Pittsburgh Philanthropy Project

Stories of Giving and Those Who Give



The work of philanthropy in the Pittsburgh region has been an important but understudied topic. The Pittsburgh Philanthropy Project, an initiative of the Philanthropy Forum™ at GSPIA operates with the mission to open the aperture on philanthropy to expose its multi-faceted activities – the daily acts, large and small, of generosity for and by people in Pittsburgh. We believe that these stories of philanthropy merit the attention of students, academics, practitioners, and those who voluntarily donate a range of their own resources for the common good. The 45 oral histories recorded by the Pittsburgh Philanthropy Project provide a unique first person account of varied and rich stories about the work and characteristics of philanthropy in the region. Many are highly personal accounts of a first experience in philanthropy. Others tell the tale of larger scale, region -shaping events. Still others reflect on what it means to be generous, and the best ways to make a difference, regardless of how much is given. Taken together, these stories provide a valuable window on what philanthropy is, who practices it, where it soars and falls short, and how it continues to shape Pittsburgh and beyond.


Through the creation of this website, the Pittsburgh Philanthropy Project seeks to reveal this work , by offering you the ability to "tour" or experience these curated stories at your own pace and chosen depth of exploration. The Pittsburgh Philanthropy Project considers this the first chapter, with more content created by visitors and volunteers in the future. Please help us improve this site by sharing your reactions and perceptions with us. We hope that each time you visit, you will recognize something new, see a part of yourself in the unfolding story of generosity and philanthropy in Pittsburgh. 


  • Kathleen W. Buechel, Project Director. buechel@pitt.edu

Kathy Headshot

  • Anne Marie Toccket, Project Coordinator. ant53@pitt.edu

Anne Marie Headshot


The Pittsburgh Philanthropy Project, housed at GSPIA at the University of Pittsburgh, presents this timeline of major milestones in the history of philanthropy in the greater Pittsburgh region. This timeline is intended to illustrate categories of individual, familial or collective acts of donating private resources for the public good, its core definition of philanthropy. As new candidate events or catalytic acts of generosity arise, they will be added. Because countless institutions and charitable acts could be chronicled in this timeline, dates or events included below represent one of the following conditions:

  1. Establishment of a nonprofit charitable organization to serve immediate need that represents the first, or provides a noteworthy model of either the individual’s generosity or the category of activity provided.
  2. The institution, amenity or gift is still evident in the region today, either directly or through antecedent institutional mergers or services provided.
  3. Presents a transformational gift that created value well beyond its original size (leverage) or represents a notable philanthropic practice evident in Pittsburgh.
  4. Illustrates establishment of a time specific, multi-year or permanent endowment administered for the public good that institutionalizes personal, familial, or community philanthropy.
  5. Present a convergence of philanthropic activity benefiting the community’s economic, medical or other conditions beyond immediate population served. (For example, creation of the Pittsburgh Cultural District or university-based technology initiatives that spun off companies and employment opportunities beyond campus).
  6. Expands the definition of philanthropic or philanthropic acts beyond traditional views or actors.


  1. The individual participated in the oral history project recorded by the Pittsburgh Philanthropy Project during 2010-2012
  2. The individual was active in philanthropy (as a donor,  practitioner, trustee, or volunteer) during their lifetime that left a lasting and significant mark on the city, the region, or a community through their contributions
  3. The individual is currently active in philanthropy (as a donor,  practitioner, trustee, or volunteer) and has already made a lasting and significant mark on the city , the region, or a community through their contributions


Many people and different stories weave the themes and threads that mark philanthropy in Pittsburgh. Some are well known or evident in the places we visit and qualities we cherish in the region. But many facets of philanthropy and the faces of generosity remain hidden from view. They spring from an enduring tradition of generosity that each of us continues when we donate our time or personal resources to make the community better. We invite you to explore some of these unique stories in the self-guided tours you’ll find and create on this website. Departing from a traditional timeline, we call these thematic or topical tours “storylines”.

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Pittsburgh Philanthropy Project

Stories of Giving and Those Who Give


associated with the University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh