a year of powerful change.

2020 Impact Report

COVID Response

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit our communities in early 2020, Neighborhood Allies, like many others, worked diligently to respond to its effects in a manner that was both strategic and effective.

a year of powerful change.

2020 Impact Report

COVID Response

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit our communities in early 2020, Neighborhood Allies, like many others, worked diligently to respond to its effects in a manner that was both strategic and effective.

We mobilized our human and programming capital to address the most pressing needs. As a result, we were able to facilitate the delivery of food, essential items, and financial resources to residents in need. We labeled our toolkit of newly crafted or pivoted resources the Neighborhood Allies’ (Covid Accelerated Relief Effort) ‘CARE Package.’ It consisted of the following:

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An Economic Opportunity Rapid Response Team made up of our partners and the financial counselors at the Pittsburgh Financial Empowerment Center;

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Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Assistance to help small businesses navigate applying for the federal funding;

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Our Get Online and Grow Online ('GOGO') program, an e-commerce and marketing assistance program for small businesses to help them adjust to an increasingly online world, in partnership with the City and the Urban Redevelopment Authority;

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The CARE Fund, using repurposed funds from our Catalytic Grants Program;

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Mental health support services through our partner, Steel Smiling.

We also pivoted our newly launched Digital Inclusion work to help address a lack of access to devices and connectivity, an endeavor that inspired our Beyond the Laptops initiative.

CARE Fund

Early into the pandemic, the Neighborhood Allies team quickly realized that the Catalytic Grants program was not structured to respond to the food, health, and safety priorities rapidly emerging in light of the pandemic. A committee was quickly established to structure a new fund that would serve the community’s most pressing needs and protect the investments and ecosystems that Neighborhood Allies has strategically invested in. 

The fund included $125,000 of emergency funds for existing partners and existing businesses within our priority neighborhoods. Ten grants of $10,000 were awarded in May 2020. 12 grants of $10,000 and one grant of $5,000 were awarded in May of 2020. Due in part to this funding, ten community organizations working on the frontlines of the pandemic were able to deliver food, safety equipment, and other supplies to residents. Altogether, they served nearly 10,000 residents.

Get Online and Grow Online

Our Get Online and Grow Online (GOGO) program provides small businesses and organizations with free technical assistance to develop an online presence and allow customers to make transactions through e-commerce platforms. Originally conceptualized by our Senior Program Manager for Corridor Revitalization to informally assist businesses in Homewood, the main goal was to help businesses survive while physically closed due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Through a partnership with the Urban Redevelopment Authority, we were able to expand the program to other neighborhoods and launch fully in April 2020. 

During Round I of GOGO, 46 businesses enrolled, including 8 minority-owned businesses, 21 woman-owned businesses, and 9 minority-/woman-owned businesses. In addition, nearly 90% of our technical assistance providers (the marketing and technology firms who helped the businesses directly) were also minority or woman-owned. Due to the success of GOGO, we began offering additional rounds of the program to benefit more small businesses seeking assistance.

During Round 2 of GOGO, 49 businesses enrolled, including 3 minority-owned businesses, 15 woman-owned businesses, and 28 minority/woman-owned businesses.

“With help through the GOGO Program, the Hilltop Pharmacy has been able to organize large vaccination events for the past few months.”

Gordon Hall

Business District Manager, Hilltop Alliance Allentown

 “The end result is a more confident mother who survived – a mother who is determined to show her children what it means to become self sufficient, and how we can create generational wealth despite these hard times. One must just be determined to get to the finish line.”

Carmella Jones

Owner, Shirts and Thangz, Inc.

Paycheck Protection Program

In 2020, we also created a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Assistance initiative through a unique partnership with First Commonwealth Bank, who agreed to process applications from our program participants in a timely manner. We targeted vulnerable small businesses and nonprofits that would have had a hard time accessing capital without intensive technical assistance and a banking partnership. During the application period, we assisted 25 small businesses and nonprofits in accessing the Paycheck Protection Program, leveraging $1.5 million in forgivable loans and retaining over 120 employees.The majority of businesses assisted were minority or woman-led.

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