2009 Grantees

Three Rivers Community Foundation (TRCF) was formed in 1989 by a group of community activists who created a new kind of philanthropy in southwestern Pennsylvania.  Their goal was to invest in activist, grassroots organizations working to bridge divisions in society.  These divisions centered on issues of race, economic status, gender, sexual identity, and disability.  The founders embraced the philosophy that the best way to bring about social justice is by supporting community-based organizations that are working “on the ground floor” of change.  TRCF continues to embrace this philosophy, promoting Change, not charity™ by:

  • Funding activism among people and groups who might otherwise not have their voices heard.
  • Focusing on groups that may not be able to attract support from sources because they are too small, too new, or too controversial.
  • Helping to develop new leadership in the region along with deeper and broader participation in the democratic process by all citizens.
  • Offering technical assistance and networking opportunities to grassroots groups through grantwriting workshops and outreach.

The following are TRCF’s 2009 grantees:

Black Political Empowerment Project
$4,000 – B-PEP used its funds to support its Civic Engagement program, allowing them to continue providing a consistent, locally-based campaign and a trusted community presence as an alternative to national voter efforts that appear and disappear.

Book ‘Em
$4,000 – Book ‘Em, Pittsburgh’s books-to-prisoners program, used its funds to completely overhaul their Pennsylvania Action Directory guide, a 55-page booklet of resources for prisoners and ex-offenders.

Consumer Health Coalition
$4,000 – The CHC instituted the program “Living Together is an Art,” to foster empowerment and learning for people with disabilities, as well as to advance public dialogue via the arts about disability rights.

Dreams of Hope
$4,000 – Dreams of Hope is the first LGBT, questioning, and allies youth performing arts group.  All performance materials are taken from the youth’s life experiences and are written and performed by the youth.  Each show is followed by a candid question and answer period with the audience.  Funding supported performances for their seventh season.

Garfield Community Farm
$4,000 – The Community Farm used its grant to subsidize an internship program for the summer.  The farm provides job opportunities and local, healthy food to the residents of this blighted neighborhood.

GTECH Strategies
$4,000 – GTECH Strategies used its funds to implement a series of lessons at after-school programs to teach youth about environmental and social issues surrounding vacant lots, while allowing them to explore solutions as a way to empower them in their own communities.

In Sisterhood: The Women’s Movement in Pittsburgh
$4,000 – In Sisterhood recorded 20 stories on video, in addition to collecting photos and memorabilia, of activists, primarily lesbians, about their involvement in advancing women’s rights in the Pittsburgh region.

Marilyn G. Rabb (MGR) Foundation
$4,000 – The MGR Foundation used its funds to hold a city-wide Peace Rally, bringing together students, working with artists of varying media, to express their thoughts, feelings, and visions about violence.  This project encouraged students to be activists for change and agents of peace.

New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice
$4,000 – NVP is the only human rights and social justice activist organization for, led by, and about women of color in the greater Pittsburgh area.  They build progressive young women of color into political activists and community leaders.  Their grant was for operating support.

Persad Center
$4,000 – Persad used its grant to build its After School Program for LGBT youth, who acquired negotiation skills and received leadership training, which will empower a new generation of community activists.

Wilkinsburg Family Support Center Parent Council
$3,930 – The WFSCPC used its grant to establish a Neighborhood Association, which encouraged residents to take ownership of community by keeping it clean.

Special Opportunity Grants

Garfield Community Farm
$500 – Funds were used to construct a Hoop House, a form of greenhouse, to extend the farm’s growing season.

Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, Pittsburgh
$500 – GLSEN Pittsburgh put on its first Unified for Youth (U4Y) Conference, a weekend-long event consisting of workshops and discussions on LGBT issues.

Human Rights Coalition, Fed Up! Chapter
$500 – Funds helped stage a showing of Hurricane Season, a production of Climbing PoeTree, exploring critical issues facing humanity during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

Pittsburgh Anti-Sweatshop Community Alliance
$500 – Funds were used to support travel costs for members to attend a solidarity event in Baltimore and to unite three local colleges to work against sweatshops.

Pittsburgh Dragon Boat Festival
$500 – The festival works to break down stereotypes about people of Asian descent.  After moving the festival to correspond with Asian-American Heritage Month, funds were used to design new signs and materials.

In its 20 years of grantmaking, TRCF has awarded 455 grants to over 260 different organizations, giving away more than $900,000 for Change, not charity™.


Special TRCF Grantmaking Initiatives


Occasionally, Three Rivers Community Foundation releases special grantmaking funds, targeted to a specific area of interest.  In the 2008-2009 fiscal year, we did two of these, one centered on media justice and one on voting issues.


2009 Media Justice Initiative Grantees

Allegheny County ACORN
$8,000 – The funds provided ACORN with a part-time outreach coordinator that was key in training volunteers to reach residents who were having difficulties with the DTV transition.  The funds were also used to provide necessary project materials such as informational pamphlets about the transition, educational resources, workshops, and survey materials.  The survey gleaned information regarding community media and Internet access as well as the occurrence of cell phone “dead zones” in the area.  For low-income residents who qualify for the DTV government coupons, they also provided help in applying for the program.

Black Political Empowerment Project
$10,500 – Funds were used for the “Youth Media Justice Initiative,” a community media collaboration with Greater Pittsburgh Student Voices.  The program uses findings from youth-conducted local TV news analyses to engage high school students in media policy-making regarding 1.) City of Pittsburgh’s cable re-franchise (current franchise is up December 2009); 2.) equity in access to media in the Pittsburgh Public Schools (school newspapers, new media technologies; and 3.) local TV news coverage of youth, youth of color, and youth issues.

Just Harvest Education Fund
$14,500 – Just Harvest sought to implement a comprehensive strategy of media outreach and communications on the economic justice issues they address.  This strategy improved their own effectiveness in receive media coverage, transmitted skills and knowledge in media relations throughout their staff, expanded their allies’ effectiveness in working with the news media, and built new relationships that they will use with emerging voices in new electronic media.

Pittsburgh Independent Media Center/Rustbelt Radio
$7,500 – The volunteers of Rustbelt Radio, a project of the Independent Media Center, expanded their outreach and trainings to new community organizers with the goal of producing independent news radio reports on local and global issues of concern to residents of the Greater Pittsburgh area.  They purchased the technology and equipment required to produce their bi-weekly show.  Secondly, they intended to increase the general public awareness of their show and opportunities for volunteering via promotional materials.  Finally, they planned to create stronger networks between local media-based projects/organizations in Pittsburgh and the general public/grassroots organizing community.

2008 Reclaim the Vote Grantees

Black Political Empowerment Project
$10,000 – B-PEP is a non-partisan project of the Hill House Association, designed to increase civic and voter participation in Pittsburgh’s African American community.  With this grant, B-PEP expanded on last year’s Reclaim the Vote programming, which created a consistent, locally-based campaign and a trusted community presence as an alternative to national voter efforts that appear and disappear.

Just Harvest Education Fund
$12,000 – Just Harvest’s Just Vote campaign educated and mobilized new, infrequent, and other low-income voters to become informed voters in the 2008 spring primary election.  Funds supported targeted registration efforts, phone banking, their voter’s guide to poverty issues, and coalition efforts on voter engagement.

Pennsylvania Center for Women, Politics and Public Policy
$10,000 – The PCWPPP, in collaboration with New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice, launched the Voice Your Vote campaign to cultivate the habits of citizenship and enhance leadership skills among young women.  They identified, cultivated, and placed young women in community-based internships so they could gain experience during the campaign season and build their real-world political knowledge.

United Cerebral Palsy of Pittsburgh
$11,000 – UCP calculated that only about half of all people with disabilities, who make up 18% of the population, are registered to vote.  Their project will work to change that statistic by registering voters, conducting voter education events, and providing direct assistance and information about voting to people with disabilities in Allegheny County.

Welcome Center for Immigrants and Internationals
$11,000 – The Welcome Center used its funds to increase votership among legal immigrants through developing and distributing materials in many languages, educating foreign-born people on their voting rights, and assisting their clientele in getting registered to vote and locating their voting precincts.