit organization. As their first point of contact in the United States, refugees received through AJAPO to Pittsburgh, are provided with a myriad of services to assist their resettlement. These include housing, cultural orientation, medical, transportation, employment, school enrollment, childcare, government IDs, and a continuum of social services coordination up to five years after their arrival in the United States. Approximately 28% of the refugees they serve settle along the Mercy corridor.
  • 412 Food Rescue Inc: $51,000 for food recovery operations. To reach more families and individuals experiencing food insecurity along the Mercy corridor, 412 Food Rescue aims to expand and scale its revolutionary food insecurity intervention and food waste prevention efforts. 412 Food Rescue partners with food retailer donors, nonprofit organizations, and volunteer drivers to provide surplus food to individuals and families who are experiencing food insecurity in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty. To further access to healthy food, their Good Food Project brings nutritious prepared meals straight to the doorsteps of those who need it most.
  • Community Human Services (CHS): $51,000 for food pantry support. CHS’ largest food pantry provides individuals and families with free, fresh food from all food groups to assist in optimal nutrition and well-being. Located strategically in the neighborhood of Oakland, CHS works to eliminate food scarcity in Allegheny County by distributing food, with minimal qualifications required, to people in need. The focus is on healthy, fresh, and accessible food with a wide variety of products that fit the needs of unique diets and cultures. CHS provides individuals and families with fresh fruits and vegetables, non-perishable food items, dairy products, and a choice of meat and fish.
  • Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank: $51,000 to feed neighbors along the Mercy corridor. Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank aims to enable our neighbors to have nutritious food, to connect people to community resources so they can thrive, and to build new initiatives that address food insecurity far into the future. Racial disparities in food security, poverty, and access to fresh food and health care — the result of systemic racism — have led to many people of color having a greater incidence of underlying health conditions that make them particularly vulnerable. Conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are often diet-related, making food insecurity one of the most critical social determinants of health.
  • Hill District Consensus Group (HDCG): $153,000 over three years for general operating support. HDCG mission is to create effective pathways for intergenerational residents to overcome economic, social, and housing disparities. Its framework includes emphasizing prevention, displacement, and eliminating barriers for people before they become a crisis within their homes by working with legal aid, the URA, ACTION-Housing, etc., to help stop the revolving door to eviction.
  • Jubilee Association Inc.: $51,000 for operations support. Founded in 1979 as a soup kitchen, Jubilee now offers a comprehensive array of social services to help people achieve self-sufficiency. Jubilee provides services in the areas of basic needs, social services, housing assistance, employment, childcare, and outreach. Many individuals come in crisis and have nowhere else to turn. Jubilee improves the stability of low-income people, particularly among minority populations, by providing direct access to food, clothing, and hygiene items; preventing homelessness by providing financial assistance to cover rent, utilities, transportation, and other related costs; quality, affordable childcare; counseling and case management support; and employment assistance.
  • The Pittsburgh Contingency Inc.: $153,000 over two years to the Pittsburgh Contingency as the fiscal agent for the Senior Jazz Connection (SJC). In 2019, the SJC organized four events blending music, senior services, social opportunities, and good food for seniors. The success of these events inspired SJC to continue, but events were paused temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With funding support from McAuley Ministries, SJC relaunched the concept in winter of 2022, building on lessons learned and responding to increased demand for opportunities for socialization. The Senior Jazz Connection and Resource Fair is a bi-monthly event rotating through senior communities and community venues. Each Jazz Café features live music, a hot meal, and an array of community-based service providers serving seniors. The service providers will be vetted to ensure low-barrier access and high need in the community.
  • Sisters Place Inc.: $153,000 for the supportive housing services provided by Sisters Place, a Sisters of Mercy legacy program. Sisters Place has 30 years of expertise in housing initiatives. Since relocating to the Hilltop area in 2020, Sisters Place offers safe support services and is bridging resource gaps that make parent and family well-being possible. In addition to their Supportive Housing Program for families experiencing homelessness, Sisters Place has offered homelessness prevention services to the community and is committed to being a safety net for families when ends don’t meet.

Peacemaking

  • Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP): $51,000 for the Civic Engagement, Racial Equity, and Anti-Violence Project. B-PEP and its on-going advocacy are well regarded in the African American community as it speaks up loudly on almost every occurrence of racial injustice, abuse, and inequity that arises in the region. B-PEP will continue its civic engagement get-out-the-vote efforts in 2024 and will employ all its election cycle activities in each election. B-PEP has also joined with other concerned groups to initiate conversations with the local police to address areas of concern and to inform the public about relevant public safety issues that affect them.
  • The Pittsburgh Contingency Inc.: $25,500 to the Pittsburgh Contingency serving as the fiscal agent for Project Safe Storage. The newly formed organization uses community events to educate individuals on safe gun storage and the impact of gun violence with the goals to reduce the number of accidental shootings, injuries, and deaths in children; firearm thefts; suicides; and incidences of gun violence. In addition, the purpose is to have open dialogue about firearm safety in the home, provide the RAC as an instant take-home solution; provide education, awareness, empowerment, engagement, and resources; and develop collaborative solutions to address these pressing public health issues. The events aim to create a space for open, constructive dialogue, knowledge sharing, and collaboration.

Whole-Person Health

  • The Thelma Lovette YMCA: $153,000 over three years for membership assistance. The YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh is made up of people of all ages and from every walk of life working side by side to strengthen communities. Together, they work to ensure that everyone, regardless of ability, age, cultural background, ethnicity, faith, gender, gender identity, ideology, income, national origin, race, or sexual orientation, can reach their full potential with dignity. The Thelma Lovette YMCA will partially fund memberships for 65 families each year. The grant will also support youth programs such as swim lessons, flag football, and the Junior Cavs, a fair play youth basketball learning league that emphasizes having fun while encouraging skills development, teamwork, sportsmanship, and community involvement.
  • UPMC Matilda H. Theiss Family Health Center and the Hill District Rebels Youth Football Team: $5,000 to secure an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) machine for the Hill District Rebels Youth Football Team.

About McAuley Ministries

Named in honor of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of MercyMcAuley Ministries is the grant-making foundation of Pittsburgh Mercy. McAuley Ministries, which is celebrating 15 years of grant- making, serves as a catalyst for change, committing resources and working collaboratively to promote healthy, safe, and vibrant communities. Grant-making priorities include capacity building, education, empowerment, environmental care, essential needs and social services, peacemaking, and whole-person health initiatives for nonprofit organizations which focus on the Hill District, Uptown, and West Oakland, the three Pittsburgh communities historically served by the Sisters of Mercy. McAuley Ministries also provides support to organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania that are sponsored by the Sisters.

Since its founding by the Sisters of Mercy in 2008, McAuley Ministries has awarded 975 grants and community support totaling over $56 million. It awards on average $3.5 million in grants annually, making it one of the largest philanthropic foundations in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

To learn more about McAuley Ministries and the initiatives it supports, visit www.mcauleyministries.org and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

About Pittsburgh Mercy

Pittsburgh Mercy is one of the largest community health and social service providers and employers in Southwestern Pennsylvania. We offer help – and hope – to our community’s most vulnerable:

  • People who have complex behavioral and physical health challenges.
  • People who have intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • People who are experiencing homelessness
  • People who need wrap-around services to live safe, healthy, and well in the community.

We serve more than 18,000 people annually in 60+ locations.

We are the largest Integrated Community Wellness Center (ICWC) in Pennsylvania and the only ICWC in Southwestern Pennsylvania. We are a five-time awardee of Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Certified Community Behavioral Health Center (CCBHC) expansion grants.

Pittsburgh Mercy is a member of Trinity Health, serving in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy. Our mission is to be a compassionate and transforming, healing presence within our communities.

To learn more about Pittsburgh Mercy or to make a donation in support of its important work in the community, please visit www.pittsburghmercy.org.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and X (formerly known as Twitter).

 

-###-