President’s Letter


Our growth and transformation continued in 2019. In the space of the year—and through the work of our five legacy institutions—we provided $48 million to tackle a range of economic and social challenges while helping to build a brighter future for the residents of Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania.

The largest of these five institutions, the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, has evolved to become the key driver of our major efforts, disbursing $29 million in 2019.

The Henry L. Hillman Foundation’s approach—inspired by a playbook drawn from investment management—focused on advancing initiatives in six strategic portfolios: 1) growing Pittsburgh’s food economy; 2) leveraging technology and new business models; 3) building an innovation ecosystem 2.0; 4) renewing and revitalizing Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods; 5) promoting an inclusive and participatory democracy; and 6) supporting maternal and child health.

Over the year, we hosted a series of community convenings—attended by grantees in many of these six areas—to spur an exchange of best practices and celebrate the funding cycle’s conclusion.

We also took a few big steps beyond this framework, including launching three major initiatives that span multiple portfolios. They are:

  1. The Healthy Allegheny Challenge, which awarded $1.5 million to one nonprofit-led collaborative focused on advancing a priority area identified in the Allegheny County Health Department’s Plan for a Healthier Allegheny.
  2. The Human Services Capitalization Pilot, a three-year planning process offering critical resources and expertise to vital, financially vulnerable human services organizations.
  3. Remake Learning’s Blueprint for Learning, a set of $50,000 grants to help re-imagine, redesign and remake learning spaces, including early childhood education facilities, totaling $300,000.

“And, at every turn, we asked participants a simple yet potent question: What is your biggest challenge…the one concern that keeps you up at night?”

In addition to expanding our grantmaking efforts, we grew our network of partners and our corps of talented staff, board and committee members. We hired Program Officer Alexandra Taylor, who joined us from the U.S. Department of State, and closed out our investment committee’s inaugural year with two new members: Anne Dineen, Chief Investment Officer of Hamilton College, and Benjamin Huneke, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley. We also welcomed a longtime friend to our Board, Dr. Jared Cohon, the President Emeritus of Carnegie Mellon University and a respected authority in the fields of civil engineering, public policy and higher education.

Amid this ever-shifting philanthropic landscape, we also launched a strategic re-framing effort to chart a course for maximizing the impact of our augmented giving—a benefit borne out of the transfer of the late Henry Hillman’s estate.

We started with an ambitious, yearlong listening tour involving more than 150 interviews with over 200 individuals, including frontline workers, national organizations, city officials, nonprofit peers and public system leaders. These sessions traversed six distinct areas of interest: community and economic development; health and medicine; workforce and education; arts and culture; energy and environment; and human services. And, at every turn, we asked participants a simple yet potent question: What is your biggest challenge…the one concern that keeps you up at night?

We followed these interviews with a robust literature review and set our sights on generating a new strategic framework, launching in 2020, that will help fuel the Foundations’ trajectory, and continued evolution, for years to come.


David K. Roger