Richard King Mellon Foundation named 2022 Foundation Partner of the Year

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has named the Richard King Mellon Foundation its 2022 Foundation Partner of the Year. This award recognizes a foundation that has demonstrated extraordinary generosity in promotion and support of Penn State. Recipients are chosen on the basis of consistency of giving, support to areas of greatest need, and impact across the University.

“For 40 years, the Richard King Mellon Foundation has been a stalwart philanthropic partner to Penn State, giving generously to a wide range of programs across the University,” said Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi. “Philanthropic partnerships like these are built upon a shared vision of the impact our organizations want to have. Nothing reflects this more clearly than the foundation’s recent investments in Penn State New Kensington’s Digital Foundry, which is a prime example of both the University’s and the foundation’s commitment to fostering economic development in Pennsylvania. I’m deeply grateful for the foundation’s continued support, and I look forward to seeing how our partnership continues to manifest itself in better opportunities for the communities we serve.”

Financier, conservationist and philanthropist Richard King Mellon created the foundation in 1947. It is one of the 50 largest foundations in the world and the largest in southwestern Pennsylvania. The foundation invests in the competitive future and quality of life in that region and in the protection and restoration of America’s environmental heritage across the nation. Economic development has always been one of its top strategic funding priorities.

The Richard King Mellon Foundation has given consistently to Penn State since the early 1980s, enhancing programs across the University Park campus and the Commonwealth Campuses.

The foundation’s most recent giving to the University has focused on economic development initiatives at Penn State New Kensington, in particular the recently opened Digital Foundry at New Kensington. This 15,000-square-foot innovation and manufacturing lab space will provide a technological boost for manufacturing and job creation in New Kensington — a community near Pittsburgh that historically thrived as the birthplace of commercial aluminum manufacturing, but experienced effects of economic downturn similar to other industrialized Rust Belt areas. Designed to help businesses, students and workers make the transition to the digital age, the Digital Foundry is already providing training and access to modern software tools by fusing digital data and equipment into new product development, manufacturing, operations and business management. 

The Digital Foundry is a partnership between Penn State New Kensington, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland County, and the City of New Kensington. The foundation has given nearly $10 million to bring this major project to fruition.

“We cannot express our appreciation enough for the foundation’s generous support of not only the Digital Foundry at New Kensington, but also our campus and the city of New Kensington,” said Kevin Snider, chancellor of Penn State New Kensington. “They truly have been partners with us from the beginning of the Digital Foundry project. They were with us every step of the way as we were figuring out what a maker space could look like, and as we were developing the Digital Foundry’s goals to effectively meet the needs of various stakeholders and prepare this entire region for the digital age. Foundation director Sam Reiman and his team are working hard right along with us to make this project a national model for future-readiness.”

“On behalf of our board of trustees, I want to thank President Bendapudi for this meaningful recognition,” said Sam Reiman, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. “Our work with Penn State New Kensington on the Digital Foundry is all about investing in education and technology to create new and stronger pathways to prosperity for the people and communities of southwestern Pennsylvania. But our funding would not make a difference without remarkable partners such as Penn State, and dedicated leaders, such as President Bendapudi and Chancellor Snider. So while we thank Penn State for this award — it is we at the foundation who are grateful. Penn State and its leaders are making a positive difference, in New Kensington, and across the commonwealth.”

Past recipients of the Foundation Partner of the Year Award include the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and the John E. Morgan Foundation.

With the record-breaking success of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” which raised $2.2 billion from 2016 to 2022, philanthropy is helping to sustain the University’s tradition of education, research and service to communities across the commonwealth and around the globe. Scholarships enable our institution to open doors and welcome students from every background, support for transformative experiences allows our students and faculty to fulfill their vast potential for leadership, and gifts toward discovery and excellence help us to serve and impact the world we share. To learn more about the impact of giving and the continuing need for support, visit

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 2021 disbursed $152 million in grants and program-related investments. The foundation focuses its funding on six primary program areas, delineated in its 2021-30 strategic plan.