SteelTree

A "giving circle" helping Pittsburghers ages 22-45, kids and teens to participate and find meaning in Jewish life.

What Is SteelTree?

SteelTree gathers young philanthropists with an interest in learning more about how to strengthen Jewish life, support those in need and build a safer, more inclusive world. SteelTree members give entrepreneurial grants of $5,000 to $10,000 for projects that help people ages 22-45, kids and teens in Pittsburgh participate and find meaning in Jewish life.

 

SteelTree’s Vision Statement

A world where Jewish communities transition seamlessly from one generation to the next, ensuring the continuity of our people.

SteelTree’s Mission Statement

Funding innovative social entrepreneurship projects that engage and benefit next-generation donors to strengthen the continuity of the Pittsburgh Jewish community.

Request for Proposals

The SteelTree Fund is seeking applications for innovative ideas that help young adults ages 22-45, kids, and teens find meaning and participation in Jewish life. The SteelTree Board is composed of young adult leaders in the Pittsburgh Jewish community who are passionate about Jewish continuity. Our SteelTree Board members are interested in funding projects and programs that have impact on the engagement of this young population in the Pittsburgh Jewish community.

As SteelTree embarks on its tenth year of grantmaking, the SteelTree Board moved to implement some changes to the way SteelTree operates with the goal of increasing the impact of SteelTree’s giving on the community.

Now, SteelTree offers grants of up to $10,000 in two grant cycles per year. SteelTree will entertain requests for renewal funding but not within the same fiscal year (July 1-June 30). NEW for the current cycle: we especially encourage applications for projects that are in response to the war, including projects that educate about Israel, combat antisemitism, and create opportunities for Jewish Pittsburghers and allies to come together at this difficult time. As always, an organization or individual can apply for more than one project within a calendar year.

If you are interested in being considered for a grant, please request a pre-review (see “How to Apply”) and, after consulting with a member of the SteelTree Board, submit a full application by the stated deadline. Grantees will be asked to provide name recognition of the SteelTree Fund on all marketing materials. Applications should be completed on our grant portal at grantmakingportal.smapply.io.

SteelTree Proposal Deadlines

Cycle 1: Full application due October 25, 2023. Request Pre-Review by October 10, 2023.* Decisions made on November 29th, 2023.

Cycle 2: Full application due February 1, 2024. Request Pre-Review by January 15, 2024.* Decisions made on March 6th, 2024.

*Pre-Review request: Send a short description of your project to steeltreefund@jfedpgh.org. You will be paired with a member of the SteelTree Board, who will give you feedback on your project idea before you submit your application.

How to Apply

We encourage anyone who has an idea to apply, whether you come from a large organization, small organization, or no organization at all (you don’t have to be a 501c3!*).

Step 1: Application Pre-Review

All applicants are required to complete a Pre-Review of their application with a member of the SteelTree Board as part of the application process.

SteelTree is committed to helping current or potential applicants fine-tune their application. The SteelTree Board is available to help answer questions related to the application process and/or specifics around the SteelTree Board's criteria.

To request a Pre-Review, send an email to steeltreefund@jfedpgh.org by:

  • Cycle 1: October 10, 2023
  • Cycle 2: January 15, 2024

In the email please include: the name of your project, a brief description, and amount requested ($5,000 - $10,000). Within a few days of the Pre-Review deadline, you will receive a response connecting you with a member of the SteelTree Board as well as the access code to begin your application.

Step 2: Start Your Application on Our Portal

  1. Create an applicant profile and invite collaborators to do the same.
  2. Take the eligibility quiz and select the SteelTree funding opportunity. Please follow these steps to access the eligibility quiz:
    1. Click on the triangle next to your name in the top right corner and select "My Account." On the left side under Account Settings select "Eligibility." Then click the green box that says Update your eligibility profile.
    2. Select "SteelTree Fund" and enter the access code you received via email. Then click "Next" followed by "Save my profile."
    3. In the box that says SteelTree, click the green box that says "More," followed by "Apply."

Step 3: Complete Application

A full application for a SteelTree grant includes:

  1. Applicant and Project Overview
  2. Narrative
  3. Supporting Materials (optional)

Explanations of each can be found in the section below.

Pro Tip: Be sure to submit your proposal well in advance of your project start date. For instance, if you are planning an event centered around Passover, you should submit the full application in time to be reviewed at the December SteelTree Board meeting.

If your project doesn’t have backing from a tax-exempt organization (i.e. 501c3), contact Shelly Parver, Associate Director, Planning and Impact, at steeltreefund@jfedpgh.org to brainstorm about potential fiscal sponsors in the community. Please note that the SteelTree Fund does not fund political campaigns, capital campaigns, or endowments. 

Grant Application Instructions

Narrative

Please answer the following questions about your project as succinctly as possible:

  1. Project Summary: Tell us about your project idea. Provide a short statement that summarizes the project for which you are requesting support and what it will achieve. (word limit 150)
  2. What are the needs?: What challenges, issues, or needs facing the Jewish people are you planning to address with this project? (word limit 250)
  3. Who is your target demographic?: Who will benefit from your project? How will they participate? How many people will this project reach? (word limit 350)
  4. What’s the plan?: Describe how you propose to implement your project, specifying all relevant activities and events. Do you anticipate facing any challenges or barriers to implementation? If so, how do you plan to address them? (word limit 350)
  5. How will you measure success?: Describe how you plan to measure the impact of your project. If your goal is to drive engagement, are you tracking attendance? Do you ask participants to fill out surveys before and after to gauge how their knowledge or attitudes have changed? (word limit 350)
  6. Leadership Team: Tell us about the people and/or organizations making your project happen. Who will work on this project and what will they do? What skills and experience do they have that demonstrate that they have the capacity to do this work? (word limit 350)
  7. How will the project be promoted?: How will you build awareness of your project? Do you have plans for promoting, marketing, or advertising? (word limit 350)
  8. Timeline: When will your project activities occur? Provide start and end dates, and add any key dates or milestones for the implementation of your project.
Budget
  1. What other organizations or corporations have committed funding for this project? (word limit 150)
  2. Budget line items (proposed use of SteelTree funding) - must use SteelTree's budget template.
  3. How will the project be sustained after this year? (word limit 150)
  4. If your project does not receive the full SteelTree funding requested will you be able to conduct your program?
Supporting Materials (Optional)

Along with responses to the questions above, feel free to also include any of the following (or other) documents applicable to the organization and/or project. Please limit these extra materials to no more than 5 pages.

  1. Detailed budget, with expenses and major sources of funding – feel free to upload a detailed budget, in addition to the one created using our form in the application
  2. Vision and Mission Statements
  3. Supplemental docs (i.e. Verification of 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status/copy of IRS determination letter; resume or bio of key staff involved in project; letter(s) of support from collaborating organizations)
Presentation

While not a requirement, grant applicants are strongly encouraged, if invited, to give a brief presentation and answer questions from SteelTree Board members during a SteelTree Fund board meeting.

Evaluation Criteria

The SteelTree Board evaluates submissions according to the following criteria:

Fit 
  • Do you believe the project supports the mission and vision of SteelTree? 
  • Do you feel that SteelTree's funding would have a significant impact on the success of the project? 
Innovation 
  • Does the project propose an innovative solution and an imaginative approach to achieving its goal(s)? 
Community 
  • Does the project fulfill a need of the Greater Pittsburgh Jewish community? 
  • Do you feel the project impacts the next generation of Jewish Pittsburghers? 
  • Does the project connect the personal and shared interests of the next generation of Jewish Pittsburghers? 
Leadership 
  • Are you confident in the project leadership's ability to achieve success? 
  • Does the project team possess the necessary experience to work with the target audience? 
Potential for Success: 
  • Do you think this project is implementable as presented? In other words, does its definition of success seem realistic? 
  • Does the proposal describe the appropriate level of marketing/promotion based on the defined measure of "success?" 
  • Is the project timeline fully documented, from planning to follow up? 
Sustainability
  • Has the proposal demonstrated a detailed enough plan for the project to self-sustain within the next few years, should leadership decide to continue the project in future years? 
Budget 
  • Does the budget accurately reflect all substantial costs and revenue streams of the project? 
  • Has the proposal documented the exact use of SteelTree's funding? 

Overall Question: Should this proposal move forward to the presentation stage? 

2022-23 SteelTree Funded Projects

Jewish Life and Learning
  • Community Day School's "Speak Up, Speak Out" Program ($5,000): In collaboration with PJ Library/PJ Our Way, this program provides socio/emotional skills and life lessons for tweens in the community, inspired by Jewish values.
  • Friendship Circle's Teen Shabbaton ($5,000): Brings together Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh teens for social, learning, and service activities, which build connection, leadership skills and community.
  • BBYO's Jewish Mentor Program ($5,000): Learning series training young adults who work with teens in the Jewish community (e.g. BBYO advisors, basketball coaches, etc.) to field teen issues, especially regarding emotional wellness.
  • JCC's Emma Kaufmann Camp Song Leading ($5,000): Investing in a great song leader and music resources (instruments, music, etc.) to boost the quality of the song leading program, with the goal of inculcating a strong connection to Jewish life in EKC campers.
Community Engagement
  • Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle's "Big Nosh" ($10,000): Supports pilot Jewish food festival in 2024.
  • Repair the World's Sheridan Ave. Orchard and Garden Program ($5,000): Helped re-start Repair the World’s successful service-learning program centered on their community garden after the shmita year of rest.
Human Services
  • UPMC Children's Hospital's Chesed Program ($5,000): In partnership with the local Bikkur Cholim, this project seeks to create a refillable/sustainable Shabbat cabinet with kosher and ritual items available to families at Children’s Hospital. Additionally, the project provides trainings to hospital staff on Jewish cultural practices as related to healthcare.

Events of Interest

SteelTree Meeting

Wednesday, March 6 @ 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM EST
More details coming soon.

SteelTree Meeting

Wednesday, May 15 @ 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM EDT
More details coming soon.

Questions:

Shelley Parver
Shelly Parver
Associate Director, Planning & Impact
412-992-5207