Nature, Community, Sustainability: How Colcom Foundation Is Fulfilling Cordelia Scaife May’s Multifaceted Mission

Cordelia Scaife May, the resolutely private heiress of an $800 million fortune, passed away at the age of 76 in 2005, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of Pittsburgh and beyond. Known for her deep dedication to environmental conservation, and education, May’s legacy lives on through Colcom Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based charitable organization she established.

The Cordelia Scaife May Family Trust, funded with inheritance from her mother, seamlessly integrated into Colcom Foundation’s mission, reinforcing May’s enduring commitment to conservation.

Colcom Foundation actively supports organizations committed to land conservation and preservation, recognizing the intrinsic value of greenspaces and their impact on community well-being.

Partnerships with entities such as the Hollow Oak Land Trust, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, WeConservePA, Westmoreland Land Trust, and The Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds exemplify the Foundation’s commitment to protecting natural habitats, fostering biodiversity, and ensuring the sustainability of vital ecosystems.

Education and Advocacy

Colcom Foundation recognizes the importance of education in promoting environmental awareness and fostering a sense of responsibility towards nature.

The National Aviary, home to over 500 birds from around the world, highlights the critical role of Colcom Foundation’s financial support in achieving conservation milestones, funding veterinary programs, and contributing to habitat upgrades. The Foundation’s support has facilitated important conservation and field research, making tangible contributions to avian welfare and biodiversity.

Urban Forestry and Greenspace Enhancement

Colcom Foundation recognizes the transformative power of greenspaces in urban environments. Collaborating with Tree Pittsburgh, the Foundation supports initiatives that restore and protect the urban forest through tree planting, care, education, advocacy, and land conservation.

Grants from Colcom Foundation have allowed the organization to distribute thousands of trees, conserve riverfront land, and fund capital improvements, contributing significantly to a more sustainable and vibrant urban landscape.

Waste Diversion and Sustainability

In the area of waste diversion and sustainability, Colcom Foundation has played a pivotal role in supporting organizations like the Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC). Through funding, PRC has been able to actively empower residents of southwestern PA to minimize their environmental footprint, reduce waste generation, and divert millions of pounds of materials from local landfills. The Foundation’s steadfast support has propelled initiatives that significantly contribute to a more sustainable future for the region.

Community and Economic Development:

Colcom Foundation’s impact extends beyond environmental initiatives to community and economic development. Partnering with organizations such as Scenic Pittsburgh, the Foundation actively contributes to projects that enhance the scenic beauty of the region, support downtown revitalization efforts, and reclaim vacant or underutilized land for community benefit.

Trails and Connectivity

Recognizing the importance of trails and connectivity in fostering community engagement and recreation, Colcom Foundation supports projects like Armstrong Trails, which spans 52.5 miles across three counties.

The Foundation’s funding, including support for the rehabilitation of the Kiski Bridge, has played a crucial role in advancing trail development, activating multi-day trips, and creating economic impacts through lodging, food, transportation, and retail sales.

Philanthropic Vision

True to its founder’s ideals, Colcom Foundation has emerged as a steadfast champion of environmental sustainability and stewardship. Through strategic initiatives aligned with Cordelia Scaife May’s passion for conservation, the Foundation upholds her legacy as a driving force for positive change.

Colcom Foundation’s multifaceted approach, spanning conservation, education, community development, and research, reflects May’s holistic vision for fostering harmonious communities and natural environments. The Foundation’s major investments in land preservation, reforestation and beautification efforts like the Pittsburgh Redbud Project, and partnerships with local environmental groups exemplify its commitment to sustainability.

Thanks to the generosity of Cordelia Scaife May, Colcom Foundation has emerged as a powerful force for environmental stewardship, shaping a greener and more sustainable future for southwestern Pennsylvania. Through strategic partnerships, targeted investments, and a steadfast commitment to its philanthropic mission, the Foundation continues to sow the seeds of change, nurturing a seamless relationship between communities and the natural world.

Guided by May’s prescient philanthropic vision, Colcom Foundation continues to make significant investments and spur grassroots action, playing a pivotal role in shaping a greener future for Pennsylvania communities and conservation lands across America.

Through major investments in land conservation, support for grassroots greening projects, and partnerships with local organizations, the Foundation gives life to Cordelia Scaife May’s ideals and desire to drive positive environmental change.

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