Many Pittsburgh neighborhoods’ poverty rate exceeds 30 percent. According to US Census estimates, just over 20 percent of Pittsburghers live at or below the income limit for the Federal Poverty Guidelines. For a family of four, the national poverty income limit is $25,100 annually. Catapult Pittsburgh aids Pittsburghers battling poverty daily.
Catapult Greater Pittsburgh engages in emergency resource distribution, peer-to-peer support, wealth building, trauma-informed financial counseling and policy advocacy to ensure systematically disenfranchised communities experience financial equity.
“There is an economic justice issue in this country, but definitely in this city. We’ve got to do better to increase economic opportunity for people,” said Catapult Executive Director Tammy Thompson. “We’re not looking for handouts for people. We’re looking to repair and be intentional about creating opportunities that Black folks have intentionally been left out of for generations. When we think about economic justice, we’re thinking about what needs to be done to intentionally create opportunities for Black folks to own assets and build wealth for this generation and generations to come.”
Catapult’s programming aids the community in learning about asset building, entrepreneurship, policy advocacy, and provides sustainable connections. “Everything we do is rooted in healing poverty trauma and focusing on getting folks to understand and educating people about how long-term exposure to poverty impacts people, not just financially but also mentally and emotionally,” said Thompson.
Increasing homeownership has been a driving force for Catapult. Within the past year, they raised $350,000 through grants to fund their closing cost assistance program.
“People are coming to our program to get up to $7,500 closing costs assistance grants to help them get over the finish line of purchasing their own home,” said Thompson. “It is a blessing. We know in doing the first-time homeownership work that a lot of the barriers to people purchasing homes has been the ability to raise or save money for their down payment and closing cost. We wanted to fill that need. We just started in July and have already processed 10 grants.”
Thompson is also proud of Catapult Culinary, a premier program for minority-owned food businesses. It seeks to improve the entrepreneurial skills of folks who make the best barbecue, pound cake, or even macaroni and cheese.
“We want to help those folks get legitimized, get them certified through the health department, get them training on turning these skills into a sustainable business so they can get access to a larger market,” said Thompson.
To donate or connect, visit catapultpittsburgh.org
100 Sheridan Square 4th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15206