The Foundation’s activities are divided between direct action to raise awareness and grants to external organizations.
In 2003 the Foundation launched a six-year initiative, “Advocating for Children Whose Parents are Incarcerated.” Since then the Foundation has devoted its resources to understanding and communicating the losses children experience when their parents are arrested and incarcerated. In May 2008, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees approved extending the initiative through 2012.
Established in 1982, the Foundation is the successor to the Pittsburgh Child Guidance Center (PCGC), which conducted research, training, and direct psychiatric services for children for more than a half century. The Foundation has carried on this rich tradition by concentrating on the promotion of children’s mental health through both grantmaking and advocacy for over 30 years. See our history to the right.
The Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation is a grantmaking and advocacy organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is a member of Grantmakers of Western PA and its affiliate group, Funders in Criminal Justice, Council on Foundations and Grantmakers for Children, Youth & Families.
Over 30 Years Advocating for Children
The history of the Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation is the story of a small, hard working, thoughtful grantmaker creatively exploring the best ways to use its assets for the most beneficial impact on the lives of children. As it has reshaped itself as a grantmaker over the years, it has remained true to its beginnings – still seeking knowledge, educating, advocating and supporting children’s mental health.
- From Clinic to Foundation
January 1, 1982
PCGC transferred its services to Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic and began operations as a foundation. In the early years of finding its way with limited resources, the Foundation primarily funded proposals submitted by professionals familiar with the center and its transition to a foundation. These grants mostly supported research or services to children with diagnosable, severe emotional disturbances. Grant size varied and focus was broadly on mental health of children under 18 in the seven counties of Western Pennsylvania that had been served by the Center.
- Foundation Takes Shape
The sale of its building in Oakland to the University of Pittsburgh led to a move away from the University and an increase to its endowment. With these changes, the Board of Trustees engaged in a long-range planning process during which it revised the structure for its grantmaking. Two-thirds of the Foundation’s distribution would be for multi-year program grants, solicited through widely distributed requests for proposals that emphasized prevention; the remaining third would be small awards to applicant defined proposals. This new grantmaking strategy shaped the next 10 years.
- Focus on Prevention
As the Foundation approached its 15th year in 1996, its Executive Director announced her retirement. The Board took a thoughtful road to finding a replacement beginning with a strategic plan for the future. The process resulted in a set of decisions to narrow the Foundation’s scope to children aged 12 and under in Allegheny County, to devote at least half of its grantmaking to one significant issue over 3-5 years, and continue a focus on prevention rather than treatment.
- First Area of Emphasis
The first Area of Emphasis – Helping children learn coping skills and build competence – was determined after a community-wide survey and much planning by the Board. In 1998, awards of $25,000 (renewable up to 5 years) were made to seven primarily faith-based and grassroots organizations. The Board built in an evaluation process to learn from this experience and incorporated these lessons in the 2002 planning process for its next initiative.
2003 - 2012
- Second Initiative
The primary criteria for its second Area of Emphasis were that it be compelling and sustainable. Following a careful planning process, the Board unanimously approved Helping the community address the losses experienced by children whose parents are incarcerated as its Area of Emphasis from 2003-08. Since then the Foundation has been using most of its resources to document what is happening to children of prisoners, sharing what it has learned with the community, convening key stakeholders, and joining with public and private partners to create policies and practices to strengthen the emotional lives of children of incarcerated parents. In May 2008, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees approved extending the initiative through 2012.
The current Area of Emphasis has renewed the Foundation’s commitment to public education and advocacy and has strengthened the Foundation as an independent voice for children in the Pittsburgh community.