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Pittsburgh Foundation fundraiser to raise money for those with needs in key areas

| Monday, May 22, 2017, 4:00 p.m.
Heritage Community Initiatives, a nonprofit group, provides free rides to workers from Mon Valley communities such as Clairton, East Pittsburgh, Glassport, McKeesport, North Versailles and Turtle Creek. Driver Bob Gravelle helps Judy Sabolic onto the Work Link van at the North Versailles Wal-Mart on Thursday April 26, 2012. The bus service allows her to do volunteer work for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

The Pittsburgh Foundation is narrowing the focus of its former Day of Giving fundraiser to raise money for more than 100 nonprofits in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties that directly support people with needs in five areas.

The foundation said this year's Critical Needs Alert event begins at 8 a.m. Tuesday and will last 16 hours.

“The shift (from a general fundraising event) aims to support the safety net for basic needs and respond to the needs of our community,” said Kelly Uranker, the Pittsburgh Foundation's director of the Center for Philanthropy.

“We want everyone to benefit from the prosperity that has occurred in the region over the last couple years,” Uranker said.

In the past, the former Day of Giving event benefited a wider array of nonprofits across the region. The Pittsburgh Foundation was forced to reschedule last year's event after a glitch with its online fundraising platform caused problems about 10 hours into the daylong campaign. More than 820 nonprofits participated in the rescheduled event last September.

The Critical Needs Alert event will support organizations that help people with needs related to child care, food and nutrition, physical and mental health, housing and transportation. Participating organizations include family health care centers, local YMCAs, women's centers, soup kitchens and transportation-service organizations such as the Braddock-based Heritage Community Initiatives.

Uranker said the new event aligns with the foundation's “100 Percent Pittsburgh” principle, which aims to support the one-third of the region's population that falls below the poverty line and allows them to benefit from the region's improving economy.

Mt. Ararat Community Activity Center, one of this year's participating nonprofits, helps provide childcare to children up to age 5. The center hopes to use money they receive from this year's fundraiser to open a larger childcare facility.

“We hope that by moving to a larger facility, we will eliminate our waiting list and provide childcare to others in the community, beyond our own waiting list,” said Denise Williams, Mt. Ararat's executive director. “The funding we will gain from this Critical Needs Alert will be extremely beneficial as these are critical years for our children.”

The Pittsburgh Foundation has allocated up to $657,000 to match funds raised by the participating foundations. For example, if all the groups collected a combined $600,000, the matching funds would bring the total amount raised to $1.2 million.

To donate, people should visit PittsburghGives.org between 8 a.m. and midnight Tuesday. There is a minimum donation of $25.

Emma Curtis is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7822, ecurtis@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @EmmaCurtisPGH.

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