Trina and girls.

The Neighborhood Learning Alliance (NLA) is looking to fund up to three $5,000 – $10,000 projects that target an important problem: nearly 1 in 3 Pittsburgh Public School students does not graduate from high school.

Applicants do not have to be nonprofits—they can be individuals or groups with any ideas that directly impact graduation and post-secondary readiness rates for high school students.

NLA Executive Director Steve MacIsaac is intent on generating the most innovative solutions that can be piloted and replicated to address the issue. “We want to encourage anybody and want to get a sense of what’s out there. What’s working. We hope to find some unique ideas or interesting strategies.”

His urgency stems from the NLA’s decade-long history of work with Pittsburgh Public School (PPS) students from elementary to high school—teaching leadership skills and mentoring with the objective of moving the needle in the city’s “dropout epidemic.”

“The graduation problem is a tragedy because it affects so many lives. It is a quiet tragedy because unlike forces of nature, it doesn’t hit all at once—and yet we are all shocked when we hear the numbers of those affected,” says MacIsaac. “The lives of these young people are so important. We feel like we need to do what we can to draw out these ideas.”

The NLA is accepting proposals until January 19. Proposals should address a single PPS high school but the NLA hopes to apply lessons from the pilots across other high schools in the district.  More information on the grant can be found on the NLA website.

Leah Lizarondo is a food advocate, writer and speaker. She is also the co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, an organization that seeks to eliminate food waste to make an impact on hunger and the environment. She is the Chief Veghacker, recipe creator and curator at The Brazen Kitchen, where she writes about food and food policy. She writes about the intersection of food, health, innovation and policy.