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BNY Mellon Awards $300,000 Grant to Neighborhood Allies to Expand Economic Opportunity Initiatives Amid COVID-19 Crisis

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We are proud to elevate BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania as our ally, supporter and partner as we work together to improve the quality of life of Pittsburgh residents. This most recent grant will allow us to expand our Economic Opportunity Programs and connect them to our developing Digital Inclusion Initiatives.

With the resources provided by the BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania, we look forward to strengthening and connecting our Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) and our Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) with our expanding Digital Inclusion device, connectivity, and digital skill programs.  This multi-pronged approach positions Neighborhood Allies as an incredible  resource and advocate for Pittsburghers most at risk for disparity, including those who have been negatively affected by Covid-19. Plans include to add an FEC financial counselor to meet increased demand, strengthen the FOCs’ connections to employer partners, and supply the opportunity for FOC and FEC clients to gain devices, technology access, and programming for recognized credentials that lead to family-sustaining jobs through our Digital Inclusion work. 

This support from BNY Mellon is so very important because of the current state and deepening economic and racial disparities present in our city today. In Pittsburgh, Black women are five times more likely to live in poverty than white men while more Black children grow up in poverty than in 95% of similar cities. The stark economic disparities that exist between White and Black residents range from getting a college degree or buying a home, to having a bank account and healthy credit score. These are just some of the glaring inequities present for people of color in our city, making it extremely difficult for our Black residents to get ahead and seize opportunities that boost their financial wellness. And this was the economic situation before the onset of Covid-19. Since mid-March, over 2 million people in Pennsylvania have filed for unemployment assistance; others are working in “essential” jobs that don’t pay enough to cover their basic needs or provide critical benefits.

As we rely on technology to connect with schools, work, health care, social services, and friends and family during the shutdown, we’ve also seen the consequences of a significant digital divide. In the city of Pittsburgh, 13% of households do not have computers. Nearly one in five households in Allegheny County lack at-home internet. However, that statistic varies dramatically between neighborhoods– in areas with lower median incomes, up to 70% of the households are without broadband. All this stands in sharp contrast to the reality that over 82% of middle income jobs (earning between $30-50k) require digital skills. Our neighbors need more than just a leg up if they are to earn livable wages and transcend poverty.

Our rapidly digitizing economy necessitates that workforce and financial education initiatives converge to center digital skill building and habit formation around accessing essential services online, such as banking. Neighborhood Allies is excited to innovate mixed service delivery with the support provided by our allies at BNY Mellon Foundation.

Those who were the least financially secure and virtually connected before the coronavirus outbreak are the ones most at risk now and during the eventual recovery. Our initiatives, and the collaboration between them, directly respond to these challenges.

Our work would not be possible without the tremendous support of funders like the BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Thank you for your continued commitment and support of our mission to support the people, organizations and partnerships committed to creating and maintaining healthy neighborhoods!

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