The Pittsburgh Foundation

Small and Mighty Grants

Michelle McMurray, MSW, the Foundation's senior program officer for Health and Human Services, led a Small and Mighty information session for grant-seekers in September 2016. At the session, potential applicants learned about deadlines, guidelines and the application process.
Michelle McMurray, MSW, the Foundation's senior program officer for Health and Human Services, led a Small and Mighty information session for grant-seekers in September 2016. At the session, potential applicants learned about deadlines, guidelines and the application process.

The Pittsburgh Foundation launched the Small and Mighty grants program in 2016 in an effort to bridge the gap between our grantmaking and the neighborhood-based nonprofits that work to better our region. Small nonprofits — that is, organizations with annual budgets under $600,000 — account for two-thirds of the Pittsburgh region’s nonprofit sector, and typically serve our community’s most underserved populations and neighborhoods. Unfortunately, these organizations are among the most under-resourced nonprofits. This is especially true for nonprofits that are led by and serve communities of color.

Designed with input from small nonprofits and their staffs, Small and Mighty was created to reduce common barriers to grant-seeking. It offers grants of up to $15,000 through a streamlined process that delivers decisions in as little as 60 days.

The Small and Mighty grants program is part of the Foundation’s 100 Percent Pittsburgh organizing principle, which seeks to ensure that Pittsburgh residents who live at or near the federal poverty line have access to opportunities for participation in the region’s revitalized economy.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Have an organizational budget of $600,000 or less.

  • Organizations certified as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code may apply. Groups without official nonprofit status may also apply, but will need to partner with a 501(c)(3) organization to serve as the fiscal sponsor for the request.

  • Organizations must provide direct services to residents of Allegheny County.

  • Organizations must provide services that address a basic need such as food, housing, healthcare, childcare, education and employment (How we define these basic needs). 

  • Organizations applying for operating support must have at least two years of operating history in Allegheny County.

Highest priority will be given to organizations that:

  • Are located in (or primarily serve) economically distressed and/or underserved neighborhoods.

  • Serve a racial or ethnic group disproportionately impacted by poverty.

  • Inclusive of the communities they serve when setting organizational and/or programmatic priorities.

  • Specifically addressing the needs of youths aged 12 to 24 and/or single women with children.

In general, we do not fund one-time events or short-term programs consisting of just a few interactions with participants.

Additionally, organizations that have been awarded a grant in the last 12-months are not eligible to apply for a grant unless invited.  This does not include grants received through Day of Giving, Wish Book or donor-advised funds.

What are the steps to apply?

1.  Attend a Grant-seeker Information Session

Before submitting an application, organizations that are new to the program are required to attend a grant-seeker information session. During this session, we will walk through the application with you, discuss deadlines and answer any questions you may have regarding the application process or the program guidelines.

Organizations that attended an information session and/or applied in 2017 are not required to attend.  However, you might find it helpful as some of the program criteria has changed. 

After attending an information session, organizations will receive an email with the access code for the Small and Mighty grant application.

2.  Access the Online Grant Application

If your organization has never applied to the Foundation via our online portal, you will need to create an organization profile to access the system. Before you start the profile setup process, we recommend that you carefully read the instructions and watch this video tutorial. If you are unsure whether your organization already has a profile, or need assistance at any point in the process, please contact our Grant Support Team at grantsupport [at]

Access the online grant application system (APPLICATION DEADLINE HAS PASSED), then enter the access code that you received after the information session so the application will be visible to you.

3. Submit Your Application

The deadline to apply was Oct. 16, 2017.  Applications submitted by 11:59 p.m. on the due date will be reviewed and receive notification of a decision within 60 days. 

Commonly Asked Questions

  • Are arts organizations eligible to apply?

    No. The Pittsburgh Foundation offers grant support through other funding streams that support small arts organizations. Learn more about how to apply.

  • What types of grants can my organization apply for?

    Small and Mighty provides three types of support: unrestricted operating support, capacity-building support and program-specific support. Requests for organizational startup support will not be considered. Applicants may only apply for one type of grant support.

    1. Unrestricted Operating Support: Funding that enables an organization to carry out its mission. For example, operating support can underwrite administrative infrastructure, implement a strategic plan and/or maintain core programs and essential staff.

    2. Capacity-Building Support: Funding for specific activities or projects designed to strengthen an organization’s governance, leadership, programmatic or administrative capacity. Some examples of allowable capacity building activities include program evaluation, staff professional development, technology improvements and best-practice implementation. Requests for strategic plan development, exploration of mergers or other strategic alliances, real estate assessments and capital expenses will not be considered.

    3. Program-Specific Support: Funding intended to keep good programs going at their current level of service or to test new ideas or partnerships that improve access to services. Program-specific support is designed for time-sensitive requests to help program participants meet basic needs that cannot be easily secured through other public resources.

  • How large are Small and Mighty grants?
    • The Small and Mighty grants program's total budget for 2017 is $250,000.
    • Applicants may apply for grant awards between $2,500 and $15,000.
    • All grants will be for a period of no more than 12 months.
    • Operating support may be renewable for up to three years.
    • Grantees may only have one open grant with the Foundation in any 12-month period. Therefore, organizations that already have a grant through another program of the Foundation are not eligible to apply.
  • Where do I enter the access code to access the grant application?
    • After you enter your username and password, click “Apply” at the top of the first page that appears after the log-in page.
    • Enter the access code in the box at the top right side of the Apply page (see image below).
    • The Small and Mighty Grants Program application will appear after the code is accepted.


      Access grant portal with code.



Have questions?

For questions regarding guidelines, your proposal or eligibility, please contact Michelle McMurray at mcmurraym [at] or 412-394-2610.

For questions regarding logging in to the online grant portal or online grant application, please contact Jill Ritchie at ritchiej [at] or 412-394-2611.

For questions about using data or developing measures of success, please contact Michael Yonas at yonasm [at] or 412-394-2612.