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Municipal News

 As the year draws to a close, the Jefferson Regional Foundation is proud to announce it has awarded nearly $6 million in local grants since2014 in support of its mission to improve the health and well-being of the communities served by Jefferson Hospital through grantmaking, education, and outreach. The Foundation’s focus has been on increasing health access and prevention, improving outcomes for children and families, and strengthening vulnerable populations and communities.

 “As a place-based Foundation, we are committed to strengthening community health in the South Hills and lower Mon Valley area through our grantmaking,” said James Graham, the Foundation’s Chairman. “We have now invested in the promising and proven programs of 63 organizations also dedicated to the Rt. 51 corridor we serve”.

In its fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, the Jefferson Regional Foundation awarded 29 new grants totaling $2,007,000. Foundation grants awarded in the past year have supported opportunities at various community sites, such as churches, libraries, and childcare centers to improve healthy living of residents using both experts and trained peers. Those grants include:

  • The Consumer Health Coalition ($75,000 for two years) hires and trains part-time peer community health workers to work in their own communities of Clairton and the Bhutanese refugee community to provide culturally appropriate information, health education and advocacy.
  • One on One Fitness & Training ($45,000) partners with local churches to offer the Jefferson community challenge program for healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Vintage ($99,000 for 3 years)
  • Pittsburgh Mercy Health ($18,000 for 2 years)
  • Women for a Healthy Environment ($40,000) is working in early childcare settings to strengthen the environmental health of children by increasing awareness of employees and childcare families.
  • Local school students directly benefitted from Jefferson Hospital/Allegheny Health Network (AHN) ($10,000 for school screenings) nursing staff working onsite to assist nurses in several local school districts to screen for vision, hearing and health issues..
  • The Foundation also supported Jefferson Hospital/AHN health initiatives ($25,000 and $25,000) through sponsorships.
  • Graduate students from the University of Pittsburgh (Bridging the Gaps $30,000 for 2 years) health-related professions intern onsite with local organizations to develop health projects to respond directly to community needs.

Health challenges in the South Hills and lower Mon Valley include behavioral health—and community assessments highlight a tremendous need in this area with a particular need to address the opioid epidemic. Grants targeted toward that include:

  • Prevention Point Pittsburgh ($200,000 for 2 years) will expand harm reduction services in the Jefferson area, initiate a peer outreach project for people in addiction & recovery and also work with a communications firm on education and anti-stigma strategies. 
  • Saltworks ($20,000) offers a prevention program focused on the opioid epidemic through powerful live theatre productions and discussions with middle and high school students.
  • Jefferson Hospital Behavioral Health ($180,000 over 3 years) is expanding its capacity for community outreach with a full-time position that will strengthen community access to both inpatient and outpatient mental health services.

After-school and summer programs can provide important positive alternative activities, skills and education for youth.  The Foundation awarded several grants in this area, including:

  • Using its centers in McKeesport and Duquesne, the Boys & Girls Club of Western PA ($50,000) is working directly with teens to develop new programming that meets their needs and will attract 200 teens from the Mon Valley area.
  • Serving students and their families from Baldwin-Whitehall, Bethel Park, and South Park schools, Melting Pot Ministries ($50,000 for 2 years) is a year-round program that will build its outreach capacity to serve families new to the area.
  • MUSA (Methodist Union of Social Agencies for $50,000) provides year-round, out-of-school time programs for 150 low-income youth and families from Homestead, West Homestead, and Munhall and nearby communities.  
  • Youth Opportunities Development (YOD- $50,000) engages Clairton youth and numerous partners through a community leadership program.
  • Based in Duquesne, the Virtuous Academy ($25,000) provides out-of-school time programming for underserved children in the area that focuses on social, behavioral, and academic challenges.

Several partnerships with youth-serving programs use the arts and outdoor opportunities to promote problem-solving, teamwork, access to mentors, and a renewed focus on health and wellness. This includes:

  • The Center of Life ($25,000) is infusing its expertise using the arts as a positive catalyst with youth to build the capacity of other youth programs.
  • The Student Conversation Association ($40,000) partners with Melting Pot Ministries to provide paid summer employment through conservation work in South Parkwhile increasing physical activity, environmental knowledge, and job skills.  
  • Venture Outdoors ($25,000) is partnering with several programs to expand youth experience in outdoor recreation, such as kayaking & geocaching while building awareness and appreciation of the environment, healthy lifestyles and local parks.

The Foundation has a strong interest and commitment to build the capacity of community organizations for local impact, as well as to strengthen local leadership.  Two of its largest grants will provide capital support for this purpose:

  • Best of the Batch Foundation ($250,000) will build a new education center in Homestead offering multi-purpose rooms, a gym, dance studio, and computer labs to expand its capacity to serve youth and the broader Jefferson community.
  • SHIM (South Hills Interfaith Movement, $300,000) will expand its human services programs in the South Hills through the relocation of its Prospect Park Family Center and Early Childhood Program to a new, safer, and larger space at the former Wallace School in Whitehall.
  • A grant to The Forbes Funds ($20,000) builds capacity through individual executive coaching and group training offered to local nonprofit organizations by experienced nonprofit peers.
  • The YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh ($25,000) will engage in a community-planning process to identify community needs, build community partnerships and responsive programming for its new Spencer Family Branch facility in Bethel Park.

Grant support is also targeted to vulnerable populations to build on their strengths and resiliency, including post-9/11 military veterans in our area:

  • A grant award to the Veteran’s Breakfast Club ($95,000 for 2 years) is designed to build staff and program capacity for its expanded work to engage younger veterans through its storytelling events, interviews, and podcasts.  
  • The Mission Continues ($50,000) will engage post-9/11 veterans as community volunteers through a new service platoon supporting the local refugee and immigrant population in partnerships with local organizations.

The South Hills area has become home to at least 40% of the county’s immigrant population who are eager to contribute to the economic vitality of our area. The Foundation awarded several grants to support this immigrant population:

  • The Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh (BCAP $50,000) provides programs and services for its 5000+ local residents with a particular focus on youth and families, older adults, and women, and builds community partnerships. 
  • Global Solutions Pittsburgh ($100,000 for 2 years) promotes effective, coordinated efforts to build on the strengths of immigrant and international residents by implementing a community-wide blueprint and targeting efforts in the South Hills on expanding language access, community conversations, and capacity-building. 
  • Jewish Family and Children’s Service ($35,000) partners with local organizations to provide career development services and expand its immigrant legal services to help South Hills residents live healthier lives and contribute to the economic vitality of our region.

The Jefferson Regional Foundation was funded with $75 million in 2013 as part of agreement with Highmark Inc. when Jefferson Hospital affiliated with Allegheny Health Network.  The Foundation also hosts the Jefferson Forum, a daylong learning event each May, and the Jefferson Community Collaborative, a network of local organizations that brings change-makers together quarterly to connect and collaborate to positively impact the health and vitality of communities south of Pittsburgh.  The Collaborative has produced a Jefferson Community Directory, community-wide Mental Health First-Aid trainings, and now has initiatives focused on workforce development, behavioral health and family and resident engagement.

For more information about grantmaking guidelines, the Jefferson Community Collaborative, and other activities of the Foundation, visit www.jeffersonrf.org or contact the Foundation at 412-267-6770.

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