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Brookline Blvd, recently redone with new street lights, sidewalks, trees and more.

Neighborhood Allies, the community organization launched earlier this year with the aim of helping develop the greater Pittsburgh area’s most deeply distressed communities, will distribute $500,000 in grants to six neighborhoods by the end of 2014.

Between October and the end of the year, Neighborhood Allies will award grants between $25,000 and $75,000 designated toward projects in the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of the Hill District, Homewood, Larimer, the Mt. Washington Hilltop communities, and the suburbs of Millvale and Wilkinsburg.

“We’re looking for things which are collaborative in nature,” says Talia Piazza, Neighborhood Allies’ manager for community resources and communications. “They can be place-based strategies, anything that contributes to housing markets, better land utilization, supporting the creation of business districts, access to healthy food, job training, investing in human capital and creating leaders on the neighborhood level.”

Neighborhood Allies, which arose from the remnants of the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development and appointed Presley Gillespie as its first executive director earlier this year, is taking a more inclusive and holistic approach toward community development than its predecessor organization. Where PPND used to work almost exclusively with neighborhood-based community development corporations, Allies is eager to bring non-traditional collaborators into the fold.

“We’re investing in comprehensive community development. In the past, it’s just been bricks and mortar. Players other than CDCs are contributing to this type of work and we don’t want to miss out on those opportunities,” Piazza says. “We’re trying to expand the scope of who and what we work with. It’s open to anybody to apply, as long as the idea of the project or program is along with our investment strategy.”

She also noted that corporations looking to invest in communities as well as organizations whose missions aren’t community development-centric, like the Trade Institute of Pittsburgh and Tree Pittsburgh, would likely factor into Allies’ mission going forward.

Piazza says that Allies will release guidelines for applications later this week and that the organization will start awarding grants in October.

Matthew Wein is a local writer, editor, blogger, storyteller and proud native Pittsburgher. Once described as "a man of things," he covers city design, spirits and craft beer for NEXT, where he keeps all of the editorial meetings light-hearted and interesting. His interests include sorting books, looking at old things and candles which smell like old-growth pine forests.