Richard King Mellon Foundation Invests $2.6 Million to Help Create Broader Access to New-Economy Jobs

PITTSBURGH (July 7, 2021) – Having invested significantly over the years to help Pittsburgh become a national and international leader in the creation of new-economy jobs, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, as part of its new Strategic Plan, is making a more concerted effort than ever before to help ensure that everyone in the region who wants to work in these coveted economic sectors has the opportunity to do so.

Already this year, the Foundation has approved 16 grants totaling more than $2.6 million to initiate and expand job-training, career readiness, and employment initiatives.

“And we’re just getting started,” said Foundation Director Sam Reiman. “Helping to create good jobs in the Greater Pittsburgh area always has been our primary economic development goal. And job training likewise has been a longtime Foundation priority. But with our new Strategic Plan, we are more focused than ever on ensuring that the people and communities in the Greater Pittsburgh region will have every chance to obtain the good jobs we help to create – particularly, the people and communities that in the past too often were left behind. Our Economic Development program focuses on helping adults. And our new Economic Mobility program will pay dividends down the road, by making sure our children and youth have greater opportunity to command these jobs when they become adults.”

Earlier this year, the Foundation issued two “Request for Ideas,” or RFIs, to enable even more grantmaking in job training, career readiness and employment initiatives: One RFI solicits promising ideas and initiatives in “Career Readiness for All Ages;” another, in “Employment Opportunities in the Innovation Economy.” Responses to both RFIs are due July 16.

Earlier this year, the Foundation made its biggest economic-development and job-creation investment yet – a $150 million grant to Carnegie-Mellon University to create a new Robotics Center and Advanced and Additive Manufacturing Institute at Hazelwood Green, and a new Science Center on campus.

“The life sciences, robotics and advanced and additive manufacturing are among the most coveted economic sectors in the nation,” said Reiman. “Establishing national leadership in these highly competitive areas requires significant investment. But it’s also only half the battle. We believe that our work will not be complete without a parallel effort to make sure everyone in the region who has the talent and drive to work in these sectors has a legitimate opportunity to do so. The jobs in these sectors often are seen as the sole province of engineers and Ph.Ds. But there are an abundance of jobs in these sectors that don’t require nearly as much training — but still pay well. These grants are designed to ensure everyone who wants to work in these sectors, and is willing to put in the work, will have the opportunity to work in these sectors, right here in Pittsburgh.”

The 16 job-training and career-readiness grants awarded already this year are:

Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute – $250,000 for the Keystone Space Collaborative, to catalyze the growth and success of the commercial space sector in the Tri State Region.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania – $250,000 for the Accelerator Project, to develop a learning management system enabling the organization to scale its artificial intelligence, computer science and other STEM programs.

Fortyx80, Inc. – $100,000 for the Apprenti PGH Pilot Program, to establish Pennsylvania’s first registered tech apprenticeship program, to provide new opportunities for economic mobility to under-represented populations.

Micro-Society, Inc. – $250,000 for an Innovating MicroSociety in Pittsburgh – 18-month support to develop and implement an online Micro-Society platform collaboratively with local partners.

National Council of Jewish Women – $100,000 to reduce the outflow of mothers from the labor force and support her efforts to return through programming, networking and infrastructure.

Ozanam, Inc. – $120,000 for the eCatalyst Initiative, to address the digital disparity in the Black community through building the technology skills of youth and the capacity of Black-owned

Per Scholas, Inc. – $100,000 for job training, to train 100 learners for high-growth technology careers, developing a diverse graduate talent pipeline and spurring economic inclusion and growth in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Public Schools – $120,000 for a feasibility study on the creation of a career exploration middle school.

Resilient Coders – $100,000 for a Bootcamp Pilot, to build economic resilience in Pittsburgh’s minority communities through training, placement and support in software engineering for young adults.

Schools That Can – $100,000 for a Career Pathways Program, to build a cybersecurity career pathway and expand STEM career pathways for Pittsburgh-area high school students.

Smart Futures – $250,000 for Building Smart Futures, to create and pilot regionally a modular, scalable eMentoring portal that facilitates the delivery of virtual work-based learning experiences in K-12 classrooms.

StartUptown – $125,000 to support the Pittsburgh Robotics Network’s effort to build a robotics industry cluster network of highly engaged stakeholders that fosters business growth and jobs for a diverse pool of talent.

Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, Inc. – $125,000 for an Innovation Talent Pipeline, which will utilize industry partnerships to develop equitable career pathways in the innovation sector that benefit employers, training providers and job seekers.

Thrill Mill, Inc. – $250,000 to support a partnership with Chloe Capital to produce #InvestInWomen – Pittsburgh, to drive capital and create opportunities for women entrepreneurs in Pittsburgh.

University of Pittsburgh – $250,000 for a Creative Industry Training Initiative, to employ digital media curriculum, industry professionals, educational programs, workshops, projects and internships with diverse high schoolers to grow and impact the region’s creative industry.

Will Allen Foundation – $125,000 for Quest for Real Life Success, to provide training in STEM through robotics, financial literacy, health and wellness and other life skills, enabling pathways to future education and career success.

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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 2020 disbursed $130 million in grants and Program Related Investments. The Foundation focuses its funding on six primary program areas, delineated in its 2021-2030 Strategic Plan