Steel Smiling, an Organization-in-Residence (OIR) at Neighborhood Allies secured the largest grant in the organization’s history, a multi-year $1,000,000 grant from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation. With this grant, Steel Smiling is able to continue to serve community members to their highest potential and confidently advance their goal of exposing every Black resident in Pittsburgh to a positive mental health experience that improves their quality of life by 2030. Funding will directly support the growth, capacity and sustainability of the organization, as well as on the ground programming including Beams to Bridges and the Black Mental Health Fund.
“This generous investment from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation will allow the Steel Smiling team to deliver upon our planned growth over the next two years,” says Cait Lee, Operations Director of Steel Smiling. “Through this award, we will be able to scale our programming, hire additional talent, and better serve the local demand for mental health services in our region’s Black communities.”
Since 2020, Steel Smiling has coordinated over 3,000 hours of mental health support and treatment, re-invested nearly $1,000,000, and supported over 300 community members through the Beams to Bridges and the Black Mental Health Fund Programs. Steel Smiling became an OIR of Neighborhood Allies in August, 2021. Through this partnership, and coupled with grants like this, Steel Smiling is receiving the critical support required to scale their organization and deepen the impact of their work, in a way that is thoughtful and strategic.
“We created the Organization-in-Residence Model with the ultimate goal of creating a paradigm shift in the way Black-led nonprofit organizations operate, sustain and serve communities,” says Presley Gillespie, President and CEO at Neighborhood Allies. “This grant supports the model and represents a new era of resourcing, capacity building and collaboration for the region’s nonprofit partnerships.”
Organization-in-Residence Model Steel Smiling and Neighborhood Allies collaboratively envisioned and operationalized the Organization-in-Residence model with the specific intention of elevating local, Black-led nonprofits by strategically interrupting inequitable patterns of resource distribution in the sector. The model has many parallels to business incubators in the for-profit space. The concept centers on the acknowledgement that smaller, aspiring nonprofit organizations often require space to iterate and innovate as they discover their own trajectories. These budding organizations also deserve to grow intentionally and receive guidance from a trusted partner or mentoring entity, instead of being pushed and pulled alone at the intersection of so many systems. The mentoring entity has more history in the local Community Development system and as such, ample “lessons learned” to be shared with other organizations. Neighborhood Allies also possess a robust network of human, social, and financial capital that can be leveraged for the growth of the smaller entity.