Economic Mobility

Investment Area: Educational Attainment

The Richard King Mellon Foundation’s Economic Mobility program’s vision is that all children and youth living in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties will be able to access their most promising future. 

The Economic Mobility program has three guardrails that inform all of the program’s funding decisions:

•    The funding program benefits children and youth ages 0-24 years.
•    The program’s funding serves residents of Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.
•    The program prioritizes children and youth from low-income families.

The Economic Mobility program organizes its grantmaking into four investment areas. Collectively, these four investment areas describe the Foundation’s approach to addressing the problem of limited economic mobility. Each investment area contains priorities that further describe the Foundation’s funding interests. Finally, each priority has evidence-informed outcomes that describe specific changes that the Foundation hopes to create. Organization’s applying to the Economic Mobility program should be clear in their application how the proposed efforts will advance at least one of the program’s outcomes.

The four investment areas and the priorities and outcomes within each investment area are described in further detail below. 

The Richard King Mellon Foundation has long invested in programs and capital projects to improve educational opportunities for children and youth in the region. Under its economic mobility program, the Foundation will continue to invest in children and youth throughout the education continuum with a greater emphasis on the purpose that education serves. Our educational attainment investment area has three priorities: (1) kindergarten readiness, (2) K-12 academic performance, and (3) postsecondary education success. By focusing on these priorities, the Foundation seeks to help students develop skills across academic domains and complete academic programs. Within each priority, the Foundation has identified evidence-based outcomes that, if achieved, will contribute to children’s academic success.

Priority: Kindergarten Readiness - Early childhood education can provide a strong start for children, with favorable effects on developmental outcomes and even on employment and earnings outcomes in adulthood. The Foundation will promote kindergarten readiness primarily through funding focused on achieving two outcomes: Highly trained and effective early childhood educators and expanded access to high quality early childhood options.

Priority: K-12 Academic Performance - Elementary and secondary education teaches the foundational academic skills students need to obtain advanced degrees and jobs that make economic mobility possible. For this reason, the quality of K-12 schools is strongly correlated with geographic variation in economic mobility for children and youth. The Foundation will promote K-12 academic performance through funding focused on achieving three outcomes: Achievement in academic subjects; School attendance and engagement; and high school graduation.

Priority: Post-Secondary Education Success - Postsecondary degrees open doors to higher-paying jobs in sectors of the economy that require skilled workers. The Foundation will promote post-secondary education success through funding focused on two outcomes: Postsecondary education application and enrollment; and postsecondary education persistence and completion.

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