Foundation Seeks to Spark Greater Focus on Four Key Challenges Facing Our Region and the Nation

PITTSBURGH (March 22, 2022) – The Richard King Mellon Foundation has issued four new Requests for Proposals to draw greater attention to four challenges in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties and the nation – challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three of the RFPs are aimed at soliciting proposals from local nonprofits to help children and youth from lower-income households. One focuses on creating greater access to mental-health services. Another seeks proposals to boost school attendance. And the third seeks proposals to increase access to post-secondary education, so that young people can lead more fulfilling lives and have greater access to new-economy careers. These three children-and-youth focused RFPs are part of the Foundation’s Economic Mobility program.  

The fourth RFP is part of the Foundation’s Economic Development and Social-Impact Investment programs. It seeks proposals – from local nonprofits, public-sector agencies or for-profit businesses – to help disconnected adult workers. This includes workers who have dropped out of the labor force, and also “gig economy” workers, whose jobs often do not provide employment-related benefits, such as health-care coverage and retirement plans.  

“Our partners in education, mental health and economic development have identified these critical challenges,” said Sam Reiman, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. “There are many good people working hard to find solutions – but they could use some help. We hope these four RFPs will focus greater attention on these issues, and help us to achieve our shared goals of greater opportunities for all, and greater prosperity for our region. If the proposals we receive in response to these RFPs are as strong as we expect, we anticipate awarding approximately $7.5 million in grants in these four critical areas.”  

The Foundation anticipates awarding approximately $5 million in grants for the three RFPs in support of children and youth from lower-income households; and approximately $2.5 million in grants and investments in response to the disconnected workers/gig economy RFP.  

The Foundation began utilizing RFPs (and a related device, Requests for Ideas, or RFIs) more significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. “RFPs and RFIs are an effective way for us to respond in real time to the data we are seeing, the emerging patterns in that data, and the randomness of external events, all while staying aligned with our overarching Strategic Plan,” said Reiman.  

Nonprofit and public sector organizations are welcome to apply to the three Economic Mobility RFPs:  

Children’s and Young Adults’ Mental HealthThis RFP addresses the barriers that make it difficult for children and young adults who reside in lower income households in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties to access prevention, detection, and early intervention mental health services.  

PreK through grade 12 Attendance:  This RFP aims to ensure that children who are enrolled in early childhood education or grades K-12 and who reside in lower income households in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties can achieve a 90% attendance record or greater.   

Postsecondary Education Attainment:  This RFP aims to expand the number of young adults ages 14 to 24 years old who are from lower income households in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties enroll in and complete postsecondary education and maximize the economic benefit that these students gain from their postsecondary education. For the purposes of this RFP, postsecondary education includes any type of education, occupational training, or skills development that occurs after one obtains a high school diploma or GED and that results in a certification, diploma, or degree.    

Nonprofit, public sector and for-profit companies are welcome to apply to the Economic Development/Social-Impact Investment RFP:

Employment in the New Economy: Supporting Disconnected and Gig Economy Workers: This RFP aims to support disconnected workers – those who have left the labor force – to become gainfully employed in the new economy and gig economy workers—those whose work often provides limited access to traditional employment-related benefits such as internal job ladders, health and pension benefits, and access to on-the-job-training.  

The Foundation will accept proposals in two rounds for all four RFPs. Applicants may submit a proposal either round. Information on how to submit a proposal is on the Foundation website.  

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About the Richard King Mellon Foundation: Founded in 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation is the largest foundation in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and one of the 50 largest in the world. The Foundation’s 2020 year-end endowment was $3.1 billion, and its Trustees in 2021 disbursed $152 million in grants and Program-Related Investments. The Foundation focuses its funding on six primary program areas, delineated in its 2021-2030 Strategic Plan.