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Case Study

SOS Pittsburgh
Emergency Social Services

Applied model from the philanthropist's overseas project to address unmet needs back at home.



A family of righteous Philanthropists in America’s heartland wanted to develop a fund to specifically provide for people in urgent, life-threatening need – medication, surgeries, home repairs. Most foundations find such “needle in a haystack” challenges to be time-consuming and ‘low-yield’, compared with the economies of scale for serving larger, aggregated categories of need.

In an enlightening reversal of Western assumptions, the Snyder family's pioneering effort to meet emergency needs in the former Soviet Union – partnering with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh – inspired the family's sibling program with the Pittsburgh Federation, in collaboration with new motivated and experienced community partners in the Pittsburgh area.


A unique fund, with a systematic process developed to implement this vision, operates today in several countries, with funding and engagement by Snyder family members.


Since 2005, for hundreds of Pittsburgh families, the SOS program of Jewish Family & Children Services (JF&CS) – administered by the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry (SHCFP) – has been the difference between a lifetime of hardship or a chance to live life with dignity. SOS Pittsburgh serves as a safety net of last resort for individuals and families who otherwise would fall through the cracks of the social service system and helps those who have exhausted all other options to get back on their feet with one-time financial assistance.


With limited, one-time financial assistance sent directly to the appropriate billing agency or vendor to help clients pay for various emergencies, SOS Pittsburgh is literally the last resort when no other resources or options exist. With support from SOS Pittsburgh’s social worker, SOS recipients are able to manage their immediate crisis and create a plan of action that ensures long-term wellbeing and self-sufficiency.


For more information on this and other projects, 

please contact YGS Co-Founder Michael Steiner.

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