The Endowments’ Sustainability strategic funding area incorporates the activities of the foundation’s former Environment & Health and Community & Economic Development program departments. The Sustainability funding area seeks to address underlying threats to Pittsburgh’s quality of life while focusing on opportunities to support the region’s health, safety and prosperity, now and for the future.
The Sustainability area’s vision is to contribute to a Just Pittsburgh, where economic and community development and healthy environment systems protect and benefit all citizens, where race, experience, identity and zip code do not determine life outcomes, where air and water are safe and where large sections of poor and vulnerable populations are not left behind.
As part of our Sustainability strategy, the Endowments seeks to improve the economic position of marginalized populations and places by advancing a clean economy, protecting the environment and public health and pursuing equitable development.
The Endowments also is focused on reducing disparities in our broad community related to environmental health, increasing access to healthy foods and successfully reintegrating veterans and their families into our community, in recognition of the assets they represent for our region.
Improve people's economic position through higher wages, family-sustaining employment and entrepreneurship.
- Connect workers on the margins to family-sustaining employment.
- Expand minority entrepreneurs’ access to capital and business development assistance.
- Bolster opportunities for minority entrepreneurs to manage and increase their own income.
- Connect opportunities from the innovation economy to all residents.
Endowments point of contact: Rob Stephany, Director, Community & Economic Development
Advance a clean economy with renewables, green infrastructure and climate-friendly solutions.
- Implement renewable and alternative energy solutions.
- Apply green infrastructure best management practices to improve the water quality in Pittsburgh’s rivers and streams while providing secondary benefits to communities.
- Promote innovative strategies at the neighborhood, local and regional level to reduce climate pollution.
Endowments point of contact: Philip Johnson, Director, Environment & Health
Pursue socially just economic opportunity so that distressed neighborhoods thrive without displacing vulnerable residents.
- Target distressed neighborhoods that are adjacent to strong markets that can leverage public and private capital to improve housing markets without displacing vulnerable residents.
- Embrace first-in-class civic design.
- Connect Pittsburgh through “complete streets,” transit-oriented development and alternative transportation.
- Engage the arts and artists in socially just community revitalization, ennobling culture and neighborhood beautification.
Endowments point of contact: Rob Stephany, Director, Community & Economic Development
Restore and protect Pittsburgh’s environmental systems, and enhance its public health.
- Protect all populations from disproportionate harm caused by pollution and reduce environmental health burdens, especially among those experiencing environmental injustice.
- Encourage socially and environmentally responsible use of western Pennsylvania’s natural resources.
- Deepen community engagement and leadership networks through education, outreach and advocacy.
- Advance independent, comprehensive and fact-based scientific knowledge to foster healthy environments.
Endowments point of contact: Philip Johnson, Director, Environment & Health
Promote community health and vitality through sustainable food systems, especially in food deserts.
- Improve access to fresh, healthy, local foods in low-income neighborhoods.
- Promote urban agriculture as a means of increasing food security and educating participants about food systems.
Endowments point of contact: Andrew McElwaine, VP of Sustainability
Create communities where military veterans and their families are welcomed, valued and understood.
- Create easy-to-navigate pipelines to family-sustaining jobs, services, and opportunities for veterans and service members in the region.
- Equip post-9/11 veterans and service members with the skills and networks necessary to become regional leaders.
- Promote changes in workforce initiatives, social services, program funding and community conversations about veterans by supporting and advancing the narrative that veterans are assets for the region.
- Work proactively and preventatively in the support of veterans, service members and family members, and promote best practices to impact predominantly reactive public policy.
Endowments point of contact: Megan Andros, Program Officer, Community & Economic Development
Center for Coalfield Justice is a nonprofit environmental justice organization fighting for a clean environment and healthy communities in southwestern Pennsylvania. Based in Washington, Pa., CCJ fights for those who live in coalfield regions through advocacy, education and organizing, and works with residents to develop community-led responses to cycles of extreme energy extraction and exploitation. Says CCJ's Executive Director Veronica Coptis: "If you’re involved in this conversation, you always hear that you have to choose the environment or jobs, not both. But this just isn’t true." Hear an in-depth conversation with Coptis, a speaker at this year's p4 conference in Pittsburgh, and Endowments President Grant Oliphant on the podcast "We Can Be."Learn more
p4 Progress Takes Hold in Uptown
There may be no more appropriate community “welcome” sign than resident James Simon’s soaring mosaic and mirror sculpture that greets those traveling on Fifth Avenue from Oakland into the heart of Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood. Bright leaves, birds and fantastically colored wildlife shine, their individual brilliance joining to form the 25’ tall tree-shaped “Welcome to Uptown” sign. It has become a landmark for this 1.5 mile stretch along the Monongahela that connects the city’s university corridor with the Golden Triangle. Longtime residents, students and tech entrepreneurs join artists and families to form a lively neighborhood with both historic buildings and new apartment structures.
It is in this arena of new construction that Uptown Partners of Pittsburgh’s Jeanne McNutt works to ensure that the ideals of Pittsburgh’s p4 conferences have demonstrable effect on the neighborhood where she lives and works. Co-convened by The Heinz Endowments and City of Pittsburgh, the p4 Conferences – 2015, 2016 and April 2018 – tackle issues of people, planet, place and performance, and have provided inspiration for new initiatives that foster sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth.
As Uptown Partners’ executive director, Ms. McNutt is a longtime resident and advocate for the neighborhood, and serves as a community voice as new development takes hold in the Uptown EcoInnovation District (EID). She has worked with the City’s Department of City Planning, institutions and stakeholders in Uptown to create the “The EcoInnovation District Plan” – Pittsburgh’s first City-adopted community plan.
“The EcoInnovation District Plan” was built through an extensive City and neighborhood-led community planning process and was inspired by both national best practices and concepts generated during the p4 conferences. Meant to guide both community and public partners who have a stake in Uptown’s future, neighborhood input was key in the EID Plan’s creation. Public gatherings designed to collect input – including outdoor events with food trucks and music – attracted over 550 people, and 50 individual interviews and 20 focus group meetings were among the outreach efforts that lead to the plan.
Not only was the two year input process valuable for neighborhood planning purposes, it also had an unexpected benefit. “The interactive planning events brought the diverse community together,” said Ms. McNutt. “The bonus was hearing residents’ enthusiasm for more opportunities to enjoy each other’s company.”
Those involved in the planning process shared input, including safety concerns due to vacant land, buildings and surface parking lots that are empty at night. The input gathered at public sessions - along with citywide discussions like the p4 Framework - shaped the EID plan and its vision for the district. The Department of City Planning then created a new land use system based on the community’s goals and the vision articulated in the plan. The EcoInnovation District Zoning announced on March 1 includes a Performance Points System that allows flexibility for developers while ensuring that projects keep within parameters outlined by the neighborhood.
The Performance Points System includes a “height bonus” element, allowing buildings to rise above the normal height limit in exchange for inclusion of one or more components from a list of public amenities identified through public input during the EID planning process. Consistent with the p4 Framework, the slate of height bonus options includes affordable housing, management of stormwater with green infrastructure, building energy efficient structures, inclusion of historic design elements and rehabilitation of older buildings. Ms. McNutt believes the new height bonus “is the carrot that has the potential to entice new construction, and be a win for both community and developers. This is an innovative development tool to help us 'get it right' as we respond proactively to pressures of a changing market.”
Ms. McNutt knows that Uptown has its challenges, but believes with continued thoughtful, community-focused planning it can thrive. She, too, loves the colorful, soaring “Welcome to Uptown” sign for all the creative energy it represents. “Uptown has the right combination of location, character, development opportunities and determination to be an even more vibrant part of the fabric of The City of Pittsburgh.”
Photo by Heather Mull
CMU launches Metro21: Smart Cities Institute
Carnegie Mellon University has launched Metro21: Smart Cities Institute as a university-wide academic center for excellence in research, development and deployment in addressing 21st century challenges facing metro areas.
The goal of the initiative is to create Pittsburgh as the hub of pioneering work to improve the metropolitan quality of life for all citizens. Metro21 will lay the groundwork for innovations in technology, policies and their interactions to foster smart and connected cities and communities.
Metro21 is founded on the three pillars of research, education and partnerships with the public and private sectors. Metro21 will study, model, enhance and optimize all aspects of urban issues including transportation, utilities (including water, sewer, electricity, gas and telecommunications), law enforcement, safety and air and noise quality.
At a launch event today (March 2, 2018), Farnham Jahanian, CMU’s Interim President, was joined by keynote speakers Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Chief Executive; Karina Ricks, Director Department of Mobility and Infrastructure at the City of Pittsburgh and Grant Oliphant, President of The Heinz Endowments.
Grant Oliphant’s remarks available here.
Capturing the Next Economy: Pittsburgh’s rise as a global innovation city
Pittsburgh’s innovation economy is strong and growing, but city leaders can do more with its existing assets to compete globally and capitalize on the region’s growing innovation clusters, according to a new report from the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking at the Brookings Institution.
The culmination of an 18-month study, “Capturing the Next Economy: Pittsburgh’s rise as a global innovation city” examines Pittsburgh’s unique opportunity to become a top global destination for technology-based economic activity and as a key part of Pittsburgh’s efforts to become a world-class innovation city.
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