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Our "Adventures in Philanthropy" blog posts are written by our staff and diverse membership and offer a glimpse into the world of philanthropy, presenting current issues and information relevant to funders, policymakers, members of the media, and those interested in current issues and giving trends.


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Education Funders Talk with Education Leaders

Posted By Karen Alexander, Thursday, July 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, July 22, 2013

July 10, 2013

By Karen Alexander, ABAG's Education Funders Affinity Group 

Over the next few months, the Education Funders Affinity Group is hosting a series of conversations with education leaders.

The series kicks off on July 25th with A Conversation with Dr. Dallas Dance, the Superintendent of Baltimore County Schools. This is the first time that ABAG has convened a meeting with the head of Baltimore County Schools, the 26th largest school district in the country.

Following our meeting with Dr. Dance, on July 31st we will be bringing three Baltimore City Public Schools’ principals to share their Perspectives on Fair Student Funding. Under the district’s Fair Student Funding policy, most of an individual school's funding was shifted from the Central Office to the school level, giving principals more control over their budgets but also requiring them to make complex decisions for which they were not previously responsible.

We are looking forward to a rich discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of this policy, which has now been in place for five years.

One of our most popular programs is our annual Conversation with the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Lillian Lowery will join us on September 23rd to reflect on her first year leading the Maryland State Department of Education and to share her vision for strengthening the state's public education system.

In June, Dr. Andres Alonso announced his resignation as CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools after serving in that role for six years. The school board then appointed Dr. Alonso's Chief of Staff, Tisha Edwards, to serve as Interim CEO for the 2013-14 school year. On October 30th, ABAG will host a Conversation with Tisha Edwards, who will share her goals for the 2013-14 school year and discuss key policy issues.

All ABAG members are invited to join us for are sure to be scintillating conversations with these education leaders!

There's lots going on with ABAG's Ed Funders group - take a look at Amy Gross' Adventures in Philanthropy blog post this month to get all the details!

Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or ideas. I can be reached at:


About the Education Funders Affinity Group

The goal of ABAG’s Education Funders Affinity Group is to enable grantmakers to learn about worthy education initiatives and school reform efforts locally and nationally. We believe that the opportunity for funders to meet on a regular basis, to share experiences and expertise regarding education funding, and to learn about promising educational efforts has resulted in increased interest and support for education. 


Tags:  ABAG's Eye on Philanthropy  Adventures in Philanthropy  Affinity Groups  Education  Education Funders  July/August 2013 Members' Memo 

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School Greening in Baltimore City

Posted By Rebecca Ruggles, Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Updated: Monday, July 8, 2013

June 26, 2013 

By Rebecca Ruggles, Director, Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN) 

School greening is a national movement - and Baltimore is in the vanguard.

The Maryland Environmental Health Network worked with the Baltimore Sustainability Commission and staff of the Office of Sustainability to document the extent of recent investments in greening Baltimore public schools in the new report, "School Greening in Baltimore City."

The results are impressive.

We found an investment of about $2.5 million being made over the last two and a half years, and about 60% of City Schools have participated in school greening programs or practices of some kind.

What benefits come with adopting green practices in schools? We looked at the research and found a growing body of evidence documenting positive impacts on operating costs, academic outcomes, and school climate.

The benefits of green school practices are now well established and range from reductions in greenhouse gases emissions and energy cost savings, to improved student test scores and higher teacher and student retention. Of course, as a group dedicated to Environmental Health, we are also keen on the protections for children’s health that can accompany a greener school environment.

Our report was authored by Allison Rich, MdEHN's Children's Environmental Health Specialist.

She compiled data from 35 sources, and examined three specific questions:

  • What investment has been made to date in green practices in Baltimore City public schools and by whom?
  • How are academic and operational goals furthered by this investment?
  • Why should this investment be protected – and enhanced – as City Schools launches its 10 year plan for 21st Century Schools?

School greening activities engage students, teachers and families in new ways, and have been an important part of creating and sustaining the new wave of achievement, pride, and advocacy for Baltimore’s public schools.

Jamie Baxter, Program Director at The Chesapeake Bay Trust, commented: "So many other funders and supporters are involved. The Trust has supported schools with grants for environmental ed and restoration mini-grants. Its great to see that Baltimore City schools have been resourceful in tapping such varied sources of funding and support."

Interested in learning more? You can download and read the report here.


Rebecca Ruggles in the Director of the Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN) which convenes diverse stakeholders in the fields of health and environmental advocacy, research, and community activism, to support cross-sector dialogue and action that results in better protection of both human health and the environment. This report is a publication of the MdEHN and was prepared by Allison Rich, Children's Environmental Health Specialist, with assistance from Rebecca Ruggles The Maryland Environmental Health Network is a project of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG).

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Tags:  ABAG Project  ABAG's Eye on Philanthropy  Adventures in Philanthropy  Environment  Green  Green Funders  July/August 2013 Members' Memo  Maryland Environmental Health Network  MdEHN 

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Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative Awards Grants

Posted By Ann Sherrill, Monday, June 17, 2013
Updated: Monday, June 17, 2013

June 17, 2013 

By Ann Sherrill, Director, Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative 

The Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative (BNC) recently awarded $200,000 in new grants, bringing the total shared investment to support Baltimore revitalization through BNC’s pooled fund to $8 million.

As ABAG’s longest running project, BNC brings local and national funders together for:

  •  Joint learning
  •  Developing collective grantmaking and neighborhood investment strategies
  •  Advocating for policies and programs that support revitalization
  •  Attracting new resources for promising initiatives.

Funders collaborate in BNC to support neighborhood revitalization, home ownership and foreclosure intervention counseling, housing development, transit-centered initiatives and efforts to strengthen non-profit community development capacity.

Neighborhood change takes time and for a number of years BNC has provided consistent support to a set of community development organizations with strong leadership and staff capability.

Grantee organizations include:

  •  Belair-Edison Neighborhoods Inc.
  •  Central Baltimore Partnership
  •  Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc.
  •  Druid Heights Community Development Corporation
  •  Garwyn Oaks Housing Resource Center
  •  Jubilee Baltimore
  •  Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore
  •  St. Ambrose Housing Aid
  •  Southeast CDC

These organizations are getting results!

Central Baltimore Partnership and Jubilee Baltimore are catalyzing mixed-use, transit-centered community development in Station North, Greenmount West and the surrounding Central Baltimore communities and attracting new investment in these neighborhoods for housing, artist live/work space, new restaurants and businesses, and neighborhood quality of life issues.

BNC’s most recent awards are going towards providing homeownership and foreclosure counseling, Healthy Neighborhoods and Main Streets activities, and other neighborhood revitalization/stabilization services.

In a one year period, BNC grantees helped over 390 households avoid foreclosure and facilitated 210 home purchases. They completed 7 block improvement projects, organized numerous block meetings, parties and clean-ups, as well as helped local businesses in Belair-Edison and Southeast Baltimore with neighborhood marketing and façade improvements.

In positive news for Baltimore neighborhoods, agencies are noting growing interest in home buying. They are utilizing incentives to attract new residential investment, such as those offered through Healthy Neighborhoods, and are working with nearby universities and businesses to take advantage of Live Near Your Work programs.

The effects of foreclosure, however, are still an issue for many neighborhoods and households. While foreclosure filings are decreasing, agencies are finding that some clients are further behind with their mortgage payments by the time they seek counseling assistance. Unemployment and underemployment are significant factors for many borrowers facing foreclosure which makes it more challenging for counselors to find a sustainable solution.

Interested in learning more about the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative? Contact me!

Tags:  ABAG's Eye on Philanthropy  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore  Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative  BNC  Community Development  Grants  June 2013 Members' Memo  Neighborhoods 

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Exploring Race Matters

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Monday, May 20, 2013
Updated: Thursday, May 16, 2013

May 20, 2013

By Elisabeth Hyleck, ABAG Strategic Initiatives Director

Last month, ABAG’s staff, board and Diversity and Inclusion Committee came together to discuss why race - racial equity - matters for us as individuals, our community, and for our organization.

We met for a day-long session about the Race Matters/Responsive Philanthropy in Black Communities framework and introduction to core tools.

The Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) coordinated the training funded with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The Race Matters/Responsive Philanthropy in Black Communities Training:

  1. Promotes evidence based decision making about the racial disparities that exist in our nation/communities;
  2. Allows stakeholders/participants to engage in deeper conversations about the unequal opportunities that exist; and
  3. Provides tools that can help lead to effective organizational and programmatic actions to advance equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

This training worked toward one of the goals of ABAG’s Diversity and Inclusiveness Policy:

ABAG will provide learning resources and support for ABAG member organizations to increase diversity and inclusiveness in their own programs, activities, outreach, staffing, governance, and grantmaking.

Further, it provided us with a shared language and knowledge base and gave us many ideas about how to further infuse ABAG's values of diversity, inclusiveness and respect throughout our work.

An introductory workshop is like speed dating – the best outcome is that the parties want to meet again and/or act on what they learned. Some further activities we are discussing include:

  • Testing some of the tools with an ABAG affinity group and with key ABAG policies, operations, and practices;
  • Continuing to help our members learn together and from one another via educational programs and peer exchanges; and
  • Being more consistent and intentional in our communications about our work in this arena.

ABAG recognizes that achieving equity, diversity and inclusion is an ongoing process and must be intentional.

We will continue on this journey and invite others to come along with us.

You can read more about this in Nonet Sykes' Adventures in Philanthropy blog this month, "Ensuring Racial and Ethnic Equity"

Tags:  ABAG's Eye on Philanthropy  Adventures in Philanthropy  Affinity Groups  Annie E. Casey Foundation  Core Values  Diversity  Equity  Inclusion  May 2013 Members' Memo  Race Matters 

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