April 10, 2020:

Henry L. Hillman Foundation Takes Action in Response to COVID-19: Releases over $4 million in Emergency Response Grants

In response to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, the Henry L. Hillman Foundation Board of Trustees conducted an emergency meeting on March 16, 2020, to immediately approve an allocation of $2 million to help in the fight against the virus’s impact in the region, with a focus on our most vulnerable citizens. Since that time, the number has swelled to over $4 million with more funds anticipated to be released in the coming days and weeks.

“Our Board convened right away wanting to offer what we could to assist with the immediate medical, health, safety, and human services needs in the community,” said David K. Roger, President of Hillman Family Foundations of which the Henry L. Hillman Foundation is the largest. “We can’t say enough to thank the Allegheny County Executive, Departments of Health and Human Services, our hospital systems, the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and nonprofit organization partners who have been working 24/7 to respond to COVID-19.”

One of the first and largest contributions was $1 million given to The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Emergency Action Fund along with The Heinz Endowments and Richard King Mellon Foundation. “Working closely with our foundation partners, it was clear that Pittsburgh’s philanthropies needed to send a message to the region that we are here to support the emergency response efforts and that we will remain here for the long-run to help communities recover,” added Roger. Contributions and other actions have been organized under focus areas including:

Public health and human services systems immediate response priorities ($1,350,000)

    1. $1,000,000 to support The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Emergency Action Fund
    2. $350,000 to Allegheny County for immediate needs

Emergency basic needs support, focused on vulnerable neighborhoods and populations ($1,650,000)

    1. $350,000 to United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania to bolster 2-1-1 and the Emergency Basic Needs Fund
    2. $350,000 to 412 Food Rescue for equipment and technology to expand home delivery and other types of needed food transport
    3. $250,000 to Community Human Services to expand basic needs and housing support and assistance for low-income, seniors, children, and other vulnerable individuals
    4. $350,000 to Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank toward emergency food purchases to meet rising demand
    5. $250,000 to Trying Together to provide emergency support for childcare organizations to assist front line responders and other essential workers
    6. $50,000 to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh to expand basic needs support
    7. $50,000 to JFCS Pittsburgh to expand basic needs support

 Vaccine development ($115,000)

    1. $115,000 to the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research

Critical Medical Supplies ($250,000)

    1. $250,000 to Global Links to coordinate personal protective equipment (PPE) supply/distribution and other equipment needs for frontline nonprofit responders

Gap funding support for minority- and women-led and other vulnerable businesses and nonprofits ($700,000)

    1. $100,000 to New Sun Rising for its Rapid Response Fund
    2. $100,000 to Hebrew Free Loan for its emergency small loan fund
    3. $250,000 to Bridgeway Capital for its emergency fund to provide gap credit to small businesses and nonprofit organizations
    4. $250,000 to the City of Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority for loans and other support to small businesses and nonprofits

Low-income workers

Commissioned, with partner foundations, research to help identify additional areas of need and help guide future efforts to support the region’s low-income workers

Flexibility for nonprofit partners – repurposing funds and accelerating payments

The Foundation is working with nonprofit partners with active grants to remove designations and repurpose grants if needed. Payments on previously scheduled grants are being advanced for earlier distribution to provide cash on hand for impacted nonprofits.

“While we are grateful to be in a position to provide this support, the real work is being done by our critical government leaders and the extraordinary efforts of our regional hospital systems and so many nonprofit organizations and their staff and volunteers. At times like this, you can really see what Pittsburgh and Pittsburghers are made of,” said Roger.

The Henry L. Hillman Foundation is currently viewing the crisis and its response in three stages. The principal focus of its work in the first phase is meeting needs that address the immediate population health threat. In the second phase, the Foundation anticipates providing targeted support for efforts to help restart the engines of regional nonprofits whose work will be critical to helping our residents and neighborhoods – especially the most disadvantaged – recover from the crisis. The third phase, anticipated to begin in the late summer and early fall of 2020 will be a focus on the structural recovery from the health, economic, social and cultural effects of the pandemic crisis. The Foundation anticipates commissioning research and data forecasts and conducting substantial outreach to nonprofit leaders to assist in directing and assessing these efforts in cooperation with foundation and community partners.


April 3, 2020:

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19:

1. Is the Foundation providing emergency grant funding to organizations impacted by COVID-19?
We are doing our best to work with the community to respond to needs. Right now, population health is our top priority. We are not in the position to provide emergency operating grants to organizations not providing frontline support. Please see our most up to date statement on our specific emergency priorities below. 

2. What is the Foundation doing to help current grantees impacted by COVID-19?
Our program officers have been in contact with as many of our current grantees as possible to release restrictions, repurpose grant funds, extend timelines if requested, and advance payment schedules forward. Please contact your program officer if you would like to explore any of these options if we have not already been in contact with you.

3. If I have a request pending or if I am in conversation with the Foundation about submitting a request, will the COVID-19 crisis impact projects being considered for a future board meeting?
Our main focus for the immediate time being will be on responding to emergency conditions that threaten health and safety and the economic impact on the most vulnerable in the communities we serve. We are continuously evaluating our grantmaking priorities and know that they will evolve in response to changing needs as we look to the months ahead. Please contact your program officer to discuss the timeframe and our current ability to advance your project.

4. What is the status of the Foundation’s strategic planning process?
We will continue to move forward with our new strategic framework. While the recommendations in this new strategic direction were entirely informed by community and expert input, we anticipate that it will require some adjustments to meet new demands created as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will provide an update on our strategic plan later in 2020.

5. If I have a question that is not answered here, what should I do?
Please contact your program officer with any questions. The foundation staff is working remotely, however, we are fully operational. If you don’t have a direct email or phone number for a staff member, you can reach us at info@hillmanfo.com or 412.338.3466.


March 31, 2020:

Update on Hillman Family Foundations’ COVID-19 Response:

With the country facing an unprecedented crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hillman Family Foundations have responded with a range of immediate actions while attempting to anticipate emerging needs over the coming weeks and months.

Focusing on our Pittsburgh-based foundations, our main concern at this time is for the health and safety of the people of Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania with our priorities aimed at supporting front line public health responders and our partners who serve children, seniors and the most vulnerable individuals in our communities.

Here are some of the actions we’ve already taken:

  • We are in daily contact with our partners in the nonprofit community, local government and civic and corporate leadership to understand and respond to the most urgent needs;
  • We have committed over $7 million in emergency response funds that began being deployed on March 16, 2020. Funds have been issued to the Allegheny County Health Department, Allegheny County Department of Human Services, The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Emergency Action Fund, The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research, among others;
  • We have released designations and restrictions on current grants whenever possible in consultation with our recipient partners;
  • We are working to advance all 2020 scheduled payments to be issued as soon as possible to relieve cash constraints likely to be faced by our partners;

Although we will continue to direct our resources in the coming weeks to fighting the public health crisis and assisting those most at risk, we are deeply concerned about the economic devastation this crisis is having and will have on our region. We have already begun planning for how we can support the enormous economic recovery challenge we will face once the immediate public health crisis is behind us. The negative impacts on many individuals, businesses, and our nonprofit community will be significant and long-lasting. We will need your ideas and creativity and will be looking to you to help guide these efforts.

The COVID-19 pandemic will be a defining event of the 21st-century and its mark on this country will never go away. In the midst of today’s anxiety and fears, and with many difficult days still ahead, let’s remember that we are a city and a region that has faced devastation and prevailed. We have demonstrated, as much as any place in the world, that calamity can be overcome. We are crisis-tested and battle-tested and we can lead the world on the path to recovery. That will be our challenge and opportunity.


March 16, 2020:

Statement on the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Hillman Family Foundations staff has been actively involved in preparing for and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in the communities we serve. The Pittsburgh-based Hillman Foundations have allocated $2 million in emergency funding, starting with helping our critical nonprofit partner organizations, with a commitment to a joint fund administered by the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and The Pittsburgh Foundation. We are currently evaluating multiple immediate response requests, and hope to have more to report in the coming days.

In compliance with the advice from the Centers for Disease Control and state and local health officials, our staff is working remotely. We expect to maintain as normal operations as possible through this crisis, and you should experience no interruption in receiving payments, getting information, or working with our team. Meetings are being conducted via teleconference and we will not be scheduling site visits at this time. We encourage you to take all necessary actions to ensure your health and safety and that of those around you, and to follow the advice of our state and local official at this difficult time.