PRESS RELEASE: MicroSociety Receives Second $250,000 Grant from RK Mellon Foundation for Expansion Project in Pittsburgh

MicroSociety Wins $250,000 Grant for Project at Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship

Media Contact: Riva Richmond,

PHCSE Media Contact: Kenneth A. Kilpatrick,


An Innovative Educational Program to Expand in Pittsburgh To Boost Career Readiness Among Youth

A Pittsburgh-based entrepreneurship school and a national education nonprofit are teaming up to take their innovative career readiness program to schools in the region serving low-income students, thanks to a generous $250,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

Since 2011, Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship (PHCSE) and Philadelphia-based MicroSociety Inc. (MSI) have partnered to teach students entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership through participation in the hands-on MicroSociety educational model. MicroSociety offers dynamic, highly engaging real-life learning opportunities through the creation and operation of a student-run society. Every day, more than 350 students at PHCSE run businesses like “Jayce’s Customized Cases” and “Eaglets Podcast,” write and enforce their own laws, operate their own government, choose jobs, earn and invest school currency, settle disputes in court, and innovate solutions to the authentic challenges they face.

This is the second grant the Richard King Mellon Foundation has awarded to MSI for a project with PHCSE. The first, also for $250,000, was awarded in June 2021 for an 18-month pilot project to take PHCSE’s award-winning MicroSociety program virtual. “MicroSociety 2.0” enabled online banking and e-commerce, and PHCSE grew a community partner program in which regional and national industry professionals mentored students in their ventures, agencies and nonprofits primarily online.

This second grant, awarded in December 2022, supports an 18-month regional expansion effort to bring MicroSociety 2.0 to more schools in Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties that serve low-income communities and to further develop the MicroSociety 2.0 platform. This project will lay the groundwork for and begin building a network of MicroSociety schools in the Greater Pittsburgh region with a unified mission to prepare students for the modern workplace.

“Our expansion will give many more students in Pittsburgh exciting opportunities to improve the technology, academic, social, emotional, and career-readiness skills they need to succeed in the high-tech, high-skill, high-wage workplace of the future,” said Carolynn King Richmond, president and CEO of MSI. “This initiative will transform hundreds of lives and have profound ripple effects across Greater Pittsburgh.”

To create a sustainable, successful expansion model for the region, MSI will train PHCSE’s faculty to co-deliver professional services alongside MSI certified training consultants, turning PHCSE into a demonstration and training center that can provide ongoing, accessible and affordable training and support to new MicroSociety schools.

“We are thrilled to share our entrepreneurial education knowledge with more schools and students throughout the region. This is a great opportunity for us to collaborate with thought-leaders to help reshape the educational and economic landscape here in Western Pennsylvania.” said Dr. Wayne Jones, CEO of PHCSE.

MSI and PHCSE also aim to build a powerful set of local higher-education partnerships that can support network schools with exciting new teaching and learning opportunities aligned with promising career pathways. PHCSE will work to deepen its existing relationships with institutions including Duquesne University, University of Pittsburgh, and Forbes Road Career & Technology Center and bring them to our future network.

PHCSE plans to expand the Duquesne University student fellows program it began during the 2021-2022 school year to between four and six fellows during the 2023-2024 school year. This school year, PHCSE students visited Forbes Road Career and Technical Center to learn about trades that coincide with their student-run business ventures. And PHCSE has partnered with the University of Pittsburgh to create a K-8 version of the university’s Big Idea Center, an on-campus hub for student innovation and entrepreneurship.

“It’s been a joy working with the PHCSE students. During their field trip to our office, it became clear how invested they are in shaping their entrepreneurial and innovative skill sets and learning about cutting-edge topics, such as 3D printing,” said Tiffany Bicek, the Big Idea Center’s outreach and engagement coordinator. “Seeing these students’ motivation and inquisitive nature in action is deeply inspiring. PHCSE is making great strides in developing the next generation of changemakers, and we at the University of Pittsburgh’s Big Idea Center are excited to team up with the school to provide experiential learning opportunities for these young innovators.”

Over the next 18 months, PHCSE will hold onsite visits and virtual events for schools that may be interested in MicroSociety. The events will offer MicroSociety 2.0 experiences to students and enable faculties and school and district leaders to get to know the MicroSociety model and its powerful educational impact. By the end of the project, MSI and PHCSE aim to have recruited up to three new MicroSociety schools and launched their local network. Interested schools, educators and parents can learn more by contacting

With MicroSociety 2.0, students develop their own online business ventures and operate an online bank. They receive paychecks by direct deposit and shop online. Candidates running for office campaign using the online platform, and citizens can contact their government digitally. In the process, students gain technology skills and experience a broad range of careers while gaining job skills they will need to achieve economic mobility in the 21st Century.

Community leaders and entrepreneurs work with the school throughout the year to teach professional skills to students, answer questions, and advise them on their ventures, agencies and nonprofits. With the arrival of MicroSociety 2.0, PHCSE expects to partner with many more business leaders—local, national, and even global. Companies and government bodies interested in volunteering to mentor students in their ventures and agencies are encouraged to contact

About MicroSociety

MicroSociety Inc. (MSI) inspires and empowers K-8 students by providing compelling real-life learning opportunities through the creation and operation of miniature societies. A nonprofit consulting organization founded in Philadelphia in 1991, MSI supports schools and out-of-school time programs in the launch and effective implementation of the MicroSociety educational model by providing professional development, curriculum, and other services. Our kid-sized societies, held during part of the school day, enhance academic lessons and provide platforms for young people to develop into leaders, entrepreneurs, creative forces and confident citizens. They also generate intrinsic motivation to do well academically because students understand school is key to their success. Visit: Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

About Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship

The Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship (PHCSE) is the only K-8 public school in Pennsylvania with a core focus in entrepreneurship education. PHCSE provides a hands-on, engaging program designed to bring entrepreneurial and economic concepts alive for students. Entrepreneurship concepts are integrated in core lessons related to English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. Visit:

About Richard King Mellon Foundation

About the Richard King Mellon Foundation: Founded in 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation is the largest foundation in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and one of the 50 largest in the world. The Foundation’s 2021 year-end net assets were $3.4 billion, and its Trustees in 2022 disbursed more than $152 million in grants and program-related investments. The Foundation focuses its funding on six primary program areas, delineated in its 2021-2030 Strategic Plan.

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