Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess wants to create a new method for using city tax dollars to fund community groups and projects in his district. The Reverend Burgess is partnering with the Poise Foundation, the only African-American Foundation in Pittsburgh, to create the Hope Fund which will provide grants to community groups based on a transparent and competitive applications process. Councilman Burgess told DUQ News that he's establishing the Hope Fund to take the politics, whether real or perceived, out of the process of awarding Council District's 9 discretionary funds. Burgess' predecessor, former Councilwoman Twanda Carlisle is serving a 1 to 2 year prison term for taking $43,000 in kickbacks from friends who received city funds for seemingly meaningless studies.
Burgess says he will introduced legislation in Council to establish the Hope Fund and seed it with $146,000 that's remaining in Council District 9's Neighborhood Needs Account. In addition, the fund would also receive District 9's Community Development Block Development Grants each year.
Burgess says neither he nor his staff will have any say in the awarding of the grants. He says the awards should not be political favors but rather based on the quality of the programs and the strength of the application. Burgess added that key issues for him within his district are crime prevention, economic development and education.