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Attention nonprofits—what’s your best ‘ideas’ to promote ‘places of opportunity’ for young people?

SAM REIMAN, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

The New Pittsburgh Courier has learned exclusively that the Richard King Mellon Foundation is looking for some pretty amazing “ideas” that ensure community assets are available to help youth withstand adversity and joyfully thrive in the Pittsburgh region.

It’s all part of the foundation’s strategic plan that focuses on “Economic Mobility,” increasing opportunities for children and youth from families with lower incomes in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties today, so they can prosper as adults tomorrow.

The “Request for Ideas” calls on nonprofit groups and public agencies working in the aforementioned counties to submit their best ideas that can spur growth for the youth.

Priority will be given to what’s called the “Places of Opportunity” ideas that achieve one or more of four primary outcomes: Community Engagement & Capacity—Initiatives that increase civic engagement, participation in social associations, volunteering and community connectedness. Cross-Community Collaboration—Initiatives that facilitate collaboration between communities, including shared missions and goals, co-creating and sharing programs and services, and partnering to make systems better. Community Spaces—Initiatives that increase access to positive physical and virtual community spaces for children and youth, such as libraries, parks, community gardens and recreation centers. Resilient Places—Initiatives that that prevent or reduce youth involvement in the justice system.

The RK Mellon Foundation’s “Place of Opportunity” initiative is rooted in research that shows a clear connection between a young person’s community environment and their prospects for prosperity. One helpful resource in understanding this correlation is powerful research from Opportunity Insights. This research was one of several resources that informed the foundation’s strategy. Nonprofit organizations are encouraged to review this resource to inform the ideas they submit.

In addition to “Places of Opportunity,” the other three pillars of the foundation’s “Economic Mobility” program area are: “Educational Attainment;” “Future of Work;” and “Supportive Living Environments.”

The Courier has learned that at least $1 million in grants for the best “Places of Opportunity” ideas will be awarded by the RK Mellon Foundation.

Submissions are due on July 16, 2021. Groups with the most promising ideas will be asked in August to submit full proposals. Grants will be awarded in December, with the work to begin in 2022. Details on how to submit ideas are on the foundation’s website, www.rkmf.org.

“This initiative is about building on the underappreciated strengths in every community in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties where families with lower incomes live,” said Sam Reiman, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, in a statement provided to the Courier. “We know from research that if we focus positively on building and connecting those community strengths, we can give our young people a measurably better chance to live the lives they want as adults.”

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