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Rivers of Steel receives new capacity building grant from the National Park Foundation

Grant expands Rivers of Steel’s ability to update its strategic plan to include DEAI initiatives.


Last updated 1/28/2021 at 7:25am

Rivers of Steel has received a grant from the National Park Foundation (NPF) that will allow for the re-examine the organization’s strategic plan to ensure diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI) are addressed in every area of its operations, projects, and programs.

Rivers of Steel is one of 36 park partner organizations to receive a Strong Parks, Strong Communities capacity-building grant from NPF, the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service.

“The funds from this grant will help us fulfill the promise that we made to our partners and the communities of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area in the wake of the tragic murder of George Floyd,” said Augie Carlino, president and chief executive officer of Rivers of Steel. “Rivers of Steel is committed to telling the whole story of our industrial and cultural heritage—the stories that are good and those that are difficult and uncomfortable to discuss or admit.”

Through the strategic planning initiative, Rivers of Steel will engage with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) members of the southwestern Pennsylvania community to develop programming and projects that focus on ending racism, bigotry, inequality, intolerance, injustice, and prejudice toward Black Americans, people of color, and other minorities.

The grant from NPF will provide resources to further Rivers of Steel’s efforts, which were catalyzed amidst the BLM movement of 2020. The initiative, entitled “RESPECT – Re-Examination of our Strategic Plan for these Exceptional and Changing Times” – will include a professionally facilitated strategic planning process with community members throughout the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, including local members of the community. The RESPECT process will support Rivers of Steel’s parallel efforts initiated in 2020 for both the promotion and facilitation of black, indigenous, and people of color in the field of historic preservation and to expand resources for BIPOC-led organizations through its mini-grant program.

Rivers of Steel’s efforts are also happening in conjunction with its partners: the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Museums, Galleries, and Cultural Institutions Working Group, the Greater Hazelwood Historical Society, and Boom Concepts, among others. The plan will also develop recommendations on ways Rivers of Steel can increase diversity among staff, board, partners, and audiences in historic preservation.

The Strong Parks, Strong Communities grant program helps address nonprofit park partner needs that have come to the forefront amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. These grants enable park partners, including Rivers of Steel, to expand their impact through new technology, website redesigns, creative visitor engagement, strategic plan development, fundraising campaigns, professional development, and more. A full list of Strong Parks, Strong Communities grantees can be on the National Park Foundation’s blog.

“The National Park Foundation is committed to increasing national park philanthropy across the board and being responsive to current needs,” said LaTresse Snead, chief program officer for the National Park Foundation. “The capacity-building grants help advance park partners’ goals to preserve natural and cultural resources, increase access to public lands for all people, and develop innovative programming.”

Strong Parks, Strong Communities is a collective effort to grow national park philanthropy, consisting of approximately 450 local philanthropic organizations across the United States.


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