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POISE was founded with $164,000 by the late Bernard Jones in 1980 as an outgrowth of his previous work with Urban Youth Action and was designed to develop and enhance the participation of African-American philanthropists in the economic and social development of the Black community of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.

On Dec. 9, donors, past scholarship recipients, and partner agencies celebrated Poise’s 30 years of fostering achievement at an anniversary gala at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.

HELPING HANDS—Event chairs for the POISE 30th Anniversary Gala Sean and Greer Reed Jones accept a painting from President and CEO Mark Lewis for their work and ongoing support of the foundation. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

The evening included an awards ceremony, an anniversary salute and film presentation, cocktails and an hors d’oeuvres reception with music provided by Roger Humphries’ RH Factor.

“We had about 200 people attend, so given the weather it was great,” said POISE President and CEO Mark Lewis. “Not only was it a celebration of our 30 years, but we also recognized some of our donors and community partners.”

Over the years, POISE has provided grants working primarily to improve conditions in aging, arts and culture, children and Youth, education, health and human services, and urban affairs/economic development. From its relatively modest start, POISE has since returned more than $3.5 million in grants and scholarships to the community.

Grant beneficiaries range from the neonatal care unit at Allegheny General Hospital to Camp Achievement, which offers underprivileged urban youths a rural camping experience.

POISE also provides scholarship funding at every level of education, primarily focuses on assistance for families with children attending private K-12 schools within Allegheny County.

Poise also provides college scholarship funds for African-Americans; awarding support for two-year and four-year universities, post secondary technical and trade schools, and also limited funding for graduate studies.

“We just approved our Fall recipients which included five community organizations and 10 post-secondary scholarships,” said Lewis. “Combined with our K-12 scholarships we awarded in August, we’ve awarded about $625,000 this year. So things are going well, but we always hope to do more.”

POISE administers a number of endowments, many established by families to serve a specific need or support a particular institution, such as the Betty and James Robinson Fund to provide scholarship support to students who participated Manchester Youth Development Corp.

Others, like the City of Pittsburgh Economic Development Fund are designed to assist with development projects within the city. Several endowments have been set up to support particular Churches and ministries.

The bulk, however, were established for educational purposes and are either general, like the Euzelle “Bubby” Hairston Fund, or specific, like the Evelyn Page Parker Pittsburgh Black Nurses in Action Fund, which provides nursing scholarships.

POISE also serves as the fiduciary agent for a variety of projects, including the Daniel B Matthews Historical Society, the Hill District Golf Classic and the African American Leadership Summit.

The organization continues to follow the lead of its late founder who often said, “We must build our institutions for our children’s children.”

For information on scholarships or creating an endowment, contact POISE at 412-281-4967, or visit http://www.poisefoundation.org.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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