Seed fund: Ten years of giving cultivates Pittsburgh projects
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With proper tending, a tiny sprout can develop into a fruitful plant. That's the philosophy behind Pittsburgh's Sprout Fund, and it is true of the organization itself.
The fund is celebrating its 10th anniversary of providing small but significant grants to foster artistic and environmental initiatives, serving its mission of making the region a better place to live, work, play and raise families. The Sprout Fund's first grant was $900 for a temporary art gallery Downtown and, since then, it has seeded 450 projects at a total value of $4 million.
The fund, which rewards innovation and grassroots community projects, was ahead of the curve in 2003 when it provided $9,000 to Bike Pittsburgh for installation of artistically designed bike racks in commercial areas. In 2004, a $1,000 grant helped Urban Hike organize walking tours of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. On a larger scale, the fund provided $50,000 to develop ReefBot at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, an interactive, remote-controlled submersible robot that swims through the aquarium's ocean tank.
In observance of its first decade, the Sprout Fund announced its largest project to date, $100,000 that will provide for a signature piece of public art. The winning artist will install the work on the Law and Finance Building, Downtown.
The fund's success is attributable to its founders, Cathy Lewis Long and Matt Hannigan, the ideas of many individuals and organizations, and financial support from philanthropists. The Richard King Mellon Foundation and The Heinz Endowments gave Sprout its start with $87,500 each in 2001. Since then, lead contributions from the Mellon foundation plus funding from 30 other local foundations and more than 100 corporations, nonprofits and governmental entities have kept it going.
The Sprout Fund has produced a rich harvest in its first decade. May it keep on growing.
First Published October 5, 2011 12:00 am