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.

Beliefs That Guide and Inform Our Work in the Community and Provide Context to Our Grantmaking

  • We believe that the disparities affecting women, girls, and people with disabilities are the result of societal attitudes, beliefs, policies and practices.
  • FISA’s goal is to stimulate change of the social and cultural environment in order to promote equity, opportunity and inclusion for women, girls, and people with disabilities, particularly those who have been most affected by institutionalized discrimination.
  • We acknowledge that discrimination based on gender and ability overlaps with discrimination based on race, socio-economic factors, and sexual orientation/identity and we must be responsive to these interactions.
  • We believe that the most effective way to create long-term change is to work at the community or societal level – focusing on innovation and advocacy.
  • However, we recognize that comprehensive social change can take a long time, thus we choose to also invest in:
    • Strengthening organizations and promoting best practices; and
    • Directly improving the lives of individuals, with priority to those who are most vulnerable.
  • We work collaboratively, and proactively cultivate partnerships.
  • We encourage grant applications with an integrated focus on women, girls, and people with disabilities.
  • Whenever possible we seek to build solutions based on data, research and best practices.
  • We believe that words matter. Language can perpetuate stereotypes and attitudinal barriers. When drafting your proposal, please use People First Language which puts the person before the disability. For more on people first language, read here.

Strategic Priorities

Note: FISA Foundation focuses its disability-related grantmaking on adults and children with physical, intellectual, sensory, and developmental disabilities. 

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

    Priority will be given to proposals that address:

  • Improving access to health care and dental care for people with significant or complex disabilities.
    • Expand accessible health services available across SWPA. Priority will be given to making existing community-based health services accessible and welcoming vs. developing specialized clinics to serve only individuals with disabilities.
    • Train health professionals to more effectively work with individuals with disabilities.
    • NOTE: Requests for accessible equipment or other efforts to immediately remove barriers will only be considered if they also include a plan for training staff and/or updating policies to institutionalize accessibility)
  • Advocating for strategic changes to legislation, policy, practice or the community’s understanding of issues to improve the health and well-being of individuals with disabilities, women and girls, particularly women and girls of color.
  1. Address the epidemic of abuse (specifically sexual assault and domestic violence) that disproportionately impacts women, girls, and people with disabilities.

    Priority will be given to proposals that address:

  • Prevention by:
    • Engaging men and boys in changing men’s behavior and attitudes
    • Increasing offender accountability
    • Increasing bystander intervention
    • Changing social norms that promote violence.
  • Ensuring that individuals with disabilities (and other vulnerable/underserved groups of victims) have access to needed services.
  • Incorporating disability-specific issues into abuse prevention efforts
  • Advocacy efforts and policy change.
  1. Remove societal barriers and promote equitable opportunities for women, girls, and people with disabilities.

    Priority will be given to proposals that address:

  • Pipelines to employment for people with disabilities.
  • Meaningful community engagement and full inclusion of people with disabilities.
  • Empower girls and women, particularly those who struggle with addiction, homelessness, trauma, and poverty, to lead productive and dignified lives, to have equitable opportunities for success, and to reach their full potential. NOTE: Proposed programs and services should be responsive to intersecting identities and experiences (including race, socioeconomics, ability, sexual orientation or identity).

What types of funding will be considered?

FISA Foundation believes in and invests in innovation; however we also recognize the current 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:

  • New and innovative projects or programs
  • Ongoing programs and projects
  • General operating support for programs that advance our strategic priorities
  • 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)
  • 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.

Next Steps

More information about the Grant Application Process »

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