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African American Community Foundation

The POISE Foundation, the premier African American Community Foundation

The African American community with all it's abilities and strengths can find a friend in the POISE Foundation, which is focused primarily on being the African American community foundation in the Pittsburgh area to assist indeveloping sustainable practices. This African American community foundation's goal is to educate the Pittsburgh Region's African American community about the value of pooling our resources collectively to harness the power and ability to become a sustainable community.  Currently, most of our resources from corporations, organizations, individuals, families, churches, etc., find their way out of our community before having any real benefit to our community.  By thinking strategically, we can realize that our issues are not a matter of resources but how we plan and utilize our resources.  It is a mindset issue.  By using the concept of an African American community foundation, Pittsburgh's African American community can strategically use a portion of its collective resoureces to focus on the most critical root cause issues that lead to the disparities we currently experience.  The POISE Foundation would through its grantmaking, leadership, convenor and advocate role help the African American community accomplist this task.  

The goals of the POISE Foundation and its history of success

The POISE Foundation was created for just these goals. It was incorporated as a charitable foundation by Mr. Bernard H. Jones in 1980 after many successful years of Mr. Jones' efforts to bring about enhancement and self sufficiency among the African American community members via the many programs he'd established for decades.  It was actually the first African American Community Foundation created in the state of Pennsylvania.  The Pittsburgh communities knew well of Mr. Jones' efforts, and his growing success and sacrifices finally coalesced into the POISE Foundation. The reach of the POISE Foundation is one that has empowered, enhanced, and elevated the recipients of their services for over 30 years. From educational projects to health activities, training for those seeking employment, economic educational venues to much more. The goals of this African American community foundation have been to raise the African American community and strengthen black families. An African American community foundation like this is very rare. There are only a few true African American community foundation's in the country.  Several funds and programs exist in other community foundations.  However, POISE is currently not aware of any other African American community foundations that are standalone, self-governing, and African American created and led.

POISE believes that one of the biggest negative factors in not only Pittsburgh's African American community, but across the country is our lack of ownership.  African Americans in this country make up 13% of the population but own less than 2% of its wealth.  Too often we confure income for wealth.  Although the income gap between Blacks and Whites has decreased over the years, the wealth gap has not made much progress. Without ownership their is no control.  This again is one of the leading factors why we have little control over the direction of our communities and worst yet, our families. 

So POISE Foundation is placing its focus on two primary areas.  First, Developing a sustainable Black communinty in Pittsburgh.  We believe that if the community creates a common vision, develops a strong strategy to achieve the vision, creates strong relationships with in the community and executes on the strategy, the African American community would become self-sufficient and able to care for its own. Secondly, we view one of the main, if not the, issues stifling our community is the breakdown of the family.  In Pittsburgh, approximately 73% of African American households are single parent led.  Research shows that single parent households trail two parent households in income, wealth, education, health, and overall satisfaction.  Accordingly, POISE Foundation is leading its programming efforts around strengthening our families to reduce the massive disparities that currently exist in every category of community health.

As an African American community foundation, we will continue to house and grow donor advised funds, designated funds and field of interest funds.  These funds are restricted by a donor's intent or specific purpose.  In this way, POISE allows multiple donors to give funds which are comingled with other funds for the purpose of investment and growth.  However, each fund is individually tracked and reported to the donor advisor if applicable.  Donors advised funds allow the donor to make recommendations on where the money can be invested and where grants will be made.  This provides the donors the ability to stay involved with the fund even though it is owned and housed at the African American community foundation. POISE also manages several scholarship funds that are donor designated or donor advised.  POISE also manages a pre-k through Twelfth grade scholarship fund for families looking for a private school education.

The fine results of this African American community foundation

One needs to take a look at how such an African American community foundation like this is of such astounding value to not only the African American community but the Pittsburgh community as well. By lifting up the work of strengthening families and sustainable communities through grantmaking, advocacy, convening and leadership, the results of this work will help to alleviate the pressures of national, and local government from having to expend it's limited resources. The POISE Foundation is taking the lead and initiative to harness and focus the resources the African American community has and map them to our most critical needs.