Neighborhood Allies Awarded $125,000 From Richard King Mellon Foundation to Continue our CARE (COVID-19 Accelerated Relief Effort) Package ProgramsLeave a Comment
This grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation will support the continuing operations of many of our programs. More specifically, it will support the work we have done and continue to do in response to the crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including our work helping small businesses apply for the Paycheck Protection Program, our Get Online and Grow Online e-commerce assistance, our emergency grant program, and more.
Neighborhood Allies works in many communities that are already experiencing high levels of concentrated poverty, racial segregation and separation from economic opportunity, and the COVID crisis has only helped to exacerbate these very serious situations. From the recent “Pittsburgh’s Inequality Across Gender and Race” report and many other accounts, we know that Pittsburgh is less livable for African-Americans compared to other groups based on a number of quality of life and economic indicators such as: high levels of maternal mortality, low labor force participation, disproportionately high poverty rates, low average income and others. Through our extensive network of grassroots organizations, community-based institutions and other key partners, we quickly learned of the hurt the pandemic was causing in our neighborhoods. We knew many residents would be affected by job loss, many communities’ small businesses would lose revenue, and many students would lack access to computers and connectivity to carry out remote learning. In response to these compounding issues, we created a crisis response plan called the COVID Accelerated Relief Effort (CARE) Package.
Thus far, our initiatives have been successful in assisting residents, small businesses, and nonprofit partners. With this multi-pronged approach, we have been able to:
- Distribute $100,000 in emergency grants to nonprofit partners serving residents by providing food, safety equipment and other essentials in our neighborhoods
- Assist 17 small businesses and nonprofits to access the Paycheck Protection Program in partnership with First Commonwealth Bank, leveraging $1.3 million in forgivable loans and retaining over 120 employees. The majority of businesses were minority or woman-led.
- Begin implementing our Get Online and Grow Online e-commerce assistance program in partnership with the URA. Of the 46 businesses enrolled in the program, 8 are minority-owned, 21 are woman-owned, and 9 are minority/woman-owned. In addition, nearly 90% of our Technical Assistance providers are also minority or woman-owned.
- Mobilize our Financial Opportunity Centers and Financial Empowerment Center to carry out virtual appointments to help clients with everything from accessing benefits and information related to unemployment, payment plans, and deferrals created as a result of COVID, to longer-term goals such as saving, budgeting, job search and credit building. Over 400 individuals were assisted since the start of the crisis.
- Provided nearly 1,200 laptops through Pittsburgh Public Schools and local community organizations as well as raised nearly $400,000 in additional funds to purchase more devices.
In addition to these wins, we have also expanded our partnership with Steel Smiling in order to bridge the gap in access to mental health services in the Black community due to stigma and systemic barriers. Their Beams to Bridges Mental Health Workforce Development Program prepares African-American community members to serve as Community Mental Health Workers, Cohort Leaders, and/or Peer Support/Recovery Specialists and ulitimately aims to empower community members to share stories, educate on and connect neighbors to mental health support and resources, and help decrease stigma surrounding mental health in their neighborhood.
Finally, we have also begun work to implement our Centralized Real Estate Accelerator (CREA), which aims to increase the capital flow, economic opportunity, and quality of life to traditionally under-served residents. With the CREA, we hope to accelerate, scale, and sustain more transformative community-based projects and ensure that small and minority-owned businesses have access to development opportunities. This will be imperative to building equitable communities after emerging from the pandemic amid a recession.
“Neighborhood Allies is doing important work through its CARE Package to bring people and groups together to help our community to recover from COVID-19. The Foundation is pleased to support their efforts.”
-Sam Reiman, Foundation Director