Mini Grants Awards – August 2016


Thirteen grant projects aim to strengthen Pittsburgh through collaboration and diversity

Vibrant Pittsburgh and the Urban Affairs Foundation of the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh announce the recipients of this year’s Civic Inclusion & Engagement Fund grants. The fund is a joint venture of the two groups, which seek to strengthen the Pittsburgh region by supporting and engaging its diverse communities.

For the fourth consecutive year, each organization committed $25,000 to create the $50,000 Civic Inclusion & Engagement Fund. Eligible applicants were affinity groups, nonprofit organizations and employer resource groups. Eligible projects had to create opportunities for civic engagement — which included improving knowledge, skills and motivation — and be collaborative.

Eight community leaders, nominated by Vibrant Pittsburgh and the Federation, allocated the $50,000 to 13 projects. Each project involves organizations that represent or benefit a diverse, underserved or minority population.

Among the region’s populations reflected or served by the 13 projects are African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, LGBTQ+ communities, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, people with disabilities and refugees in various counties throughout the region.

“The diversity represented by project partners is as broad and interesting as the diversity of populations within the Pittsburgh region,” said Melanie Harrington, CEO of Vibrant Pittsburgh. “The list of organizations involved in Civic Inclusion & Engagement Fund projects was incredibly eclectic. The potential for synergy that results from bringing these groups together is fantastic and ultimately critical to the long-term competitiveness of our region. Moreover, these organizations join the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and Vibrant Pittsburgh in helping to scale our collective efforts to build a more vibrant and inclusive Pittsburgh region.”

Individual grant awards ranged from $600 to $7,000.

“We call the awards mini-grants,” said Cindy Goodman-Leib, chair of the Community Relations Council. “They aren’t large, but they can be the spark that allows people to more collaborate and share strengths. Every community has strengths. By utilizing these resources effectively, both the community and the region benefit.”

In 2016, Civic Inclusion & Engagement Fund mini-grants will fund these projects:

    Circles of Diversity engages members from Muslim communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania in an effort to educate and raise awareness about Islam. A partnership between YWCA of Westmoreland County and Seton Hill University.
    PRYSE (Pittsburgh Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment) Academy is a three-week summer camp for refugee and immigrant youth that seeks to prepare students for school and beyond. A partnership of ARYSE (Alliance for Refugee Youth Support and Education), FORGE at Carnegie Mellon University, FORGE at the University of Pittsburgh, and Keep It Real at the University of Pittsburgh.
    Computer Reach will target young diverse populations (ages 14-20) to expose them to potential technology-related career opportunities. A partnership between Computer Reach and Pittsburgh Explorer Post 8816.
    Civic Engagement in the Bhutanese Community empowers new and future citizens, connects them to their local government, and encourages their informed participation in public life in the United States. A partnership of Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, White Hall Library, and Union of African Communities.
    World Refugee Day Celebration 2017 will provide an opportunity to educate the broader population about the cultures, strengths and contributions that refugees bring to our region, while increasing awareness of the challenges faced by refugees and emphasizing tolerance and acceptance. A partnership of Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS), Northern Area Multi-Service Center (NAMS), Acculturation for Justices, Access and Peace Outreach (AJAPO), and Catholic Charities.
    Digital Storytelling to Engage Diverse Communities will record the stories of Pittsburgh-area immigrants and long-term residents and disseminate the stories through community programs and dialogues. A partnership of the Allegheny County Library Association, JF&CS, Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh, South Hills Interfaith Movement, and University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development.
    Ten Commandment Hike will take 500-750 participants on a tour of a number of houses of worship in Oakland and Shadyside. Hikers will hear from clergy representing the Anglican, Baptist, Buddhist, Byzantine, Catholic, Christian Scientist, Greek Orthodox, Hindu, Jewish, Latter Day Saints, Muslim, and Zoroastrian communities. A partnership between the Laurel Highlands Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Laurel Highlands Council of the Jewish Committee on Scouting, Rodef Shalom, Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church, St. Paul Cathedral, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Heinz Chapel, Pittsburgh Buddhist Center, Hindu Jain Temple, Zoroastrian Association of Pennsylvania, First Baptist Church, and First Church of Christ Scientist.
    The Accessible Playground Locker promotes disability awareness and provides social tools for children and parents with and without disabilities to integrate, collaborate, and play. Find Some Flow will oversee the coordination and delivery of the locker, as well as provide inclusive programming. A partnership between Find Some Flow, Tri-County Patriots for Independent Living, Access Mob Pittsburgh, North Fayette Township, and Pittsburgh Adaptive Sports Network.
    The Second Language, Third Place, will create an opportunity for the Pittsburgh Arsenal community to have foreign-language instruction for students and their families in the evenings by taking advantage of the linguistic and cultural diversity from within the community. A partnership between Lawrenceville United, Pittsburgh Public Schools English as a Second Language Department, Pittsburgh Arsenal PreK-5, Pittsburgh Arsenal 6-8, Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania, A+ Schools, Somali Bantu Community Association of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development, Lawrenceville Family Care Connection Center, Lawrenceville Corporation, and Friends of Farmworkers.
    Increasing Community Vitality and Civic Engagement at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will provide accessible resources for people of all backgrounds at Carnegie Library and work to help create a Pittsburgh that is more welcoming of diversity and culturally competent as part of a greater effort to make the city a global model for welcoming communities. A partnership between Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, City of Pittsburgh’s Welcoming Pittsburgh Task Force, and Bike Pittsburgh.
    Amachi Ambassadors will train youth ages 14-18 to become civically engaged and raise awareness around racially disparate school discipline zero-tolerance policies. A partnership between Amachi Pittsburgh, Allies for Children, Education Law Center, and A+ Schools.
    The Corner: Civic Engagement and Community Building Through the Arts, will provide arts and music programming for residents of West Oakland and the Hill District. A partnership between Friendship Community Presbyterian Church, 1Hood Media, Ujamaa Collective, CeaseFire PA, and Partners: Oak Hill Housing Opportunities Unlimited (HOU).
    Our Stories is an outdoor film series that will screen international LGBTQ+ movies to new audiences in Pittsburgh. A partnership between the Pittsburgh Lesbian & Gay Film Society, City of Asylum, Café Con Leche, Black Pride, and Silk Screen.

Both Vibrant Pittsburgh and the Urban Affairs Foundation of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh support a growing, vibrant and inclusive Pittsburgh region through direct programing and by funding agencies and diverse groups that promote the well-being of individuals, neighborhoods and regional community.

About Vibrant Pittsburgh

Vibrant Pittsburgh is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the growth and economic competitiveness of the Pittsburgh region by engaging the region’s employers and building a vibrant and inclusive Pittsburgh region by attracting, retaining and elevating diverse talent for the Pittsburgh region. Learn more at

About Urban Affairs Foundation and Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

The Urban Affairs Foundation promotes the involvement of Jewish organizations and individuals around urban concerns. The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Community Relations Council (CRC), which manages the foundation, engages in public policy activities to promote social and economic justice for all, build amicable relationships among diverse community groups and enlist support on behalf of Israel. The Federation raises and allocates funds to build community locally, in Israel and around the world. With the vision of a thriving, vibrant and engaged Jewish community, the Federation carries out its work in the context of cooperation and inclusiveness. Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is a member agency of The Jewish Federations of North America. Learn more at