- Assets: $3,144,782 (2013)
- Grants Received: $246,346 (2013)
- Grants Awarded: $70,162 (2013)
Originally known as the Three Rivers Community Fund, the Pittsburgh-based Three Rivers Community Foundation (TRCF) was established in 1989 by an alliance of activists who wanted to support “community-based organizations” that were “working ‘on the ground floor’ of change.” Viewing the United States as a nation rife with discrimination against nonwhite minorities, the Foundation today describes itself as an “anti-racist and [anti-]oppression multicultural institution” whose mission is “to fund and encourage” grassroots organizations in “underserved areas” of Southwestern Pennsylvania. According to TRCF, these are generally groups that work to “bridge persistent divisions in society around issues of race, economic status, gender, sexual identity, and disability”; “address the root causes of social problems by challenging attitudes, policies, or institutions”; and work to promote “social justice,” “equity,” and “progressive change.” Many of these donees, says the Foundation, “may not be able to attract support from [other] sources because they are too small, too new, or too controversial.”
For its first eleven years, TRCF operated with very limited staff support. Then, in 2001, its board members collaborated with several other volunteers to launch a $1 million endowment campaign for the purpose of significantly increasing the Foundation’s grant-making capacity. Historically TRCF has raised most of its money through an annual appeal campaign, and then distributed those funds in the form of grants. All told, the Foundation has distributed over $940,000 to more than 260 progressive groups in Southwestern Pennsylvania since its founding.
TRCF’s grants are typically between $500 and $4,000—targeting what the Foundation calls “fledgling groups and small organizations with budgets under $100,000.” Some donees, however, are more prominent—e,g., the American Friends Service Committee; ACORN; the Pittsburgh Committee for the Black Radical Congress; the Center for Constitutional Rights; the Council on American-Islamic Relations; the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network; the Independent Media Center; the League of Women Voters; the League of Young Voters; NARAL; the Palestine Solidarity Committee; People For The American Way; the Rachel Carson Homestead Association; Veterans for Peace; and the YWCA Center for Race Relations and Anti-Racism Training.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Three Rivers Community Foundation, click here.
TRCF focuses its philanthropy in the following major issue areas:
* Economic Justice: Aimed at “creating a truly just society” in a manner that free-market capitalism cannot, this program promotes “community prosperity” by supporting “groups that are asking why there are still hungry people in this country, and uniting them to advocate for fair treatment and accountability.”
* Peace/Human Rights: This initiative supports “pro-active peacemakers, on all levels—from the global all the way down to the local.” It condemns the “wars being waged against members of our own communities, from distrust of ex-offenders, to a racially-biased penal system that has a disproportionate number of African Americans on death row, to the stigma against people with mental disabilities.”
* Racial Justice: Lamenting that “racial injustice rears its head in many ways in society,” TRCF seeks to “heal” interracial “wounds” by means of such “anti-discrimination” policies as affirmative action, reparations for slavery, and “accurate and broad representation [of African Americans] in politics, media, etc.”
* Environmental Justice: Striving to regulate polluters and ban all “potentially hazardous industries,” TRCF maintains that “the people who are most affected by pollution”—i.e., low-income minorities—“should being involved in the fight to clean it up and make changes in policy.”
* LGBTQI Rights: In its quest to “brea[k] down barriers that prevent full inclusion and tolerance,” TRCF “believes in full equality for all, including people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and any other category you care to add on.”
* Women, Youth & Families Issues: Aiming to “chang[e] the root causes that allow things like poverty, hunger, and domestic violence to exist,” this broad category encompasses “everything from promoting women’s rights, to empowering youth to be activists and agents of change, to ensuring families have voices in public policy and safe, creative spaces in which to live and play.”
* Disability Rights: Advocating “full equality for all, including people with disabilities,” TRCF stipulates that the “events we fund must be held in fully-accessible locations.”
TRCF also administers two major programs targeting young people. One of these, Teens For Change, gives high-school students “of different ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds” an opportunity to make grant-giving decisions on projects proposed by teenagers in their own communities. Another initiative, the Youth Ambassador Program, seeks to “create our region’s next generation of change makers” by using workshops and lectures to engage high-school students in “the movement for social justice.”