Equity and Inclusion in Action

2022 Impact Report

advancing equity

Centering our work and investments to foster a more just, fair, and inclusive society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.

Equity and Inclusion in Action

2022 Impact Report

advancing equity

Centering our work and investments to foster a more just, fair, and inclusive society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.

Invested into RISE HIGH Grantee-Partners

RISE HIGH Grant Partnerships Formed

Invested in Equitable Development Activities

Contracts to Minority Businesses

Invested in Digital Equity Activities

Digital Equity, Design Equity, Development Equity.

Digital Equity

In the City of Pittsburgh, 10% of households do not have computers, and over 1 in 5 households in Allegheny County lack high speed internet access at home. These same data points are compounded in neighborhoods that are already impacted by poverty, where residents often do not have the resources to access high quality digital skills to improve their lives for themselves and their families. Our Digital Equity and Inclusion programming has produced a network of trusted organizations and individuals who are trained to help people access the internet, use devices, and acquire digital skills. In 2022, with support from Verizon, we connected over 6,400 residents with digital tools including free laptops, digital literacy and IT career skills, and internet access through our Level Up 412 Program.

An image of two young Black girls holding certificates for completing STEM Saturdays programming. They smile at the camera. Behind them, you can see a gold glittery background.

Design Equity

Our Social Impact Design Program provides low or no-cost resources for underserved communities, creating community-driven design that empowers residents. The program offers paid opportunities for emerging Black and Brown design professionals through our Equity-Centered Designer Network. In 2022, our team provided more than 400 hours of consultation and support to 5 community-serving design and development projects.

An image of Tamara, our Senior Program Manager for Social Impact Design, sitting at a table with a man and an older woman. On the table are maps of Wilkinsburg and they discuss the location of a food pantry.

Development Equity

The Centralized Real Estate Accelerator continues to provide valuable support to early stage community development projects. In 2022, we provided more than 1,700 hours of technical assistance to 39 projects–90% of which are sponsored by nonprofits that are Black-led or for-profit entities that are Black-owned. In addition, we developed and deployed several related and complimentary products including the Equitable Growth Guarantee Fund, the Neighborhood Capital Fund, and the Emerging Developers Program. All will support our work and provide pre-development capital, technical assistance, equity and other credit enhancements.

An image of Glenn and Shad, two of our staff members, along with a few other people, standing in the entrance of an under-construction building. They look around and discuss a real estate project.

Neighborhood Allies’ Path to Equity

At Neighborhood Allies, equity and inclusion are intentionally and thoughtfully woven throughout every aspect of our work. JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) is infused in every aspect of operations and resource delivery— from core values, human resource policies, and procurement processes, to program creation and deployment, investments, equity frameworks, and partnerships.

Our results don’t lie. They reveal actual intentions.

  • More than half of our executive team, senior leadership, and board of directors are people of color. 70% of our staff identify as women.
  • In 2022, we invested over half a million dollars into 74 different MWBE vendors, organizations, and individuals.
  • Our Economic Opportunity Team has spent 2022 developing programming and searching for resources to support Black women and their wealth; but, in addition to that direct programming, all programming is looking at equitable wealth opportunities.
  • Over 90% of our Centralized Real Estate Accelerator projects provided resources dedicated to Black or minority developers.
  • Our Digital Inclusion team joined the City of Pittsburgh’s Pittsburgh Digital Equity Coalition (PDEC) to collaborate on drafting the region’s five-year digital equity plan to bridge the digital divide for those who need it the most, many who are Black and Brown residents. All of their work is built upon the three pillars of digital equity: Access to affordable, high-speed internet; Access to hardware and technology; Access to digital skills education and empowerment.
  • Our Organization-in-Residence, Steel Smiling, is repositioning all its work to boldly state that Black Mental Health is Equity.
  • Our Social Impact Design Team is equity-centered, balancing equity on both sides of the design process by creating opportunities for more Black and brown residents to have access to design services, while also pipelining opportunities to Black and brown designers in the city.
Image of a large chunk of Neighborhood Allies staff at one of our mindfulness trainings. Several people sit on a red couch while more stand behind the couch. All pose and smile at the camera.

How We Advance Equity

While equity is the very foundation of everything we do, we work directly towards our equity goals through a variety of programs and initiatives:

RISE HIGH Grant Partnership Program

The RISE HIGH Grant Partnership Program provides an opportunity for applicants to partner with Neighborhood Allies over a set period of time to achieve meaningful and measurable equity and inclusion results in the Pittsburgh area. This program provides grantee-partners with financial resources and technical assistance to enhance their organizational capacity. Organizational capacity includes a broad range of domains such as: Leadership, Management and Operations, Community Engagement, Program and Service Delivery, and Evaluation.

Centralized Real Estate Accelerator

The goal of The Accelerator is to ensure that community developers can forge long-term outcomes designed to benefit all residents. Through this program we provide technical assistance, capacity building, and connections with experienced real-estate professionals who can assist with strategy, coordination, mentorship, and coaching. The Accelerator focuses on community-based organizations, resident developers, and small business owners, with the goal of creating more opportunities for community ownership in Black and Brown communities, as well as a pipeline of investable projects.

Level Up 412

Level Up 412 is an equitable-access initiative devoted to providing educational opportunities and coursework to those interested in careers in the tech industry. Created by Neighborhood Allies, and funded by Verizon, we work in partnership with respected regional partners committed to bridging the digital divide and providing STEM learning to all ages and populations. Through our programming, we offer the tools, resources, and encouragement for all of our scholars to pursue fulfilling career opportunities in the growing tech industry.

Beyond the Laptops

Beyond the Laptops began in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Families and workers were expected to complete school and jobs remotely. Yet tens of thousands of students in our community didn’t have access to the devices or the connectivity required to successfully participate in the education of the 21st century. Along with many partners, we responded to the crisis by supplying over one thousand devices across Pittsburgh. That was followed by the sponsorship of 1000 internet accounts through Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Economic Opportunity Initiatives

Our Economic Opportunity work addresses racial, gender, and geographic inequities in income, wealth, and opportunity. As the recognized local leader in the financial empowerment field, we develop strategic partnerships, raise resources, and create innovative and measurable solutions. While our initiatives are open to all people in Allegheny County, active outreach efforts ensure that a majority of the households we support are in under-resourced communities.


The intention of the Organization-in-Residence program is two fold–to incubate a nascent and growing, Black-led organization to eventually launch as an independent non-profit entity, and to bring a holistic, more person-centered approach to community development by aligning Steel Smiling’s Black mental health programs with Neighborhood Allies’ economic mobility and digital inclusion work.

Social Impact Design

Our Social Impact Design Program translates community visions and objectives into architectural design packages that ensure design and development projects are focused around what the community wants and needs. The Social Impact Design program advances placemaking, place-keeping, and community-driven real estate projects through an Equity-Centered Community Development lens – a process that is people centered and encourages designers to co-create with the community by empowering those who have historically been left behind.