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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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Our Funding Community’s Initial Response to Recent Events in Baltimore

Posted By Celeste Amato, Thursday, April 30, 2015

April 30, 2015

By Celeste Amato, President, Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers

The local funding community has expressed deep sadness at the death of Mr. Freddie Gray and at the violence and destruction witnessed this week in Baltimore. Many local funders have deep and long lasting investments in the communities that suffered damage.

It was heartening to see residents of affected communities, joined by their neighbors and business volunteers from across the City, come together to clean up and support each other.

The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers has been reaching out to public sector partners to determine how we can be most helpful, to meet immediate needs and longer term needs. Our Association and its members stand ready to support the city and the Mayor’s efforts.

Our funders have also been reaching out to their grantees to assess the needs of those critical service providers on the ground in affected areas. Funders like the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Open Society Institute-Baltimore already have plans to accelerate grantmaking to assist organizations and their capacity to reach as many affected community members as possible. You can read more in this Chronicle of Philanthropy article.

Associated Black Charities – a long time champion of the need for a deeper understanding of the structural barriers that have produced economic and health disparities along racial lines – will be working with neighborhood organizations and nonprofits to facilitate conversations about "institutional and structural racism” and how we can work together.

There have also been a number of funds established to assist our community:

  • The Baltimore Community Foundation has established The Fund for Rebuilding Baltimore, to help repair the physical and emotional damage that has been done and strengthen our community for the future. They will work closely with partners in the community to determine how the fund can best be deployed.
  • The ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore s collecting funds for immediate service to the neighborhoods affected most deeply by the recent unrest. They are working with area churches, community centers and civic organizations to ensure that the funds are distributed where they are most needed. One hundred percent of all funds collected will be given to assist in the restoration and recovery of Baltimore City.
  • The United Way of Central Maryland has established the Maryland Unites Fund, to help restore stability to our communities. 100 percent of donations will go toward humanitarian relief and emergency support to nonprofits in affected Baltimore neighborhoods and no processing fees will be collected.

ABAG is a forum for philanthropy to lead and realize the power of intentional collaboration. In the coming days and weeks, we will work with our Mayor, our corporate and nonprofit partners, and our community leaders to facilitate dialogue and actions to address the policies and systemic issues that underlie these incidents.

Our membership is committed to helping our communities heal and to building a stronger, more equitable city in which all citizens can thrive.

Tags:  Baltimore  May 2015 Members Memo 

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Message to ABAG Members

Posted By Celeste Amato, Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, April 28, 2015


April 28, 2015

Dear Members of ABAG,

Last night, we watched with horror the images of violence, looting, and arson in our city. As long time residents of Baltimore City it is hard to express our deep sadness at the death of Mr. Freddie Gray and at the violence and destruction that we witnessed yesterday. We know that many of you have deep and long lasting investments in the communities that suffered damage last night.

Laurie spent the morning visiting neighborhoods that the Goldseker Foundation has been supporting. As heartbreaking as it was to watch with our community partners as the progress we have made was threatened last evening, she was heartened to find community members hard at work and more determined than ever to continue their important community development work.

Celeste, meanwhile, has been reaching out to our members and public sector partners to determine how our Association can be most helpful, not just in this immediate situation, but in the long run. Yesterday afternoon, the Mayor asked to brief a small group of leaders representing the philanthropic, medical and university community on the Freddie Gray case. Participants were invited to ask questions and share concerns. The Association and its members were clear that the philanthropic community stands ready to support the city and the Mayor’s efforts. Celeste is working directly with the Administration to identify specific support we can lend in this challenging time.

We look forward to hearing from our membership about your thoughts and individual efforts to support our community.

Throughout our history, ABAG has been a forum for philanthropy to lead and realize the power of intentional collaboration. In the coming days and weeks, we will work to facilitate more dialogue and action to address the policies and systemic issues that underlie these incidents. While it may be easy to dismiss these acts of violence and destruction only as opportunistic crime in the wake of a tragedy, it is for us to consider what the last three weeks, and the last twenty-four hours, reveal about the divisions in our community and how we can help our city heal and continue to grow in the years ahead.

We know that what has happened will not deter our membership from its commitment to building a stronger, more equitable city in which all citizens can thrive.

Sincerely,

Laurie Latuda Kinkel, Board Chair

Celeste Amato, President

Tags:  Baltimore  Freddie Gray  May 2015 Members Memo  Message to Members  Unrest 

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#ABAGMember Baltimore Ravens. Our Team - Our Community.

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Thursday, September 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013

September 5, 2013

Tonight’s the night!

Football is back and the season kicks off with #ABAGMember The Baltimore Ravens playing the Denver Broncos.

After February’s huge Superbowl win, the team and the players remain committed to bringing people together and generating goodwill in the community through their exciting play – we are a very excited #Ravensnation.

And as important as these wins are to the community, so are the efforts of the team and players off the football field.

The Baltimore Ravens are a member of The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. In fact, ABAG Member Services Director visited just last week and had a chance to view the Superbowl trophy! Adam said: "It’s almost as nice as the ABAG Fantasy Football Trophy” - hmmmm.

He also said: "Strategic football is like strategic philanthropy - thoughtful and effective ... the Ravens plan their philanthropy with as much care as they do their season."

As a team, the Ravens are focused on making a difference in our community in a variety of ways, including:

The Baltimore Ravens All Community Team Foundation which serves as a separate nonprofit entity of the team's community outreach efforts. The Ravens All Community Team Foundation is committed to improving, encouraging, and enabling the healthy development of youth in the Baltimore area, as well as other parts of the state of Maryland and has designed grant programs to encourage healthy youth activities through:

·Ravens Youth Football Grant

The Ravens All Community Team Foundation (RACTF) provides equipment and apparel to qualifying nonprofit youthfootballorganizations through the Ravens YouthFootball Grant.

·Baltimore Ravens Scholarship Program

The Baltimore Ravens established this scholarship program to enable local youth to continue their education on a collegiate level. The team has a long-standing history of service to local communities and this fund supports those who do the same.

·Ravens Play 60 Grant

The Ravens Pla  60 project provides grants of up to $5,000 to qualifying nonprofit organizations that create and/or continue programs or projects promoting physical fitness and nutrition education.

The Ravens also have an All Community Team (ACT) which has the mission to increase corporate and community awareness of the Ravens All Community Team Foundation, player foundations, and associated local charitable organizations through a season-long NFLfootball competition between area and regional Baltimore-based business leaders and companies. The All Community Team is a partnership among the Ravens organization, the players and members of the corporate community.

As former RACTF Executive Director Melanie LeGrande mentioned in a previous ABAG Adventures in Philanthropy blog post: "The Baltimore Ravens have a strong commitment to serving children and families in need in our area. As we all know, strategic philanthropy and collective impact are key to making a long-term difference. The team and its players have many such initiatives.”

Given that, the Ravens have a strong commitment to the community, in addition to appearances by Ravens players, coaches and staff, the team assists hundreds of charities and nonprofit organizations through in-kind donations of team memorabilia, through a variety of community programs, and through ticket give-aways to volunteers through The Honors Row effort.

Infact, just yesterday current and former Baltimore Ravens players volunteered with #ABAGMember United Way of Central Maryland to transform on an outdoor space at Hilton Elementary School.

And, Ravens players are very active in the community through individual foundations and giving efforts of their own

Learn more about the charitable endeavors of the Baltimore Ravens All Community Team Foundation.

We thank the Ravens for the goodwill and cheer that they continue to bring our community -not just this coming season -but throughout the year. We are looking forward to some great football this season and some great giving!

Good luck tonight - Go Ravens!

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore  Ravens 

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Vacants to Value

Posted By Celeste Amato, Thursday, July 25, 2013
Updated: Thursday, July 25, 2013
July 25, 2013
 
By Celeste Amato, ABAG President

Two weeks ago we were honored to host Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for a conversation about her plans for Growing Baltimore through the Vacants to Value initiative.

Baltimore’s 16,000 vacant and abandoned building are often viewed as a problem – but they are also an opportunity. Cleaning up and redeveloping these properties eliminates blight, increases property values, creates community amenities and attracts new residents and businesses.

Vacants to Value strategically implements demolition to stabilize and encourage reinvestment and is a key component of Grow Baltimore.

These are the six strategies at the heart of Vacants to Value:

  1. Streamline the Disposition of City-Owned Properties
  2. Streamline Code Enforcement in Stronger Markets
  3. Facilitate Investment in Emerging Markets
  4. Target Home-buying Incentives
  5. Support Large-Scale Redevelopment in Distressed Areas
  6. Demolish and Maintain Severely Distressed Blocks – Green Opportunities

Celeste and the Mayor - Copy.jpg

The Mayor was joined by staff from the Departments of Housing and Planning who shared in detail how these strategies will be implemented and utilized to strengthen and grow communities, as well outlining opportunities for collaboration. The Mayor also discussed – a soon-to-be-announced -- expanded set of homeownership incentives that will build on investments to revitalize neighborhoods.

We appreciated the Mayor’s acknowledgement of foundation community support for Vacants to Value, and in particular, she highlighted the partnership with Beth Harber of the Abell Foundation and Scot Spencer of the Annie E. Casey Foundation on the Green and Healthy Homes Network; the million dollar fund managed by the Baltimore Community Foundation from the Constellation Energy Group to fund the LIGHT Program (Leading Innovation for a Green and Healthy Tomorrow); and the collaborative support of weatherization efforts across the city by the Casey Foundation, Abell Foundation and the Zanvyl Krieger Fund.

ABAG members had an opportunity for dialogue and questions, and we are very appreciative of the time spent discussing this important effort.

Conversations like this are part of our ongoing effort tobroaden and strengthen our reach and our impact and specifically, to increase ourcivic engagement – with consistent and persistent outreach to our elected officials and policy leaders - to ensure that they know the issues that are important to us and know that our philanthropic community is an essential, valuable and willing partner in local and regional public policy development, implementation and success.

We look forward to continuing the conversation, lending our expertise and support to a productive partnership with Mayor Rawlings-Blake and her administrative team.

Learn more about Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s Vacants to Value initiative

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore  Baltimore Integration Partnership  Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake  Vacants to Value 

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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! asherrill@bncbaltimore.org


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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Funders Partner to Invest in Training

Posted By Linda Dworak, Monday, March 4, 2013

March 4, 2013

By Linda Dworak, Director, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative

Our blog post was originally published as a blog for Huffington Post on February 28, 2013

By Linda Dworak & Kathleen Weiss

Four months after being laid off from her job as a mail operator at a local Baltimore business, Caléche Arrington applied to participate in a program she hoped would prepare her for employment in Baltimore's growing biotechnical sector. With a husband also unemployed and four daughters to support, 30-year-old Caléche was ready to take a chance on a new career, hoping the tuition-free training opportunity offered by the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland (BTI) would open new doors to her.

As a resident of East Baltimore, she could see signs of opportunity all around her as new buildings were erected in the growing bio-park in her neighborhood adjacent to Johns Hopkins Hospital. But, she would require help to access this opportunity.

Arriving at BTI, Caléche met with intake staff that reviewed her employment history and discussed her preparedness for participating in this industry-led, nonprofit's Laboratory Associates training program. Although she showed program staff that she was a motivated, hard worker who very much wanted to improve her opportunities for employment and her ability to support her family, Caléche's scores on assessment tests reflected a definite need for academic strengthening in math and reading comprehension before she could enter the rigorous program.

As such, BTI enrolled Caléche in its BioSTART program. During 12 weeks of hard work to advance her math skills and reading proficiency and improve her professionalism and knowledge of the bioscience sector, Caléche excelled in her daily work, never missing any class time. She obtained an overall grade of 90 percent, which more than demonstrated her preparation and readiness for the demanding bench skills training of BTI's Laboratory Associates program.

The curriculum and pace of the Lab Associates training require a heightened focus and attention to detail. Caléche was not alone in her need to double her efforts during the program, but her results were extraordinary.

As in BioSTART, Caléche did not miss a day, nor was she late even once, despite juggling the demands of four children and relying on public transportation. By the time she completed 180 hours of hands-on training, she had mastered a new set of skills and concepts, while gaining fresh self-confidence in her abilities to be a lab professional.

The capstone of BTI's industry-focused training is an internship secured and paid for by BTI at an area life sciences organization. Caléche interned as a lab technician at a large area bioscience company, where she applied her new skills and obtained valuable on-the-job experience. Again demonstrating her can-do attitude, Caléche started her day at 3:30 a.m. in order to take care of the early morning needs of her family and get to work, using public transportation, by 6:00 a.m. Through its robust student counseling and support strategy, BTI was able to connect Caléche to Vehicles for Change, a partner nonprofit organization, which provides low-cost cars to working individuals.

Just recently, Caléche advanced her career by accepting a full-time position with a comprehensive benefits package as a lab technician in the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her salary alone is 63 percent greater than her highest past wage.

BTI's programs are designed and operated with the ongoing input and collaboration of more than 30 life sciences companies in the Baltimore region. These employers recognize the current and future need for skilled and dedicated staff and are committed to opening pathways to quality jobs for area residents.

The initiative is also supported by members of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative (BWFC), a partnership comprised of foundations and public sector entities, which recognize the tremendous impact that industry-based workforce partnerships can make in advancing opportunities for low-wage workers. This collaborative supports similar sector-targeted workforce initiatives in the health care, construction and hospitality sectors, providing a mix of occupational skills training, case management and coaching, access to supportive services, job readiness classes, and job development and placement services for low-income job seekers or entry-level workers. BWFC is an affiliate of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, which brings national and local investors together to collaboratively support these sectoral models of effective job training and placement.

Since coming together in 2006, the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative has aligned and pooled close to $7 million to support industry partnership models in Baltimore City. This work is supported in part through a grant from the federally financed Social Innovation Fund, established to mobilize public and private resources to find and grow community-based nonprofits with evidence of strong results. Combined, the sector-specific initiatives supported by the Baltimore collaborative have enabled more than 500 unemployed or underemployed jobseekers to complete demand-driven, industry-specific occupational skills training programs with job placements ranging between 75-80 percent. These initiatives have also provided employer-sponsored, on-the-job coaching to more than 1,000 entry-level health care workers, and demonstrated evidence of significant job retention and wage progression over time.

In short, these examples show that funders and employers working together to advance common goals and support workforce initiatives -- and that are aligned with real industry needs -- can and do lead to meaningful jobs outcomes. To learn how to support more programs like these, visit JobRaising.

Linda Dworak is Director, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, and Kathleen Weiss is Executive Director, BioTechnical Institute of Maryland.

Tags:  ABAG Project  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore  Workforce  Workforce Funders Collaborative 

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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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#ABAGMember Baltimore Ravens. Our Team - Our Community.

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, January 14, 2013

UPDATED February 4, 2013

Big congratulations to #ABAGMember The Baltimore Ravens, Superbowl Champions! We are so proud of the team. Our Team. Our Community. Congratulations, Baltimore. 

January 14, 2013

We are so proud of #ABAGMember, The Baltimore Ravens, for their big win on Saturday to clinch a chance at the AFC Championship title against the New England Patriots this coming weekend!

The team and the players are committed to bringing people together and generating goodwill in the community through their exciting play and continued wins – we are an excited #Ravensnation.

But, did you know that the team and players are committed to assisting the community throughout the year in a different way?

They are, and we are proud that the Baltimore Ravens are a member of The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, and as a team, are focused on making a difference in our community in a variety of ways, including:

The Baltimore Ravens All Community Team Foundation serves as a separate nonprofit entity of the team's community outreach efforts. The Ravens All Community Team Foundation is committed to improving, encouraging, and enabling the healthy development of youth in the Baltimore area, as well as other parts of the state of Maryland and has designed grant programs to encourage healthy youth activities through:

· Ravens Youth Football Grant

The Ravens All Community Team Foundation (RACTF) provides equipment and apparel to qualifying nonprofit youth football organizations through the Ravens Youth Football Grant.

· Baltimore Ravens Scholarship Program

The Baltimore Ravens established this scholarship program to enable local youth to continue their education on a collegiate level. The team has a long-standing history of service to local communities and this fund supports those who do the same.

· Ravens Plan in Motion

The Ravens Plan in Motion project provides grants of up to $5,000 to qualifying nonprofit organizations that create and/or continue programs or projects promoting physical fitness and nutrition education.

The Ravens also have an All Community Team (ACT) with the mission to increase corporate and community awareness of the Ravens All Community Team Foundation, player foundations, and associated local charitable organizations through a season-long NFL football competition between area and regional Baltimore-based business leaders and companies. The All Community Team is a partnership among the Ravens organization, the players and members of the corporate community.

As former RACTF Executive Director Melanie LeGrande mentioned in a previous ABAG Adventures in Philanthropy blog post: "The Baltimore Ravens have a strong commitment to serving children and families in need in our area. As we all know, strategic philanthropy and collective impact are key to making a long-term difference. The team and its players have many such initiatives.”

Given that the Ravens have a strong commitment to the community, in addition to appearances by Ravens players, coaches and staff, the team assists hundreds of charities and nonprofit organizations through in-kind donations of team memorabilia, through a variety of community programs, and through ticket give-aways to volunteers through The Honors Row effort.

And, Ravens players are very active in the community through individual foundations and giving efforts of their own, including players like:

· Ray Lewis

· Ray Rice

· Torrey Smith

· Ed Reed

· Michael Oher

· Jameel McCLain

· Lardarius Webb

· Matt Birk

· Anquan Boldin

· James Ihedigbo

· Paul Kruger

· Vonta Leach

· Haloti Ngata

· Bernard Pollard

· LaQuan Williams

Learn more about the charitable endeavors of the Baltimore Ravens All Community Team Foundation.

We thank the Ravens for the goodwill and cheer that they continue to bring our community - not just this coming week - but throughout the year.

Go Ravens!

Tags:  ABAG  ABAG Members  Baltimore  Ravens 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Baltimore Integration Partnership Update
December 13, 2012

By Kurt Sommer, Director

Johns Hopkins University Announces $10 Million Commitment to Neighborhoods
Congratulations to Johns Hopkins University on its commitment to contribute $10 million over five years to enhance and strengthen the 11 neighborhoods surrounding the university's Homewood campus in Central Baltimore. This $10 million in flexible funding is the first commitment to the $60 million HCPI agenda. The goal for the JHU funding is to help enhance and strengthen neighborhoods by funding projects chosen in conjunction with the neighborhoods themselves and with other members of the Homewood Community Partners Initiative, a collaborative effort convened by Johns Hopkins last year. JHU also announced that it is setting aggressive new goals for hiring and promoting Baltimore City residents and for making purchases from local and minority owned businesses. Read More about the Announcement and the HCPI Initiative

TRF Partners with Seawall on Homeownership Project in Central Baltimore
BIP's CDFI partner, The Reinvestment Fund, closed financing with Seawall Development Corporation helping move forward the redevelopment of 10 homes in the Remington neighborhood. The project is part of a larger 30 unit redevelopment targeting teachers and other residents transitioning from rental housing into homeownership. The redevelopment is leveraging land and vacant buildings awarded through Baltimore City's Vacants to Value program as well as purchase incentives for homebuyers provided through Greater Homewood Community Corporation from the Abell Foundation. The project includes the BIP's inclusion goals for hiring and construction contracting. This project is the 8th development project financed by TRF in Baltimore over the past 18 months including two New Market Tax Credit transactions. Congratulations to Seawall and TRF. Read More about this project and Seawall's projects here and here.

City of Baltimore Announces New Job Hubs
Congratulations to the Mayor's Office of Employment Development and the City of Baltimore on the launch of 4 new community job hubs. The hubs are being operated in partnership with area community organizations. The four hubs are intended to supplement services offered at the City's three one-stop career centers by offering no-cost classes taught by professional technology trainers that prepare residents for 21st-century jobs as well as access to academic resources, customized skill training, employer recruitment events, job alerts, and job fairs. Read more here and here.

Train-Baltimore Website Launched
Job Opportunities Task Force completed a new online resource for Baltimore area residents seeking to build their skills and find training resources to meet career goals. The website synthesizes the vast array of nonprofit and community college training programs while providing connectivity to other supportive and job search services. The website culminates a two year effort by JOTF to make this information more readily available and better connect area residents to workforce services and resources.

Small Business Ecosystem Study Launched
Associated Black Charities (ABC) and the BIP are jointly launching a study of the small business ecosystem led by area researcher Marsha Schachtel. This work builds on earlier work led by ABC and was inspired by a similar study recently completed in Cleveland. A small advisory group has been formed to help guide the research which is expected to last approximately 5 months.

CDFI Roundtable Convened
A variety of BIP stakeholders including Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Reinvestment Fund, the City of Baltimore, and the Maryland ABCD Network, were joined by the Opportunity Finance Network to host a CDFI Roundtable last week. Participants included a range of CDFIs as well as CDFI support organizations to explore common interests in an ongoing local network as well as better understanding barriers and opportunities to grow CDFI capacity in the area. The BIP and other stakeholders plan to reconvene the group in the new year.

BIP in the News
Joe Nathanson recently covered the work of the BIP in his The Daily Record column. The article, available through subscription, can be found here.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The goal of the Baltimore Integration Partnership is to reconnect low-income Baltimore City residents who are predominantly African American to the regional economy, maximize the linkage between physical and human capital development, and to reinvest in targeted inner-core neighborhoods so that they become regionally competitive, economically diverse, sustainable communities of choice. Learn more about the Baltimore Integration Partnership by visiting our website.

Tags:  Baltimore  Baltimore Integration Partnership  Workforce 

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A Toast to Baltimore’s Best Philanthropic Ambassador!

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Wednesday, November 28, 2012
November 28, 2012

By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz
ABAG Communications Director

On Monday night ABAG members, friends, partners, family, current and former staff gathered at the beautiful offices of #ABAGMember Legg Mason to honor and celebrate the extraordinary tenure of ABAG President Betsy Nelson.
 

Looking over Baltimore Harbor and directly at the Domino Sugar sign, it wasn’t hard to feel overwhelming pride for the philanthropic leadership Betsy has provided to Baltimore, the region, and across the country. Legg Mason Chairman Mark Fetting toasted Betsy as one of Baltimore’s greatest ambassadors, and Jan Rivitz of the Straus Foundation mentioned that hiring Betsy was one of her greatest accomplishments!

When ABAG Board Chair Beth Harber highlighted the profound impact Betsy has had on ABAG and our community, there wasn’t a person in the room not silently or publicly nodding their head. As Beth has said, "we are extremely grateful for the 26 remarkable years Betsy has dedicated to strengthening Baltimore's philanthropic sector … she is and will continue to be a true champion for philanthropy.”

Betsy’s husband David and her three daughters Sara, Stephanie and Jennifer were all on hand to toast her as well. And, on behalf of ABAG’s staff, I was proud to give Betsy a beautiful Memory Book that holds numerous heartfelt sentiments, well wishes, and photos that celebrate Betsy’s 26 year tenure at ABAG.

After all, who doesn’t want to celebrate Betsy?

While within one Memory Book it was challenging to depict the spectacular impact Betsy has had on individuals, organizations and our community, we were able to highlight the person that Betsy is and the profound impact she has had as a leader, professional, partner, mentor, woman, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend in our community.

And because of this, it’s no surprise that a mere two months after it’s launch, The Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund already has over $250,000 in donations. I suppose it’s fitting that we celebrated Betsy’s philanthropic impact the day before #GivingTuesday. You can donate and learn more about the fund here.

Betsy’s last day at ABAG is this Friday November 30 and we are excited to welcome our new President Celeste Amato, who will begin her tenure as ABAG’s second president on December 3, 2012.

ABAG’s board has asked Betsy to continue through the month of December in a consulting capacity to Celeste, to help with her orientation and transition and Betsy will continue her involvement with the Baltimore Integration Partnership through February 2013.
 
You can read more about Betsy’s accomplishments here within remarks made by Beth Harber at the November 16, 2012 AFP National Philanthropy Day celebration, where Betsy was honored with the Community Impact Award.  
 
And tonight, at the Citizens Planning and Housing Association's (CPHA) Annual Meeting, Betsy will be honored with the Frances Morton Froelicher Civic Statesmanship Award. This award is given to an individual who demonstrates outstanding commitment to and achievement in improving the quality of life for all Baltimoreans, particularly in community development, affordable housing, improved public education, and/or greater racial harmony.  

Here’s to accomplishments, impact, building on history, and growth in the future. Thanks for everything "Bets!” - you will be missed.

Cheers to the next chapter.

Tags:  ABAG  Baltimore  Betsy Nelson  Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 23, 2012

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

ABAG Announces Appointment of New President
The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers is pleased to announce the appointment of our new President, Celeste Amato. Celeste comes to ABAG with an inspiring leadership background in public service. She has an eighteen year career in City government, most recently in entrepreneurial positions as architect of, and Media and Communications Director for, Baltimore City's Cleaner Greener Initiative and the City's conversion to single stream recycling and One PLUS ONE curbside waste collection. "Philanthropy can make the critical difference in so many issues important to the future of our city, our region, our communities and our individual quality of life" says Celeste. "I look forward to bringing fresh eyes and new energy to an extremely successful organization and will work to firmly establish the philanthropic community as an essential and highly valued partner in local and regional program and policy development, implementation and success." Read More

BIP Teams with Karp Resources to Explore Local Food Procurement Opportunities

The BIP is pleased to announce that Karp Resources will be working with several BIP Anchor Institution partners to explore how to strengthen linkages between their food spending and local food suppliers. Karp Resources' will explore both the supply side of area businesses in this sector but also the workforce opportunities that may result from the increased local business investment. This research initiative builds on the ongoing work BIP stakeholders are taking to explore how to best leverage the hiring, purchasing, and capital investment power of anchor institutions as well as the BIP's recent workforce training investments in food and culinary preparation.

Pathways to Employment in America's Cities

This new report by the National Skills Coalition explores ways that federal policy can better support efforts to integrate physical and human capital investments in America's cities. The work incorporates input from several BIP stakeholders as well as leaders from New Orleans, the Twin Cities, Chicago, and Seattle. The report argues "that federal investments that create jobs and federal investments that prepare people for jobs are not always aligned. Likewise, at the local level, community development and workforce development efforts are often not coordinated. Despite growing interest in making this connection, it has been challenging for local community development and workforce development practitioners to collaborate, even as both know that coordination is essential for improving the skills and employability of low-income individuals and for more efficiently using limited public resources.” Read the Report

Federal Reserve Hosting Forum on Anchor Institutions in Baltimore
The Baltimore Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond is hosting the fourth forum in the series Redefining Capital: Exploring Baltimore's Next Economy on November 8, 2012. A range of national and local panelists and speakers will discuss the linkages between anchor institutions and their surrounding communities as well as opportunities to leverage anchors to help catalyze neighborhood reinvestment. Speakers include Mary Kay Leonard, President and CEO, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, as well as representatives of several of the BIP's anchor institution partners.
Register for this Event.

Baltimore's Sustainable Communities Initiative Launch Event
Please join regional civic and political stakeholders at the University of Baltimore's Moot Courtroom on Monday, October 29, 3:00 – 7:00 PM for the launch of Baltimore's Sustainable Communities Initiative. The initiative includes efforts to explore regional approaches to workforce and housing which will be incorporated into a regional plan for sustainable development. Guest presenters include Dr. Manuel Pastor and Rha Goddess. Dr. Pastor, Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California will speak to us on issues of demographic change, economic inequality, and community empowerment. Rha Goddess is a world renowned performing artist and activist, her work has been featured internationally in several compilations, anthologies, forums and festivals. For more details and event registration.

The goal of the Baltimore Integration Partnership is to reconnect low-income Baltimore City residents who are predominantly African American to the regional economy, maximize the linkage between physical and human capital development, and to reinvest in targeted inner-core neighborhoods so that they become regionally competitive, economically diverse, sustainable communities of choice.

Learn more about the Baltimore Integration Partnership by visiting our website

Tags:  Baltimore  BIP  Capa  Living Cities  Workforce  Workforce development 

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The Baltimore Ravens Serve Children and Families

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Tuesday, November 22, 2011

By Melanie LeGrande
Executive Director, RACTF/Director of Community Relations, [ABAG Member] Baltimore Ravens

"This is our culture, and we’re proud to make a difference."

The Baltimore Ravens have a strong commitment to serving children and families in need in our area.

As we all know, strategic philanthropy and collective impact are key to making a long-term difference. The team and its players have many such initiatives. But we cannot forget that in the short-term, there are still those who need our attention. Those who have to choose between holiday meals and keeping the lights on. Those who have to choose between holiday gifts for their children and heat for the winter.

During the holidays, we are happy to say that our players join forces every year to provide meals, gifts and funds to those who desperately need it. Many of the players have been on the receiving end of such distributions and recognize that they are now in a position to return the favor. Additional players know the importance of giving back and take the time to give. 

According to the Maryland Food Bank, there are 466,000 people in the state who are food insecure, meaning they are unsure of where their next meal is coming from. Each year, the Ravens organization and its players commit to making a difference by feeding Maryland families. Below is an example of events taking place around Thanksgiving efforts.

* Ravens LB Ray Lewis hosted his annual distribution of Thanksgiving baskets and home products/toiletries to 800 Baltimore families on Tuesday (11/15).

* Ravens LB Jameel McClain partnered with the Salvation Army Warehouse to extend a helping hand to families in need this holiday season. McClain hosted his second annual Thanksgiving distribution on Tuesday (11/15), where 53 families were presented with a Thanksgiving basket complete with a turkey and all the trimmings.

* On Tuesday (11/15), the sixth annual holiday dinner at the Helping Up Mission men’s shelter in downtown Baltimore was led by Ravens RB Ray Rice.Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mixed vegetables, rolls and dessert was a special meal for 350 men who live and visit the shelter.

* Ravens G Ben Grubbs and CB/RS Lardarius Webb teamed to distribute Thanksgiving baskets to 300 Baltimore-area, single-parent families on Friday (11/18). The third annual event was held at the Park Heights Boys & Girls Club.

* Ravens C Andre Gurode distributed 500 turkeys to families in need on the east side of Baltimore, working alongside Israel Baptist Church and Collington Square School, on Friday (11/18).

* On Friday (11/18), Ravens S Ed Reed distributed Thanksgiving meals with all the fixings to 300 families of the SEED School in Baltimore, Md. This was the first of three Thanksgiving basket distributions that Reed will facilitate. Others will take place on Monday, Nov. 21 at Coppin State, and at Booker T. Washington Middle on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

* Ravens LB Brendon Ayanbadejo will serve families on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29. He is working with a local charter school in south Baltimore.

* The Ravens are hosting their 16th annual Food & Funds Drive throughout the month of November. Over 50 Giant Food stores will be collecting non-perishables, and the virtual food drive (www.mdfoodbank.org/ravens) will be collecting funds.

At the winning Ravens vs. Bengals game on Nov. 20, more than 100 volunteers took part in the stadium collection. In 2010, the efforts generated 25,000 lbs of food and more than $30,000.

This is our culture, and we’re proud to make a difference.

Tags:  Baltimore  Football  Philanthropy  Ravens 

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Adventures in Philanthropy: Foundations Provide Help for City Schools

Posted By Betsy Nelson, Monday, August 15, 2011

August 14, 2011

Baltimore City Public Schools are back in session Aug. 29. Across the city, students are getting ready for a new year at their neighborhood school, a charter school, a specialized high school or a transformation school.

Their school might be brand new or have 172 years of tradition. Their learning experience might include lots of projects, a focus on science and math, student leadership, the arts or language immersion.

These options are signs of health, growth and increased family choices within the Baltimore City Schools System. Whatever the type of school, its grades or its curricular focus, all Baltimore public schools share their accountability as part of one Baltimore City Public School System.

There is great depth and breadth to the growth of choices within the school system. It has made school choice an option for all middle and high school students while also investing in creating new options such as the REACH! Partnership School.

Choice comes with its own challenges. It can be hard to keep up with the changes and know how to get all the information you need about your choices within the city school system. But recent experience indicates improvements in educating students and families about their options.

Making a difference

This year almost 99 percent of students entering middle and high school chose the school they wished to attend, compared to 88 percent five years ago. Being able to select middle or high school or a charter school is the ultimate parent engagement strategy.

Funders, community leaders, institutions and individuals have stepped up to make school choice a reality for Baltimore's kids. Local foundations provide crucial startup funds for new schools.

Several foundations also created Supporting Public Schools of Choice, a project to support charter, transformation, and other contract schools operated by the Baltimore City Public School System and hosted by the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

The Living Classrooms Foundation, Civic Works, Coppin State University, and most recently Maryland Institute College of Art are all operating partners of public schools.

The Goldseker Foundation is creatively supporting partnerships between neighborhood groups and local schools. One of these neighborhood collectives features a traditional, a charter and a parochial school.

Getting involved

With one email question and one hour of research, I identified more than 30 graduates of the Greater Baltimore Committee's Leadership program who are active board members of a public school.

Another 10 are leaders in organizations or businesses with robust public school partnerships. Five more replied, "Not involved now but how do I get more involved?”

This is a skewed sample of the civically minded, for sure, but I am impressed to find folks asking how they can get involved with the city's schools.

Join them

As the city school system works to provide support for all schools so that progress is made for all students, community partners have never had so many opportunities to make a difference.

Join a board of a charter school or the school and community council of a traditional school. Help marketing efforts that will make school choices in Baltimore more robust.

Provide financial support for city-wide efforts to educate parents, guardians and community-based service organizations about how to select a school and how to get involved.

For more information, visit www.volunteerforcityschools.org or contact Baltimore City Public Schools' Office of Partnerships, Communications and Community Engagement at 410-545-1870.


Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org.

Tags:  Baltimore  City  Foundations  Goldseker Foundation  Schools 

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Program Helps Renters Hurt by Foreclosure

Posted By Betsy Nelson, Monday, May 2, 2011

May 1, 2011

The foreclosure crisis and subsequent financial fallout for homeowners have been headline news for years now. But a less visible aspect of the crisis has quietly emerged — the plight of renters whose landlords are facing foreclosure.

Real estate investors flooded the market during Baltimore’s housing boom in the early to mid-2000s, and during the bust, many of these investors-turned-landlords could no longer afford the mortgages.

Data from Baltimore Housing and the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance show that in 2010, an estimated 42 percent of the foreclosure starts in Baltimore were for investor-owned residential properties. This trend has increased in the first quarter of 2011.

Thanks to federal and state laws passed in 2009 and 2010, tenants of foreclosed property generally have the right to stay for 90 days after the sale date, or for the duration of their lease.

This gives tenants more time to secure a new home and make arrangements for moving, while preventing another vacant property from contributing to neighborhood blight. Unfortunately, many tenants are not aware of these rights, but a group of local and national nonprofits and philanthropies are working to change that with a new marketing campaign.

Getting the word out

Last month the Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition — based at the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative, a project of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers — launched a citywide campaign directed at tenants of foreclosed property.

The "Landlord Foreclosed? Renters Have Rights!”campaign kicked off with a press event featuring U.S. Reps. Elijah Cummings and John Sarbanes, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and City Council President Bernard C. "Jack” Young. It includes bus ads, television and print stories, and a public service announcement from Young.

The goal of this campaign is to let renters know that they do not have to vacate their home immediately and that free nonprofit legal assistance is available through the Public Justice Center. The Open Society Institute’s Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative supports the campaign, and the Public Justice Center is a key partner and legal services provider.

A unique collaboration

The Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition and the Rental Housing Coalition have been working together for over two years on this issue through the Renters and Foreclosure Committee. Activities of this group include outreach to city residents, data collection, and discussions with local stakeholders such as real estate agents and foreclosure attorneys.

Program officers at the Abell Foundation are active participants in the committee, volunteering both their time and expertise to the cause.

Baltimore is ahead of the curve with this unique collaboration. A representative from the National Center on Homelessness and Poverty who recently sat in on a meeting of the Renter and Foreclosure Committee commented that no other place she had visited had as sophisticated and comprehensive an effort as Baltimore.

We can take pride in knowing that funders and nonprofits are working together to empower some of the city’s most vulnerable citizens.

If you are interested in learning more about the Renter and Foreclosure Committee, please contact Committee Chair Beth Harber at harber@abell.org.

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org.


Tags:  Baltimore  Foreclosure  Neighborhood  Owners  Real Estate  Renters 

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Blue Water Baltimore Emerges From Merger

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, March 7, 2011

March 3, 2011

Mergers are common in the business world, but relatively rare in the nonprofit sector. That’s why I am intrigued by the story of Blue Water Baltimore.

Baltimore’s four watershed associations and the Baltimore Harborkeeper pulled off a complicated feat when they merged last fall to become Blue Water Baltimore. With encouragement and support from the funding community, five independent organizations with related missions joined together to protect the streams, harbor and rivers of our greater Baltimore area.

The predecessor organizations were the watershed associations of the Herring Run, the Jones Falls, the Gwynns Falls and the Baltimore Harbor, as well as the Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper. Each had a geographic focus, which gave them a strong local identity but also resulted in duplication of effort.

Cathy Brill, program officer for the Rauch Foundation, which invested in many stages of the process, says, "We really felt that the urban voice for water was strikingly silent, even across the state. The merger means that now we have someone who is authorized to speak for the Baltimore area.”

The merger idea dates back to 2004 at least and the process itself began two years ago. An early step involved grants from several area foundations, including Rauch and the Keith Campbell Foundation, to support collaborative work on stormwater messaging in the city.

Three of the watershed organizations participated in a three-year capacity building initiative supported through the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network. This effort helped organizations lay the groundwork for the merger.

Pro bono services by Baltimore’s legal community played an important role in helping the five organizations form a single legal entity. The Goldseker and Rauch foundations split the cost of a consultant to take the five boards through a structured decision process.

The outcome was never assumed and the five organizations retained their option to stay independent until the final vote in August 2010.

The Rauch Foundation published a detailed study of the merger, with the participants — staff, board members, grantmakers, and consultants — reflecting on their process and providing insights.

As the report says, "Every merger, no matter the context, will have a unique set of issues to address. Mergers between nonprofit organizations, however, will likely share some characteristics of the Baltimore merger.”

Click here to download and read the report 

Four major factors:

The watershed groups negotiated a host of detailed questions about the mission, programs, and operations of the new organization. Involved Board and staff leadership have identified four major factors that created a positive context for moving ahead.

1.Sound reasons for merging. The Baltimore groups’ primary goal was to combine strengths, believing this could lead to stronger programs, a larger platform for influencing policy, and more financial efficiency. Both the merging organizations and supporting grantmakers caution that mergers should not be viewed as means to save money. A merged organization may spend money more effectively by consolidating costs for office space, systems, and fundraising; however, budget needs may actually increase over time.

2.Compatible organizations and inter-staff relationships.The Baltimore groups had some variations in missions and programs, but they shared the same goals and challenges.

3.Organizational awareness of long-term needs.The leadership of each organization had been working internally on long-term planning for their separate organizations.

4.Encouragement from grantmakers. The watershed groups met with grantmakers before beginning any formal part of the merger process. The local funding community not only supported a merger, but encouraged it. Grantmakers agreed that indefinitely supporting five separate organizations would ultimately limit their ability to grow. They also indicated that having one organization, rather than five, would not necessarily decrease the overall amount of environmental funding for Baltimore.

Board president T.J. Mullen is pleased by their unified mission.

"We are now a more comprehensive organization that truly covers the watersheds of Baltimore,” Mullen said. "We have the opportunity to make an impact on the water quality of Baltimore, period. Not a piece here, a piece there. All of these different watersheds are being cared for under one roof, without duplicating efforts.”

To learn more about Blue Water Baltimore, visit www.bluewaterbaltimore.org

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org.

Tags:  Baltimore  environment  Foundation  funders  grantmakers  merger  mergers  Nonprofits  Rauch 

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Finding Career Jobs for Low-Wage Workers

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's always inspiring to start a new year with some good news.

Just before the holidays, it was announced that Baltimore is one of 10 communities to receive a total of $5.5 million in new funding to expand innovative approaches to job training and career support from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions via the federal government's Social Innovation Fund — a landmark effort to co-invest with private philanthropy in identifying solutions to some of the nation's toughest challenges.

The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, housed at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, will receive $600,000 over two years to add to its investments in work force partnerships that train and place formerly low-wage workers in career track jobs in biotechnology, construction, health care and food service/culinary arts.

Meeting employers' needs

Work force partnerships bring employers and training providers together in targeted sectors to create training and career support programs that meet the needs of employees and employers.

"The highly effective work force partnerships supported by the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative are meeting the needs of our region's employers while training and placing formerly low-wage workers in jobs that can support their families and lead to a career — even in this difficult economy,” said Marci Hunn of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, a co-chair of the Baltimore Funders Collaborative.

Along with the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, other members of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative include the Mayor's Office of Employment Development, the Abell Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, whose associate director for civic sites and investments, Patrice Cromwell, joins Hunn as co-chair.

Dollar-for-dollar match

In the press release that accompanied the announcement of the award, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake noted that she "was extremely proud to receive word that Baltimore had been selected as one of the first recipients of a Social Innovation Fund award.”

The Social Innovation Fund award establishes a dollar-for-dollar match from the Living Cities Integration Initiative for work force training announced as part of a larger award to Baltimore several months ago. Staff and logistical support for the Collaborative comes from the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

We are particularly proud to have received this grant because the Social Innovation Fund is an innovative new federal funding source that addresses major challenges confronting communities by growing high-impact nonprofit organizations delivering proven solutions.

This blog post was originally published in the Daily Record, as part of a bi-weekly column series written by ABAG President Betsy Nelson


Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org.

Tags:  Baltimore  collaborative  foundations  fund  giving  innovation  philanthropy  social  solutions  workforce 

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IBM Grant to Help Baltimore Deliver Services

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Thursday, December 9, 2010

IBM recently inaugurated the Smarter Cities Challenge, a competitive grant program that will award $50 million worth of technology and services to help 100 municipalities across the world — including Baltimore.

Teams of IBM experts will provide city leaders with recommendations for successful growth, better delivery of municipal services, more citizen engagement and improved efficiency.

This new program is the single-largest philanthropic investment planned by IBM, which made $186 million worth of charitable contributions in 2009.

Over the next three years, IBM consultants will immerse themselves in local issues involving the administration of health care, education, safety, social services, transportation, communications, sustainability, budget management, energy and utilities.

To ensure the success of the Smarter Cities Challenge, IBM is conducting a series of pilot grants in Baltimore, and Austin, Texas, and the Charlotte, N.C., area that are producing valuable insight into how cities might derive the greatest benefit from IBM’s expertise, and will serve as a model for engagements elsewhere.

"We are honored to have been the first city chosen for IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "Over the last number of weeks, we enjoyed brainstorming with IBM about making the delivery of Baltimore City’s citizen services even more effective.

"It was refreshing to hear new and creative points of view, and inspiring to hear about the successful approaches undertaken by other like-minded cities. I was particularly pleased that they quickly grasped our vision for the future and offered strategies for realizing and even enhancing those potential plans.”

Corporations are finding it increasingly important to have their giving be relevant internally — to employees and other company stakeholders — and are choosing to give more in line with their business focus and expertise. To this end, companies have a great opportunity to "donate” corporate acumen and talent for the betterment of the community.

"Our work with Smarter Cities reflects IBM’s belief that urban areas are increasingly central to society,” said Jim Sellinger, IBM vice president & senior location executive for the Baltimore region. "Many local employees are eager to apply their expertise toward the communities in which they live and work.

"What’s interesting about the Smarter Cities Challenge is that we’re also bringing in IBM employees for these pro bono engagements who happen to live elsewhere,” he added. "These folks can provide a fresh perspective to long-standing local challenges, and can suggest or apply the successful strategies that their communities or work-engagements in other cities may have employed.”

I applaud IBM for their investment in Baltimore and other "Smart Cities” and for leveraging the talent and expertise of their employees to increase their overall corporate "gift.”

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org.

Tags:  Baltimore  corporate  giving  IBM  philanthropy 

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Here's Help for Avoiding Foreclosure Scams

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 24, 2010

Frustratingly, foreclosure remains a persistent problem for residents of Central Maryland, especially Baltimore City. In the first half of 2010, there were 3,663 foreclosures filings in Baltimore compared to 2,853 filings for the first half of 2009.

With changes in Maryland law and the national slowdown in filings, the numbers were down for the third quarter of 2010 but are expected to increase again in 2011.

Recently the Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition, in partnership with NeighborWorks America, launched a campaign to tackle a specific aspect of this problem: loan modification scams. Scammers use the Internet, informal networks and signs attached to utility poles to advertise their services and take unfair and illegal advantage of desperate homeowners.

They make impossible promises - such as guaranteeing to "fix" a mortgage and save a family's home - and charge steep fees for services they do not deliver. Victims end up losing their homes and incurring heavier debts.

Negative impacts

The negative impacts of foreclosure are widespread and long-lasting. With unemployment and under-employment both high, many homeowners are having trouble making their mortgage payments, and some face the difficult choice of what to do when the loan is worth more than the home. In hard-hit areas, houses shift from owner-occupied to rental or they sit empty, and residents on the sidelines of the crisis find their neighborhoods becoming less stable and less safe.

To warn people away from destructive scams, local and national philanthropies are providing leadership and support for BHPC, an alliance with over 50 member organizations, including nonprofits, neighborhood groups, governmental agencies, businesses and professional associations.

Based at the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative, a project of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, BHPC was formed in 2005. Its first marketing campaign - "Mortgage Late? Don't Wait!" - encouraged homeowners in delinquency to contact a nonprofit housing counselor.

The new BHPC campaign warns homeowners at risk of foreclosure to "Be Forewarned, Not Foreclosed" by recognizing and avoiding scammers' schemes. NeighborWorks America is providing funds for the campaign's ear- and eye-catching radio spots, billboards, bus ads and fliers.

Philanthropic support

Philanthropic dollars may be less visible but they are no less important to this campaign and BHPC's broader efforts to prevent and mitigate foreclosure. The Open Society Institute-Baltimore provides substantial funding for staffing, data gathering and programs at BHPC and partner organizations. The Annie E. Casey, Goldseker and Krieger Foundations offer vital operating support to the coalition.

In addition, program officers at the Abell Foundation put in long hours as leaders of key BHPC committees. Through the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative, other foundations as well as banks fund foreclosure prevention services at nonprofit housing counseling agencies throughout Baltimore.

The philanthropic community's impressive level of financial and personal commitment has proven crucial to addressing the foreclosure crisis in Baltimore.

- Betsy Nelson, President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers
bnelson@abagmd.org.

Tags:  Baltimore  BHPC  foreclosure  funders  philanthropy 

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