About The Hear Foundation
The Hear Foundation is the first and only nonprofit in Pittsburgh dedicated exclusively to collaborating with community leaders, Pittsburgh Police, residents and the City to create a safe, thriving community for all.
A safe and thriving Pittsburgh where residents and police collaborate from a foundation of trusted relationships and authentic engagement.
To convene, fund, and implement initiatives that build police and resident relationships and strengthen Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods.
In 2012 Leon Ford, a young Black man, was shot five times by a Pittsburgh police officer and paralyzed during a traffic stop that arose from a case of mistaken identity. From that life-altering experience, Leon grew into an internationally respected voice for social change, police reform, and reconciliation between police and community.
In 2020, Leon met and struck up a fast friendship with then Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert. Both native Pittsburghers, their friendship was forged around a desire for healing, mutual respect, and a shared passion for creating safe, thriving communities strengthened by authentic personal relationships between police and the public. Their conversations led them to co-found The Hear Foundation.
A diverse and dedicated group of leaders representing a cross-section of the community, including grassroots organizations, nonprofit directors, CEOs, public safety and mental health professionals, have joined together to support Leon and Chief Schubert’s vision. Leaning on their guidance and learning from their varied voices and perspectives, The Hear Foundation convenes programs that foster healing and break down barriers in the Pittsburgh community. We bring together residents, police, community groups, and national experts to actively listen to and learn from one another, and to collaborate on strategies to save lives and make our communities safer. Programs funded by The Hear Foundation focus on the key issues of gun violence reduction, trauma, and workforce development.
“I know from experience that you can make your pain purposeful. You lead with love and start compassionate conversations even with individuals and systems that have caused you pain.”
Leon Ford, Co-founder, The Hear Foundation
A Path to Healing: Building Police‑Community Relations
A history of systemic racism, together with tragic and polarizing events such as the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, have eroded public trust in the police and in the systems charged with ensuring public safety.
At the same time, incidents of gun violence are on the rise nationally and in Pittsburgh, and communities are reeling from the trauma of lives lost.
Within Pittsburgh’s city neighborhoods there is a groundswell movement among residents, activists, and grassroots leaders looking for solutions to the cycle of violence. They recognize that their communities are strained by challenges and trauma brought on by racism, intergenerational poverty, lack of employment, and the lingering impacts of gun violence. Many communities, however, lack the resources to change the situation. At the same time, Pittsburgh public safety officials want to repair broken relationships between police and the communities in which they live and are called to serve. They want to play a dedicated role in finding solutions to ensuring safety in City of Pittsburgh communities.
Backed by a committed board of directors representing a diverse cross section of government, public and private organizations, law enforcement, community leaders, and activists, The Hear Foundation seeks to fill these gaps, with the goal of creating a safe and thriving Pittsburgh for all.
Leading always with its core value of listening and learning from one another, The Hear Foundation convenes events and implements initiatives that facilitate police-community collaboration around three pillar areas: gun violence reduction, trauma, and workforce development.
Events draw on local practitioners, police, community leaders, policymakers, and national experts to discuss constructive, actionable solutions; explore best practices; and enable the process of building trust and connection. Once consensus is reached around strategies that are the most urgent and appropriate for Pittsburgh, The Hear Foundation pursues grantmaking to support local projects that address one or more of these pillar areas.
The Hear Foundation is supported by the Allegheny Foundation, the Buhl Foundation, the Elsie H. Hillman Foundation, The Forbes Funds, Heal America, Jones Day, the Jones Day Foundation, and the Richard King Mellon Foundation, with fiscal sponsorship provided by the POISE Foundation.