Jefferson Regional Foundation taking applications for grants

Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, 9:01 p.m.

The Jefferson Regional Foundation is promoting the group’s latest round of grants via its new website.

“We want to build up the capacity of services in the area, build on the strengths of organizations,” said Mary Phan-Gruber, executive director of the nonprofit group.

Groups may apply for grants through the website,

Phan-Gruber said she hopes to distribute grants three times a year. The foundation supports community-based groups with a tax-exempt status or a public organization that serves the Jefferson Hills area. Grant requests can be submitted to the foundation all year long.

So far, the grants have gone to neighborhood improvements, such as $60,000 toward the KaBoom! Prospect Park Playground in Whitehall last year. Other grants paid for an executive coach to assist leaders in the non-profit world, helping them do their jobs better.

One of the recent recipients was Cribs for Kids, an organization that began locally but now is national. Judy Bannon, a Thomas Jefferson High School graduate, founded this group out of the SIDS organization in the middle 1970s.

Because of this grant, mothers who give birth in Jefferson Hospital will be given information on safe sleep, along with a crib if they need one. Jefferson is one of seven birthing hospitals in the county, Bannon said.

“We consider the grants as an investment,” Phan-Gruber said. She said, grant priorities focus on three major considerations: Increasing health accessibility and prevention; improving child and family outcomes; and strengthening vulnerable communities.

When Phan-Gruber took her position in 2013, the same year the foundation was started, she found  “a rich base of folks who are interested in volunteering.”

But there were many at or near the poverty line.

“It’s a challenge to ensure we reach all populations,” she said. “We’re here for the long term.”

Grant recipients awarded in December

• Center for Hearing and Deaf Services through Pittsburgh Language Access Network: $70,000 over two years

• Cribs for Kids: $52,000 for cribs and outreach to young parents.

• LifeSpan: $5,260 for Clairton Community Farm Stand.

• Nurture PA: $80,000 over two years to begin a pilot program to improve the social/emotional development of children.

• United Way of Allegheny County: $75,000 to promote Affordable Care Act Insurance enrollment by hiring a dedicated enrollment navigator.

• Youth Opportunities Development: $75,000 to establish a youth leadership program for Clairton youth.

• Youth Places Inc.: $35,000 to purchase a van to transport students in Clairton, Duquesne and McKeesport to afterschool activities and events.

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