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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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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update, October 2017

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Thursday, October 19, 2017
Updated: Friday, October 20, 2017

Employer Directory of Workforce Organizations to Help Hire Locally

A collaborative project of the BIP and Central Baltimore Partnership, this new directory of Baltimore nonprofit and public workforce development organizations is now available to help employers and community stakeholders find workforce partners to meet hiring needs. It summarizes the work of more than 45 organizations that support Baltimore City workers by offering skills training, eliminating barriers to employment, and facilitating job placement. These organizations range in size and focus. Some provide general job readiness coaching while others focus on training, certifications, and placement in specific fields including health care, biotechnology, manufacturing, auto repair, construction, information technology and many others. Nonprofit and public workforce development organizations are ideal partners for employers and can facilitate local hiring, reduce long-term unemployment, and mitigate the city’s systemic socio-economic disparities. City residents have immeasurable talents and aspirations that, when matched with effective support, can build careers and create paths to upward mobility. This directory can help employers tap the remarkable potential of city workers. Download the Directory

Towson University commits to economic inclusion and joins the BIP Board; LifeBridge Becomes Co-Chair

The BIP is excited about two recent developments that will help the initiative expand economic inclusion strategies while guiding the growth of our work. Martha Nathanson, Vice-President of Government Relations and Community Development at LifeBridge Health, has become co-chair of the Board. LifeBridge Health has been active with the BIP for several years working to expand local hiring as well as local and minority purchasing. They are an investor in the Park Heights community and are piloting inclusion goals to guide their hiring and investments forward. The BIP Board also welcomed Towson University as a formal member. Towson, which is the largest educational institution in the region, has been participating with the BIP for over a year. The University is actively involved in the administrative assistant training program, employment fairs, and they are implementing training for faculty and staff on structural racism and implicit bias. Towson is the first non-Baltimore City anchor institution to formally join the BIP. Learn More.

Anchors, BIP, City Seeds Kick-Off New Food Business Initiative

Anchor institutions can support the growth of local businesses and jobs through intentional purchasing strategies. The food sector is a strong opportunity as anchors have multiple ways to leverage their purchasing power such as through food service plans, catering, and student/faculty spend. Building on City Seeds business development program School of Food and a growing portfolio of anchor successes in this sector, the BIP is launching a pilot to match the food buying needs of institutions with local businesses coupled with coaching and capacity building assistance for the businesses. Participating organizations include University of Maryland, Baltimore; University of Maryland Medical Center; LifeBridge Health; Maryland Institute College of Art; Loyola University Maryland; Sagamore Hospitality; and Johns Hopkins University. The project is expected to last 6 to 8 months with a goal to create contracting opportunities between the institution or their food service provider and local and minority-owned businesses. Special thanks to food service providers CulinArt, Aramark, Metz Culinary Management, Parkhurst Dining, and Bon Appetit for participating in the initiative. Learn More about School of Food

BIP Anchor Institution Economic Inclusion Activities

Fourteen higher education institutions and hospitals in Baltimore have been working with the BIP to grow their efforts to create economic opportunity for the City. This summary highlights recent accomplishments and ongoing projects that each institution is moving forward. The institutions all bring different business models, economic strengths, capacities, and opportunities for community benefit enabling them to engage collectively on some strategies while they move forward independently on others. Through their leadership and commitments, economic inclusion strategies are unfolding and local impact is growing. Learn More About their Activities.

Central Baltimore Future Fund Helping Propel Investment and Opportunity

Launched in December 2016, the $10 million dollar Central Baltimore Future Fund has supported three redevelopment projects in Central Baltimore. Projects include the latest 12 unit phase of Telesis’ 10 year 325 unit mixed income redevelopment on over 250 parcels in central Baltimore, the construction of 4 units on the 1600 block of Barclay, and improvements to artist studios and living space at the Oliver Street Studios. The Fund requires borrowers to achieve inclusion goals including local hiring and minority contracting. Several blogs have been posted recently on the projects highlighting strategies and outcomes.

Anchored In Place: How Funders Are Helping Anchor Institutions Strengthen Local Economies

Anchor institutions can play a vital role in strengthening and connecting local economies, and can serve as powerful drivers for building inclusive and equitable communities. This new report issued by the Funders’ Network examines the potential these deeply rooted local enterprises hold to create lasting and sustainable change—and illustrates how funders are working with anchor institutions to create healthier, more equitable, and economically vibrant places to live and work. The report highlights case studies in Baltimore (!!!), Chicago, Twin Cities, Denver and Albuquerque. Read the Full Report

In the News

Financing Baltimore’s Growth: Measuring Small Companies’ Access to Capital

This new report by Johns Hopkins University’s 21st Century Cities Initiative explores Baltimore’s financing system and the flow of equity, loan, and grant capital to the city’s small businesses, from tech startups to Main Street mainstays. Baltimore has the potential to be a city that is truly hospitable to small business growth, with all the economic benefits of jobs and tax revenue such growth would bring. But for new and established small businesses to thrive, the city needs a financing system with capacity to meet their needs. Read the Full Report

Tags:  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP 

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Lessons from Five Years of Economic Inclusion and Partnership in Baltimore

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Monday, February 1, 2016

January 2016

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

Living Cities Blog

Baltimore is fortunate to have billions of dollars in active investment underway in water/sewer improvements, schools and redevelopment projects, as well as a very strong set of higher education and medical institutions (a.k.a. anchor institutions) that are the city’s largest employers. Yet, we also have systemic economic challenges, poverty and hopelessness that came to a head last April in the uprising following the death of Freddie Gray. In order for Baltimore to make strong inroads into addressing the economic challenges, we need to do a better job of leveraging our assets and investments in new ways.

In Baltimore, we know this work requires multiple players from across sectors to come together differently. Since 2011, the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP), a partnership of philanthropic, nonprofit, financial, anchor and public sector organizations, has been working to advance economic inclusion. Our approach offers opportunities and lessons learned that are important for Baltimore to move forward.

History and Early Wins

The BIP was launched as part of the nationalLiving Cities Integration Initiativeand was awarded grant funds and debt financing to improve the lives of low-income individuals. We started new workforce activities and expanded existing efforts in central and east Baltimore. In addition, the BIP made investments in industry based training programs like deconstruction, pre-apprenticeship construction, biotechnology, culinary arts, healthcare and other fields. Through our partner The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), which expanded its lending operations into Baltimore as part of the Integration Initiative, debt financing has supported fifteen projects, leveraging $150 million in investment. Projects include Centre Theater,North Calvert Green and the Chesapeake Building as well as the Hebrew Orphan’s Asylum and the Food Hub which are still pending. We set explicit expectations for borrowers, so that the funds were used to further racial equity and inclusion in our work. Borrowers of these funds worked towards local hiring and minority business contracting goals with workforce partners who provided job ready candidates.Over these first three years of work, partners and grantees provided workforce services for more than 1200 individuals, job training for over 500 and placed 800 into job opportunities in the development projects and beyond. Partners also helped move forward a range of new public policies and programs to sustain the goals of the initiative.

1200 INDIVIDUALS In the first three years of work, Baltimore Integration Partnership partners and grantees provided workforce services for more than 1200 individuals.

Barriers to Scaleable Change/Progress

While we are encouraged by the progress the BIP has made so far, we stumbled into numerous barriers:

  • Decentralization and Structural Racism Helped to Create and Reinforce our Challenges.Baltimore has suffered from population and job loss to the suburbs. This phenomenon, paired with a history of structural racism, has squarely impacted Baltimore’s African American community, separating people from opportunity, and helping concentrate and fuel ongoing cycles of poverty. In addition, the economic shift has limited the city’s tax base and undermined its ability to reinvest in itself and its residents. Through our work, we found that many residents seeking employment suffered from a limited education and were not prepared for free job training programs requiring bridge math and GED classes. These challenges are further compounded by the reality that nearly one out of five Baltimore residents do not have a high school degree and many job applicants have a criminal background that further limits their employment options. Through our work, the BIP found that employers were hesitant to commit to local hiring without strong workforce partners that could prepare residents for jobs. However, even though there are strong workforce-training programs, there are limited training slots and apprehension about adding more without jobs to go with them. And even though the initiative was creating new opportunities, there were many people looking for more help than we could provide, and few transportation options to connect the residents in need of work with job centers in the suburbs. We believe that a complementary state and regional lens to opportunity is fundamental for Baltimore to tackle these challenges at scale.

  • There are More Needs than Resources Requiring Coordination.Redevelopment projects supported by our work took longer than anticipated and some never materialized as developers struggled with deteriorating site conditions, redevelopment costs that exceeded market values, and fragmented funding streams and decision processes. City and State community development programs like the Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative,Community Legacy,Sustainable Communities Tax Credits and Vacants to Value provided crucial reinvestment supports. TRF, a community development financial institution, was instrumental in helping weave together funding sources while offering technical assistance to developers. To foster workforce opportunities in these projects, a range of workforce providers had to be coordinated to meet the varying needs and interests of residents and businesses. Our work has required stakeholders to apply a different lens: leveraging shared resources and seeking to build bridges to coordinate efforts and resources. Partners also have had to put individual self-acclaim and politics aside and think of the outcomes as the efforts of the whole.

The Opportunity of Anchor Institutions

The BIP also began working with area higher educational and medical institutions to advance economic inclusion through local hiring and purchasing, which in turn helps to create jobs. Our belief was that, if anchor institutions who have bottom lines can achieve inclusion, so can the private sector. We started with just two institutions in 2011 – Maryland Institute College of Art and Johns Hopkins University. Over the past two years, the initiative has focused more deliberately on this work, growing the number of anchor participants by 11 (and now with a total of 14, including three engaging in workforce) working in collaboration with the Mayor’s Baltimore City Anchor Plan.

11The Baltimore Integration Partnership now has a total number of 11 anchor participants - up from just two in 2011.

These anchor institutions recognized that their own future is reliant on attracting competitive students and faculty, and having healthy and safe neighborhoods. Efforts are still unfolding, but many institutions are moving forward with new strategies to support area communities like the new Hopkins Local initiative, the University of Maryland-Baltimore’s growing community engagement strategies, and leadership by the Maryland Institute College of Art to grow the creative economy. Two new workforce initiatives have recently been launched with Center for Urban Families and Humanim driven by anchor leadership connecting residents to workforce services, training and jobs including those in the institutions. Several anchors are expanding their efforts to purchase from local and minority owned businesses to create jobs. Local hiring is being fostered not just through anchor internal positions, but also through reinvestment projects.

Challenges to Achieving Scale

Though we are seeing progress in the anchor strategies, we have also encountered challenges.

  • There are Process, Policy and System Barriers to Economic Inclusion.Research by the University of Colorado Denver finds that there are barriers to this work such as the capacity of local workers and businesses. Procurement and hiring policies avoid risk, seek efficiency and scale, and typically do not consider local businesses or applicants. State schools are not permitted to prioritize local businesses, even as new legislative programs like RISE seek to leverage the economic power of anchors. Employment opportunities are highly competitive, as often hundreds apply; putting disconnected local residents at a disadvantage. State and local minority business certification programs that could help find local businesses are duplicative, with no reciprocity. And, there is no single list of Baltimore businesses for institutions or the private sector to turn to consider for their purchasing supply chains.

  • Leadership is Needed for Economic Inclusion to Be Successful.Economic inclusion requires organizations to modify their business processes and take risks to do day-to-day work differently. For example, procurement actions designed to engage disadvantaged local businesses such as participating in outreach events, "unbundling” contracts, or setting minority or local purchasing goals may take more time and staff effort. Similarly, human resource leaders need authority to build relationships with workforce organizations that can help with outreach, screening and training. Largely, economic inclusion requires CEO buy-in. This buy-in enables other decision makers with the authority they need to take risks, prioritize their time, and build relationships with organizations that can help achieve inclusion goals.

Economic inclusion can create jobs and opportunities for Baltimore and is an approach to people and placed-based investment that can be replicated by individuals, businesses and other anchors to multiply opportunities. But making inroads into Baltimore’s deep socio-economic challenges is bigger than the individualized efforts of any one organization or government. To be efficient and effective at addressing Baltimore’s needs, we must do things differently, build partnerships, and take risks with intentional efforts to overcome our tendencies of doing what is easiest. We have assets, investments and opportunities through economic inclusion in front of us. If we don’t open up new pathways for Baltimore residents and business, who will?

The Baltimore Integration Partnership is funded by the national Living Cities Integration Initiative and generous local support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Goldseker Foundation, Associated Black Charities, The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative and the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG). ABAG acts as a backbone organization, coordinating and staffing the partnership.

Tags:  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  February 2016 Members' Memo  Living Cities 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, August 12, 2015
July 29, 2015
By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP)

Two New Anchors Join the BIP
The BIP is pleased to welcome Notre Dame of Maryland University and LifeBridge Health to the partnership. Eleven anchor institutions are now part of the collective impact strategy focused on establishing economic inclusion as the business culture of norm in the Baltimore region through local hiring, purchasing and community reinvestment.

BIP Helps Support MICA Arts Incubator Study

The BIP has awarded funding to the Maryland Institute College of Art to explore the development of a career acceleration support network for artists and designers with economic and social equity impact. A consultant will help evaluate the feasibility of a city-wide infrastructural network to attract and retain creative talent helping incubate businesses as well as support those in the creative space. The study is expected to last approximately six months and is jointly funded by the Surdna Foundation.

BIP, Food Hub, City Seeds, and Lexington Market Collaborate on #MadeInBaltimore Food Vendor Fair

Hosted at Lexington Market in June, BIP anchor institutions, food service providers, hotels, and restaurants networked with thirty local food vendors showcasing their products. Well covered by the media, the event not only connected anchor institutions with local purchasing opportunities, the effort promoted local businesses andraised up the importance of local purchasing to help create jobs in Baltimore. The event was coordinated with City Seeds, A Humanim Social Enterprise, which will accelerate food businesses in Baltimore and support job creation in the food innovation economy through a planned business training program called the School of Food. Read more in the Baltimore Sun and see the event video.

BIP supports "Made in Baltimore” Pop Up Shop and Vendor Fair for Anchors

Organized by the Industrial Arts Collective (IAC) of Baltimore, a pop up shop will be held in the gallery space of North Avenue Market startingon August 8thgoing through September 25th. The pop up shop will feature products made by more than 50 light manufacturers, artists, and others. As part of this effort, the IAC and the BIP will be collaborating to connect partners and anchors to IAC businesses and locally made products on September 15that 5:30. BIP event details forthcoming – contact BIP staff.

Opportunity Collaborative releases Regional Plan for Sustainable Development

Completed in June, the RPSD represents the first joint and sustained effort by the governments and significant non-governmental organizations in the region to collectively address regional planning issues including workforce, transportation and housing to identify cross-cutting responses to the challenges created by regional disparities. The report outlines goals and strategies to advance economic opportunities and competitiveness including working with anchor institutions; improving transportation access to career, training, and educational opportunities; and closing the gap in opportunities between communities by increasing the supply of housing affordable to the region’s workforce at all income levels.Full Report

UChicago, Drexel, and JHU Panel Highlight Anchor Inclusion Initiatives

William Towns (University of Chicago), Lucy Kerman (Drexel), and Charlene Moore Hayes (JHU) spent a June morning with BIP anchor leadership to talk through how each of their respective institutions is moving forward programs and initiatives to support local residents and businesses. Discussion highlights included UChicago Local,which features local hiring and workforce coordination approaches as well as the CASE procurement initiative. Drexel’s Office of University and Community Partnership’s is advancing local purchasing and job training initiatives as well as supports for K-12 schools in West Philly.Finally, Johns Hopkins is moving forward comprehensive efforts to hire locally including the hiring of exoffenders.


The Baltimore Integration Partnership is funded by the national Living Cities Integration Initiative and generous local support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Goldseker Foundation, Associated Black Charities, The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative and the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG),which acts as a backbone organization, coordinating and staffing the partnership.

Tags:  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  September 2015 Members' Memo  Workforce 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update - March 2015

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Thursday, March 26, 2015
Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2015

March 26, 2015

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

Strong Workforce, Strong Economy: Baltimore Regional Workforce Development Plan
This new report from the Opportunity Collaborative combines earlier studies on workforce barriers and career pathways and offers recommendations to advance workforce development in the region. The report explores strategies for strengthening industry led partnerships, building stronger basic skills/post-secondary education, improving transportation/job accessible housing, undermining structural racism, supporting people with criminal records, and expanding resources. The report will ultimately be incorporated with regional plans on transportation and housing in a "Regional Plan for Sustainable Development” which is expected to be released this summer.

TRF to manage HCPI Development Fund; BIP helps capitalize fund
The HCPI Development Fund has negotiated a relationship with The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) to manage a targeted $10 million fund for real estate redevelopment in Central Baltimore. The HCPI Fund will be used in tandem with $4.5 million in acquisition funds from the State of Maryland. So far, Johns Hopkins University has committed $750,000 from the HCPI budget to the Fund; the BIP has enabled TRF to prioritize $400,000 from an existing predevelopment pool for the fund; and TRF has raised $85,000 for staffing from two different sources.

Webinar Discussion/New Report on Economic Inclusion
The Annie E. Casey Foundation hosted a webinar and panel discussion on March 20, 2015 entitled "Community Change: A Focus on People and Place” highlighting economic inclusion activities in Baltimore, New Orleans and across the nation. The webinar was recorded and is available for viewing. In addition, a new report "Expanding Economic Opportunity: Lessons from the East Baltimore Revitalization Initiative,” was also released. It details outcomes, findings and recommendations from the inclusion efforts in east Baltimore, includes examples of other inclusion policies and practices from Baltimore (including the BIP) as well as across the nation, and concludes with lessons for the field.

Small Business Resource Center offers "Contractors College”
On April 8th the Small Business Resource Center, in partnership with the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office and the BIP, will be hosting the first of 5 training sessions to help local construction contractors build capacity. The first class will focus on "Doing Business with Hospitals and Universities” and feature overviews by several anchors on their procurement processes and opportunities. Additional classes will feature training on OSHA, Bidding and Estimating, Project Management, and Local Hiring/MBE Certification. More Information.

Food Hub and BIP to Host Food Vendor Fair
Together with American Communities Trust and the Baltimore Integration Partnership, the Baltimore Food Hub is organizing a Vendor Fair on June 8th from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Lexington Market to showcase the best of Baltimore's local food & beverage businesses. Buyers from anchor institutions, in addition to hotels, supermarkets, and restaurants, will be in attendance with the goal of connecting with local food vendors to arrange potential purchasing and distribution agreements. For more information, please contact

BIP Helps Fund Training on Race and Food
Over 30 individuals including representatives of the Baltimore Food Policy Advisory Committee, area nonprofits, anchor institutions, and community members participated in a day and a half long training on structural racism. The sessions focused on equity in the food sector and explored policy and programmatic issues in relation to food deserts, healthy food access, and community engagement. Coordinated by the Baltimore City Food Policy Director, the training was also supported by Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Baltimore Community Foundation.

Baltimore City / TRF Release 2014 Housing Market Typology
The 2014 Housing Market Typology was completed by TRF in partnership with Baltimore Housing and Baltimore City Planning. The analysis provides a report card on the health of the city housing market and regular updates help reveal changes or trends. The resulting map illustrates the range of housing markets found throughout the City, which are categorized within eight market types. Since 2005, Baltimore’s Housing Market Typol ogy (HMT) has been used to help guide public policy, market studies, community plans, grant funding applications and capital improvement programming. Learn More and Download a Copy.

The Baltimore Integration Partnership is funded by the national Living Cities Integration Initiative and generous local support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Goldseker Foundation, Associated Black Charities, The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative and the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG). ABAG acts as a backbone organization, coordinating and staffing the partnership.

Tags:  April 2015 Members' Memo  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  Workforce 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Monday, March 2, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March 2015

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

Cold? This local ice cream will warm you up!
Made with Baltimore’s Zeke’s Coffee by Glen Arm based Prigel Creamery, this tasty treat comes through the leadership of Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and their food provider Parkhurst Dinning working to direct campus food purchasing to local businesses. This Zeke’s MICA Blend Ice Cream is available only on campus.

University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB) launches Food Merchant Access Initiative
The BIP recently awarded grant funding to support a new initiative to connect catering purchasing by UMB, University of Maryland Medical Center, and Bon Secours to a range of food businesses located in the Southwest Partnership area. UMB is partnering with the Small Business Development Center, CUPs Coffeehouse and Kitchen, Pigtown Main Street, and others to overcome a series of identified barriers, provide technical assistance, and facilitate food delivery.

Loyola University Maryland looks to help improve York Road
Building on local community plans as well as recommendations from the Urban Land Institute, the BIP awarded grant funding to Loyola for a consultant to help explore and formulate some of the infrastructure needed to manage and oversee longer term commercial improvement strategies for this important corridor.

Anchor Driven Centre Theater Construction moves forward with Local Hiring
Building on the leadership of non-profit developer Jubilee Baltimore, Inc., and its general contractor Southway Builders, anchor tenants Johns Hopkins University and the Maryland Institute College of Art are working with Southway Builders to make local hiring opportunities available during the fit-out of their 25,000 square foot space at the Centre Theater on North Avenue. The new center for film will house each institutions’ graduate and undergraduate film programs.With financing from The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), Jubilee and Southway successfully incorporated local hires from Project JumpStart and Greater Homewood into the $6 million core and shell renovations that are wrapping up in March.

BIP Partner to Lead City Workforce Agency
Congratulations to Jason Perkins-Cohen who will be leaving the Job Opportunities Task Force after 10 years to lead theMayor’s Office of Employment Development. JOTFhas been a critical workforce partner with the BIP over the last four years helping move forward a range of new state and local public policies and funding programs as well as project level local hiring opportunities through JumpStart. We look forward to working with Jason in his new role and continuing to partner with JOTF.

TRF Continues Success in Baltimore
Supporting the expansion of The Reinvestment Fund’s lending and investment portfolio into Baltimore was a key objective of the BIP’s first round of work. In 2014, TRF closed $25 million in debt including financing on four Baltimore charter schools, Centre Theater, and phase 2 of the Chesapeake building. In addition, they helped finance the Eastern Shore Conservation Center in Easton, Maryland and finalized an agreement with Baltimore City to manage a pool of funds for energy efficiency projects. We are excited that their role and impact in Baltimore continues to grow. 

The Baltimore Integration Partnership is funded by the national Living Cities Integration Initiative and generous local support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Goldseker Foundation, Associated Black Charities, The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative and the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG). ABAG acts as a backbone organization, coordinating and staffing the partnership.

Tags:  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  March 2015 Members' Memo  Workforce 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) 2014 Year in Review

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, December 30, 2014
December 30, 2014
By Kurt Sommer, BIP Director

Building off of a successful first round of work and through support from Living Cities, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Goldseker Foundation, the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) launched 2.0 in 2014 to deepen anchor institution’s efforts to support area residents, businesses and communities. With nine institutions as well as city, state, foundation, financial, and nonprofit partners, the BIP has been working to advance economic inclusion through anchor institution hiring, purchasing and capital investment powers.
This work is moving forward in alignment with the new Baltimore City Anchor Plan which was signed this past June through the leadership of the Mayor’s Office and the participating anchors.

Through the leadership of our BIP partners, it has been a very productive year:

• Five institutions are currently exploring how to use their hiring powers to better support area residents building from extensive work in this sector by two additional participating anchors. The institutions have been working to better understand internal and external barriers to local hiring, have identified key job sectors with upcoming opportunities, and are connecting with workforce training organizations that can help meet their hiring needs.

• All of the institutions are working to better direct spending to Baltimore minority and local businesses. This past year, the BIP has fostered research exploring anchor food purchasing policies and practices while completing an analysis of the small business ecosystem. Many participating institutions have been opening the door with food which is a common purchasing sector. Additional work in the construction field and cooperative purchasing is being explored.

• All of the institutions are working to improve Baltimore neighborhoods through capital investments, planning, and active partnerships with neighborhood organizations. Baltimore anchors have long been leaders in this field so BIP efforts have been focused on the inclusion side of the capital investments particularly around local hiring. Three institutions currently have buildings underway with local hiring commitments while the balance are exploring the approach for upcoming capital projects or are seeking to strengthen minority and local contracting activities.

As the BIP moves forward into the second of our two year initiative, we look forward to helping our partners move forward new projects and activities to advance and sustain our goals. Thus, the BIP is pleased to announce funding support to make this work possible including:

• A planning grant to support the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Center for Urban Families’ efforts to develop a West Baltimore Workforce Initiative to align workforce services for residents. Programming opportunities would be based at the Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School’s newly renovated Weinberg Library.
• A grant to the American Communities Trust and Food Hub to host a large vendor fair with anchor institution and other local food buyers in late spring. The Food Hub, which the BIP has previously invested in on the capital side, was also just awarded Sustainable Communities Tax Credits by the State of Maryland.

It has been a very exciting year with more to come in 2015. Thank you all for your leadership in moving this work forward. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

The Baltimore Integration Partnership is funded by the national Living Cities Integration Initiative and generous local support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Goldseker Foundation, Associated Black Charities, The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative and the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG). ABAG acts as a backbone organization, coordinating and staffing the partnership.

Tags:  ABAG  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  Workforce 

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Anchoring Job Creation in Baltimore

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Thursday, November 20, 2014
November 20, 2014

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

B’More Organic, a small Baltimore based drinkable yogurt company, recently began selling its products to Maryland Institute College of Art and Loyola University through new relationships forged at a vendor fair this past summer.  Spurred by this and other new contracts, this micro-enterprise is searching for new real estate in the City and is anticipating hiring staff to accommodate market growth.  

Realizing the purchasing power of anchor institutions to support local businesses and in turn create jobs is the focus of a new report, "A Roadmap for Anchor Institution Local Food Purchasing in Baltimore". Authored by Karp Resources, the report explores food procurement processes in anchor institutions, and identifies a range of strategies to more fully realize local purchasing power. The report recommends actions to support local minority-owned and small businesses, modifications to procurement processes, and outlines legislative opportunities to connect purchasing power to businesses in reinvestment areas. Many of the recommendations are applicable not just to food but other services and commodities as well.  

The report further argues that the "actions and methodology used to change procurement processes can serve as a model for the private sector, compounding local job growth and economic impact.”  That premise is a goal for the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP), a collaboration of anchor institutions, foundations, government and nonprofit partners working to explore the economic development power of anchors institutions.  Anchors are heavily invested partners in our communities with a self interest in safe, attractive and vibrant neighborhoods to attract students and faculty. Anchors cannot do it alone, however, and local purchasing power is not unlimited. Local purchasing strategies can be a catalytic force for employment but only one ingredient in a recipe for economic development in Baltimore.

A second important ingredient is small business technical assistance and access to financial services.  An inventory of public and private programs to help businesses grow their companies completed earlier this year for the BIP and Associated Black Charities finds that there are a range of resources available but that a key challenge for businesses is market identification and training in how to make the sale.  It also finds that companies may not know about some of the programs available to them and that many of the programs are not effectively tracking their clients or measuring success.  

To this end, local partners are working to bolster small business resources.  Baltimore Development Corporation recently announced their goals to expand and strengthen small business investment programs. Johns Hopkins University (JHU) announced a pilot technical assistance program to support women and minority owned businesses to help them increase their ability to meet the purchasing needs of large area employers including anchors. Finally, a range of local stakeholders are collaborating on the Food Hub, a new food business incubator which is expected to break ground early next year in east Baltimore.  The Food Hub will support culinary enterprises with technical assistance including help with accessing new contracts such as those with anchor institutions while working to connect area residents to jobs that the businesses create.  

Local purchasing strategies to support area businesses can generate much needed jobs for Baltimore.  However collective action is also needed to be successful as well as an enabling environment to intentionally leverage anchor institution purchasing to build opportunities for area businesses and residents.

Tags:  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  Workforce 

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Mayor Rawlings-Blake Meets With ABAG Members

Posted By Adam Donaldson, Monday, July 28, 2014
Updated: Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014

By Adam Donaldson, ABAG Member Services Director 

On Thursday, July 25, 2014, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined members of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers for a recurring conversation on "a shared vision for the city.”

The Mayor named five priorities to achieve her goal to grow Baltimore by 10,000 families "by attracting new residents and making the decision easy for current residents to stay.”

  1. Make Baltimore safer
  2. Get our fiscal house in order
  3. Create jobs and access to jobs
  4. Develop clean and healthy communities
  5. Improve schools

This is the third time ABAG members met with Mayor Rawlings-Blake. ABAG regularly invites public leaders and agents from all levels of government to meet with members as part our public policy work. We think about public policy less often as legislative activity and more often as sharing strategies and aligning work between government and philanthropyto build stronger communities. As the Mayor said Thursday, "We live in a world where we have to be efficient and effective with our resources.” That starts with engaging partners.

In addressing particular areas where philanthropy can help right now through funding and expertise, the Mayor spent time detailing Youth Connection Centers, Job Readiness, and INSPIRE - community engagement in school construction.

Youth Connection Centers 

Under a new curfew law that has supporters and critics, children under 14 must be off the street at 9:00PM. Children 14 to 16 are able to stay out until 10:00PM on school nights and 11 p.m. on weekends and over the summer. Under existing law in place for two decades but not always enforced, all children and teens younger than 17 could stay out until 11:00PM on weeknights and until midnight on weekends. Found children will be escorted to Youth Connection Centers. There are currently two located in East and West Baltimore with plans to create nine. The parents or guardians face a fine of $500, but the fine can be waived if the family participates in social services. The stated goal is not criminal punishment but rather to connect families to needed help. Investments in family services and the Centers are welcome. Read more in this Sun Article

Job Readiness

The Mayor highlighted recent job growth. To access jobs, she emphasized, Baltimore residents from distressed communities need additional support with remedial education, job credentials and certifications, and soft skills (time management, accepting feedback, etc). ABAG projects the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative (BWFC) and Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) are among efforts underway in job readiness.


Through the 21st Century School Initiative $1.1 Billion will be invested to renovate or replace approximately 30 Baltimore Schools. The Planning Department has begun developing a planning program for the neighborhoods around each of the new/renovated schools (quarter mile radius). The program is called INSPIRE, which stands for Investing in Neighborhoods and Schools to Promote Improvement, Revitalization, and Excellence. The challenge before the Planning Department is that not all neighborhoods have equal capacity to participate in a planning process. There is need to build and strengthen neighborhood associations and support community organizing.

ABAG members in their turn highlighted priorities through questions to the Mayor. These included exchanges on:

  1. Journey Home Plan and youth homelessness;
  2. Role of anchor hospitals and universities;
  3. Infrastructure improvements including a public advisory group for the newly implemented storm water utility;
  4. Healthy food access;
  5. Vacant lots and Growing Green Initiative;
  6. Affordable housing;
  7. Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs;
  8. and trash.

The number of topics and concerns did feel overwhelming. As time ran out with a dozen raised hands, it also felt great to be surrounded by institutions and people wanting to help. And the Mayor concluded there is "more to do; more to do.”

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore Integration Partnership  Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative  July/August 2014 Members' Memo  Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake  Public Policy 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Tuesday, July 1, 2014
July 2014
By Kurt Sommer
Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

Baltimore City and Anchor Presidents Announce New Commitments
The Baltimore City Anchor Plan was signed Wednesday by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and eight anchor institution presidents, solidifying a shared commitment to collaborate and align resources to increase public safety, local hiring, local purchasing, and quality of life. The plan details the anchors economic strength, community engagement, and development activities laying out a series of goals for the City, the anchors, and strategic partners to help move forward. Read the Plan

TRF Closes Financing on Centre Theater
The Reinvestment Fund closed on financing for the Centre Theater. The project is driven by the co-tenancy of the film programs of both The Johns Hopkins University and the Maryland Institute College of Art. The schools are partnering in a shared opportunity to meet their facility needs by making an intentional investment to anchor a catalytic real estate project in the revival of Station North. TRF provided New Market Tax Credits, bridge and permanent financing as well as a predevelopment loan to support this catalytic project led by Jubilee Baltimore.

Opportunity Collaborative Releases Workforce Barriers Report
This new study finds that a significant number of job seekers in the Baltimore region lack necessary workplace skills and must overcome multiple and complex challenges to find work, ranging from inadequate transportation to a criminal record. Among its recommendations, the study calls for increased funding for training and basic adult educational programs, improved public transportation to link low-income areas with employers and the development of new "pathways” to help lower-skilled job seekers find jobs and advance in family-supporting careers. Read the Report

EARN Grants Announced
Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation announced the first EARN implementation grants. The program, passed by the legislature in 2013 with support and advocacy from a range of BIP stakeholders, provides grant funding for industry led workforce training partnerships. Congratulations to DLLR for their leadership in moving this important program forward and all of the inaugural grant recipients. Read More

From the News Desk:
Contact Me With Questions:

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  July/August 2014 Members' Memo  Workforce 

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Baltimore City and Anchor Presidents Announce New Commitments

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2014

June 25, 2014

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

The Baltimore City Anchor Plan was signed today by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and eight anchor institution presidents, solidifying a shared commitment to collaborate and align resources to increase public safety, local hiring, local purchasing, and quality of life.

Many of these issues are also at the center of ABAG’s Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) – an initiative complimenting the City’s efforts and expanding the table of partners to include City, State and regional government partners, additional anchor institutions, foundations and nonprofits driving policies to increase economic inclusion. The BIP is seeking to connect low income residents to jobs within anchors and anchor-supporting businesses; connect small and minority-owned businesses to anchor procurement opportunities; and leverage anchor real estate investment for the intentional benefit of the broader community.

An example of the strength of this collective approach is embodied in a long anticipated project The Center Theater at 10 E. North Avenue, in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. A reinvestment project embodying the strength of this collective approach moved forward late last week.

BIP Partner, The Reinvestment Fund, just closed on financing for the Center Theater. The project is driven by the co-tenancy of the film programs of both The Johns Hopkins University and the Maryland Institute College of Art. The schools are partnering in a shared opportunity to meet their facility needs make an intentional investment to anchor a catalytic real estate project in the revival of Station North. TRF provided New Market Tax Credits, bridge and permanent financing as well as a predevelopment loan to support this catalytic project led by Jubilee Baltimore.

The BIP is funded by nationally by Living Cities and by local foundations including the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Goldseker Foundation.

Congratulations to the Mayor and her staff as well as Bon Secours, Coppin State University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Baltimore, Loyola University, Notre Dame University, and Morgan State University for their leadership and commitment.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  July/August 2014 Members' Memo 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Celebrates Accomplishments

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, November 13, 2013

By Kurt Sommer

Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership 

Baltimore Integration Partnership stakeholders gathered last week with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at the Chesapeake Restaurant to celebrate all the work and accomplishments that have moved forward over the last three years.

View BIP highlights video here.

The project hosted by ABAG launched in 2011 to link capital investment and human capital in targeted neighborhoods to create new opportunities for area residents through developments projects and public policies.

Through the generosity of Living Cities, Baltimore was awarded nearly $3 million in grant funds and access to up to $15 million in capital debt to support revitalization projects as part of their national Integration Initiative.

Grant funds in Baltimore have supported workforce training opportunities for area residents, community based workforce access points, policy advocacy in City Hall and Annapolis, a high risk predevelopment loan fund, capacity building for area organizations, research and evaluation.

To date with activities still underway, 12 development projects have been moved forward through BIP’s lending partner TRF fostering $136 million in capital investment including 49 homeownership units, 76 units of rental housing, a grocery store, restaurant, and two school facilities. Several other development projects are still in the pipeline. 384 workforce training opportunities have also been supported in various key fields including construction, biotechnology, deconstruction, retail/hospitality, career coaching, accelerated GED preparation, job readiness training, and healthcare. Through the development projects, workforce access points, training partners, and public workforce partners, nearly 700 job placements have occurred.

To sustain these ideas and through the leadership of the partners and stakeholders of the BIP, new public and anchor institution policies have moved forward including City and State local hiring executive orders, a set aside of transportation funding for workforce investments, and the new EARN program. These legislative and public policy activities were recognized by Living Cities as standout accomplishments at a gathering in Chicago in early October with the other Integration Initiative cities. Baltimore is very proud of the accomplishments of the projects and also the public policy efforts that partners have moved forward. 

Last week BIP recognized several key organizations for their work and lifting over the last three years through a variety of awards for their efforts to advance economic inclusion in Baltimore. They include:

Courage in Economic Inclusion:

  • Humanim
  • Greater Homewood Community Corporation

Unsung Hero in Economic Inclusion:

  • Maryland Institute College of Art

Distinguished Business in Economic Inclusion:

  • Seawall Development
  • The French Companies
  • Mi Casa
  • Apples and Oranges
  • Southway Builders
  • The Chesapeake Restaurant

Outstanding Leadership in Economic Inclusion:

  • Martha Holleman
  • The Reinvestment Fund
  • Job Opportunities Task Force

Over the course of the first phase of the BIP, over a hundred individuals from more than 50 organizations played a supportive or active role in the work. It is their collective work that has made the work of the BIP so successful. The BIP staff would like extend their thanks to all of many stakeholders for their work and lifting. There are indeed too many to name individually but all have played a significant role in the work. Special thanks to the ABAG and BIP Board member organizations for their support and leadership over the last three years.

The current phase of the BIP activities will be winding down by year’s end. Local partners are working towards continuing the initiative focusing in on economic inclusion opportunities with area educational and medical anchor institutions.

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  November 2013 Members' Memo  Workforce development  workforceMayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Thursday, September 26, 2013

September 25, 2013

By Kurt Sommer, Director, The Baltimore Integration Partnership

ABAG Project, The Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) is a collaborative effort to expand opportunities for low-income residents and communities in Baltimore by unifying job opportunities with revitalization investment. 

Governor O’Malley Issues Executive Order to Promote Workforce Development and Community Hiring
As part of the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s ongoing focus on job training, Governor Martin O’Malley has issued an Executive Order directing State agencies to promote apprenticeship programs and encourage hiring in priority areas. Many thanks to the Governor’s Office for their ongoing leadership in workforce development. This Executive Order comes in the midst of the state’s efforts roll out the new EARN grant program to support job training. Press Release/Executive Order

Regional Plan For Sustainable Development moves forward; TRF part of selected consultant team.
The Opportunity Collaborative, hosted by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, announced that it has selected GCR, a New Orleans based consulting firm that is teaming with The Reinvestment Fund, and Hodges Development, LLC to craft a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD). The plan will incorporate workforce, housing and transportation elements and represents a significant joint and sustained effort by the governments and significant non-governmental organizations in the region to collectively address regional planning issues. More on the RPSD

Development Projects Continue to Move Forward
Area reinvestment projects, driven by a range of BIP partners, continue to move forward in Baltimore fostering new energy and investments. Earlier this summer, the Chesapeake Restaurant opened creating more than 40 new jobs for area residents.BIP partners assisted with hiring which was supplemented with a grant to help train new employees. Phase 1D of New Barclay Homes is also moving forward. This TRF and Healthy Neighborhoods financed phase features 15 rehabbed homeownership units and began construction this summer. On the other side of Central Baltimore, Seawall Development is finishing work on 10 new for sale homes with construction financing from TRF. All the homes are sold or under contract. All told over the past 2 and half years, TRF has helped finance 12 projects which will yield $136 million in new investment when completed.

BIP in the News
A few of our projects, partners, and colleagues have made the news lately. Below are a few key articles:

Request for Proposals – Demonstration Projects
A second and final round of funding for demonstration projects is available through the Opportunity Collaborative new RFP. The prior round supported several key projects by BIP partners including the Last Mile Initiative by Central Maryland Transportation Alliance examining gaps in access via public transportation to jobs in three key areas. It also supported Central Baltimore Partnership’s work linked to the Homewood Community Partners Initiative. More information on the RFP including the approaching deadlines can be found here.

Redefining the Rust Belt
The Federal Reserve Banks of Richmond, Cleveland, Chicago and Philadelphia, partnering with the Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and the National League of Cities, will be hosting the second in a series of mini-conversations entitled "Redefining the Rust Belt: An Exchange of Strategies by the Cities of Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, and Philadelphia.” The next event, hosted by Cleveland, is scheduled for October 25thfrom 8 a.m. to Noon. For Baltimore registrations, please visit:

The BIP 2.5 Year Impact
Below is a brief snap shot on BIP investment and hiring activities to date:

  • Total development projects financed: 12
  • Projects in Pipeline: 4
  • New Leveraged Investment: $136 million
  • Job Training Opportunities: 384
  • Total Job Placements (projects, training orgs, and workforce access points): 699 and counting
BIP Moving Towards 2.0
The BIP’s initial round of work is drawing to a close. Through the leadership of our partners, an amazing array of project and system related outcomes have been achieved. We are in the midst of moving towards a potential second round of work that will continue to advance economic inclusion approaches in Baltimore. More details will be forthcoming.

Tags:  ABAG Project  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  Collaboration  Workforce 

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Chesapeake Restaurant's Revival Shows Power of Partnerships

Posted By Celeste Amato, Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My latest column in the Baltimore Business Journal - 

August 13, 2013

By Celeste Amato, Contributing Columnist

President, Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers

Baltimore Business Journal

A new neighborhood restaurant, the Chesapeake, opened in the Station North Arts District this summer.

Long-time Baltimore residents will remember the site as the original Chesapeake Restaurant — a Baltimore dining institution for more than 50 years until closing in the late 1980s. After being shuttered for 25 years, 1701 N. Charles is serving lunch and dinner, and providing a new destination to grab a drink with friends. So, why reference a restaurant in a column about philanthropy and partnering for impact?

The rebirth of the Chesapeake as an active, vibrant business is the result of a new kind of multi-sector collaboration, bringing together government agencies, regional anchor institutions, financial institutions, next generation business leaders and social entrepreneurs to maximize reinvestment opportunities in neighborhoods, and reconnect low-income residents to employment.

The collaboration driving the Chesapeake project is the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP). Funded by the national Living Cities Foundation, this now 3-year-old partnership, is comprised of Baltimore foundations, private universities, government agencies and nonprofits that have come together to explore not just one-time, on-the-ground projects — but how those projects can inform long-term changes to workforce, capital and educational systems, policies and processes affecting Baltimore’s inner-core communities and residents.

Through its lending partner, the Reinvestment Fund, the Baltimore Integration Partnership offers a range of loan products for predevelopment, acquisition/ construction, small businesses, as well as semi-permanent and New Market Tax Credit financing.

Over the past several years the Baltimore Integration Partnership has helped move forward more than $100 million in projects beyond the Chesapeake Restaurant, including Apples & Oranges Fresh Market in East Baltimore; Telesis Barclay, a redevelopment of vacant lots and rowhomes in the Barclay/Midway/Old Goucher neighborhoods; the proposed Henderson- Hopkins School, a Johns Hopkins partnership school for kindergarten-8th grade in East Baltimore; and MICA Graduated Studios on North Avenue. Each project represents significant reinvestment and provides community residents new services, amenities and jobs.

"Partnering for impact is critical because government cannot overcome employment and other challenges on its own and neither can philanthropy” said Kurt Sommer, Baltimore Integration Partnership’s director. "Affecting large-scale change takes a large table, an opportunity to learn from the work, and leadership to tackle difficult issues, challenging conversations and ultimately to remove barriers and take risks for lasting change.”

Recognizing that no one sector can go it alone, Baltimore foundations are partnering now, through Baltimore Integration Partnership and other collaborations, to ensure a greater chance for lasting positive impact on the future of Baltimore and the region.

Celeste Amato is president of ‎the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore Business Journal  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BBJ  BIP  Jobs  September 2013 Members' Memo  Workforce 

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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 Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, May 1, 2013

April 30, 2013

TRF Closes Financing on North Avenue Market

Moving forward another redevelopment project in Central Baltimore, The Reinvestment Fund closed financing last week with Center City, Inc. The financing enables façade work and renovations to support a new retail tenant expected to open next fall. In addition to TRF, renovations of North Avenue Market have been supported by local business leadership and strategic grant funds from the State and other local partners. This is the 10th project TRF has financed in BIP target areas in approximately two years of operations.

Workforce and Transportation Victories in Annapolis

New funding for workforce training and for transportation projects was secured this year by BIP advocate and government partners. The O’Malley Administration sponsored EARN legislation (Employment Advancement Right Now) passed with a $4.5 million budget allocation to support sector-based workforce training partnerships. Ban the Box legislation applying to state job applications also passed but economic inclusion requirements linked to certain state construction projects will need more work. State lawmakers raised the gas tax to create approximately $4.4 billion in new funds to support transportation projects including Baltimore’s Red Line over the next 6 years. Federal decision making processes on the Red Line are still underway. Other wins for BIP partners include $3 million for the Homewood Community Partners Initiative, $250,000 for the Biotechnical Institute of Maryland and $1 billion for Baltimore City School construction!! See 2013 JOTF/CMTA Legislative Summaries.

The Last Mile
The Central Maryland Transportation Alliance and BWI Business Partnership are conducting the Last Mile project to study work commutes and how transportation systems, such as buses and trains, effect access to jobs in the BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, Arundel Mills, and Ft. George G. Meade business corridor. The information collected through this survey will be used to identify gaps and develop recommended transportation solutions that could connect workers to jobs in the fastest growing employment corridor in the Baltimore metropolitan region. The project is funded through a demonstration project grant from the Opportunity Collaborative.

TRF Makes National Cut for NMTCs

The Reinvestment Fund was one of 85 organizations to be awarded Federal New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) in the round announced this week. This year’s award of $45 million will be available for projects throughout TRF’s footprint. In the last year, TRF has deployed NMTCs in three high impact projects in Baltimore including the long sought Shop Rite grocery store in Howard Park which closed on financing this week. Last year, TRF allocated tax credits to two vital projects led by BIP partners including the Henderson-Hopkins School at EBDI and the MICA Graduate Studios on North Avenue.

Baltimore Data at Your Fingertips

The BIP Mapping Tool has been updated! Explore the widget developed provided by PolicyMap to locate BIP-financed developments, partner investments, as well as neighborhood job resources. You can also view demographic, socioeconomic, housing and jobs data for the BIP target area and all of Baltimore City.

Request for Letters of Interest: Opportunity Collaborative Education and Engagement Sub-grants

The Baltimore Metropolitan Council ("BMC"), on behalf of the Opportunity Collaborative, is seeking Letters of Interest from organizations in the Baltimore region interested in engaging the public on behalf of the Collaborative. Approved organizations will be eligible to receive engagement sub-grants from the Collaborative. The Collaborative will undertake three rounds of engagement. Details on the award requirements, deadlines and Request for Letters of Interest.

Save the Date

Job Opportunities Task Force and the BIP will be releasing the Policy Brief "Investing in Baltimore’s Workforce: Leveraging Opportunity & Moving to Scale” on May 28th from 2-3:30. The event will feature a panel of speakers including DLLR Secretary Leonard Howie, MOED Director Karen Sitnick, and ABC President and CEO Diane Bell-McKoy. Thank you to the University of Baltimore for hosting the event. Event registration and further details will be forthcoming.


Putting It All Together

I knew there was something particularly good about that turkey sandwich I bit into but it took me about four hours to realize how good it did indeed taste. On the way home from work it hit me that the BIP’s work had come full circle through that bite and I think in a way that exemplifies the power and opportunity of the work we are doing together.

Many of you know that over the over the past two years the BIP has been working with partners to foster economic inclusion by working to connect area residents to workforce services through community based pipelines, access to nonprofit job training providers as well as connectivity to jobs in projects we are financing and those in area anchor institutions. This work has been hard and challenging in every way as we work to build and connect distinct activities into a cohesive approach to foster economic inclusion.

One of the development projects financed by TRF that recently opened is Apples and Oranges, a new East Baltimore grocery store providing fresh healthy food in a food desert. The owners of Apples and Oranges believed very much in local hiring and worked with BIP partners to make that possible. The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development helped place 12 of the 20 new employees as well as 3 others linked to security positions connected to the store. Hired candidates came from community workforce access points and training providers including Central Baltimore Partnership/Greater Homewood, East Baltimore Development, as well as area sector based training partners Humanim(retail training) and St. Vincent de Paul (culinary/food training). The BIP also provided a small training grant so the new employees could receive ServSafe training.

Two weeks ago Apples and Oranges catered a BIP Anchor Engagement Workgroup lunch. The food was prepared by area residents our partners helped train and place in a business establishment that moved forward with the help of a CDFI. The lunch was attended by seven anchor institution leaders as well as philanthropic and government partners. The discussion featured a briefing by Karp Resources of their ongoing study highlighting how Baltimore anchor institutions can use their food procurement activities to support local businesses who in turn can support new jobs. Attendees included Johns Hopkins University which recently announced its efforts to set local hiring and purchasing goalsMaryland Institute College of Art which is moving forward local hiring, as well as Morgan State University which this morning announced the Morgan Community Mile Initiative. But sustaining these approaches needs more than anchor leadership and through our strong public partners that work is underway as well. In addition to the Karp briefing, representatives of Mayor’s Office noted their ongoing work to develop a Baltimore City Anchor Plan which will work to align City investments and activities with the interests of the anchors. And finally, earlier in the week Governor O’Malley signed the EARN legislation into law which was advocated for by BIP partners and creates a new $4.5 million training fund to support sector based workforce training.

Individually each of these efforts is a win. Collectively, and as part of a system, they mean much more and represent the power and possibility of aligned work. Thanks to the many stakeholders that are making this work happen.


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 at

Tags:  Ad  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  TRF  Workforce 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013

February 27, 2013

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership 

Looking Back at Two Years With Much Work Ahead
With two years under our belt, the BIP continues its work to expand opportunities for low-income residents and communities in Baltimore. There is much work ahead of us, but we are starting to see our collective work add-up. To date, 9 community development projects in our target areas have received financing from TRF leveraging roughly $100 million in new investment. The projects include 34 units of homeownership housing, 76 units of rental housing and 270,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

Our workforce training fund has supported 269 seats of training in key industry sectors with new awards still being made. Employment strategies including jobs through anchor institutions, projects that have been financed, placements through training providers, and through opportunities in other area businesses have yielded more than 100 new job opportunities for area residents with more in the pipeline. While projects are important, the end product of our work is about learning from our approaches, adapting, and finding ways to sustain them through strengthened partnerships as well as new policies, protocols, and legislation. We are seeing these emerge as well through the leadership of our amazing set of partners – THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU ARE DOING.

Apples and Oranges Moves Toward Opening; BIP Helps with Financing, Hiring and Training
Come help celebrate East Baltimore’s newest market, Apples and Oranges, which will open on March 9th. Owned by Erich and Michele March and located on North Avenue and Broadway in a food desert, it will offer area residents and businesses fresh and healthy food options as well as basic groceries, prepared foods, and catering. Various BIP stakeholders, working in concert, have helped move the project forward including TRF which provided financing assistance while HumanimEast Baltimore Development, Inc. and the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development collaborated on identifying area residents and employees for hiring consideration. The BIP has also awarded a small training grant so new employees working with food can receive a ServSafe training certificate. Congratulations to everyone and please be sure to support the new store. Visit their webpage or follow details on the new opening via Facebook.

BIP Awards New Workforce Training Grants
Three new training awards have been made by the BIP. In addition to the ServSafe training for Apples and Oranges employees noted above, an award was made to Tower Management (associated with the Lillian Jones redevelopment) for lead certification training for three employees. In an effort to explore new approaches to education gaps in our target areas, the BIP also awarded a grant to Baltimore Reads to support an accelerated GED program for fifteen students.

State of Maryland and Opportunity Collaborative Award Resources
Several key projects and BIP partners have been awarded grants and tax credits over the last several months that help move forward key reinvestment and workforce development opportunities. The Opportunity Collaborative awarded its first round of Demonstration Project Grants. Key awards include an exploration of public transportation in targeted employment centers including BWI by the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance; a market and economic feasibility analysis of the West Baltimore MARC Station by the Baltimore City Department of Transportation; and implementation funding for Central Baltimore Partnership in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University for the implementation of portions of the Homewood Community Partners Initiative.

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Community Legacy Program awarded The Reinvestment Fund a total of $350,000 to support reinvestment projects in Preston Place and Duncan Square. Central Baltimore Partnership received five Community Legacy awards totaling $440,000. They include stabilization and improvements for Load of Fun; streetscaping and signage for the Baltimore Design School; renovation costs for affordable housing in Remington Village (also financed by TRF); renovation costs for E. North Avenue Galleries, and stabilization costs for the Centre Theater. Center Theater was also awarded $3 million in tax credits through the Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit Program. The BIP is very excited about these awards that are helping moving forward catalytic investment and building broader opportunities. (Photo by Greg Pease).

University of Maryland-Baltimore Creates New Position to Help Students Transition Into Jobs
Working to increase opportunities for graduates of the Baltimore City Community College’s Life Science Institute which is located in the University of Maryland Biopark, UMB recently created a new employment tier strengthening connectivity between employment opportunities and candidates. This new employment tier enables "bench ready” individuals with associates degrees trained through the institute, rather than just those with bachelor’s degrees that were not necessarily ready, to obtain positions within the research labs. This approach exemplifies the opportunities of aligned employer and training approaches to meet mutual needs and expand opportunities for Baltimore residents. For more information contact Lisa Rawlings at

Opportunity Collaborative Re-Launch Event Scheduled
Postponed this past fall because of a Hurricane, the Opportunity Collaborative Launch event has been rescheduled to March 25, 2013. Please join regional civic and political stakeholders at the University of Baltimore’s Moot Courtroom from 3:00 – 7:00 PM to officially launch the initiative that is exploring 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 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.

BIP Thanks Southway and Telesis
This past December at the Central Baltimore Partnership Awards event, BIP staff recognized the work and commitments of Southway Builders and the Telesis Corporation to achieve BIP economic inclusion goals as part of their work in Barclay. The 10 unit affordable homeownership redevelopment project financed in part by TRF was under construction for approximately 6 months and wrapped up work in July 2012. During that time, the developer, contractor, and subcontractors retained 3 community hires from a prior phase and hired four new individuals. Overall, 59% of their work hours on the project were held by Baltimore City residents and 44% of contracting costs went to minority business enterprises. Both Southway and Telesis are continuing their efforts in other ongoing projects. Keep up the great work!


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 at

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  Workforce 

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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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