Grants & PRIS: Requests For Proposals

Creating Economic Connectedness to Support Young People’s Economic Mobility

The Background

A growing body of research indicates that the strength of a person’s social network and community connections – their social capital – plays a role in their lifetime economic trajectory. In 2022, research published by Raj Chetty and colleagues in the journal Nature honed in on the importance of social connections across economic class divides in order to boost children’s upward economic mobility. Chetty and team found that “the degree to which people with low and high SES are friends with each other (which we term economic connectedness (EC)) is strongly associated with upward income mobility, whereas other forms of social capital are not” (Chetty et al, “Social capital I: measurement and associations with economic mobility”). In a second paper titled “Social capital II: determinants of economic connectedness,” Chetty and the research team identified two key factors that account for approximately half of the social disconnection between young people with lower and higher socioeconomic status (SES).  These two factors were summarized by the Brookings Institute as: 

  • “lack of exposure to people of a different background (and particularly of lower-SES people to higher-SES people)
  • “‘friending bias,’ which means that even when there are people of different backgrounds around, friendships remain strongly class-based”

Request for Proposals

The Richard King Mellon Foundation is issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) that identify the factors that limit the formation of young people’s social connections across economic classes in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties and prototype interventions to increase these connections. The long term-goal, which would be achieved outside of the timeline of any awarded grants, is to increase the upward economic mobility of young people who are ages 0-24 years old and who reside in low-income households in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. Proposals submitted for this Request for Proposals fit within the Economic Mobility program’s Places of Opportunity investment area.

Submitted proposals must clearly describe how:

  • local agencies and researchers will partner in the data collection, analysis, and design of interventions
  • data will be used to identify local and regional needs and opportunities and inform the development of solutions


Examples of ideas that may be considered include, but are not limited to, the items noted below. These are solely illustrative and not proscriptive. Applications may include a variety of services, products, or technologies. The Foundation welcomes a range of ideas and encourages thoughtful experimentation.

Planning & Innovation
  • Use network mapping tools to visualize and analyze the relationships – and disconnects – between populations with low, medium, and high SES
  • Conduct a needs analysis to better understand local barriers to the formation of cross-class friendships and conduct a literature review to identify evidence to guide the development of interventions
  • Develop a logic model, staffing model, and financial sustainability analysis for an intervention designed to build cross-class friendships
  • Pilot an initiative and evaluate its impacts

Funding Guidelines

The Foundation’s general eligibility criteria apply to the RFP. Please review our application FAQ. Additional detailed instructions for how to complete the application can be found in this PDF.  

Funding Range

The Foundation expects to fund projects in the range of $150,000-$300,000, depending on the complexity of the proposed project and the number of collaborators. If an application is truly exceptional, the Foundation may consider providing more funding than this range. Successful grantees may be invited to apply for follow-on funding or additional capacity-building funding opportunities at the conclusion of the grant.

Types of Support

The Foundation expects to provide Planning and Innovation grants through this RFP. The funded activities must be conducted within 6-18 months.

Planning and Innovation grants focus on experimentation and the development of new ideas. Recipients might describe activities such as piloting services or completing a feasibility study. Any evaluation activities should focus on understanding successes, challenges, and future possibilities resulting from the initial project.  Grant funds awarded through this RFP may be used for a variety of expenses such as program and service delivery, consultant fees, or evaluation.

Collaborations Led by Public Sector or Nonprofit Organizations

For the purposes of this RFP, the Foundation offers additional guidance about collaborative proposals from public sector or nonprofit organizations.

Public sector organizations:
  • may serve as the lead agency submitting a proposal for Planning and Innovation grants
  • may participate as collaborating partners on all types of grants submitted by nonprofit organizations serving as the lead agency
  • include entities such as school districts, courts, or departments of health or human services

Nonprofit organizations:
  • may serve as the lead agency for all types of grants
  • may participate as collaborating partners for all types of grants

What the Foundation Will Not Fund

The Foundation will not fund the following items through this RFP:

  • Endowments
  • Advocacy, political causes or events
  • Existing deficits or retroactive funding
  • Event sponsorships
  • Student scholarships


Round 1: CLOSED
  • Applications are due – Monday, April 17, 2023 Noon (12:00 PM) EST
  • Funding status notification – Friday, June 30, 2023
  • Funds issued for awarded grants- Friday, July 14, 2023

Round 2:
  • Applications are due – Wednesday, September 13, 2023 Noon (12:00 PM) EST.
  • Funding status notification – Friday, December 22, 2023
  • Funds issued for awarded grants – Friday, December 22, 2023

Download a copy of this RFP here.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ: Request For Proposals

We encourage you to prioritize carefully with your organization, and we recommend that an organization submit one proposal to each RFP. However, the logic model describing the proposed initiative may contain several types of activities that are critical for the project’s success.  

If you are submitting a proposal as part of a large regional research, university, or healthcare institution, we will consider ideas from multiple divisions within the institution. You should coordinate with your institution’s development office before responding to an RFP or completing the General Application to the Foundation.

It is unlikely that you can meet with a program officer before submitting. In general, program officers are not available for a discussion until after a proposal has been submitted. You can also email [email protected] with questions.

You will immediately receive an email confirming that your application was successfully submitted. There are not specific timelines associated with the review of a funding application.

The Foundation normally has Board meetings in the Spring, Summer and Winter.

Questions about a declined application may be submitted via email to[email protected]. The Foundation aspires to reply to all inquiries but, given the volume of applications the Foundation receives, we cannot commit to answering every such inquiry.

The Foundation is generally not providing multi-year grants at this time. The majority of our grants are twelve to eighteen months.

Yes, the Foundation provides general operating support for organizations that are not postsecondary institutions or research institutions.

In the application, you will encounter a question about the type of support that you are seeking. You can select from the following options: Capital Support; General Operating Support; Land Acquisition; Project Support.

Yes, you can include indirect expenses in your proposed budget if your organization is not a postsecondary or research institution.

We define indirect expenses as those expenses categorized as “Management and General;” “Administrative and Management;” or “Fundraising” according to the IRS and FASB functional expense allocation guidelines.

For organizations that are eligible to receive support for indirect expenses, we do not have a recommended ratio.

The Foundation will not fund ideas that include regranting to individuals. The Foundation may fund applications that include regranting from a lead agency to other agencies who are identified in the submission as participants in a collaboration. In this case, the regranted funds are solely to support the collaborative activities described in the submission. We will consider ideas in which organizations provide technical assistance in areas where they have expertise or are working with pre-identified partners, who will then assist with the implementation of the proposed project. 

Yes, we consider applications from organizations that are not based in Allegheny or Westmoreland counties. In your application, you should be clear about why and in what ways the project will serve economic development in these counties.   

The primary goal of a PRI is to achieve charitable benefit. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service allows a foundation to provide a PRI if the investment fulfills all three of the following criteria: 

  • The primary purpose is to accomplish one or more of the foundation’s exempt purposes
  • Production of income or appreciation of property is not a significant purpose, and 
  • Influencing legislation or taking part in political campaigns on behalf of candidates is not a purpose. 

The IRS provides additional guidance that further clarifies each of these criterion. We encourage you to consult with your legal counsel and review the IRS guidance and other resources about philanthropic PRIs before you submit an application.

Yes. You may submit an application if your company is based anywhere in the United States. Unfortunately, we are not able to entertain applications from companies not incorporated in the United States. For ideas focused on Economic Mobility, Economic Development, or Health & Well-Being, if your company is located outside the Pittsburgh region, please be sure to address within the application how your idea will positively impact Allegheny and/or Westmoreland counties. If your proposal is related to our Conservation program area, the positive impact you seek to generate can be anywhere in the United States. 

Any questions about the application may be submitted via email to [email protected]. We will be responsive to all thoughtful inquiries. 

Nonprofit and public sector applicants can submit different proposals to any of the RFPs at the same time.  

For-profit companies and entrepreneurs are only able to submit a proposal to the Employment in the New Economy: Supporting Disconnected and Gig Economy Workers RFP

Have a Question?

Please contact Lynne Ventress at the Foundation to discuss questions regarding this RFP.