Urban Affairs Foundation, Vibrant Pittsburgh offer grants for civic engagement
Mini Grants InitiativeIn sixth year, Mini Grants emphasize civic engagement

Urban Affairs Foundation, Vibrant Pittsburgh offer grants for civic engagement

In its sixth year, the initiative will offer grants for services that assist people who do not read or write English fluently.

(Photo from public domain)
(Photo from public domain)

The Urban Affairs Foundation — an arm of the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh — is partnering with Vibrant Pittsburgh to offer a total of $50,000 in mini grants to support inclusion and diversity in the Steel City.

This is the sixth year the two organizations have joined forces for the Mini Grants Initiative, each committing $25,000 to fund projects that increase the civic engagement of diverse and immigrant communities.

This year’s theme is “Language Access through the Use of Technology,” which the grantors hope will inspire projects that “emphasize services for those who may not be able to read or write English fluently,” according to Josh Sayles, CRC director. Because the focus is on language access, the “FAQ” section of the grant website can be read in English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Nepali. (Pittsburgh has a large Bhutanese immigrant population whose first language is commonly Nepali.)

Vibrant Pittsburgh is a nonprofit organization that supports Pittsburgh’s growth and economic competitiveness “by engaging the region’s employers; attracting, retaining and elevating a diverse talent pool; and positioning the region nationally and internationally as an inclusive and welcoming place for people of all backgrounds,” according to a press release.

Melanie Harrington, CEO of Vibrant Pittsburgh, is happy to be partnering again with the Urban Affairs Foundation.

“We are pleased to team up again this year with the Jewish Federation because they have been providing services for more than a century to Pittsburgh’s immigrant and diverse communities,” Harrington said in a written statement. “In addition, this is our sixth cycle of funding grants to community groups, so this partnership allows us to expand our resources and engagement.”

Innovative ideas, as well as “quirky solutions,” are encouraged according to the grant website. “Applicants may focus their language access proposals on a specific community, constituency, language, or demographic group, or focus on a broader cross-section of constituencies…Collaborations with technology firms or STEM organizations are encouraged.”

The partnership between the Urban Affairs Foundation and Vibrant Pittsburgh highlights “the Jewish Federation’s support for healthy, diverse communities and our conviction that they contribute to the vitality of the region as a whole,” Cindy Goodman-Leib, chair of the CRC, said in a written statement. “We see awarding mini grants as a means of building the region in the way the foundation’s mission statement specifies: ‘to foster amicable relationships among ethnic, racial, national, religious and other groups in our community.’”

Funding through the initiative will be available to non-profit applicants selected through a proposal process. Organizations can partner with other nonprofits, academic institutions, religious organizations, community groups, businesses and employee resource groups to propose one-year long projects. The typical range of a grant award is $500-$7,500.

Past mini grants have funded health and human services, housing, education, mentoring, professional networking, social support, welcoming initiatives, and job-connection programs for refugees and immigrants.

“The Jewish Community Relations Council has partnered with Vibrant Pittsburgh for the last six years to help make Southwestern Pennsylvania a more diverse and inclusive place,” said Sayles. “We do this primarily by contributing 50 percent of a $50,000 fund each year to provide seed money to diverse communities and organizations to launch critical community projects they wouldn’t be able to afford on their own.”

All applications will be screened by staff from Vibrant Pittsburgh and the Federation. Selected proposals will be reviewed by the Mini Grant Review Committee comprised of representatives from Vibrant Pittsburgh and the Federation’s Community Relations Council.

Successful applications will receive funding by the end of November 2018.

Grant application materials are available at www.vibrantpittsburgh.org/resource- category/mini-grants and at www.jfedpgh.org/grants. Completed grant applications are due by 5 p.m., Friday, Aug. 31, and should be sent electronically to ebernstein@jfedpgh.org. PJC

This story has been updated.

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at ttabachnick@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

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