Economic Mobility Grant

Since 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation has invested in visionaries who seek to advance the competitive future and quality of life of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and to protect, preserve and restore America’s environmental heritage.

Type of Support


In Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, children in lower-income households have less access to opportunities that contribute to economic mobility in adulthood. Also, community-level factors create obstacles that impede some children’s pathway to economic mobility. The Foundation envisions a future where all children and youth living in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties will be able to access their most promising future. The Foundation invests in pathways to opportunity for vulnerable children and youth to overcome the obstacles to achieving economic mobility. The Economic Mobility program focuses on children and young adults from birth to age 24 who reside in low-income households in Allegheny or Westmoreland counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania. 

Grants are awarded to organizations and programs focused on:

  • Educational Attainment, with priority to
    • Kindergarten Readiness
    • K-12 academic performance
    • Postsecondary education success
  • Future of Work, with priority to
    • Career readiness skills
    • Relevant applied work experiences such as internships
  • Supportive Living Environments, with priority to
    • Children thriving at home in high-quality, safe, and stable housing
    • Strong family and caregiver relationships
  • Places of Opportunity, with priority to
    • Connected and safe communities


Organization's Location
Program Location
PA (Allegheny County, Westmoreland County)
Organization Type
Public-sector agencies
For-profit businesses
Fiscally-sponsored organizations

All three criteria (household income, age, and county of residence) are important to our funding consideration. Applicants who only meet one or two of these criteria are less likely to receive Economic Mobility program funding.


Individuals or proposals that regrant to individuals
Lobbying, advocacy, or political causes or events
Terrorist activities
Postsecondary institutions or research institutions are not eligible for general operating support
not specified


Required Attachments
Board List
Letters of Support
Organizational Budget
501(c)(3) Letter
Audited Financial Statement
Project Budget
Contact info
Review Criteria

The Foundation seeks these outcomes from their priority areas of Economic Mobility grants:

  • Kindergarten Readiness: (1) Highly trained and effective early-childhood educators; (2) expanded access to high-quality early-childhood options.
  • K-12 academic performance: (1) Achievement in academic subjects; (2) school attendance and engagement; (3) high-school graduation.
  • Postsecondary education success: (1) Postsecondary education application and enrollment; (2) postsecondary education persistence and completion.
  • Career readiness skills: (1) Mastery of social and emotional skills; (2) knowledge of industries and job opportunities.
  • Relevant applied work experiences: (1) Participation in internships, project-based learning and other career-exploration activities; (2) employment and earnings.
  • Children thriving at home: (1) Stable homes; (2) food security.
  • Strong family and caregiver relationships: (1) Resilience to trauma; (2) reducing risky behaviors; (3) strengthening caregiver-child relationship quality.
  • Connected and safe communities: (1) Community engagement and capacity; (2) cross-community collaboration; (3) community-space improvements; (4) preventing or reducing youth involvement with the justice system.

For-profit businesses only:

  • The Richard King Mellon Foundation is looking to invest in novel products, technologies or services from social-mission oriented for-profit companies.
  • Planning and Innovation: This funding supports experimentation and the development of novel concepts. Recipients might conduct activities such as piloting minimally viable products or services.
  • Implementation: The funding provides support for more developed concepts and services. Recipients of this funding often have demonstrated past success and have the capacity to engage in iteration and evaluation of their technology, products, or services.
  • Scalability: This funding supports scaling of a technology, product, or service.

Nonprofit and Public Sector only:

  • Planning and Innovation: This funding supports experimentation and the development of new ideas. Recipients might conduct activities such as piloting minimally viable products/services or completing a feasibility study.
  • Implementation: This funding provides support for more developed concepts and services. Recipients might continue current programs, construct a building, train staff, carry out a marketing campaign, or conduct a third-party evaluation. 
  • Scalability: This funding supports extending the reach of a promising model or project. Recipients might participate in conferences or publishing, convene networks, provide technical support to other organizations, or expand service delivery
  • Community engagement describes how the project will incorporate community perspectives to increase the likelihood of achieving the outputs and outcomes. You might describe how you have engaged with the target population to understand their view of the problem that you propose to address. You might also describe how you will engage your target population in ongoing leadership or advisory roles during the project’s implementation. You might also describe partnerships with other organizations that will increase the project’s effectiveness.
  • Project Sustainability helps us to understand your expectations for the relationship that might be formed between our organizations if funding were awarded. By asking this question, we want to understand how you are thinking about our role in your finances and program delivery.