Timeline of the process

Phase one identified goals and created an investment prospectus that determined the scale of investment needed and prioritized investments to be targeted. Phase two is about creating a funding structure and a place to raise capital.

Phase three? Activate this social benefit fund that invests in Pittsburgh while assuring accountability and measuring progress.

Working groups identified $3 billion of investment goals, including:

  • Create 1,500 seats to ensure pre-K for all.
  • Increase economic mobility by creating 360 apprenticeships, five new Business District Managers and six new Financial Empowerment/Opportunity centers, while doubling the microloan program.
  • Expand access to affordable housing by doubling our Housing Opportunity Fund making more than 7,000 distressed properties available for affordable housing.
  • Invest in critical infrastructure, replacing all lead service pipes.
  • Create new public art while preserving our 168 works of art.
  • Ensure all residents are within a five-minute walk of a high-quality green space.
  • Remove 2 billion gallons of stormwater from our sewers by investing in 27 green infrastructure projects.
  • Eliminate waste, and reduce building energy use and greenhouse gases by 50% and achieve 100% renewable energy electricity.

The purpose of Friday’s meeting with the city stakeholders was threefold: to prioritize focus areas, make sure the fund is accountable to the public and define measurements of success.

The large group broke into five breakout groups to discuss questions around the creation of the fund, creating a more resilient city by 2030, and accountability and measurement of progress.

They also generated questions for a lessons-learned panel that consisted of four panelists with expertise in the fund area.

The early response

“I’m super impressed with the conference yesterday and with this,” said panelist Darren Bloch, executive director of The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, who works at a 25-year-old nonprofit that finds ways to bring in private funds to work alongside city government. “I threw out my remarks because what you are doing is the next step in evolution in funds. A whole new take on it.”

That declaration proved daunting to one person in the group, who said she would prefer learning from a city that’s done this before.

Celia Smoot, director of LISC Housing, came to Pittsburgh for the panel straight from Detroit where their mayor announced a similar fund of $400 million around housing, parks and other issues, she said.

You’re at the vanguard of a different kind of funding of the future,” said Bruce Katz, a consultant formerly at the Brookings Institution, who was also on the panel. “Investing in inclusion, innovation, infrastructure … what’s the price? Potentially you could create a new kind of norm, a new kind of model.”

Peduto also said they are working with Rand Corporation to do a Pittsburgh Survey 2.0 based on the Pittsburgh Survey from 1958, which was the first of its kind anywhere.

In addition, they are working with the City of New York to create their own equity indicators to measure tangible results.

We’ll be following the progress of this new plan. Stay tuned for additional coverage.