McAuley Ministries’ grants enables start of ‘Neighborhood Capital’

Marisol Valentin, McAuley Ministries executive director. 

Three-year program helps local Black developers in real estate investment


McAuley Ministries, Pittsburgh Mercy’s grant-making foundation, announced in September 18 new grants totaling over $5.2 million to support advocacy, capacity building, community and economic development, education, and health and wellness initiatives in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, Uptown, and West Oakland communities, the New Pittsburgh Courier has learned.

Grants announced in this cycle include a $2 million dollar grant to Neighborhood Allies to create a new, three-year program called Neighborhood Capital, which would complete the continuum of real estate investment capital for local Black developers and Black communities starting with the neighborhoods of the Hill District, Uptown, and West Oakland. These communities are facing development pressure that threatens to destabilize and displace long-time residents. Black and low-income communities are often forced to compromise their visions or compete against other demographically similar neighborhoods for scarce resources.

Presley Gillespie, Neighborhood Allies president and CEO.

This project will support 10 transformative real estate projects in these communities through a combination of technical assistance and patient, flexible capital that encourages prudent risk-taking and promotes equitable outcomes for businesses and residents. According to Presley Gillespie, Neighborhood Allies president and CEO, “This historic investment represents an intentional shift in how resources are directed to and absorbed by Black communities—making existing sources such as banks, CDFIs, government, and philanthropy more accessible for Black and brown developers and lower-wealth communities. The partnership and investment from McAuley Ministries is furthering our capacity to advance racial equity in community-based real estate, and deliver enhanced value to community partners and businesses.”

Neighborhood Capital is the first initiative to flow out of a new strategic focus of McAuley Ministries. The grant-making foundation serves in the spirit of the Gospel as a compassionate and transforming healing presence. It commits resources and works collaboratively to promote healthy, safe and vibrant communities. In keeping with this founding mission, and following a process of discernment, McAuley Ministries’ Board will focus energy in 2022 and beyond toward the diminishment of racism and violence in the communities it serves so that it can be a catalyst for transformative efforts in Pittsburgh, in the country, and in the larger world.

Marisol Valentin, executive director of McAuley Ministries stated, “We believe that a healthy and vibrant society is one in which all people are respected, their gifts and cultural heritage are appreciated, the opportunity to participate fully in the life of the community is available, and people can live in the community of their choice in peace and security. We, along with our neighborhood partners, want to intentionally address and remedy the evils of racist ideological thoughts, structural racism, and violence by working together in programs McAuley Ministries currently supports as well as new initiatives toward this goal.”

McAuley Ministries will start an advisory council to launch an expanded community engagement initiative. The council will be composed of members who represent and advocate change for children and youth, community programming, cultural enrichment and the arts, dimensions of wellness, economic development, education, gun and gang violence, hate crimes, housing, seniors, social justice, social supports, and women. The goal of the council is to provide key community input that will identify and shape new strategic initiatives for McAuley Ministries, as well as guide funding principles toward key actions that will enhance and improve all aspects of life that lead to vibrant, healthy, safe, and whole community living and satisfaction. Individuals interested in learning more about the council are encouraged to email Marisol Valentin.


The grants


Regional Housing Legal Services: $153,000 payable over two years to continue working on McAuley Ministries affordable housing priority by using legal strategies to prevent mass evictions, deploy aid, help create programs that preserve existing affordable housing for vulnerable families, and engage in advocacy to improve policies and programs.


Capacity Building

The Citizen Science Lab: $500,000 to expand operations to accommodate growth and provide youth with full access to premier hands-on STEM programs by relocating to the Martin Luther King Jr. Reading and Cultural Center in the Hill District.

Jubilee Association: $500,000 to renovate/expand their facility to increase accessibility, space, and safety and strengthen programming including enhancing their Preventing Homelessness Program, implementing a new path to self-sufficiency program, increasing childcare assistance, strengthening partnerships, enhancing counseling services, and facilitating a comprehensive service delivery model.

Program to Aid Citizen Enterprise: $252,450 to support leadership coaching and the Regional Indicators of Community & Nonprofit Well-Being Program for three years.

Pilot Community Ambassador Project: $238,000 to support staff, technical assistance, and training while creating a comprehensive digital catalog of resources anyone can easily navigate.

Community Development

Food Helpers: $130,000 to Moving Lives of Kids Arts Center (MLK Arts) to create four permanent works of public art in the Hill District. The project will involve local youth who will work with professional artists.

Neighborhood Allies: $2 million to launch Neighborhood Capital in the greater Hill District. The program will support 10 transformative real estate projects in the neighborhood through a combination of technical assistance and patient, flexible capital that encourages prudent risk-taking and promotes equitable outcomes for businesses and residents.

Travelers Aid: $76,500 to renew their Transportation Assistance Program, which removes the transportation barrier for individuals to attend training programs at the Energy Innovation Center.


1Hood Media: $153,000 payable over three years to resume educational programming for youth ages 16 to 26 and those who interact with them by adding staff and offering staff development opportunities to cultivate a culture of youth success, creativity, and leadership through individualized development planning, self-expression, positive peer engagement, community building, and proactive participation in civil society.

Center that CARES: $173,400 to support its after-school program, Passport to Success, and Hill Loop transportation programs for the next year.

Hug Me Tight Childlife Centers: $224,400 for operational support for fiscal year 2022/2023.

The Pittsburgh Promise: $153,000 payable over three years to support their “Promise Coaches” at Pittsburgh Milliones University Preparatory School in the Hill District to increase the percentage of 9th graders who earn a post-secondary credential within 10 years to 80 percent by 2030.

Small Seeds Development Inc.: $153,000 payable over two years to support its Mother to Son Program, providing single mothers and female guardians, their male children (ages 5 to 18), and their sons’ siblings with emotional support, training, and workshops to build family self-sufficiency and well-being.

Health and Wellness

ACH Clear Pathways: $76,500 to start-up their arts programming for senior citizens which will include sound healing, mindfulness, and other arts programming.

American National Red Cross Western PA Region: $10,200 to help the Red Cross support fire victims in its neighborhoods, responding to at least one home fire per day.

The Neighborhood Resilience Project: $499,800 for the Community Support Programming of the organization, the micro-community interventions in the Hill District, staffing support of those programs and a desperately needed new roof for the organizational building.

The Pittsburgh Contingency: $73,440 to fund the Senior Jazz Connection for one year. The program will gather seniors living in the Hill District and connect them to vital community resources while providing recreational and social time and building a database of senior needs and community services.

Venture Outdoors: $51,000 to expand outdoor learning experiences and leadership opportunities for youth and young adults through outdoor learning, environmental career exploration, and meaningful mentorship.




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