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Despite the economy, many of Pittsburgh's charitable foundations continued their generosity

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Most of Pittsburgh's largest foundations handed out more grants in 2012 than the prior year, despite the slow economic recovery that has taken a bite out of many endowment funds.

The largest foundation, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, awarded $86.8 million in grants last year, down from $90.8 million in 2011. The organization focuses its giving primarily on programs and nonprofits in southwestern Pennsylvania, including economic development, conservation, education and human services.

Among the next three largest, grantmaking increased. The Heinz Endowments awarded $75.1 million; PNC Foundation's total was $49.8 million; and the Pittsburgh Foundation distributed $43.4 million. Rounding out the top five was BNY Mellon where grantmaking totaled $34 million, the same amount as 2011.

PG graphic: The region's leading philanthropic organizations ranked by 2012 grants
(Click image for larger version)

While BNY Mellon is headquartered in New York, it maintains significant operations in Pittsburgh and distributed $7 million to regional nonprofits that fund programs ranging from workforce development to transitional housing for homeless families.

"BNY Mellon is committed to strengthening the communities in which our employees live and work, with collaborative, effective charitable programs that deliver financial assistance and harness our employee talent to make a difference for those in need," said James McDonald, the financial institution's director of global philanthropy.

Nationwide, giving by foundations in 2012 is expected to rise by 1 to 3 percent when the final results are in, according to a survey by the Foundation Center, a New York-based organization that tracks data and research on philanthropy. The center typically releases its final statistics on the prior year's giving in June.

Foundation giving in 2011, the last report available, totaled $46.9 billion -- the first time it surpassed the $46.8 billion level reported in 2008 before the economic crash.

Three Pittsburgh foundations currently rank among the top 100 nationwide based on market value of their assets, according to Foundation Center statistics updated in January. They are the Richard King Mellon Foundation, 37th largest with $1.9 billion in assets; the Heinz Endowments, 48th with $1.4 billion in assets; and the Pittsburgh Foundation, 79th, with assets of $804 million.

Ranked No. 1 was the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with assets of $37.4 billion.


-- Joyce Gannon: or 412-263-1580 First Published May 3, 2013 4:00 AM


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