|NEARLY $26 MILLION AWARDED ACROSS REGION|
NEARLY $26 MILLION AWARDED ACROSS REGION
Major Grants to Pittsburgh Public Schools and Statewide Early Education; Sarah Heinz House; Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Riverlife Task Force; Student Robotics Programs and Green Chemistry
Support for UPMC greening and environmental health initiative; a planning grant to the Carnegie Science Center for a rivers center; funding continues for Life Sciences Greenhouse; grants to boost public art and the makeover of Market Square
Pittsburgh, October 26, 2006 – The Heinz Endowments today continued its initiative to advance the education-reform plan for the Pittsburgh Public Schools by funding neighborhood- and family-support systems, after-school programs and the creation of a more effective data-management system for the district.
A total of $2.1 million in grants will support these programs and also fund expert planning and evaluation services, school-readiness programs and efforts to increase family involvement in the schools. Most of the grants are directed to benefit neighborhoods at the centerpiece of Superintendent Mark Roosevelt’s reform plan, the eight Accelerated Learning Academies. These schools have longer class days, a longer year and some of the best teachers in the system working to close a serious achievement gap that affects African-American students the most.
The new funding coming from a collaborative of the foundation’s Education; Children, Youth & Families; and Arts & Culture programs, along with the Communications Department, brings to $5.1 million, the total amount of Endowments grants awarded during the past two years to support the school district plan.
The public schools funding was among the largest of 220 grants totaling $25.9 million approved at a two-day meeting of the foundation’s boards, which ended today.
Among the projects emerging from that review are several of the largest connected to the explosion of new development activity downtown. A total of $1.5 million will go to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust – $850,000 for operating support and $700,000 to pay for planning and pre-development work on the $460 million Riverfront Development Project, which covers six acres of prime waterfront land and the Eighth Street block. The master plan and the international design team, Riverparc, was selected in an intensive design-planning competition funded by the Endowments.
Another design-planning process key to a successful revitalization of Market Square at the center of downtown will move forward next year with the help of a $100,000 Endowments grant. Participants in a public-planning process in the summer determined that a top-to-bottom renovation of Market Square was not necessary. Instead, they advocated for a limited redesign of the square coupled with programming and management improvements as the first step. The grant will fund design and programmatic experiments inside the square that mesh with other development activity around it.
Also benefiting downtown by way of a collaboration of several Endowments program areas, the Riverlife Task Force will use a nearly $1 million grant, mostly for operating support but with some money reserved to develop fundraising and communications capabilities that will help it to implement the Three Rivers Park Master Plan. Another park-related grant – $225,000 to the Allegheny Conference on Community Development – will support creation of a historic interpretation plan as part of the $33 million Point State Park rehabilitation project.
Another area in which the Endowments has been a lead funder is through the Education Program’s strategy of using robotics education and competition to further students’ interest in science and technology careers. A total of $600,000 in grants will go to Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Engineering Consortium for the Robotics Corridor Project, which encompasses several programs for middle school through two-year community college and four-year university programs. An additional $100,000 will go to support the nationally popular US FIRST Robotics competition.
In Environment Program grant making, a special initiative to green the region’s largest health care system is moving forward with $250,000 to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to begin the process of creating a system-wide environmental health and sustainability program. The goal is to create an organizational model that can be adopted by other health care systems across the country. Included in the program will be policies promoting green building, use of renewable energy and green purchasing.
In a collaboration of the Environment and Innovation Economy programs, a total of $500,000 will go to support the advancement of green chemistry through Carnegie Mellon University. A $300,000 grant will assist with operations funding for the university’s Institute for Green Oxidation Chemistry directed by Professor Terry Collins, as well as funding design work for a new university curriculum on green chemistry. Added to that is a $200,000 grant that will support exploring the business potential of the chemistry group’s startup, GreenOx Catalysts. Another collaborative effort will provide $250,000 to Pittsburgh’s Green Building Alliance to assess the market potential of the region’s green-building products industry sector.
Abiding by a multi-million-dollar grants pledge made five years ago, the Endowments has continued support of the years-long effort to grow a life sciences industry in the Pittsburgh region. An $850,000 grant for the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse will encourage activities designed to eventually generate a vibrant new sector of the regional economy. Since the Life Sciences Greenhouse was established, the number of related start-ups in Pittsburgh has jumped from three to 15 per year.
In a project funded by the Environment Program, the Carnegie Science Center will use a $250,000 grant to begin detailed planning for a large-scale rivers attraction that would be built and managed at its facility near the confluence of Pittsburgh’s three rivers. The planning process includes identifying at least a dozen potential research-and-education partners in the project, from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History to the Riverlife Task Force.
In grant making through the Children, Youth & Families Program, the Endowments continued its long-standing commitment to early education in the region and across the state, with a total of $2.5 million in grants for a variety of programs. One of these is $1 million in support to Pre-K Counts, a multi-year, $16 million public-private funding initiative formed to increase the numbers of at-risk children in Pennsylvania enrolled in high-quality, pre-kindergarten programs. The partnership is co-chaired by Gov. Ed Rendell and PNC Financial Services Corp. head Jim Rohr.
Locally, the Sarah Heinz House board will receive a total of $3.1 million in Endowments funding – $1.1 million for operating support and an additional $2 million to cover unanticipated costs connected to an ambitious building expansion. The aged North Side facility had been struggling to serve some 800 Pittsburgh young people, of which about a third live below the poverty line.
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