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First National Bank Supports Community-Driven Real Estate Projects with $50,000 Grant to The Centralized Real Estate Accelerator

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The Centralized Real Estate Accelerator, an initiative of Neighborhood Allies, fosters true community ownership and equitable development in neighborhoods across Pittsburgh by supporting the efforts of community-driven real estate projects.

Recently launched, The Accelerator aims to help nonprofits gain control of and protect community assets, developers of color to benefit from the region’s economic prosperity, and neighborhood entrepreneurs to build equity in their businesses by owning physical storefronts. We created the Accelerator because we know that the booming regional real estate market has not allowed everyone to benefit from its economic boost – especially people and communities of color. The same communities that have been affected by decades of job loss and neighborhood disinvestment have also often been left behind when it comes to benefiting from new business district development, appreciating housing values, or other neighborhood improvements.

This $50,000 grant from First National Bank will help us to continue our work along Centre Avenue in the Hill District in partnership with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). When the URA released their request for proposals to purchase and develop publicly-owned vacant properties along Centre Avenue last year, we assisted 8 developers prepare their responses as part of the Equitable Empowerment Fund – an initiative aimed at assisting organizations and businesses with annual revenue less than $500,000 per year with fewer than 10 employees respond to the URA’s call. 6 proposals have moved on to the next phase, and the Accelerator is now working with two developers of color, two local business owners of color and two neighborhood nonprofits to refine their projects, hone their budgets, raise funds and turn their real estate ideas into realities that will benefit their friends and neighbors.

One of the 6 projects we are helping to advance is Big Tom’s Barbershop:

Thomas Boyd is a longtime Hill District resident and has rented his barbershop at 2042 Centre Avenue for 14 years. However, he now has the opportunity through the URA to purchase and relocate to a larger space at 2178 Centre Ave. With this new space, Mr. Boyd will also own and rent two upper-floor apartment units. The $50,000 grant from Neighborhood Allies was matched by the URA, providing critically needed predevelopment dollars to what will become a community anchor in the Hill for years to come.


Through the Accelerator, we create collaborative partnerships with community developers and provide valuable technical support by investing the human, social and development capital that projects need to succeed. We provide hands-on assistance with project strategy and idea formation, acquiring development sites, creating budgets, reviewing documents, and more. We connect community developers to a region-wide network of stakeholders such as design professionals, contractors, elected officials, and others who can advance projects and add value. We offer predevelopment grants, along with application assistance to state and local subsidy programs and navigation of the community development finance system. With a customized plan, our team of staff and consultants are there for participants every step of the way to ensure long-term success.

With the Centralized Real Estate Accelerator, we are striving to create a community development field that catalyzes opportunity and success for our residents and aim to create more equitable outcomes for communities and people of color.

For more information on the Accelerator, contact Matt Madia at

Learn more about Equitable Development. Learn more about Community Ownership. Learn more about Market Confidence.

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