COVID-19

Female volunteer wearing face mask and gloves loading a box of food from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank drive-through food distribution on April 6. Female volunteer wearing face mask and gloves loading a box of food from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank drive-through food distribution on April 6. Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank drive-through food distribution on April 6. (Photo by Joshua Franzos)

Responding to Crisis - A Message from our President, Grant Oliphant

The term “unprecedented” has never felt more appropriate than it does now. It aptly describes the disruption and hardship that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused in communities like ours all across the country and world. It also describes, here and elsewhere, the extraordinary efforts by so many to bring relief, comfort and much-needed assistance to those families and individuals who are most vulnerable and suffering most. 

In the face of this genuinely unique challenge, the Endowments is responding in multiple ways, guided by four fundamental commitments:

We will provide maximum flexibility. Many of our grantees are on the front lines in responding to this crisis. Others are doing what they can to continue their important missions despite unimaginable constraints and catastrophic drops in earned and contributed revenue. In this environment, organizations need maximum flexibility, so wherever feasible the Endowments has removed or postponed project deadlines and has moved to convert project funding to general operating support. We expressed this intention at the outset of the crisis in my first blog on the subject. As a signal to our field, we also signed on to a national pledge by foundations to provide this type of flexibility and support to our grantees through this crisis. If you are an existing grantee and wish to discuss your current grant, please be in touch with your program officer, who will respond promptly.

We will move substantial resources quickly. As this crisis unfolded, Pittsburgh’s largest foundations immediately came together to launch an emergency response fund at the community foundation, which we each seeded with $1 million. To fund that commitment and other urgent needs, the Endowments’ board has approved an initial $5 million appropriation to address four major priorities in our community: saving lives, meeting critical basic needs, focusing on the most vulnerable, and supporting core grantees. The Endowments has streamlined its grants approval process for organizations invited to apply for these special funds. The Endowments has also identified a set of values that are important to us in making these allocations and in guiding our behavior throughout this crisis. A current list of the grants made from these funds so far can be found here. 

We will partner extensively. Since the outset, it has been clear that the scale of this challenge would massively outstrip philanthropy’s resources, let alone one institution’s best intentions. Recognizing that, Pittsburgh’s major foundations immediately formed a working partnership that could identify gaps in giving and areas of greatest need, and bring our shared resources to bear on them. As an extension of that, we have deployed our staffs’ expertise as another of our assets and joined with leaders in government and nonprofit organizations on multiple problem-solving teams working to address specific issues such as meeting crucial public health needs, helping frontline workers find child care, responding to shortages of personal protective equipment, and understanding and addressing the racial dimensions of this crisis.

We will adapt but stay steady. The Endowments manages its finances to buffer our giving against sudden economic and market fluctuations. As a result, despite the recent massive market downturns, our grantmaking budgets for each of our program areas this year will remain steady. We understand that many organizations are concerned about how their activities will fare with supporters in a post-COVID world. As we are still in the early stages of this crisis, none of us can forecast that with certainty, although we can predict there will be a need to rethink old models and assumptions as there always is during periods of disruption. However, what we can also say from the vantage point of today is that the Endowments views its priorities through a long-term lens, and that, in general, this crisis has only validated those priorities and the work we and our grantees do in partnership. As we consider our grantmaking in the year ahead, we will obviously be intensely focused on how we can help our community once again to overcome unexpected adversity. But, for a Pittsburgh foundation like ours, that has been the work almost since the beginning, and our core beliefs about how to do it will not change.

The Endowments is immensely grateful to all our partners in other foundations, government and, most importantly, nonprofit organizations for the work you are individually and collectively doing to offer a response as unprecedented as the challenges we all now face. On behalf of the board and staff at The Heinz Endowments, thank you. We are honored to work alongside you. 

Funding Priorities

In responding to the COVID-19 crisis and its immediate aftermath, the Endowments has set aside a $5 million appropriation to direct quickly to areas of greatest need. In addition, we are reassessing our grants agendas for the remainder of the year to shift resources if and as appropriate. Our immediate priorities for the appropriation and related efforts are as follows:

Saving lives and protecting public health

As with communities around the world, there is a risk that this region will experience a significant number of preventable deaths due to health systems being overrun or proper testing and protections not being available. We will make funds available to help our health and human services systems meet this extraordinary public health crisis.

Meeting essential basic needs

The ranks of this community’s vulnerable populations continue to grow with the accelerating economic fallout from the pandemic. We will make funds available to strengthen the community’s supports for meeting basic needs, including food, shelter, transportation, and child care for essential workers. To support the provision of these services in concert with the United Way, we have made an immediate grant of $1 million to The Pittsburgh Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. We expect to support additional needs directly in a variety of human service-related areas.

Supporting frontline groups and communities

As with all major social and economic crises, the fallout from this pandemic disproportionately affects populations already made more vulnerable by other persistent factors. This includes people of color impacted by racism, people who have a disability, low-wage workers, single mothers, artists and teaching artists, and people who have inadequate health coverage, are older and isolated, and/or face chronic economic challenges. We will place a specific priority on addressing the exceptional needs of these groups, especially black and brown people who have been historically marginalized and historically tend not to benefit equitably from traditional relief efforts.

Shoring up core grantees and organizations

All across our portfolio of activities, grantees face critical questions of survivability in the face of this unimaginable challenge, and we recognize that our capacity to provide additional support is severely limited. In concert with other regional foundations and remaining true to The Heinz Endowments’ legacy, we will make careful and deliberate choices to enhance the viability of our key nonprofit partners.  

(It is important to note that these four priorities are a framework and may evolve quickly over time.)

Endowments Principles

It is important to note that these four priorities are a framework and may evolve quickly over time. They represent our best thinking as of late March. As a general matter, we will apply the following principles to our work overall:

  • We will work in close collaboration with our regional funding partners and relevant government entities.
  • We will support the dissemination of accurate information by trusted public health and other experts to convey health directives and prevention strategies.
  • We will pay special attention to the needs of black and brown people and other marginalized groups. We will consciously support organizations that work to eliminate racism, build power sharing, and promote self-determination. 
  • We will listen to grantees and grassroots leaders who have deep roots in communities to understand their needs and the needs of the communities they serve.
  • We will move resources quickly into the hands of those who need them, partnering where appropriate with a few targeted intermediaries but working directly as much as possible.
  • We will give organizations as much flexibility as possible, including allowing grantees to convert program grants to operating support whenever feasible and appropriate.
  • We will repurpose appropriations as necessary to allow organizations to use funds for core operations or emergency support for communities.
  • We will consider how our support enhances stability for low-wage workers.
  • We will offer a streamlined approval process for grantees identified as targets for our appropriation and related funds.

COVID-19 Response Grants Awarded
(as of 6/9/2020)

  • Autism Urban Connections, $25,000 to support minority and economically disadvantaged families within the Autism community by  providing life enhancing and sustaining services to assist in managing the challenges they face on a daily basis
  • Feed Our Students, $7,500 for the Backpack Feeding Program providing meals to students who suffer from food insecurity
  • Pittsburgh Area Lutheran Ministries, $25,000 to provide Pittsburgh Area Lutheran MInistries (PALM) and Holy Cross Lutheran Food and Clothing Distribution with resources for the greater Hazelwood community to access free food and clothing
  • Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, $75.000 to support PPWP’s Care No Matter Where program in Hazelwood
  • Seton Hill University, $13,672 to support Fostering Increased Student Accessibility
  • Warm House Of Greater Pittsburgh, $20,000 to support the Warm House to deliver Peer Support services to qualifying women, with mental health challenges, in the Making Hazelwood Greater Initiative
  • Advisory Board on Autism and Related Disorders, $20,000 to support a COVID 19 collaborative comprised of the Epilepsy Asssociation of Western PA and the Center for Hearing and Deaf Services develop solutions to assist people with hidden disabilities access emergency household and healthcare needs
  • Allegheny County Medical Society Foundation, $10,000 to procure and deliver protective face masks and shields for Allegheny County emergency responders and healthcare workers
  • Allegheny Health Network, $250,000 to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) through the implementation of a mobile testing strategy in underserved communities, with Hazelwood as a priority utilizing the AHN COVID-19 Mobile Testing Unit
  •  Best Buddies International, $20,000 to address the financial impact from the current pandemic that resulted in canceled fundraising events across the state, jeopardizing critical programming needs that support thousands of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Center of Life, $50,000 to support the outreach efforts of Center of Life (COL) in collaboration with the Greater Hazelwood Community Collaborative (GHCC) delivering essential needs and conducting well-checks to local residents impacted by the COVID-19 crisis
  •  Circles Greater Pittsburgh, $25,000 to meet critical needs of low-income families in the Circles communities in a time of crisis
  • Community Foundation of Fayette County Pennsylvania, $30,000 to support a retooling effort by a local manufacturer to mass produce face masks by purchasing and donating them to front line personnel in Fayette and nearby counties
  • East End Cooperative Ministry, $25,000 to support EECM in meeting the increased demands providing families with essential needs during the pandemic crisis
  • Fayette County Community Action Agency, $30,000 to support the struggling regional agricultural sector and provide food assistance to vulnerable families in Fayette County
  • Gateway Medical Society, $30,220 to conduct culturally tailored public education to save black lives during the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Healthy Start, $30,000 to coordinate an effort to increase the accessibility of doula supports to women delivering in hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Northside Industrial Development Company, $100,000 to support the operations of the organization in its efforts of stabilizing Pittsburgh’s most vulnerable disadvantaged businesses that are facing major hurdles due to the COVID19 pandemic
  • Pittsburgh Board of Public Education, $360,000 to provide Pittsburgh Public School students with computer devices as an initial investment in the Continuity of Education during the Covid-19 Crisis and to address the inequities in education and access to the internet
  • Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation, $40,000 for emergency financial assistance for immigrant entrepreneurs and immigrant families living in rental housing in the Pittsburgh region to help alleviate the economic crisis caused by COVID-19
  • Restaurant Opportunity Centers, $40,000 to provide emergency financial relief to furloughed restaurant workers in the Pittsburgh region through the Restaurant Opportunity Center Pennsylvania Disaster Relief Fund
  • Sojourner House, $10,0000 Sojourner House and Sojourner House MOMS will provide food and medical supplies to families impacted due to COVID-19-related needs
  • South Hills Interfaith Ministries, $25,000 to support SHIM as it continues to be an anchoring institution providing culturally-appropriate programs and services to immigrants living in the South Hills area of Pittsburgh
  • Training and Education Fund, $50,000 for essential basic needs and extended emergency child care for COVID-19 positive frontline healthcare workers
  • Wilkinsburg Community Ministry, $28,000 to meet expanded demands for food due to unemployment and food insecurity from the Covid19 emergency
  • Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest PA, $50,000 to support WGF's community work serving vulnerable communities through the Femisphere and GirlGov programs
  • AMD3 Foundation, $5,000 for respiratory research
  • Bridgeway Capital, $200,000 to provide a second grant to assist Bridgeway Capital in its effort to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19 virus pandemic
  • Carnegie Institute, $15,000 for the Creative Learning Anchor rapid response to support regional teaching artists
  • Carnegie Institute, $59,000 for continuation of the Creative Learning Network Anchor rapid response to support regional teaching artists.
  • Carnegie Mellon University, $289,000 to support Visualization for Equity
  • Casa San Jose, $250,000 to support and empower the Latinx community in Pittsburgh through community organizing, rapid response programs, youth organizing, and a new pilot program to provide intensive case management
  • City of Asylum Pittsburgh, $20,000 to support "The Show Must Go On(line) Pittsburgh," a web-based channel that presents archival and live content created and hosted by local arts presenters and artists
  • Clean Water Fund, $175,000 to improve air and water quality in western Pennsylvania 
  • Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, $120,000, to advance clean and healthy indoor environments through air quality monitoring and engagement
  • Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, $390,000 to prevent asthma in the region and support the asthma summit 
  • Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, $50,000 to support the Ohio River Valley COVID-19 Response Fund
  • Community Justice Project, $80,000 to support efforts to reduce lead poisoning in children
  • Environmental Integrity Project, $185,000 to improve air quality in western Pennsylvania  
  • Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, $215,000 for programs that improve water quality and restore communities in western Pennsylvania
  • Greater  Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, $185,000 to modernize the Food Bank's management systems and implement Link2Feed software
  • Grow Pittsburgh, $50,000 for operating support to address urgent community food needs
  • Hill Community Development Corporation, $230,000 for general operating support during a time of uncertainty related to the Covid 19 heath and economic crisis
  • Locally Grown, $400,000 to support a business accelerator and community center in Wilkinsburg, with a focus on community-serving nonprofit organizations and under-resourced entrepreneurs and residents
  • Northside Industrial Development Company, $50,000 to support a short-term research plan to understand how COVID-19 is impacting Black communities in the region
  • Operation Better Block, $70,000 to support the Homewood Green initiative
  • Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, $50,000 for support to keep farmers on the land, improve farm sustainability, and develop a regional food system partnership
  • Sarah Heinz House Association, $200,000 to provide flexible operating support in Summer 2020 and to stabilize Sarah Heinz House’s finance during the Covid-19 crisis
  • Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, $775,000 to inform health protective policies and decision making regarding public health impacts
  • Trying Together, $600,000 to provide operating support in 2020 -2023 to assist in filling two senior leadership positions within the organization and to contribute to the Emergency Child Care Fund to support the child care community during the Covid-19 crisis
  • University of Pittsburgh, $125,000 to assess the state of affordable housing and housing market conditions in Allegheny County and develop a comprehensive data portal to help organizations proactively address the housing crisis
  • Adagio Health, $64,000 to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line staff, and for the organization’s transition to a telehealth model in our medical and Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) offices
  • Allegheny Intermediate Unit, $200,000 to support the Allegheny Intermediate Unit as it facilitates the acquisition and distribution of remote learning devices for students who lack technology during this unprecedented time of extended-school closures
  • Regional Housing Legal Services, $80,000 to provide comprehensive and proactive housing policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Allegheny Conference on Community Development, $50,000 to procure protective masks to be distributed across the Pittsburgh region in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Clean Water Fund, $54,000 to provide indoor air filters for residents vulnerable to COVID-19 infection in the Clairton area which has had historic and current unhealthy outdoor air quality
  • 412 Food Rescue, $170,000 for food distribution and support services to people in need
  • Circles Greater Pittsburgh, $40,000 for the coordination and provision of essential services and basic needs of residents throughout Allegheny County during the COVID-19 crisis
  • Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, $250,000 for the Food Bank's response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Neighborhood Allies, $50,000 for Beyond the Laptop: Pipeline of emergency funds and operational assistance to bring laptops, digital resources and help desk support to families and children
  • POISE Foundation, $250,000 to support the POISE Foundation's Critical Community Needs Fund to re-grant money to small and mid-sized Black Led Organizations (BLOs) to support their efforts to provide critical services
  • 1Hood Media Academy, $80,000 to provide vital information to black communities throughout the Pittsburgh region about COVID-19
  • Afro-American Music Institute, $35,000 to provide emergency resources to Africana artists and community leaders who directly support African immigrant children and families during the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Community Justice Project, $40,000 to support legal and policy work that is urgently needed by low-income individuals and families impacted by the COVID-19 crisis
  • Global Links, $190,000 to coordinate logistics, procure and distribute personal protective equipment for regional nonprofit healthcare workers during the COVID-19 virus outbreak
  • 1Nation, $35,000 for food distribution and support services to people in need
  • ACTION-Housing, $70,000 for emergency support for ACTION-Housing residents and clients during the COVID-19 crisis
  • Bellevue Initiative for Growth and Revitalization, $25,000 for the Bellevue Farmers Market to provide meals in the North Boroughs to those facting food insecurity, including the elderly, those in acute or chronic financial distress, and people in isolation or quarantine
  • Community Kitchen Pittsburgh, $100,000 to assist Community Kitchen Pittsburgh in providing emergency food distribution during the COVID-19 epidemic and manage significant financial stress
  • Farm to Table Buy Local, $40,000 to provide food delivery in a manner to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus in affordable housing, including senior high-rise buildings and family communities
  • Fishes and Loaves Cooperative Ministries, $13,000 to provide nutritious meals, fresh food and social connection to elderly/frail and other food-insecure residents of the Greater Hazelwood and Greenfield areas
  • For Good Pgh, $20,000 to support entrepreneurs that occupy the Hollander Project that are unable to operate as well as funding for individual families for food, diapers and other supplies
  • Macedonia Family and Community Enrichment Center, $30,000 to provide operations funds for emergency servies, mobile operations, IT support and costs associated with staff displacement
  • Pittsburgh Foundation, $1,000,000 for the Emergency Action Fund
  • SisTers PGH, $20,000 for operating support for a Mutual Aid program for the LGBTQIA communities of the Pittsburgh area amid the COVID-19 pandemic
  • United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, $350,000 to support the 2-1-1 Helpline and Emergency Basic Needs Fund, allowing the United Way to quickly respond to the increased needs of the community as a result of COVID-19
  • Zellous Hope Project, $20,000 for emergency support for McKees Rocks and Stowe Township families and displaced workers in response to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Bridgeway Capital, $100,000 to assist Bridgeway Capital in its effort to support small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 virus epidemic
  • Casa San Jose, $100,000 for emergency COVID-19 response for Latinx families and individuals
  • Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, $100,000 to support the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council's Emergency Fund for Artists during the COVID-19 crisis

Grant Total:   $9,753,362

Grant Oliphant interview on the "Business of Giving" podcast

Endowments President Grant Oliphant on the WNYM-AM "Business of Giving" Podcast hosted by Denver Frederick talks about how the Endowments is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic - and how the nonprofit sector is ripe for reinvention.  Listen to the podcast.

"STRONGER THAN THIS" PODCAST SERIES

We’ll be back later this year with the debut of Season 3 of “We Can Be,” but in the meantime, join host Grant Oliphant for “Stronger than This,” a special podcast series of candid conversations about COVID-19. With new episodes each week, you’ll hear from those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic as they share first-hand experiences, challenges, victories, and what they see for the long road ahead. Recorded remotely — with a quick turnaround time from recording to release and minimal editing — these episodes give a unique, unvarnished opportunity for deeper insight into the current crisis. Listen to  "STRONGER THAN THIS."

Blog - The Point

Read blog posts from Endowments President Grant Oliphant about how COVID-19 is affecting our community

Stretching Amid Crisis, April 9, 2020

The Rescue We Seek, April 6, 2020

We Have a Job to Do, March 27, 2020

The Ultimate “Yes, And” March 17,2020

COVID-19: A test of community, March 11, 2020

COVID-19 - United Way 2-1-1- Resources

Need information or help in dealing with COVID-19? See United Way's resource page.