2018 Giving Review

Hillman Family Foundations (HFF) is an administrative organization that serves eighteen distinct grantmaking foundations with independent missions and different geographic and program focus areas.
The Henry L. Hillman Foundation joins the Hillman, Mary Hillman Jennings, Elsie H. Hillman, and Polk Foundations in serving the Pittsburgh area exclusively. We often refer to these five as the “legacy foundations.” These foundations are governed by an independent board of directors.

Hillman Foundation

$120,000
TOWARD METAMESH WIRELESS COMMUNITIES FOR BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

The Hillman Foundation — which supports a wide range of institutions devoted to helping Pittsburgh-area residents lead better lives — similarly invested in helping communities build vital connections in 2018. One of its grantees, MetaMesh, empowers neighborhoods to launch and maintain their own free public WiFi networks. Beyond bridging a local digital divide, these networks are disaster-resilient and operate as a local intranet system, linking residents throughout a community. Through educational classes and other resources, MetaMesh provides residents—adults and youth alike—the skills needed to run and troubleshoot their community wireless network, ensuring local self-sufficiency.

A complete listing of the Hillman Foundation’s 2018 grants can be found here.

Mary Hillman Jennings Foundation

$250,000
TOWARD THE SOUTHWESTERN PA PARTNERSHIP FOR AGING FOR PITTSBURGH’S AGE-INCLUSIVE ECOSYSTEM

Consider the Mary Hillman Jennings Foundation, which concentrates much of its grantmaking on disadvantaged populations. In 2018, it funded the implementation of a blueprint for change—filled with 30 to-do items—called the Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh Action Plan. The plan aims to create physical connections (adding crosswalks in busy intersections, for example), social connections (strengthening intergenerational relationships to combat loneliness) and innovative connections (helping neighbors of all ages interface with the region’s tech boom) in order to make the Pittsburgh region more livable and accessible for everyone—particularly the city’s older residents.

A complete listing of the Mary Hillman Jennings Foundation’s 2018 grants can be found here.

Elsie H. Hillman Foundation

$50,000
TOWARD THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN TO AID WOMEN IN TRANSITION WITH ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE

The Elsie H. Hillman Foundation—which has a special focus on investing in women, minorities, and civic leadership programs—also invests in connecting individuals to employment opportunities. In 2018, the Foundation supported the Center for Women, a project of the Pittsburgh section of the National Council of Jewish Women. The only program of its kind in the region, the center supports women who have been, for one reason or another, disconnected from work opportunities and are looking to re-enter the job market and achieve economic independence.

A complete listing of the Elsie H. Hillman Foundation’s 2018 grants can be found here.

Polk Foundation

$200,000
TOWARD LIFE’SWORK OF WESTERN PA FOR EXPANDING JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR DISABLED INDIVIDUALS

The Polk Foundation supports a population with distinct and specific needs: individuals with intellectual disabilities. According to a survey by National Core Indicator, an estimated 84 percent of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities are unemployed, yet 60 percent of this population wants to work. The nonprofit Life’sWork of Western Pennsylvania aims to bridge this divide by helping individuals with disabilities secure meaningful jobs and ultimately improve their quality of life. In 2018, thanks to foundation support, Life’sWork expanded its menu of small scale, on-site employment opportunities where—with the help of a life coach—participants worked alongside non-disabled employees in competitive settings.

A complete listing of the Polk Foundation’s 2018 grants can be found here.

A Dynamic Philanthropic Landscape

~$8 Million
in grants made to 280 organization across 7 locations in 2018

In addition to the legacy foundations, Hillman Family Foundations administers thirteen family foundations associated with the children and grandchildren of Henry and Elsie Hillman. These foundations invest in a wide range of causes—from promoting conservation and sustainability to combating food insecurity among school children in various locations around the country. These foundations are governed by the associated family members for whom they are named or another appointed family member.

For example, in 2018 the Nina Baldwin Fisher Foundation provided a grant that, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and Women’s Center & Shelter, created the first Pittsburgh Police Department Domestic Violence Unit.

Also in 2018, the William T. Hillman Foundation supported the expansion of Turnaround Arts, a public-private partnership initiative designed to help transform some the nation’s lowest performing schools through comprehensive and integrated arts education.

A complete listing of all Hillman Family Foundation’s 2018 grants can be found here.