Hillman Foundation


The 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 economic development, health, education, human services, the arts, and the environment.


The Hillman Foundation was founded in 1951 by John Hartwell Hillman, Jr. in Pittsburgh, with the charge of improving the quality of life in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania. Acting on this mission, the trustees have approved nearly $200 million of grants in seven program areas: community and economic development; cultural advancement and the arts; education and workforce development; energy and environment; health and medicine; and human services. Grants have ranged widely in size and funding type, including small and large capital projects, endowment, new and expanding programs, and operating expenses. These contributions are a response to community and regional needs, aiming to produce positive change in many lives while maintaining a focus on the economic and social progress of Pittsburgh and the surrounding region.


  • Pittsburgh, PA

Grants Approved, 2018


Grants Paid, 2018


Guiding Principles

The Hillman Foundation works to ensure that communities in southwestern Pennsylvania are vibrant and dynamic, and that the Pittsburgh region is a national leader in developing and implementing ideas that improve people’s lives.

  • Pittsburgh is the perfect laboratory. Pittsburgh is just the right size for innovation—large enough to face the same issues as bigger cities and regions around the country and the world, but still small enough to make positive change happen here and therefore serve as a model for others. The Hillman Foundation targets its investments at improving the Pittsburgh region, where John Hartwell Hillman, Jr. and his family chose to make their home and where they had deep personal, civic, and business roots.
  • Capital projects are often a necessary part of making progress on important regional issues. The Hillman Foundation has a traditional core focus on providing support for capital projects, and it will continue to invite such proposals in the future. However, with many competing community priorities, the amount of funding available for such projects is limited.

Funding Priorities

In the 2017–2020 time frame, the Hillman Foundation will prioritize investments that align with the following focus areas:

Community and Economic Development

  • Investing in distressed and emerging neighborhoods
  • Helping citizens escape poverty
  • Advancing innovation-based economic development
  • Improving the regional transportation system for pedestrians, transit riders, bicyclists, and drivers
  • Increasing the availability of and access to unbiased information on the status and future of the region

Cultural Advancement and the Arts

  • Improving the financial health of arts organizations
  • Supporting the continued development of a hospitable, diverse, and welcoming city culture
  • Raising the profile of Pittsburgh as an arts destination and as an artist-friendly city

Education and Workforce Development

  • Improving PreK-12 outcomes for children in under-resourced communities
  • Enabling the personalization of learning and teaching throughout the education and workforce development system in ways that leverage changes in student behavior, technology, and educational practice
  • Increasing the availability and quality of early education and care
  • Including diverse populations in the growing innovation economy
  • Implementing evidence-based programs that help disadvantaged workers to secure gainful employment and independence (secure a job, stay in the workforce over time, and secure skill development and job advancement)

Energy and Environment

  • Connecting and improving the regional network of trails and parks
  • Addressing regional environmental challenges including air quality and water quality/quantity
  • Conserving land that furthers other regional goals supported by the Hillman Family Foundations
  • Researching, developing, and deploying innovative energy technologies

Health and Medicine

  • Supporting basic and clinical medical research in specific areas where Pittsburgh has a unique leadership role and where significant opportunities for funding leverage and scientific progress exist
  • Implementing community-level health initiatives
  • Advancing the goals of the Plan for a Healthier Allegheny

Human Services

  • Piloting, replicating, and/or scaling innovative human service delivery models
  • Supporting collaborative efforts among the human services, education, juvenile justice, and mental health sectors to improve the current lives of and future outlook for youth involved across these systems
  • Investing in programs and care coordination to expand and improve services for populations who are underserved or have high current needs
  • Community / Economic Development
  • Cultural Advancement / Arts
  • Education
  • Environment / Conservation
  • 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 the Pittsburgh/southwestern Pennsylvania area.
  • 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.