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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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Philanthropy Leadership in an Unexpected Place

Posted By Rebecca Ruggles, Monday, September 21, 2015
September 21, 2015
 
By Rebecca Ruggles, ABAG Green Funders Affinity Group Coordinator

This summer I watched two members of our ABAG community in action – climate action, to be specific. Is this what you usually think of when you imagine foundation executives at work?

Lynn Heller, Senior Vice President at the Abell Foundation and Stuart Clarke, Executive Director of the Town Creek Foundation are serving on the Maryland Climate Change Commission. Established in 2007, this Commission was strengthened by legislation passed during the 2015 session.

With added slots, the Commission now has 25 members who represent business, non-profits, government, and philanthropy. The Commission has four working groups: Mitigation, Adaptation, Education, Communications and Outreach (ECO) , and the Science and Technical Work Group.

Many Maryland leaders are engaged in these work groups. For instance, the Science and Technical Work Group is chaired by Don Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences (UMCES). This group provided an update on the latest climate science this summer, indicating that Maryland’s climate actions are fully justified by impending threats of sea level rise, global warming, and weather disruption.

The ECO Work Group, chaired by Lori Arguelles of the Alice Ferguson Foundation, hosted five public forums around the state in 5 weeks this summer, and gathered public comments from 200-300 Maryland residents.

My perspective on all this comes primarily from being on the Mitigation Work Group (MWG). It is co-chaired by Stuart Clarke and attorney Michael Powell, who represents energy industry clients. Stuart and Michael held 9 meetings of MWG this summer. We looked at everything from reforestation to electric vehicles to highway capital plans to jobs growth.

The Maryland Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2012 is model legislation among states. It demanded that Maryland achieve a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, while spurring job creation and growing our economy.

According to the Maryland Department of the Environment: "Maryland has documented a sea level rise of more than one foot in the last century, increasing water temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay, more rain and flooding in the winter and spring and more arid summers. Maryland's people and their property, natural environment and public investments are extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts.”

In short – we are all going to feel this.

It is encouraging to hear that, so far, state analysts say we are on track to achieve a 25% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020, and economists say that we are going to create at least 26,000 new jobs through these projects at a net benefit of $4 billion to our state’s economy.

That’s jobs and economic growth. Not what you might usually associate with climate change.

One question I hope the philanthropy community will want to ask is – to whom will these jobs and these economic benefits accrue? Among funders and Maryland non-profits, we have a vibrant conversation underway about equity, jobs, and quality of life. Lynn Heller and Stuart Clarke, as philanthropy professionals, regularly raise questions about equity and vulnerable populations.

Lynn and Stuart’s service on this commission bespeaks more than just bringing the accumulated wisdom of philanthropy to the policy arena. They are also working to make sure that climate action in Maryland addresses equity and opportunity for all.

This should make the Maryland Climate Change Commission of interest to funders who care about workforce development, community and neighborhood development, basic human needs, and health.

We’ll keep you abreast of this Commission and its work through blogs and programs. Let me know if we can answer your questions or facilitate your engagement in the many ways that climate action in Maryland will be shaping our state in coming years.

Tags:  ABAG Members  Abell Foundation  Affinity Groups  Green Funders  September 2015 Members' Memo  Town Creek Foundation 

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ABAG's Green Funders and Workforce Development Affinity Groups Visit Hidden Parts of Baltimore's Landscape

Posted By Rebecca Ruggles, Monday, July 20, 2015

July 20, 2015

By Rebecca Ruggles, ABAG Green Funders Affinity Group Coordinator

So much we take for granted in our daily lives is the result of complex operations just out of sight. This is true for both our water and wastewater systems, and for the continuous movement of goods in and out of Baltimore Harbor.

Members of the Green Funders and Workforce Development affinity groups at ABAG have recently gone behind the scenes to see hidden parts of our greater Baltimore landscape.

In May, the Green Funders and a few guests toured the Back River Waste Water Treatment Plant in Essex. This is where everything that goes down the drain ends up.

With the capacity to treat 180 million gallons of "influent” daily, the plant occupies a 466 acre site owned by Baltimore City on the west shore of the Back River, which flows to the Chesapeake Bay. It serves 1.3 million residents of Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

If you’ve ever looked out over East Baltimore from Clifton Park or while driving out Erdman Avenue, you’ve seen two strange gold domes on the horizon. These are anaerobic sludge digesters, and they stand over 150 feet high. We stood on a catwalk inside these huge edifices after having walked all over the complex, seeing each stage in the complex process of sewage treatment.

In June, undaunted by our foray into the dark corners of wastewater, the Green Funders took a tour of another somewhat hidden feature of metropolitan Baltimore – the port. This time workforce funders and environmental funders joined together for a bus tour of three port businesses. Hosted by the Baltimore Port Alliance, funders and guests visited the operations of Steinweg, Ruckert and CNX.

At Steinweg, we were oriented to the volume of product being moved in and out of huge warehouses lining the shores of the harbor. The unique holding and handling requirements of different types of product dictate the nature of the operations. Steinweg, for instance, is retrofitting a warehouse to meet USDA requirements for handling organic grain. At Ruckert, we saw mountains of salt and learned about the 24 hour response required during storms when road salt is in constant demand. At CSFX, we heard how run off is managed from the coal piles that are visible just north of the 895 harbor tunnel.

On a tour last winter of the Dundalk Marine Terminal and Seagirt facility, members of the Green Funders saw ocean-going vessels being loaded with new vehicles, cranes lifting containers from ships and plunking them onto the backs of cabs, and acres of agricultural machinery awaiting transfer to other countries.

Seeing what’s behind the scenes of major features of our greater Baltimore region stimulates new conversations about how communities can benefit from jobs and be protected from pollution.

If you have an idea for a "behind the scenes” tour, let us know.


 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Affinity Groups  Green Funders  July/August 2015 Members' Memo  Workforce  Workforce Development  Workforce Funders 

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ABAG Group Leaders Explore Collaboration Opportunities

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February 17, 2015

By Elisabeth Hyleck, ABAG Programs and Initiatives Director

Once again this February, ABAG leaders of Affinity Groups, roundtables and projects gathered together to share their groups’ interests and work for 2015. It is the fifth year we’ve convened our group leaders – those members who volunteer to lead ABAG groups along with the staff who support them. Group leaders, as well as a couple steering committees, help to develop educational programs, guide the group’s activities, and facilitate communication among members.

This year, we also took some time to discuss government relations and policy work. Kevin Griffin-Moreno of the Baltimore Community Foundation and chair of ABAG’s Public Policy Committee led a discussion describing the breadth of activities that can and are taking place by ABAG Affinity Groups and Projects. Adam Donaldson, who staffs ABAG’s Public Policy Committee, introduced a new resource available from PolicyWorks to guide Affinity Groups.

Group leaders were also invited to think about how their group’s issue area might intersect with Civil Legal Aid and participate in a new project ABAG is leading with our member, the Maryland Legal Service Corporation. We are excited about where that might take member learning!

The feedback about the meeting is consistent – the group leaders find value in hearing what others are interested in and exploring synergies and collaboration between groups. We believe this gathering leads to more programming that cuts across multiple issue or explores various sides of an issue.

ABAG is committed to support Affinity Groups and project as forums for members to explore issues, share knowledge and expertise, and to take action to improve community conditions.

Affinity Groups and educational programs are open to all ABAG members and are publicized on our website and through the bi-weekly "ABAG Upcoming Programs” email.

Please let me know if you'd like to be added to an Affinity Group or roundtable list.

Tags:  Affinity Groups  Collaboration  February 2015 Members' Memo  Public Policy 

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ABAG’s Work with Affinity Groups Highlighted in the Nonprofit Times

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Monday, April 14, 2014
Updated: Monday, April 21, 2014

April 14, 2014

By Elisabeth Hyleck, ABAG Strategic Initiatives Director

Recently, I was pleased to speak with the Nonprofit Times for an article highlighting how regional associations are working with affinity groups within their memberships.

At ABAG, Affinity Groups allow members with common interests to learn and share together. Their main purpose is to combine members’ knowledge and expertise with the focus on impacting a community concern.

I, along with Wil Sherk, President of Delaware Grantmakers Association, was interviewed for the piece, which includes anecdotes and wisdom from our experiences, such as this one:

Hyleck pointed to the education funders group as an example of what affinity groups can do when working in concert. In 2011, the group convened on the federal Investing in Innovation grant. It committed $900,000 in matching funds, which helped secure about $5.5 million in federal funding for Baltimore city schools. "The established infrastructure of the Education Funders Affinity Group enables ABAG to quickly convene meetings on time-sensitive topics, such as federal funding opportunities like Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation grants,” said Hyleck.

The article goes on, "We’re proud that our members do find value in the affinity groups, and they’re really interested in deepening understanding of the issues and acting in a catalytic way to effect change,” she said. "We’re happy to nurture that and continue this great way of leveraging our members’ knowledge, expertise and resources.” All members are invited to participate in the affinity group programming. We hope to see you at a program soon.

Read Affinity Group Members Find Common Ground, or Not at the Nonprofit Times.


Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Affinity Groups  April 2014 Members' Memo 

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ABAG Groups Find Value in Connecting

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Monday, March 17, 2014
Updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014
Updated: March 20, 2014

By Elisabeth Hyleck
ABAG Strategic Initiatives Director

Several weeks ago ABAG leaders of Affinity Groups, roundtables and projects braved frigid temperatures to gather in the ABAG conference room. Rescheduled once due to snow, this dedicated group was eager to meet to share their groups’ interests and work for 2014. It is the fourth year we’ve convened our group leaders – those members who volunteer to lead ABAG groups along with the staff who support them.  Group leaders, as well as a couple steering committees, help to develop educational programs and facilitate communication among members including enewletters, listserves and targeted emails.

The feedback about the meeting is consistent – the group leaders find value in hearing what others are interested in and exploring synergies and collaboration between groups, and discussing program design. We believe this gathering leads to more programming that cuts across multiple issue or explores various sides of an issue.

ABAG is committed to support these forums for members to explore issues, share knowledge and expertise, and strategize to address critical issues and improve community conditions. 

ABAG’s newest group is the Neighborhood and Community Development Funders Affinity Group, an outgrowth of the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative.  The goals of this group, led by Ann Sherrill along with co-chair Buffy Minkin of the Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds, are to: 

1. Build relationships among ABAG members interested in neighborhood and community development;
2. Share information, research and ideas for impact and leverage; and
3. Explore opportunities to align resources and strategically think about how community development resources are allocated in Baltimore City and the surrounding region.

Their first program, 21st Century Schools – How is Baltimore Leveraging This Investment for Our Communities?, is a perfect example of the cross-cutting programming being planned by our Affinity Groups.

Affinity Groups and educational programs are open to all ABAG members and are publicized on our website and through the bi-weekly "ABAG Upcoming Programs” email. 

Please let me know if you'd like to be added to an Affinity Group or roundtable list.

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Affinity Groups  March 2014 Members' Memo 

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ABAG Project Director Enjoys the View

Posted By Rebecca Ruggles, Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2014
February 19, 2014
 
By Rebecca Ruggles
Director, Maryland Environmental Health Network
Coordinator, ABAG Green Funders Affinity Group

Sometimes I feel I have the catbird seat! Being a staff member and project director at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG) gives me the privilege of participating in, and learning about, such a rich array of projects, campaigns, and studies. This past month has been particularly rewarding.

Wearing my two hats of directing the Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN) and supporting the ABAG Green Funders affinity group, I get a great view of philanthropy’s impact on some of the most compelling challenges of our region, and - I would say - of our times.

For instance, in the last few weeks I’ve sat in on a Health Funders program on Baltimore’s major advances in improving birth outcomes, co-hosted an Annapolis reception for legislators focused on public health and environmental health issues, listened as affinity group leaders share strategies and topics, helped the Green Funders set their program agenda for the coming year, and participated in the work of the Climate Communications Consortium of Maryland.

This latter project, the brainchild of Stuart Clarke and the Town Creek Foundation, is tackling a fascinating challenge - how to get the message out across Maryland that "over 97% of climate scientists agree that human caused Climate Change is happening”.
 
The project seeks to convey that while Marylanders are at significant risk, there are many solutions for making our state more resilient in the face of sea level rise, extreme weather, and other threats.

The list does not end there. The Abell Foundation published a report last week about opportunities in Baltimore to build community-owned renewable energy projects. The report documents the potential to make Baltimore more resilient in the face of major power outages, with low income residents benefitting in the process.
 
It the should be of interest to all ABAG members who invest in community and economic development, work on safety-net issues and/or are concerned about poverty and inequity.

Also on the list of recent intellectual stimulants funded by ABAG members Abell, Campbell, and Bancroft is a Shale Gas Risk Assessment study released last week by Chesapeake Climate Action Network. It fills in a gap in the state’s analysis of risks from future shale gas drilling in Western Maryland. That report offers an independent risk assessment from a leading international environmental consulting group responsible for evaluating fracking risks for the European Commission’s continent-wide regulatory review.

Finally, I’ll close with our Maryland Environmental Health Network annual meeting last month. Our session for MdEHN partners, stakeholders, and funders took place in the midst of a snow day - and over 40 people showed up!
 
MdEHN Coordinator Allison Rich presented the 2013 accomplishments by MdEHN and our partners, and the list made us all proud. I know that our community and academic partners particularly appreciate the active role played in our MdEHN meetings by foundation staff from the Abell, Hilda & Jacob Blaustein, Zanvyl & Isabelle Krieger, and Town Creek Foundations.

Rebecca Ruggles directs the Maryland Environmental Health Network and serves as staff coordinator for the Green Funders affinity group at ABAG.

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  affinity groups  Green Funders  MdEHN 

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ABAG by the Numbers #26: THE RESOURCE – 16 Affinity Groups

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Thursday, December 12, 2013
ABAG BY THE NUMBERS

By Elisabeth Hyleck, ABAG Strategic Initiatives Director

As ABAG celebrates 30 years of philanthropy and seeks to help shape the next 30 years of giving, we've told some of our story through our 30th anniversary infographic, ABAG By the Numbers.

Each week, for 30 weeks, we are briefly highlighting the 30 numbers in this infographic. As The Resource on Grantmaking, The Network for Givers, and The Voice for Philanthropy - this week we are focusing on:

THE RESOURCE

16 Affinity Groups

Both locally and across the country intentional collaborations among funders have increased the impact of philanthropy by combining members’ knowledge and expertise.

In order to facilitate our members’ in-depth exploration of issues and impact on targeted community concerns, ABAG has established Affinity Groups. We are proud that ABAG members represent diverse funding types and funding interests, and that our affinity groups have allowed members with common interests to learn and share together through the years.

Affinity groups provide a forum for funders to deepen understanding of community issues and strategies and to discuss ways use that knowledge in a catalytic way to strengthen and build capacity in the field. Some other common purposes include: act on a shared interest; discuss promising practices, lessons learned, and common challenges; increase opportunities for collaborative funding; react to a critical situation such as an opportunity or crisis; and reach out to prospective members.

Led by volunteer chairs and, in some cases, steering committees, affinity groups and ABAG staff develop educational programs and facilitate communication among members. All ABAG members are invited to participate in any affinity group educational programming and are eligible to join one or more affinity groups.

ABAG affinity groups also meet together yearly to determine how they can continue to learn and collaborate - both within their group and across groups.

I’m pleased to note that in 2013 we created a new Arts Funders Affinity group and are currently forming a new Neighborhood and Community Development Affinity Group, adding to the opportunities for members to learn more about effective programs, national and local best practices, and their colleagues' investments.

Here’s a list of ABAG’s Affinity Groups:

• Affinity Group on Aging
• Arts Affinity Group
• Basic Human Needs Affinity Group
• Education Affinity Group
• Financial Literacy and Asset Building Affinity Group
• Green Funders Affinity Group
• Health Affinity Group
• Mental Health Funders Group
• Neighborhood and Community Development Affinity Group
• Workforce Development Affinity Group

By joining an affinity group through the years ABAG members have indicated their interest in receiving specific communications about group meetings and issue-based resources, and they have joined a thoughtful and committed peer group working strategically to solve tough problems in our region.

Click here to learn more about ABAG’s Affinity Groups.
__________________________________________________________________

Celebrating 30 Years of Philanthropy: Shaping the Next 30 Years of Giving
With vision and persistence, a group of leading foundations and corporations founded the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers in 1983 as a forum in which colleagues could address common problems and interests. Today, as we celebrate our 30th anniversary with 145+ members, ABAG is the region's premier resource on philanthropy, dedicated to informing grantmakers and improving our community.
 


Tags:  ABAG By the Numbers  Adventures in Philanthropy  Affinity Groups 

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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: kalexander@abagrantmakers.org

 


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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ABAG's Ed Funders Affinity Group

Posted By Amy Gross, Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Updated: Monday, July 22, 2013

July 10, 2013

By Amy Gross, Executive Director, France-Merrick Foundation
Chair, ABAG’s Education Funders Affinity Group

School’s out for the summer, but ABAG’s Education Funders Affinity Group is busier than ever!

Over the past year, our Steering Committee has been working on ways to help members better share information about their education grantmaking, in order to learn from peers and strengthen connections in the Baltimore community of funders.

There are several ways that we are making this happen:

First, ABAG is in the process of administering our third biennial Survey of Education Giving.

We use data from this biennial survey to create two reports:

  • ABAG’s Profile of Education Giving, a report for just ABAG members that provides a clear picture of the scope of education-related grantmaking in the Baltimore area, and also helps members connect with colleagues who care about specific education issues. ABAG members can request a copy of the report from Karen Alexander, Education Funders Affinity Group Coordinator, at kalexander@abagrantmakers.org
  • Highlights document, which is made publicly available and contains only aggregated data

I encourage all ABAG members whose portfolios include education-related grants to participate in the survey.

We look forward to sharing the 2013 reports with you in the fall!

Second, the Education Funders Affinity Group is convening a series of portfolio and strategy sharing sessions around key topic areas, in response to member requests for more opportunities to share information with their peers and learn from one another in order to inform effective grantmaking.. The topic areas were selected because they were the most commonly cited by ABAG members in our 2011 Profile of Education Giving survey. Our first two meetings were very well-attended and fostered rich discussions.

All ABAG members are invited to join us on September 18th, when we will continue the series with a conversation about grantmaking in the areas of school choice and school leadership development. On December 6th, we will conclude the series with a conversation about grantmaking in the areas of STEM; Arts Education and Integration; and Socio-Emotional Development.

Third, ABAG has produced a two page fact sheet about the ABAG Education Funders Affinity Group, which will be updated every 12-18 months. The fact sheet includes a summary of highlights from 2012 through July 2013, including that we hosted more than 35 education-related programs in the last 18 months and that more than 90 ABAG members are members of the Education Funders Affinity Group!

Please share this sheet with your colleagues, boards, prospective members or others that you think would find value in learning more about the work of the Affinity Group.

Take a look at Karen Alexander's Adventures in Philanthropy blog post this month for further information.

Finally, please look out for a redesigned monthly eNewsletter in September in order to better communicate about all that is happening at ABAG around education grantmaking. We hope you find the new look easy to read and informative.

We are excited about all that the Education Funders Affinity Group has accomplished and all that we have planned! I welcome your questions, comments and input - I can be reached at:agross@france-merrickfdn.org


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:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Affinity Groups  And Now A Word from Our Members  Ed Funders  Education  July/August 2013 Members' Memo 

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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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Arts Funders Join Forces

Posted By Lara Hall, Blaustein Philanthropic Group, Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February 19, 2013 

By Lara Hall, Blaustein Philanthropic Group 

Have you heard that Baltimore region is the 14th coolest place to live in the U.S., according to Forbes magazine? And that our coolness is largely due to our vibrant arts and culture community?

We who live and work in the Baltimore area know what a treasure we have in our artists and arts organizations. At the same time, the arts are one of our most vulnerable sectors, particularly in tough economic times.

Late last year, a few ABAG members - Jane Brown of the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, Melissa Warlow of the William G. Baker Fund and I – came together to brainstorm how best to proceed to build funder knowledge of the opportunities and challenges before our arts community and to foster a more coordinated approach to philanthropic giving to the arts.

Clearly, the way forward was the convening of an Arts Affinity Group at ABAG.

We have witnessed the power of other ABAG affinity groups in convening and coalescing funders of all shapes and sizes with mutual programmatic interests; we believe that the moment is ripe for arts funders to come together.

We held our first meeting on February 1st, where fourteen members came together to discuss their arts funding priorities and mutual interests. We have already come up with a long list of topics – supporting financial stability in arts organizations, exploring the intersection of arts and education, and understanding the role of the arts in economic and community development.

Our first program, scheduled for April 3rd at 12:00-1:30, will explore current data and tools for capturing the impact of the arts, especially the economic impact.

We welcome any and all ABAG members to join in the conversation!

ABAG’s Affinity Groups are a great place to learn, share and in some cases give together. I hope you will also take a look at Elisabeth Hyleck’s blog post this month about all of ABAG's Affinity Groups. 

Tags:  Affinity Groups  And Now A Word from Our Members  Arts  Baltimore  Blaustein  February 2013 Members' Memo  Funders  Philanthropy 

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Affinity Groups Growing and Thriving at ABAG

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013
Updated: March 4, 2013
 
By Elisabeth Hyleck, ABAG Strategic Initiatives Director

I imagine that, like many philanthropic groups, you’ve been busy organizing, planning, and launching your work for 2013. ABAG affinity groups have also been meeting to see how they can continue to learn and collaborate - both within their group and across groups - this year. I’m pleased that we have a new Arts Funders Affinity group, adding to the opportunities for members to learn more about effective programs, national and local best practices, and their colleagues' investments. Please take a look at Lara Hall's blog post this month about the Arts Funders Affinity group.

Led by volunteer chairs and, in some cases, steering committees, affinity groups and ABAG staff develop educational programs and facilitate communication among members. Affinity groups provide a forum for funders to deepen understanding of issues and strategies and to discuss ways use that knowledge in a catalytic way to strengthen and build capacity in the field.

Current Affinity Groups

Affinity Group on Aging
This group of funders is dedicated to promoting and strengthening grantmaking for an aging society.

Chair: Cathy Brill, Leonard & Helen R. Stulman Foundation
Staff: Jim Macgill

Arts Affinity Group
The purpose of the Arts Affinity Group is to engage and educate Baltimore area funders about the dynamic local arts scene and the many opportunities it presents.

Chair: Lara Hall, The Blaustein Philanthropic Group
Staff: Elisabeth Hyleck

Basic Human Needs Affinity Group
For the purpose of this affinity group, basic needs are defined as: shelter, food, emergency financial assistance to avert crisis, and legal aid or other services that help eligible clients access public benefits.

Chair: Amy Kleine, Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
Staff: Elisabeth Hyleck

Education Affinity Group
Members interested in supporting education learn more about worthy initiatives, educational research findings and best practices.

Chair: Amy Gross, Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
Staff: Karen Alexander

Financial Literacy and Asset Building Affinity Group
Members share best practices and grantmaking strategies to increase people's financial capability, improve their access to affordable and fair financial products and services and help them increase their financial assets over time.

Chair: Meg Woodside, Woodside Foundation
Staff: Elisabeth Hyleck

Green Funders Affinity Group
Members explore topics related to community greening, sustainability, and environmental protection. Topics covered tend to be cross-sectoral, examining the impact of environmental issues on community development, human health, or economic welfare, for instance.

Chair: Julie Hester, Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment
Staff: Kim Snipes

Health Affinity Group
Members interested in supporting health learn more about initiatives, research findings and best practices with particular attention to our region’s safety net and federal health care reform.

Chair: Karen Dixon, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
Staff: Adam Donaldson

Workforce Development Affinity Group
In addition to the traditional issues of job training and retention, the group now addresses a continuum of issues surrounding successful employment and financial security for low-wage workers and vulnerable populations including, advancement of incumbent workers, and barriers to employment such as transportation, child care, and criminal records.

Co-Chairs: Patrice Cromwell, Annie E. Casey Foundation and Melanie Styles, Abell Foundation
Staff: Linda Dworak

Absolutely, all ABAG members are invited to participate in the affinity group educational programming. Further, all ABAG members are eligible to join one or more affinity groups. There is no cost to members.

By joining an affinity group long-term you simply indicate to ABAG your interest in receiving specific communications about group meetings and issue-based resources. You also join a thoughtful and committed peer group working strategically to solve tough problems in our region.

Contact Elisabeth Hyleck, Special Initiatives Director, at ehyleck@abagrantmakers.org to learn more about an affinity group and consider joining one – or more!

Tags:  ABAG  Affinity Groups  Eye on Philanthropy  February 2013 Members' Memo 

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Funders Partner to Support Innovative Education Projects

Posted By Karen Alexander, Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February 6, 2013 

By Karen Alexander, ABAG's Education Funders Affinity Group 

Education in the 21st century involves looking beyond the status quo for new ways to improve student performance. Here in Baltimore, ABAG members are partnering with the school district to support several innovative projects.

Last year, ABAG convened a briefing with leadership from Baltimore City Public Schools and Johns Hopkins University around the opportunity to secure more than $5.4 million in federal funds. Out of nearly 600 applications for The United States Department of Education’s competitive Investing in Innovation (i3) grants to support the validation and expansion of innovative programs that benefit high-need public school students, only 23 grants were awarded, two of which were to be implemented in Baltimore City Public Schools.

The funding could only be secured with the commitment of 15 percent in private matching funds. Within three weeks, 12 ABAG members rallied to commit the nearly $900,000 needed to ensure that Baltimore City Schools could successfully secure the federal money.

These i3 grants are now being used to expand the impact of two highly effective programs underway in city schools: the Middle School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Summer Learning Program and the Exceptional Coaching for Early Language and Literacy-Enhanced (ExCELL-E) teacher training program.

On January 31, ABAG held a briefing to update members on the progress made during the first year of these two multi-year grants and plans for the remaining years. Ryan Reid Salta, Director of Mathematics for Baltimore City Schools, presented data from the 2012 Middle School STEM Summer Learning Program, which combined high-quality math instruction with a hands-on, project-based robotics program in an attempt to reduce the summer learning loss that students typically experience each year. The six week program, which targeted rising 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who had scored below proficient on standardized math tests, also incorporated a research-based team building component, which was designed to foster the students’ social-emotional development.

During the presentation, ABAG members asked Ms. Salta about how the district planned to address the challenges that the district faced in student recruitment and attendance for summer 2012 to ensure that more students benefit from this innovative learning opportunity this summer.

Dr. Barbara Wasik from Johns Hopkins University and Dr. Carol Hammer from Temple University joined Charlene Iannone-Campbell, Director of Baltimore City Schools’ Office of Early Learning, to provide an update on the ExCELL-E program. This program is providing a variety of training supports to preschool, kindergarten and first grade teachers in Baltimore City Schools and schools in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to help native English and English as a Second Language students in high-poverty areas develop their language and literacy skills. ExCELL-E is integrating web-based technology with targeted coaching facilitated by structured lesson plans to promote the school readiness of children who attend high-poverty schools in both cities. Pilots are underway in four Baltimore City classrooms, with plans to expand for the 2013-14 school year.

ABAG members suggested that a module be developed for elementary school principals to help them better understand the ExCELL-E model and the ways that it might benefit the young students in their schools.

These i3 grants are representative of the high level of innovation underway in Baltimore City Schools and the critical role that local grantmakers play in supporting and encouraging promising new efforts with the potential to increase student achievement. ABAG will continue to keep its members apprised of the progress of these two initiatives.

Karen can be reached at: kalexander@abagrantmakers.org


Tags:  ABAG Members  Adventures in Philanthropy  Affinity Groups  Ed Funders  Education  grants  i3  Innovation 

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Partnering With the Public Sector Pays Long-term Dividends

Posted By Meg Woodside, Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 20, 2012

By Meg Woodside, The Woodside Foundation and Chair, ABAG Financial Literacy and Asset Building Funders Group

As grantmakers, it is common to invest our time developing and strengthening relationships with our grantees and community-based partners in the fields of our interests. We value that collaboration and two-way communication as we try to learn what is working and expand services to meet increasing demands. Often underestimated, however, is the value of bringing the public sector and policymakers into the grantmaker-grantee dyad.

At ABAG we have been focusing with greater intention on how our organization, and our members, can interact with the public sector and policymakers to effect the sustainable social changes that we seek. We have offered programs on the nuances of working with government agencies, as well as the intricacies of funding advocacy and policy work, outlining the constraints on grantmaking in that arena. We have acknowledged that systemic change requires working with "the system”.

ABAG's mission challenges us to maximize the impact of philanthropic giving on community life. In my work as a Trustee of a small family foundation, some of the broadest impact we have been able to generate in the field of financial literacy and asset building is attributed to partnering with our state-level public sector leaders. The following example highlights promising developments in Maryland resulting from grantmakers and grantees joining with the public sector to move an agenda forward.

Initial steps began with a series of cross-sector conversations about what action Maryland was going to take in response to the Great Recession and its economic toll on families. Funders and practitioners with knowledge of Maryland's landscape and what other states were doing conveyed a sense of urgency to state policymakers, and we helped them identify field partners, strategies and thought leaders. Public sector leaders then created the Governor's Task Force to Study How to Improve Financial Literacy in the State.

Eighteen recommendations are in various stages of implementation. An early outcome of the task force was a separate cross-sector partnership with MSDE to incorporate financial education standards into the public school curriculum requirements, which was accepted by the State Board of Education in January, 2010. Advocates continued to press for ongoing state-level engagement to champion this work after the sunset of the task force. Working together, a bill to create a new statewide Financial Education and Capability Commission with diverse stakeholder representation was recently signed and takes effect October 1, 2012.

These milestones could not have been accomplished by philanthropy operating alone. They illustrate the role philanthropy can play to impact a policy issue or a population in tandem with traditional grantmaking activities. Funders can be highly effective serving as subject matter experts on task forces, we can convene and be vocal at public forums, and we can underwrite research and outreach efforts in support of desired policy or program changes.

This is the hard work philanthropy will need to embrace beyond our grantmaking activities to see the changes we want over time and on a scale that maximizes impact. Getting there will require us to be consistent and deliberate in our cultivation of open and effective working relationships with our public sector partners.
 
In my experience in the field of financial capability, this inclusive and productive partnership will be paying dividends for Maryland families for many years into the future.

Tags:  ABAG  Affinity Groups  Asset Building  Financial Literacy  FLAB 

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