Two new Requests for Proposals issued today
Foundation is prepared to award up to $2.5 million in grants for compelling proposals
PITTSBURGH (February 15, 2023) – The Richard King Mellon Foundation is prepared to award up to $2.5 million in grants to nonprofits and public-sector organizations with bold ideas to remedy learning loss from the COVID-19 pandemic, and to help to create greater connectedness between young people of different economic classes – chasms that were exacerbated by the pandemic. Both challenges have daunting long-term implications for the lifetime economic mobility of children and youth in our region.
“We all know the COVID-19 pandemic was devastating in the moment,” said Foundation Director Sam Reiman. “But research is making clear that its long-term implications are potentially just as devastating, particularly upon our children and youth and their hopes for upward economic mobility. These RFPs are meant to focus attention, and our funding, on these critical issues, guided by the insights of new research.”
The two Requests for Proposals (RFPs) – both issued under the Foundation’s Economic Mobility program – are:
Addressing Learning Loss for Pre-K through Grade 12 Students
The pandemic disrupted many young people’s learning in subjects that are vital to their future economic success. Economists from Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research conducted a national study and found that recent learning losses in K-12 students’ math attainment “would represent a 1.6 percent decline in present value of lifetime earnings for the average K-12 student (or $19,400), totaling $900 billion for the 48 million students enrolled in public schools during the 2020-21 school year” if these learning losses remained permanent.
Based on local data, it is reasonable to believe that local students may – like their national peers – experience a decline in lifetime earnings if urgent action is not taken.
The Foundation is issuing this RFP to help reduce or eliminate disparities in math, reading and science literacy among young people ages zero to 24 years who reside in low-income households in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. Proposals submitted for this RFP fit within the Economic Mobility program’s Educational Attainment investment area.
Grants awarded in response to this RFP are expected to be in the range of $250,000 to $500,000.
Creating Economic Connectedness to Support Young People’s Economic Mobility
A growing body of research indicates that the strength of a person’s social network and community connections – their social capital – plays a role in their lifetime economic trajectory. In 2022, research published by Raj Chetty and a team of researchers in the journal Nature honed in on the importance of social connections across economic class divides – divides that were made more acute by the pandemic – in order to boost children’s upward economic mobility.
The Foundation is issuing this RFP to identify the factors that limit the formation of young people’s social connections across economic classes in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties and prototype interventions to increase these connections. Proposals submitted for this RFP fit within the Economic Mobility program’s Places of Opportunity investment area.
Grants awarded in response to this RFP are expected to be in the range of $150,000 to $300,000.
The two RFPs build upon another Economic Mobility RFP issued by the Foundation last year, to tackle chronic school absenteeism – a phenomenon across school districts in our region, and the nation, that also was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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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 2021 year-end net assets were $3.4 billion, and its Trustees in 2022 disbursed more than $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.