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


Apply for a Grant

The Economic Mobility program is currently accepting funding applications. • All applicants should apply using the General Application. • Applications may be submitted on a rolling basis. 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

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.  

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.