The Thomas Brown Alton Foundation Peace
Helping those in need toward improved mental health

October 2019Brashear High School


About the Foundation

Tom Alton

Thomas Brown Alton died of suicide in December of 2004 at the age of 25. We all miss Tom’s wit, warmth and energy. We wonder, as do others who have lost a loved one to suicide, how this could have happened. We believe that Tom suffered from a mental health disorder that was never diagnosed or treated.

The Thomas Brown Alton Foundation was created in his memory by members of his extended family and is operated independently under the aegis of The Birmingham Foundation. It is a private foundation whose purpose is to support activities that:

  • Address the needs of children and young adults with behavioral or mental health related disorders through research, health care, counseling, education, training or therapeutic activities;
  • Assist in suicide prevention and provide help for the survivors of suicide;
  • Contribute to improved mental or behavioral health through athletics and the arts.

Grants will focus on the South Pittsburgh area and the Birmingham Foundation will help to identify potential recipients.

If you wish to make a donation, please see the Contact section for details.


Recent Projects

Awaken Pittsburgh

Brashear High School

October 2019

A $10,000 follow-on grant was made to continue work at Brashear High School to help students develop techniques to combat depression and suicide. The grant will allow AWAKEN PITTSBURGH to train educators to teach a “Leader in Me” curriculum at Brashear. The goal is to provide training in mindfulness meditation, emotional intelligence, communication, conflict resolution, stress management, and various resourcing and resiliency-building skills.

Leader in Me will reach approximately 100 students this year, and then continue every year hereafter. The program targets at-risk youth, who have either been in the juvenile justice system or are ‘frequent flyers’ for detentions or suspensions. These students are at a higher risk for mental health disorders.

More information
Allegheny Children’s Initiative

Allegheny Children’s Initiative

October 2018

A $3,500 grant was made to the Allegheny Children’s Initiative for therapeutic games and books to help enrich mental health and behavioral health treatment provided to youth and their families. These tools can help youth engage in conversations about difficult topics such as trauma, depression, anxiety, anger and violence. The resources provided through this grant will be reused again and again, benefiting many youth and families for years to come.

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Brashear High School

Brashear High School

April 2017

A $5,000 grant was made to Brashear High School in Pittsburgh to help Brashear students explore techniques and avenues to cope with depression and suicide within their community.

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Department of Psychiatry at UPMC Mercy

April 2015

A $10,000 follow-on grant was made to the Department of Psychiatry at UPMC Mercy to provide for additional staff training and education in ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training). ASIST is designed to help caregivers recognize risk and intervene to prevent the immediate risk of suicide. Thirty-three persons were trained with the initial grant, training will continue with funds provided by the follow on grant.

This grant also supports additional Art Therapy and Cooking Therapy programs in the Behavioral Health Unit. These creative arts programs increase self esteem, creativity and competence, and provide a sense of accomplishment.

Department of Psychiatry at UPMC Mercy

Department of Psychiatry at UPMC Mercy

October 2013

A $10,000 grant from the foundation will provide for staff training and education at UPMC Mercy in ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training). ASIST is designed to help caregivers recognize risk and intervene to prevent the immediate risk of suicide. Fifteen people have been scheduled for this training between October 2013 and February 2014 with more to follow.

The grant will also support art therapy and cooking therapy programs in the Behavioral Health unit. These programs increase self-esteem, creativity and competence, and provide a sense of accomplishment.

More information

Operation Safety Net

January 2013

A donation from the Thomas Brown Alton Foundation to Operation Safety Net will assist homeless youth with transportation (bus passes/tickets), clothing for job search, and additional aid such as food vouchers once housed.

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Operation Safety Net

February 2012

Homeless youth are more likely to suffer from undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues. Financial support from the Thomas Brown Alton Foundation will help Operation Safety Net to provide food and housing for two individuals in the Pittsburgh area.

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The Compassionate Friends

Spring 2011

The Thomas Brown Alton Foundation made a contribution to the Pittsburgh chapter of The Compassionate Friends, an organization that helps support those impacted by the suicide of a loved one.

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Mercy Behavioral Health

Summer 2010

Funding provided by the Thomas Brown Alton Foundation enabled two girls to attend a therapeutic summer day camp operated by Mercy Behavioral Health.

Full story

In Memoriam

Remembering Tom Alton

Tom Alton was beloved.

He was our son, brother and uncle. Our cousin, nephew, teammate, classmate and friend.

Tom was bright, warm and witty, with an inner light that shone through his smile. He was interested in anything and everything, and pursued it all with excitement.

We hope to help preserve Tom’s memory here through the words of those who knew him. Please share.

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I just want you and your family to know that Tom was a very special person and a wonderful friend. He was loving, kind and generous to those who were blessed enough to be his friends. He had a positive impact on everyone he crossed paths with.

A friend

Tom made my college experience the best years of my life. He always made me laugh which is why it’s impossible for me to be sad when I think of him. His memory will forever put a smile on my face.

A friend

I always think of interesting conversations when I think of Tom. He always had something provocative to say, a unique way of looking at things. And he was also the most energetic guy to hang out with.

A friend

Your family raised him so well, and blessed me with the opportunity to know him.

A friend

I never really met Tom but he has inspired me to be grateful for my life. I have a picture of us when I was a baby he was holding me in his arms. You will always be in my heart uncle Tom.

Sam Alton Nephew

Tom was such an inspiration to anyone who knew him. His intelligence, wit and humor were contagious. He brought his own special perspective to the world and caused you to look at things in a different, better way. I see his humor, athleticism and determination in Sam and am glad. Each time I drive through St. Mary’s College I think of the funny boy in the sarong, with the crazy hair and it makes me smile. I’m so glad you guys created a place where he can be remembered and is able to bring help to others.

Melissa Friend

When I think of Tommy I remember going to his apartment with my brother and Grandma and watching Monsters Inc. He was such a nice person and he always looked happy. When it comes to a point when he comes up in a conversation it is still hard to face the fact he is gone, but Tommy will always be in my heart.

Katie Bell Niece

Tom allowed me to completely collapse into someone else without fear. There was no judgment and no expectation, he always accepted me as I was. Pure friendships like his are rare and I am lucky to have had it for the time I did.

Lauren Friend

I will always remember Tom’s laugh and smile. He was so charismatic and fun to be around. A deep thinker and kind person. … I still am learning from him and will remember his good nature and amazing energy forever.

Lucy Alton Cousin

For 13 years of my life Tom was a wonderful friend to me. Most of my memories at SJS or Leonardtown include Tom. He always knew how to make us laugh. He was great for one liners! I miss him. I miss his spirit. I miss the kindness in his eyes. He was a deep and thoughtful person and I feel my life is better because he was a part of it.

Jennifer Friend


Help Support the Foundation

To make a donation

We hope you’ll help support the ongoing work of the foundation. Donations should be sent to the address below with checks made payable to The Birmingham Foundation. Please include “The Thomas Brown Alton Foundation” on the memo line.

The Thomas Brown Alton Foundation

c/o The Birmingham Foundation
2005 Sarah Street
Second Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15203

You may also make a secure donation online through our PayPal account.

Make a donation

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