Grants & PRIS: Requests For Proposals

Postsecondary Educational Attainment

The Background

Postsecondary education is education, occupational training, or skills development that occurs after obtaining a high school diploma or GED and that results in a certification, diploma, or degree. Postsecondary education plays an important role in economic mobility. In general, greater levels of postsecondary credential attainment correspond to increased individual lifetime earnings. Expanding the number of individuals who complete postsecondary education also has broader social benefits, such as a larger tax base, reduced reliance on public assistance programs, and a workforce that is more prepared to navigate economic disruptions. 

However, the postsecondary educational landscape is complex, and barriers to enrollment and completion affect student populations in nuanced ways. One example is the growing costs of higher education and the difficulty for lower-income families to pay these costs. According to the Postsecondary Value Commission, “the full price (adjusted for inflation) of postsecondary education has increased by more than 170 percent over the last 40 years. Today, students from low-income backgrounds must find a way to finance an amount equivalent to 157 percent of their family’s annual income to pay for one year at a four-year college (page 11).” Another barrier is the challenge of assessing the economic return on postsecondary education. Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce notes that “a higher level of education does not guarantee higher earnings, while less education does not always result in lower earnings… much of the variation in earnings within education levels results from differences in the field of study and occupation (page 4).” Lastly, students may encounter barriers associated with their identity or background. The Postsecondary Value 4 Commission notes that “Students of color and students from low-income backgrounds face barriers to college access, lower completion rates, and affordability challenges. They—and women—also experience lower economic returns in the workforce, impacting the value they reap from their studies” (page 13). The Postsecondary Value Commission also describes how “Low-income students from rural communities … are less likely to have access to college, and especially to the most selective institutions in the country” (page 14).

Submission Examples

Examples of ideas that may be considered include, but are not limited to, the items noted in Table 1. 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.

K-12 Academic Performance

  • customized postsecondary planning and advising that extends into grades 6-8 and engages students and parents 
  • programs facilitating the attainment of college credits while in secondary school

Post-Secondary Education Success

  • assistance with FAFSA completion and interpretation of financial assistance offers 
  • peer or near-peer mentoring programs to support enrolled students 
  • targeted advising interventions for students at-risk of not completing their credential 
  • programs to expedite credit accumulation and degree completion

Eligibility Criteria

The Foundation’s general eligibility criteria apply to the RFP. Please review the Funding Policies on the Apply page of the Foundation’s website and the General FAQs found on the Foundation’s Nonprofit and Public Sector Partners webpage. 

For the purposes of this RFP, the Foundation offers additional guidance about proposals from public sector and 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 both Planning and Innovation and Scalability 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 submitting a proposal for Planning and Innovation grants or for Scalability grants 
  • may participate as collaborating partners on both Planning and Innovation or Scalability grants

Funding Guidelines

The Foundation expects to provide two types of support through this RFP.

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 grant.
  • will provide up to $250,000 and funded activities should be completed within 12 to 18 months after the grant award

Scalability grants:

  • sustain and expand promising, evidence-informed initiatives. Recipients might describe activities, projects, and ideas that have been tested within one population group or in one geographic area with promising success and require an infusion of funds to expand the reach of the program to other population groups or geographic areas 
  • will provide up to $400,000 and funded activities should be completed within 18 to 24 months after the grant award

Grant funds awarded through this RFP may be used for a variety of expenses such as program and service delivery, consultant fees, evaluation, or “overhead” or administrative expenses. A limited amount of capital expenditures that are essential to accomplish the outcomes of the proposal may be included.

If an application is truly exceptional, the Foundation may consider providing more than $250,000 for Planning and Innovation grants or $400,000 for Scalability grants. Successful grants may be invited to apply for follow-on funding or additional capacity-building funding opportunities at the conclusion of the grant.

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


  • Applications submitted. – Friday, September 9, 2022 Noon (12:00 PM) EST.
  • Funding Status Notification – Wednesday, December 21, 2022
  • Funds Issued for Awarded Grants – Friday, December 23, 2022
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 [email protected] at the Foundation to discuss questions regarding this RFP.