Funding Programs: Economic Mobility

Economic Mobility


The Problem

In Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, children in lower-income households have less access to opportunities that contribute to economic mobility in adulthood. Also, community-level factors create obstacles that impede some children’s pathway to economic mobility.

Our Vision

All children and youth living in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties will be able to access their most promising future. The Foundation invests in pathways to opportunity for vulnerable children and youth to overcome the obstacles to achieving economic mobility.

Investment Areas

Areas We Invest In

The Economic Mobility program focuses on children and young adults from birth to age 24 who reside in low-income households in Allegheny or Westmoreland counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The Economic Mobility program’s four investment areas are Educational Attainment; Future of Work; Supportive Living Environments; and Places of Opportunity. Collectively, these investment areas describe how the Richard King Mellon Foundation is creating pathways to economic opportunity for young people. Each investment area has outcomes that further describe the positive change the Foundation seeks to help create. Successful grant applications advance at least one – and often many - of these outcomes.

Educational Attainment

Future of Work

Supportive Living Environments

Places of Opportunity

Request For Proposals


Apply for a Grant

Our application portal is open and accepting grant applications for funding through its Economic Mobility program. All applicants should apply using the General Application.  Applications may be submitted on a rolling basis.

Requests for Proposals:
The Foundation periodically issues Requests for Proposals in specific areas of its Strategic Plan.  Learn more Apply Now

Our Impact

The Foundation in 2021 awarded 74 grants totaling $16,687,215 to advance its new Economic Mobility strategy, initiated in the Foundation’s 2021–2030 Strategic Plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ: Economic Mobility

Questions about a declined application may be submitted via email to[email protected]. The Foundation aspires to reply to all inquiries but, given the volume of applications the Foundation receives, we cannot commit to answering every such inquiry.

Any questions about the application may be submitted via email to [email protected]. We will be responsive to all thoughtful inquiries. 

Yes. You may submit an application if your company is based anywhere in the United States. Unfortunately, we are not able to entertain applications from companies not incorporated in the United States. For ideas focused on Economic Mobility, Economic Development, or Health & Well-Being, if your company is located outside the Pittsburgh region, please be sure to address within the application how your idea will positively impact Allegheny and/or Westmoreland counties. If your proposal is related to our Conservation program area, the positive impact you seek to generate can be anywhere in the United States. 

Yes, we consider applications from organizations that are not based in Allegheny or Westmoreland counties. In your application, you should be clear about why and in what ways the project will serve economic development in these counties.   

The two programs focus on different populations and have different goals. The goal of the Economic Mobility program is to improve the social, economic and academic outcomes of children and young people, aged 0 through 24, who are living in poverty. The goal of the Economic Development program is to foster the economic prosperity of the Pittsburgh region. Investments within the Economic Development program’s Talent Development and Employment Opportunities areas focus on adults aged 18 and above. Both programs require that services and activities occur within Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.  

The Foundation will not fund ideas that include regranting to individuals. The Foundation may fund applications that include regranting from a lead agency to other agencies who are identified in the submission as participants in a collaboration. In this case, the regranted funds are solely to support the collaborative activities described in the submission. We will consider ideas in which organizations provide technical assistance in areas where they have expertise or are working with pre-identified partners, who will then assist with the implementation of the proposed project. 

For organizations that are eligible to receive support for indirect expenses, we do not have a recommended ratio.

Yes, you can include indirect expenses in your proposed budget if your organization is not a postsecondary or research institution.

We define indirect expenses as those expenses categorized as “Management and General;” “Administrative and Management;” or “Fundraising” according to the IRS and FASB functional expense allocation guidelines.

Yes, the Foundation provides general operating support for organizations that are not postsecondary institutions or research institutions.

In the application, you will encounter a question about the type of support that you are seeking. You can select from the following options: Capital Support; General Operating Support; Land Acquisition; Project Support.

The Foundation is generally not providing multi-year grants at this time. The majority of our grants are twelve to eighteen months.

The Foundation normally has Board meetings in the Spring, Summer and Winter.

You will immediately receive an email confirming that your application was successfully submitted. There are not specific timelines associated with the review of a funding application.

The first step is to check your organization’s tax status and verify that you are eligible to receive philanthropic funding. After that, you can submit an application through our online portal. We will only consider applications submitted through this portal.

It is unlikely that you can meet with a program officer before submitting. In general, program officers are not available for a discussion until after a proposal has been submitted. You can also email [email protected] with questions.

Yes, we consider applications from organizations that are not based in Allegheny or Westmoreland counties. In your application, you should be clear about why you are interested in serving children and young adults in these counties. 

We recognize that children who are economically disadvantaged reside in all communities. We foremost serve these children, regardless of the community where they live in Allegheny or Westmoreland counties. We also understand that children whose low-income household is in a middle- or upper-income community may have difficulty accessing the resources present in that community.

All three criteria (household income, age, and county of residence) are important to our funding consideration. Applicants who only meet one or two of these criteria are less likely to receive Economic Mobility program funding.

We do not require grantees to verify the household income of each child they serve. Grantees may use proxy measures to estimate the number of children who reside in low-income households. For example, if a grantee is serving a representative sample of a school population, and 70% of the students in the school are identified as economically disadvantaged, then the grantee reasonably could assume that at least 70% of the students served by the program are economically disadvantaged.

We do not have a specific definition of “low-income” that we require all grantees to use. Our grantees describe the children and young adults they serve by using widely established definitions such as free or reduced-price lunch eligibility or the federal poverty level.