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.

Conservation

Ensuring Environmental Protection for Today and Tomorrow

Conservation

Ensuring Environmental Protection for Today and Tomorrow

Seventy years ago, the Foundation made its first conservation-related grants to the World Wildlife Fund, Ducks Unlimited, and the National Wildlife Federation. Since then, protecting the nation’s land, water, and natural habitats has been a mainstay of its philanthropic endeavors.

To ensure greater impact from its investments, the Foundation produced a well-defined set of conservation priorities that includes national, regional, and local goals. At the national level, the Foundation will work with its long-standing conservation partners to protect 250,000 acres of habitat, while at the regional level the Foundation is collaborating with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and others in 11 focal areas in western Pennsylvania to protect and restore terrestrial and aquatic habitat for key indicator species such as the Cerulean Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Eastern Brook Trout, and Eastern Hellbender. Locally, the Foundation will continue to support efforts to create trails, enhance public parks, and install green infrastructure to mitigate storm water flows to improve water quality.

Education

Keeping Pace in Changing Times

Education

Keeping Pace in Changing Times

The Foundation grants aspire to help students — and others — succeed in a world marked by changes in technology, the economy, and the media.

Pittsburgh and the region are home to some of the best public, private, charter, and parochial K-12 schools, colleges, and research universities in the country. Building upon the importance of these educational institutions to the regional community and economy, the Foundation’s educational priorities include strengthening K-12 schools, colleges, and universities through investments in capital facilities, advanced curriculum, and workforce training that prepare students to participate in the new economy. The Foundation also looks to leverage federally-funded research carried out at universities to support economic development in both urban and rural communities. At the same time, the Foundation’s priorities include exploring new initiatives for improving educational outcomes for students attending Pittsburgh’s lowest-performing K-12 schools.

Human Services

Promoting Self-Reliance Amidst Life’s Struggles

Human Services

Promoting Self-Reliance Amidst Life’s Struggles

The Foundation awarded grants that support initiatives that strive to promote individuals’ self-sufficiency, often following addiction, incarceration, poverty, or other struggles.

Based on analysis of the issues facing Pittsburgh communities by the Foundation’s staff and trustees, our human service funding will focus on engaging regional partners to reduce infant mortality rates, an issue that is considered an indicator of population health and one in which some groups continue to experience rates that are significantly higher than local or national averages. In addition, the Foundation will continue to make grants to evidence-based initiatives that help individuals and families thrive, including programs that emphasize high-quality early childhood education, workforce development, violence prevention, and basic needs such as food and shelter. Across these human service efforts, the Foundation will rely on data to help target support to areas with the greatest need and in which success can be measured by academic achievement, economic stability, and safe neighborhoods with healthy residents.

Regional Economic Development

Strengthening All Facets of Southwestern Pennsylvania

Regional Economic Development

Strengthening All Facets of Southwestern Pennsylvania

Among the grants and program-related investments the Foundation awarded in 2017 are several that support initiatives that create jobs, transform sites for new uses, promote tourism, preserve the region’s history, and encourage new business development. 

Pittsburgh and the region have a rich history of making products for the world. Building upon those traditions, the Foundation’s regional economic development priorities are now focused on opportunities in advanced and additive manufacturing, robotics, and the economics of growth in rural and urban communities. Recognizing that a region’s economy cannot truly be successful unless all communities participate, the Foundation will also collaborate and invest in several underserved communities to support affordable housing, business infrastructure, workforce training, and entrepreneurship programs designed to help residents gain access to the new economy.

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

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