Trying Together, a nonprofit organization that advocates for early education, received a grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation. The money will help families across the region stay focused on learning through the quarantine. Lorenda Porter and her daughter Isabella Porter have fun reading at home. Photo by Renee Rosensteel for The Pittsburgh Foundation.

Through a $15,000 grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation, Kitchen of Grace is able to provide 200 emergency meals a day to people in need.

Lateresa Blackwell, founder and executive director of the North Side nonprofit, says the money also allows the organization to provide basic school supplies to families with children.

The grant is one of 228 recently awarded through the foundation’s Emergency Action Fund. A total of $8.3 million in grants has been distributed to help nonprofit organizations, government agencies and community health care providers that are assisting residents through the COVID-19 crisis.

On March 16, the region’s four largest foundations — The Heinz Endowments, Henry L. Hillman Foundation,  Richard King Mellon Foundation and Pittsburgh Foundation — each kicked in $1 million to establish the fund, which provides grants to large-scale systems protecting the region from the coronavirus. The Pittsburgh Foundation opened the fund to public donations on March 17, paying all credit card fees to ensure that every dollar goes to the community.

Since then, the Action Fund has grown to meet broad community needs through donations from across the region. United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania joined the effort, establishing a 2-1-1 Help Line and food distribution systems to connect people to services. About 500 gifts were put toward the effort, ranging from $10 credit card donations from citizens to $500,000 from Duquesne Light Co.

Cam Heyward, a defensive linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers serves as the face of the foundation’s #SpreadHope campaign.

“When we set up the fund as a first step in meeting this monumental challenge, I knew people across the region would put aside their own worries to give, but the generosity has been just extraordinary,” Pittsburgh Foundation President and CEO Lisa Schroeder says.

Grant awardees include Trying Together, a nonprofit focused on early education that is using $300,000 to help essential workers with child care needs. 1Nation, an organization dedicated to helping young, black males in kindergarten through 12th grade adapt to online classroom instruction, was awarded $25,000.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) received $400,000 for its housing stabilization program that provides short-term financial assistance to households in crisis.

Allegheny County’s Kane Community Living Centers received $102,000 to enable residents to teleconference for medical consults and to communicate with family members. St. Margaret Foundation will use an $18,000 grant to provide housing for health care workers who face a heightened risk of infecting family members at home, and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services will channel $1.1 million into temporary housing and food for vulnerable groups unable to self-quarantine.

The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania received $198,650 to safely transport food to vulnerable people including those who are homebound and another $152,000 for the 2-1-1 Help Line and other emergency needs.

A final round of grant-making from the Action Fund is now in process with grants covered by the remaining contributions expected to be awarded by the end of this month. Managers will close the grant application period on May 8 at 5 p.m., but the Action Fund will continue to accept donations to meet future emergency needs.

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.