Top 50: Pittsburgh's past / A gift that keeps on giving

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Pittsburgh is still benefiting from the boom of the 1940s.

Last year, about $460 million was distributed from local philanthropies. Much of that money comes from fortunes that were set aside for the betterment of the community more than half a century ago.





Arts, culture, education, the environment, health care and new technologies all were supported in 2007 by local foundations, the largest being the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, The Pittsburgh Foundation and the McCune Foundation.

Pittsburgh's biggest foundation, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, has assets that have grown to more than $2 billion. Last year the foundation distributed $109 million with Western Pennsylvania as its focus.

The R.K. Mellon Foundation breaks its grants into categories of children, youth and young adults; conservation; education; human services; and regional economic development.

Last year the foundation awarded $1.5 million to the Regional Trail Corporation toward the construction of the final segment of the Great Allegheny Passage, a trail that will run from downtown Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. The largest educational grant went to Carnegie Mellon University, which received $25 million for the Life Sciences Competitiveness Fund for upgrading facilities and recruiting faculty and students for the life sciences.

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation received $10 million and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine received $13 million, $3 million of that allotted in 2006, to establish a pediatric institute for molecular and cellular biology research.

Heinz Endowments splits its grants into the following categories: arts and culture; children, youth and families; education; environment and innovation economy. In 2007, the Endowments distributed $80 million. Among the largest grants were $18 million to Carnegie Mellon University's capital campaign, $2 million to set up an endowment at Manchester Craftsman's Guild, and $3 million for renovations to the Carnegie Museum of Art.

The endowments also provided small grants, such as $3,000 to support the jazz and fiddle camp at Duquesne University and $6,000 to Your Sister's Project Inc. for the group One Hood to host "The Gathering," a national movement to address juvenile incarceration.

While most foundations in Pittsburgh have been set up by families and corporations, The Pittsburgh Foundation is an exception.

The Pittsburgh Foundation, the region's third largest philanthropy, distributed $35 million last year and has assets of more than $750 million. It was established in 1945 to combine the assets of what is now more than 1,200 Pittsburgh individuals, families and corporations into the nation's 14th largest community foundation.


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Ann Belser can be reached at abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.


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