Grant Priorities

FISA Foundation funds nonprofit organizations providing services in southwestern Pennsylvania, limited to the following counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland [view map]. All grants benefit women, girls or people with disabilities.

Guiding Principles

  • Disability is a common, frequently occurring part of the human experience. We have a responsibility to counter ableism and the stigma that renders people with disabilities less visible and less valued.
  • We recognize that sexism profoundly impacts the lives of women and girls. We acknowledge that people assigned female at birth as well as those who identify as female or femme may experience gender-based discrimination. When we say “women and girls” we embrace all who experience the world as female.
  • FISA Foundation condemns racism of all forms. We acknowledge that racism has historically existed in our community and continues today in deep and pervasive ways. The evidence of systemic racism can be found in the persistent disparities that afflict Black people and other people of color across southwestern Pennsylvania. We commit to promoting racial equity.

Putting Our Beliefs in Action

In line with our core values and beliefs, FISA Foundation will:

  • Use a racial-justice lens in our work to more accurately frame problems and inform solutions.
  • Amplify the leadership, voices, and perspectives of people with disabilities, and seek to remove barriers that prevent full participation in all aspects of our community.
  • Prioritize the needs of those who live with multiple marginalized identities, for example, Black women, girls, and people with disabilities; immigrant and refugee women; and trans women.
  • Continue to diversify our leadership, including decision-makers that represent the communities we seek to serve.
  • Advance equity through our grantmaking practices, the types of grants we approve, and through the organizations we partner with and invest in.
  • Foster diverse leadership in the nonprofit sector.
  • Support convenings and collaborative partnerships that promote equity and inclusion, as well as advance our strategic priorities.
  • Engage in business practices that advance equity, including but not limited to hiring, contracting with vendors, and managing our investments.
  • Adhere to the highest standards of ethics and accountability in our policies and practices.

Strategic Approaches to Promoting Social Change

FISA Foundation focuses its grantmaking, convening and all other aspects of its work to:

  • Improve the Lives of Individuals;
  • Strengthen Organizations/Promote Best Practices;
  • Change Systems and Policies.

Strategic Priorities

NOTE:  All grants focus on one of the following priority areas

1. Improve the health and well-being of people with disabilities, women, and girls. 

Priority will be given to proposals designed to:

  • Improve access to health care and dental care for people with significant disabilities or complex health conditions;
  • Address bias among healthcare professionals;
  • Address the specific needs of women, girls, and people with disabilities who are Black or other people of color;
  • Influence policy and practice to change systems.

2. Prevent domestic and sexual violence, and support the most vulnerable victims in pursuit of safety, healing, and justice.

  • Priority will be given to proposals that specifically address the needs of people with disabilities; Black people and other people of color; immigrants and refugees; members of the LGBTQ+ community.

3. Remove societal barriers and promote equitable opportunities for women, girls, and people with disabilities.

Priority will be given to proposals designed to:

  • Promote equal rights, access, and full inclusion for people with disabilities, particularly Black people and other people of color with disabilities, in all aspects of life;
  • Include programs, services and advocacy efforts focused on girls who have been marginalized, particularly Black girls and other girls of color, girls with disabilities, and girls in under-resourced areas;
  • Address the needs of women that society marginalizes and fails to serve, particularly those who struggle with addiction, homelessness, trauma, and poverty.

NOTE:  FISA Foundation focuses disability-related grantmaking on adults and children with physical, intellectual, sensory, and developmental disabilities. While we recognize that mental health intersects with many of our other priorities, the primary diagnosis of mental illness is outside our scope. FISA does fund cross-disability efforts that include mental health.

What types of funding will be considered?

FISA Foundation believes in and invests in innovation; however we also recognize the economic challenges facing nonprofits. In light of the fact that funds are limited, FISA carefully considers where it can have the greatest impact, as well as the availability of other funding sources (including focus areas of other local foundations).   The Foundation will consider grants for:

  • General operating support for programs that advance our strategic priorities
  • Ongoing programs and projects
  • New and innovative projects or programs
  • Capacity building initiatives
  • Advocacy

The Foundation gives priority to projects and programs that have clearly defined outcomes and a realistic evaluation plan.

Restrictions/Requests that will not be funded

The Foundation does not make grants in support of:

  • Organizations without an Internal Revenue Code charitable, tax-exempt status under Sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a) or a fiscal agent
  • Programs taking place outside the ten-county area of southwestern Pennsylvania
  • Individuals
  • Political campaigns or lobbying
  • Religious organizations for religious purposes
  • Travel, study and scholarships
  • Issues related to disabilities that result from the aging process
  • Renovations to improve the physical accessibility of buildings
  • Programs with the primary purpose of providing mental health services (though we do recognize that mental health is often an interrelated issue in FISA’s priority areas)
  • Programs that happen to serve women and girls but are not designed to be gender specific
  • Parenting programs, unless they specifically relate to one of our stated priorities
  • Biomedical research.

More information about the Grant Application Process