Funding Priorities

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Regional Focus, National Impact

The Foundation’s current giving priorities primarily serve southwestern Pennsylvania with a program focus on Regional Economic Development and Conservation, along with Education and Human Services and Nonprofit Capacity Building. The Foundation gives first consideration to requests that clearly align with these interests and demonstrates the greatest likelihood of achieving measurable results.


Preserving Land, Water, Animals, and Economies

In 2019, the Foundation awarded 33 conservation grants totaling $34,613,000. More than $26 million, approximately three quarters of this funding, is supporting land acquisition. The balance of the Foundation’s conservation grants awarded during the year are earmarked for education and promotion; watershed restoration; wildlife and habitat protection; general conservation; and preservation of 11 landscapes deemed to be priorities by the Foundation’s leaders.


Economic Mobility, World Class Research, and Technology

In 2019, the Foundation awarded $17,238,000 in 24 education grants. Institutions of higher education received approximately two-thirds of the funding ($11,295,000) while community-based organizations were awarded 21 percent of the monies ($3,725,000). The balance ($2,218,000)—just under 13 percent—was provided to elementary and secondary schools that serve students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Human Services

Creating A Better Quality of Life Throughout The Region

In 2019, the Foundation awarded 49 human services grants totaling $33,097,500. The largest portion of the funding—nearly 35 percent—was designated to support community health endeavors to decrease infant mortality rates in the region. Workforce development efforts received 18 percent of the funding, while organizations providing services to children, youth, and young adults garnered almost 11 percent of the available funds. The balance of the monies was awarded to organizations that meet broad-based needs, including food and housing, and work to improve overall community health by combating violence and the opioid epidemic.

Regional Economic Development

Improving the Quality of Life For Residents, Workers, and Visitors

In 2019, the Foundation made 66 grants totaling $44,188,078 in support of economic development in southwestern Pennsylvania. More than 25 percent of the funding ($12 million) supported projects related to infrastructure, while 18 percent of the total ($7.9 million) enhanced arts and cultural initiatives in Pittsburgh’s cultural district, and nearly 13 percent of the Foundation’s grantmaking in this area ($5,616,000) supported environmentally sound, sustainable infrastructure projects in the region. The balance of grants focused on community development, arts and culture beyond the cultural district, innovation and manufacturing, rural development, and start-ups and incubators.

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Since 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation has invested in the future of southwestern Pennsylvania.

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