The Heinz Endowments will invest $6.7 million to advance racial justice and social equity across the Pittsburgh area, the organization announced via press release on May 6. Included in the sum is funding totaling more than $2.3 million that will go toward local criminal justice reform efforts around research, advocacy, and policy and practices. 

With COVID-19 wrecking the nation’s financial system, Heinz’s Endowments president said that as the crisis exposes issues around poverty and racial inequality, it is also worsening them. “We will never be able to create the resilient community of the future that we strive for unless we address directly the deep issues of inequity that afflict our community and our nation,” Grant Oliphant said in the statement.

The nearly $7 million package is part of Heinz’s three-year, $10-million Restoration Project initiative that launched in 2018. “The Restoration grants address access to legal representation and jail diversion, advocacy around targeted policy reform, research aimed at identifying the root causes of race-based disparities, and implementation of evidence-based practices to improve services for those affected by the criminal justice system,” said Carmen Anderson, Heinz Endowments chief equity officer. 

As a result, Heinz Endowments is directly funding programs that address inequality. Among the grants awarded for criminal justice advocacy and policy is support advocacy for indigent defense, juvenile justice and public policy; money for the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Pennsylvania to focus on reforming bail and probation procedures; promising practices funding for adolescents who are transitioning from a supervised program to work or college; research funding for the University of Pittsburgh to study racial discrimination in the Allegheny County criminal justice system and more.

In addition, Pittsburgh’s only Black council members—R. Daniel Lavelle and Ricky Burgess—introduced a resolution on May 5 to create a COVID-19 task force that would monitor how race factors into the city’s handling of the pandemic. The same day, the Allegheny County Council passed a motion “recognizing racism as a public health crisis.”

To see Heinz Endowments’ complete list of grants and the organizations that they will help fund, check out the announcement here.