Richard King Mellon Foundation Seeks Powerful Ideas to Create “Places of Opportunity” for Young People

PITTSBURGH (May 3, 2021) – A key focus of the Richard King Mellon Foundation’s new Strategic Plan is Economic Mobility – increasing opportunities for children and youth from families with lower incomes in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties today, so they can prosper as adults tomorrow.

And a key pillar of the Foundation’s Economic Mobility strategy is called “Places of Opportunity.” It hinges on the notion that communities have great strengths and that bolstering those strengths – to form communities that are more engaged with young people and more connected with each other – gives children and youth a powerful leg up on their path to prosperity.

So the Foundation today is announcing a “Request for Ideas” – a request for nonprofit groups and public agencies working in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties to submit their best ideas to ensure that community assets are available to help youth withstand adversity and joyfully thrive.

“This initiative is about building on the underappreciated strengths in every community in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties where families with lower incomes live,” said Sam Reiman, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. “We know from research that if we focus positively on building and connecting those community strengths, we can give our young people a measurably better chance to live the lives they want as adults.”

The Foundation expects to award at least $1 million in grants for the best Places of Opportunity ideas this year. Submissions in response to the Request for Ideas are due July 16, 2021. Groups submitting the most promising ideas will be asked in August to submit full proposals. Grants will be awarded in December, with the work to commence in 2022.

Priority will be given to Places of Opportunity ideas that achieve one or more of four priority outcomes:

  • Community Engagement & Capacity – Initiatives that increase civic engagement; participation in social associations; volunteering; and community connectedness
  • Cross-Community Collaboration – Initiatives that facilitate collaboration between communities, including shared missions and goals; co-creating and sharing programs and services; and partnering to make systems better
  • Community Spaces – Initiatives that increase access to positive physical and virtual community spaces for children and youth, such as libraries, parks, community gardens and recreation centers
  • Resilient Places – Initiatives that that prevent or reduce youth involvement in the justice system.

Further information on the Economic Mobility program area, and the Places of Opportunity funding area within that program, can be found on the Foundation’s website. The Foundation has three other active Requests for Ideas and continues to accept proposals through its general application.

The Foundation’s Places of Opportunity initiative is rooted in research that shows a clear connection between a young person’s community environment and their prospects for prosperity. One helpful resource in understanding this correlation is this powerful research from Opportunity Insights. This research was one of several resources that informed the Foundation’s strategy. Nonprofit organizations are encouraged to review this resource to inform the ideas they submit.

In addition to Places of Opportunity, the other three pillars of the Foundation’s Economic Mobility program area are Educational Attainment; Future of Work; and Supportive Living Environments.

# # #

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 projected 2020 year-end endowment was $3.1 billion, and its Trustees in 2020 awarded grants and Program Related Investments totaling $130 million. The Foundation focuses its funding on six primary program areas, delineated in its 2021-2030 Strategic Plan.