Elsie H. Hillman Foundation


The Elsie H. Hillman Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania through strategic and thoughtful grantmaking in support of a wide range of institutions to advance community development, health, education, human services, the arts, and the environment – with a primary focus on investing in women, minorities, and civic leadership programs.


Elsie Hillman (1925–2015) epitomized the best of philanthropy in Pittsburgh for over 60 years. To everyone who had the pleasure of meeting her, she was simply “Elsie,” and she worked tirelessly to make Pittsburgh a better place, with particular attention to helping those who didn’t have the knowledge, the access, or just that bit of encouragement needed to help themselves. She was a pioneer as a political leader who for over 60 years worked tirelessly to elect candidates from school board members to President of the United States, but her political work, civic activities, and philanthropic efforts were always intertwined. Elsie was always in it to make everything better for others in some way.

The Elsie Hilliard Hillman Foundation was formed in 2006 with a gift from her husband, Henry L. Hillman, on the occasion of her 80th birthday, “given with love forever.” Henry created the Foundation as a tribute to Elsie and to provide her with dedicated resources to pursue her own philanthropic agenda and to support the organizations and causes that mattered most to her. Although the Foundation has a wide range of interests, over the nine years for which Elsie served as its chair, she emphasized the need to support projects and organizations that help and promote women and minorities. These interests remain a focus for the Foundation today, as it continues its work as a testimony to the impact of Elsie’s selfless commitment to the people of Pittsburgh.

Guiding Principles

The Elsie H. Hillman Foundation invests in the growth of young civic leaders and in building communities that improve quality of life for all citizens and particularly for women and minorities.

  • To live up to its “Most Livable” title, Pittsburgh must continuously invest in the creation of opportunities for women and minorities. People of all different colors, genders, cultures, sexual orientations, backgrounds, and beliefs deserve to have a voice and to be fully engaged in shaping the future of the region.
  • “Don’t be a spectator. You are needed in every corner of the community.” Elsie shared this observation with the writers of an Institute of Politics case study on her political life. She firmly believed that leadership, volunteerism, and active engagement in public life are needed in every neighborhood, especially among the region’s young people.
  • Neighbors should help each other, injecting a healthy dose of fun and joy along the way. Sometimes our neighbors just need a helping hand. Such needs can arise from a flood, fire, an act of violence, financial crisis, government funding cuts, or other unexpected life turmoil.


  • Pittsburgh, PA

Grants Approved, 2018


Grants Paid, 2018


Funding Priorities

During the 2017-2020 time frame, the Elsie H. Hillman Foundation will prioritize investments that promote the well-being of women, minorities, and LGBT citizens and increase the regional opportunities available to them. These grants may fall across the areas of Community and Economic Development, Cultural Advancement and the Arts, Education and Workforce Development, Energy and Environment, Health and Medicine, and Human Services, with a particular interest in programs that:

  • Help all citizens, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, to participate fully in the region’s improving quality of life and to be as successful and happy as possible
  • Build bridges among Pittsburgh’s different populations, helping the region’s citizens to better understand each other’s needs, wants, goals, and dreams
  • Promote equity and justice
  • Fight violence and discrimination
  • Enhance the quality and availability of health care

In addition, the Elsie H. Hillman Foundation will maintain its historic interest in programs that seek to engage young people from throughout the region and from diverse backgrounds in civic leadership and public affairs.

Finally, the Elsie H. Hillman Foundation will continually search for emerging opportunities to lend a timely and neighborly helping hand where it is most needed.

  • Community / Economic Development
  • Cultural Advancement / Arts
  • Education
  • Health / Medicine
  • Human / Social Services

Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicant organizations must be classified as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and as public charities under Section 509(a) of that code.
  • The geographic focus of the Foundation’s grantmaking program is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  • The Board reserves the right to approve grants in other locations at its discretion.
  • While the Foundation entertains requests from a wide variety of organizations, most grants are initiated at the direction of the program staff and Board of Trustees of the Foundation.

Application Procedure

  • Requests are accepted only through the online application process.
  • The grant portal functions best in Chrome, Safari or Firefox internet browsers.
  • Applications are reviewed weekly; however, please allow sufficient time for the review and consideration, and a timely response.
  • There are no fixed deadlines for the submission of applications.
  • The Board of Trustees meets at least annually to approve requests, but may meet as often as every quarter.
  • Please direct all questions regarding the application process to Carol Long at 412-338-3466; specific project-related questions should be directed to program staff.