The Pittsburgh Foundation

Poverty in our region

Every Thursday, Feeding the Spirit, a Westmoreland County-based nonprofit, provides a community meal. The organization is also one of Westmoreland County area’s leading nonprofits for crisis intervention, pulling homeless individuals and families off the streets and into temporary shelter.
Every Thursday, Feeding the Spirit, a Westmoreland County-based nonprofit, provides a community meal. The organization is also one of Westmoreland County area’s leading nonprofits for crisis intervention, pulling homeless individuals and families off the streets and into temporary shelter.

Though western Pennsylvania has experienced a remarkable rebound over the past four decades, not all of us have been able to access the benefits of Pittsburgh’s economy. In 2014, The Pittsburgh Foundation established its 100 Percent Pittsburgh organizing principal to guide our work so that none of our neighbors are left behind. According to the U.S. Census, 13 percent of Allegheny County residents live below the poverty level. About one-third of Pittsburgh’s regional population lives at or near poverty, subsisting on annual household wages of $50,000 or less for a family of four. These families are just one car accident, job loss or health emergency away from financial disaster.

A 2014 Urban Institute study, Poverty and Income Insecurity in the Pittsburgh Region, was commissioned by The Pittsburgh Foundation to explore the causes and threats associated with poverty and income insecurity. We also relied on other research indicating that single women raising children and youth ages 12 to 24 are among the groups in our region at greatest risk of poverty. These two groups are the focus of 100 Percent Pittsburgh efforts now underway at the Foundation. You may learn more about our original research focused on the unique challenges facing  youth involved in the juvenile justice system and single women raising children in our region. People of color, the elderly and people with disabilities, including veterans, are also especially vulnerable to poverty and income insecurity, the report found.

The Foundation now dedicates about 60 percent of its discretionary grantmaking to programs and initiatives related to 100 Percent Pittsburgh. In addition to our competitive grantmaking process, we have also instituted the Small and Mighty grants program, which supports small, community-based organizations that work directly with vulnerable populations in their own neighborhoods, and the Social Justice Fund, which provides operating and project support to organizations fighting systemic racism, injustice and other causes of persistent and intergenerational poverty.

Through our Critical Needs Alert online giving events, we also enlist the entire Pittsburgh community in making sure that the basic needs—such as food, housing, child care, transportation and physical and mental healthcare needs—are met. Since 2013, Critical Needs Alerts have raised $4.9 million from our donors and the public. Learn more about Critical Needs Alerts and the organizations it funds

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learn about basic needs ORGANIZATIONS IN OUR COMMUNITY: