Mike Hepler, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania, points out some of the improvements made to the game room at the Sto-Ken-Rox Boys & Girls Club in McKees Rocks. The upgrades were made thanks to gifts from the Allegheny Foundation totaling $1.25 million.
Mike Hepler, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania, points out some of the improvements, including a new scoreboard and pads on the walls, made to the gymnasium at the Sto-Ken-Rox Boys & Girls Club in McKees Rocks. The upgrades were made thanks to gifts from the Allegheny Foundation totaling $1.25 million.
By Rich Lord / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Allegheny Foundation gave more in 2015 to one project than it used to give to three dozen.
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Long overshadowed by founder Richard Mellon Scaife’s national, ideological philanthropy, the 60-year-old Allegheny Foundation had $67.2 million in assets, and made $2.1 million in mostly local grants in the year before his death. Based Downtown and considered a minor player in Pittsburgh charity, it would annually give to some three dozen human services, arts, educational, preservationist and conservative groups.
That changed after Mr. Scaife died in 2014 and left assets worth $364 million to the Allegheny Foundation. In 2015, it gave or pledged more than $25 million to 81 organizations. The biggest pledge: $7.5 million to Point Park University for the Pittsburgh Playhouse and the Center for Media Innovation.
Mr. Scaife’s bequest “has meant both more grantees and larger grants,” said Joanne B. Beyer, an Allegheny Foundation trustee and its former president.
In 2015, that meant gifts of $1 million or more to the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania, Saint Vincent College, the Extra Mile Education Foundation, Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania and the Ligonier Valley YMCA.
The foundation gave the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania $500,000 to support five programs for kids, plus $750,000 to improve its facilities. The club’s eight buildings will get new doors, windows, furnaces —- “a total upgrade,” said its president and CEO, Mike Hepler.
The foundation had long backed the club, but at a more modest level — $40,000 in 2014, for example. The 2015 grant “was one of the largest we’ve ever received,” said Mr. Hepler, and came at a time of cutbacks in government grants. Without it? “We would’ve had to curtail services.”
Part of the grant to Saint Vincent College is going to the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media, which takes video of teachers working with students from difficult family environments, then shares the most meaningful interactions with the educators.
The foundation’s commitment allows Ligonier Valley School District to use the program for four years. Rick Fernandes, the center’s executive director, said he’s seen teachers watch their colleagues’ techniques and say, “ ‘You know, I’ve got to start doing that in my classroom.’ ”
In 2015, the foundation gave around $1.6 million to 16 organizations outside of the region, including several with a conservative bent: The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, America’s Survival, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Young America’s Foundation.
Ms. Beyer said the foundation’s main thrust will remain local. “Everything we do,” she said, “we kind of keep in the back of our minds the principle that Dick Scaife lived in Pittsburgh, and he loved this area of Pennsylvania.”
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