BUGS volunteers tend the Harry Orlando Community Garden in Uptown. Photo courtesy of BUGS.

Starting this week, hundreds of nonprofit and community groups across Pittsburgh will have the chance to apply for up to $100,000 to support neighborhood-wide improvement projects.

The Neighborhood Initiatives Fund (NIF), a pilot program from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA), is designed to simplify and streamline the process for sharing public funds with smaller development groups working at the grassroots level. The URA’s economic development department is administering the program.

Specifically, the city is looking to support community-led projects that focus on vacant property reclamation, historic preservation, brownfield development and infrastructure improvements — such as streetscape improvements, transit and transportation-related improvements, green infrastructure and the construction of new public space and art.

The deadline for the first round of applications is October 1, with funds awarded in November. Grantees must agree to spend their allotted money within one year.

“The grants will be awarded through a competitive process,” said a press release about the project, “in order to help unlock the economic and placemaking potential within neighborhoods; support vision-to-action community investment strategies that build an equitable Pittsburgh; and formalize collaborative partnerships across the City.”

Funds are available at two different levels depending on the scale of the project. Tier 1 grants for up to $20,000 do not require matching funds, while Tier 2 grants are for up to $100,000 require $1 of matching investment for every $2 of city money invested in the project.

Both nonprofit groups operating independently and nonprofits with private partners are eligible to apply.

The URA will be holding a series of public meetings, and at least one webinar, to discuss the program over the next several weeks in Beechview, the West End and Larimer, with more locations in the central and northern parts of the city to be announced soon. Learn more about the program and apply here.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.