POISE Foundation to provide up to $25,000 in grants to small Black-led organizations in Pittsburgh | Coronavirus | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

POISE Foundation to provide up to $25,000 in grants to small Black-led organizations in Pittsburgh

A local Pittsburgh foundation has announced the creation of a new fund to help Black-led businesses and organizations receive necessary funding during the coronavirus pandemic.

The POISE Foundation has started the Critical Community Needs Fund (CCNF), which will provide grants between $5,000 and $25,000 to small and mid-sized Black-led Organizations that “serve the most vulnerable members of the Black community in the Pittsburgh region.”

POISE president Mark S. Lewis said that coronavirus has had a disproportionate effect on Black communities across the country. Black communities in cities like Chicago, New Orleans, and St. Louis have been hit particularly hard. As of today in Allegheny County, Black residents made up 17% of positive coronavirus cases, 22% of hospitalizations, and 13% of deaths. Black people make up about 13% of Allegheny County’s population.


“We have also seen that many of our small to mid-sized Black led organizations and businesses have been left out or left behind from accessing many of the government relief programs,” said Lewis in a statement. “These are often the very organizations that are nimble, cost effective, and have deep and intimate relationships with the people they serve. It is our hope that this fund will assist many of these organizations to continue their care for our community.”

Both the Heinz Endowments and the Richard King Mellon Foundation are contributing to the CCNF, and POISE is also hopeful to attract other organizations throughout the region to contribute.

"The data is clear: COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact on our African American community. And those numbers are inflicting a painful human toll," said Richard King Mellon Foundation director Sam Reiman in a statement. "We are grateful for the opportunity to help organizations such as the POISE Foundation work to address the health and economic impacts of this virus."

Pittsburgh has a dubious status as one of the most racially unequal regions in the entire country. A report last year showed that Pittsburgh is the worst region in the country for Black women in terms of opportunity. Heinz Endowments president Grant Oliphant recognizes this and hopes the nonprofits' contributions can help in any way they can.


“Black leadership in the Pittsburgh region must be at the forefront of addressing these issues, and we welcome the chance to work with POISE both on the short-term emergency and the longer-term solutions that will produce a healthier society for all of us,” said Oliphant in a statement.

Parties interested in applying for CCNF grants are encouraged to visit poisefoundation.org/ccnf.

Eligible criteria includes:
• Have a current 501(c)3 or a fiscal sponsor with this designation or be a church, mosque and/or faith-based organization
• The Organization must be led by someone Black and/or African-American
• Must primarily serve Black residents of Allegheny and Beaver Counties

The POISE Foundation was founded in 1980 by Bernard H. Jones, Sr., a prominent civic leader in Pittsburgh, and it is one of the oldest community foundations in the nation that is established and managed by African Americans, according to a press release.

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