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Late philanthropist's bequest bolsters charities by $18 million

| Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011

Local charities will get a boost during a down economy with the bequest of $18.1 million to The Pittsburgh Foundation from late philanthropist William S. Dietrich II.

"The timing couldn't be better," said Scott B. Leff, associate director of the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management. "With the situation in the economy and the double impact it's having on both increasing needs and tightening the availability of resources, a major infusion right now is exactly what the community needs."

Grant Oliphant, president and CEO of The Pittsburgh Foundation, welcomed the gift. It's the largest to the foundation since September 2010, when late chemical engineer Charles Kaufman donated as much as $50 million.

"It's wonderful to us to have been chosen by Bill Dietrich for a gift," Oliphant said. "Bill has very high standards, and to be included in his roster of worthy organizations is something we're proud of."

Since September, Dietrich has made gifts of $265 million to Carnegie Mellon University, $125 million to the University of Pittsburgh and $12.5 million to Duquesne University. He left $5 million each to Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Dietrich, a former steel industry executive, died Oct. 6 and made three gifts to the foundation. The largest, more than $10.6 million, will establish The Dietrich Foundation's Community Fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation. That money will address critical local needs.

"Bill had some clear interests in education and building community, so we'll look for opportunities we think are consistent with what he cared about," Oliphant said.

He also awarded $5 million to create the Dietrich Foundation Greenville, Pa., Fund and $2.5 million to set up the Dietrich Foundation Conneaut Lake, Pa., Fund. Each fund will support cultural, educational and other charitable groups in those communities.

Oliphant said Dietrich had a childhood connection with Conneaut Lake. Dietrich's parents were from Greenville, and both graduated from Thiel College there.

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