Economic Mobility

Investment Area: Places of Opportunity

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 aims to create places of opportunity for children and youth that are connected and safe. The Foundation will invest in efforts to build social capital through increasing community engagement, building community capacity to meet children’s needs, and expanding cross-community collaboration. We will also invest in opportunities to improve community spaces and reduce crime. Unlike the other three focus areas, this investment area targets neighborhood-level impacts rather than individual-level impacts. Our Places of Opportunity investment area has a singular priority: connected and safe communities for children and youth. 

Priority: Connected and Safe Communities - Children and youth can have greater opportunities to experience economic mobility if they live in more engaged communities. Initiatives to increase youth civic engagement and participation in social associations can increase this community connectedness. Furthermore, communities and stakeholders need to collaborate to make the region’s economic mobility resources accessible for all children and youth. Collaboration can involve sharing missions and goals, co-creating and sharing programs and services, and partnering in systems change. Access to welcoming, accessible, and well-maintained community spaces like libraries, parks, community gardens, and recreation centers also builds children and youth’s social capital and enhances quality of life. Finally, crime reduction is an important component of social capital. Places with less crime tend to have higher levels of neighborhood satisfaction and economic mobility. Children and youth can have better chances of experiencing mobility if they live, work, and attend school in areas with less crime. The Foundation will promote connected and safe communities through funding focused on four outcomes: Community engagement and capacity; cross-community collaboration; community space improvements; and crime reduction.


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