The Role of Foundations in Pittsburgh’s Recovery

More than one-third of Pennsylvania’s $28.7 billion in foundation assets is headquartered in Pittsburgh.

And names like Carnegie, Mellon and Heinz have played a central role in the city’s resurrection from steel, the Associated Press is reporting.

“Steeler Nation is not just loyalty to the football team,” said Grant Oliphant, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation. “It’s sort of emblematic of the loyalty to the place.”

Carnegie’s contemporaries, including oilman Michael Benedum, one of the 100 wealthiest Americans in the 19th century, and ketchup baron H.J. Heinz, held the same convictions, largely rooted in Judeo-Christian thinking that to get to heaven they had to help the less fortunate.

J. Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust stands in the heart of the "cultural district" in downtown Pittsburgh.

J. Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust stands in the heart of the "cultural district" in downtown Pittsburgh.

These legacies carried the region through the 1980s, when steel’s collapse cost more than 100,000 jobs and the departure of even more people. Unemployment soared to 18 percent — down to 7.8 percent today, well below the national average of 9.7 percent — and the population shrank from 424,000 in 1980 to just over 310,000 in 2007.

1 Comment

Filed under Economic Development, Headline

One response to “The Role of Foundations in Pittsburgh’s Recovery

  1. Special K

    I’ve always heard good things about the foundations in Cleveland, especially The Cleveland Foundation. It seems to be involved with a lot of innovation and good ideas.

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