The Pittsburgh Foundation

Jim Bowen / Flickr

As state lawmakers struggle to agree on a budget, a coalition of 32 community organizations has banded together to push for changes in the budget-making process for future years. 

Max King, president of The Pittsburgh Foundation, said he wants there to be a hard deadline in which no state employees gets paid until a budget is in place. The state is supposed to have a new budget by July 1 each year.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

If you want an update on air quality, look no further than your smartphone.

CREATE Lab, a program of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, and Airviz, a CMU lab spinoff, have developed a smartphone app called SpeckSensor that gives users real-time access to Air Quality Index (AQI) numbers based on their location.

The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County tapped a Chicago native with an education background to be its next executive director. Philip Koch takes over the post on Monday.

“One of the things that was most interesting to me was the potential that exists in Westmoreland County to make an impact,” Koch said, referring to both the possibility of creating new philanthropists and “the possible impact that the dollars could make in revitalizing those communities.”

Created in 1995, the foundation merged with the Pittsburgh Foundation in 2010 but retained its own board.

DrivingtheNortheast / Flickr

The holiday season is always a busy time for food banks and food pantries as they try to provide the basics-and a few extras-for those in need.

With the recent reduction in the allocation of federal food stamps, many low-income people have fewer resources to put food on the table this holiday season.

As a consequence, there has been a surge in demand at local food banks and food pantries.

Blame it on the weather, the government or the economy, but demand for food assistance programs is increasing fast, according to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

The local charity, which serves more than 110,000 people a year, saw a 40 percent increase in food demand compared to last November, and the Westmoreland County Food Bank saw a 13 percent increase.

That’s despite Pittsburgh’s unemployment rate falling from 7.3 percent to 6.7 percent over the last 12 months.

The Pittsburgh Foundation was taking donations for local nonprofit organizations Thursday down to the last second — literally.

More than $5.8 million was donated to about 700 nonprofits as part of the Day of Giving, down roughly 18 percent from last year.

The annual event, now in its fifth year, tries to highlight the region’s charitable initiatives.