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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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Goodbye, As I Leave ABAG

Posted By Karen Alexander, Monday, September 28, 2015
September 28, 2015
 
By Karen Alexander

After eight years coordinating the Education Funders Affinity Group, I am leaving ABAG to embark on new consulting projects involving strategic planning and grant writing for organizations serving Baltimore City children and youth.
 
My last day was Friday, September 25.

Before coming to ABAG, my only knowledge of the philanthropic world came from the grants that I had written - some successful, others not – for nonprofits where I had worked previously. I had little sense of how or why funders made the decisions that they made, nor any understanding of the amount of time and thought that went into those decisions.

I feel fortunate to have learned so much about the philanthropic world – both in Baltimore and beyond – through my work here. The ABAG universe of smart, caring, and committed people is truly inspiring, and I feel privileged to have been a small part of it.

As a committed Baltimore resident, I am excited about these new opportunities to support the city that I love.
 
I will miss working with all of you very much so I’m taking comfort in the fact that I will continue to have relationships with the philanthropic community, albeit in a different way.

Tags:  Education Funders  October 2015 Members' Memo 

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ABAG 2015 Profile of Education Giving - Highlights

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, September 21, 2015
September 21, 2015 

By Mari Beth Moulton, Baltimore Executive Director, Wright Family Foundation
ABAG Education Funders Affinity Group Chair

ABAG is excited to present our 2015 Profile of Education Giving Highlights, which aggregates data about our members’ investments in education.

In 2015, ABAG disseminated an online survey to all ABAG members. We received responses from 50 ABAG members about the education-related organizations they support and their education focus areas. While the data do not encompass all education-related giving in the Baltimore area, the findings provide a useful snapshot of the various types of education giving and the broad scope of community investments in local education efforts.

Here are some of the major findings from the survey:
  • In 2014, ABAG members contributed more than $49.2 million to education efforts through more than 1,000 grants to more than 475 organizations.
  • Nearly half of the respondents (27 ABAG members) fund efforts toward system-wide education reform, such as advocacy work by the ACLU of Maryland.
  • ABAG members support education efforts for all ages, with an emphasis on K-12.
  • In 2014, ABAG members gave more than $10.6 million to organizations working with Baltimore City Public Schools, to individual schools, and the district itself.
  • ABAG members support a wide array of education focus areas.
  • More than half of the survey respondents support activities for students during after school or extended school hours. Nearly half support efforts to improve teaching quality and teacher development; financial literacy; and college scholarships.
We greatly appreciate ABAG member participation in the 2015 Profile of Education Giving project!

Tags:  Education Funders  Education Giving  September 2015 Members' Memo 

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ABAG's Education Funders Provide Support to Baltimore City Schools

Posted By Karen Alexander, Friday, March 13, 2015

March 13, 2015

By Karen Alexander, Education Funders Affinity Group Coordinator

As you’ve probably heard in the news, Baltimore City Schools are facing a budget deficit of nearly $60 million, as well as $35 million in proposed cuts in Governor Hogan’s budget. These costs could have major implications for a district already strapped for funding.

Last week, City Schools CEO Dr. Gregory Thornton outlined his plans to reduce the deficit, which includes cutting Central office staff and eliminate of hundreds of teaching and staff positions in the district’s "surplus pool," among other measures. In Milwaukee, where Dr. Thornton served as superintendent prior to coming to Baltimore last year, he faced several shortfalls, including one that exceeded $100 million.

On February 11th, ABAG’s Education Funders Affinity Group convened a group of key education advocacy groups to discuss their top legislative priorities for the 2015 session of the Maryland General Assembly:

  • Roxanne Allen, Baltimore Education Coalition
  • Jason Botel, MarylandCAN
  • Kate Rabb, Advocates for Children and Youth
  • Bebe Verdery, ACLU-MD’s Education Reform Project
  • Margaret Williams, Maryland Family Network

The program was well-attended and featured a rich discussion about ways that members of the philanthropic community might advocate for restoring funding for public schools.

"It is critical for funders to stay abreast of the budget conversation and provide whatever support they can to any of the advocacy groups as they work to restore funding for City Schools" says Mari Beth Moulton, Chair of ABAG's Education Funders Affinity Group, and Executive Director of the Wright Family Foundation here in Baltimore. 

ABAG will continue to keep our members updated about these important issues budget issues and their potential implications for our city’s students.

Tags:  Ed Funders  Education Funders  March 2015 Members' Memo  Schools 

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The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood

Posted By Karen Alexander, Monday, July 28, 2014
Updated: Friday, August 1, 2014

Updated: August 1, 2014

By Karen Alexander, Education Funders Affinity Group Coordinator

Dr. Karl Alexander joined us at ABAG on July 22 to discuss his fourth bookfrom the Johns Hopkins University’s Beginning School Study: "The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood.”

As Dr. Alexander’s daughter and the coordinator for ABAG’s Education Funders Affinity Group, I was excited to develop this program for our members.It was a thrill to bring in my dad to discuss his latest book and to introduce him to more than 40 of my colleagues!

Starting in 1982, as a Johns Hopkins University Sociologist, Dr. Alexander spent more than 20 years studying a cohort of nearly 800 Baltimore City School students.Through repeated interviews with the children and their parents and teachers, the research team observed the group as its members made their way through elementary, middle, and high school; joined the work force; and started families.At our program, he discussed his research findings about how the children's first years of life ultimately colored their success as adults and how these findings might inform local grantmaking

Last week, Al Jezeera's America Tonight aired a segment about The Long Shadow, with extensive footage of two Beginning School Study participants as adults.   

Here at ABAG we are working to put program materials on our website on an ongoing basis – on the event listing for each past program.

ABAG members can download Dr. Alexander’s presentation slides here and/or listen to a recording of this session here (Sign-in to the members-only section of ABAG’s website is required).

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Education Funders  September 2014 Members' Memo 

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Highlights: Profile of Education Giving

Posted By Karen Alexander, Monday, March 17, 2014
Updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014
Updated: March 20, 2014

By Karen Alexander
ABAG Education Funders Affinity Group

ABAG is excited to present Highlights from our 2013 Profile of Education Giving, which aggregates data about our members’ investments in education. In 2013, ABAG disseminated an online survey to all ABAG members.

We received responses from 43 ABAG members about the education-related organizations they support and their education focus areas. The survey respondents included private and community foundations, donor advised funds, and corporations with strategic grantmaking programs.

While the data do not encompass all education-related giving in the Baltimore area, the findings provide a useful snapshot of the various types of education giving and the broad scope of community investments in local education efforts.

Here are some of the major findings from the survey:

• In 2012, ABAG members contributed more than $40 million to education efforts in Maryland through more than 1,100 grants to more than 500 organizations.
• Of that total amount, more than $21.3 million went to organizations working with Baltimore City Public Schools, to individual schools, and to the district itself.
• More than half of the survey respondents support early childhood programs, as well as mentoring programs and activities for students during after school or extended school hours.
• More than one third of the respondents support projects for summer learning, arts education, children’s literacy, and STEM, as well as college and career readiness initiatives.

The full report provides ABAG members with a clear picture of the scope of education-related grantmaking in the Greater Baltimore region and helps our members connect with colleagues who also care about specific education issues.

We greatly appreciate ABAG member participation in the 2013 Profile of Education Giving project!

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Ed Funders  Education  Education Funders  March 2014 Members' Memo  Profiles of Education Giving 

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Six Questions With ... Jonathon Rondeau, President of New ABAG Member, The Family League

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013

September 2013

Six Questions With …

Jonathon Rondeau, President & CEO of New ABAG Member, The Family League

1. Why did The Family League want to become a member of The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers?

"For the Family League, this is a great opportunity to connect with the very diverse Baltimore philanthropic community. We are greatly looking forward to learning from other Association members who have developed innovative strategies to address the many challenges facing foundations. We hope also that we will be able to share some of our own successful strategies with other Association members."

2. What type of foundation is The Family League, and what are your major funding areas?

"The Family League of Baltimore is a public charity that provides resource coordination and informs, prioritizes and implements strategies that improve the well-being of Baltimore’s children, youth and families. We believe that providing strong leadership, creating public/private partnerships, leveraging funding and using data to drive decisions will improve outcomes in Baltimore neighborhoods and communities."

3. What are you most excited about as a new member of ABAG?

"We are very excited to join this network of forward-thinking givers, and to deepen our work and service to the fabric of society—the family."

And, 3 Additional Questions Regarding Education Funding!

4. What are your priority areas for education grantmaking?

Family League’s priority areas for education grant making focus on removing the barriers to student success, and providing extended learning opportunities and enrichment activities. We approach this work through our Community School and Engagement Strategy, a systemic and student level approach combining a community resource school model with out of school programming. This allows us to both focus on long term sustainable strategies to whole school/whole community improvement as well as individual student level support to those young people most in need of additional resources.

5. Why did The Family League decide to prioritize those areas?

Our data show that students who have families who are engaged and have access to out of school time programs outperform their peers in school and are more likely to attend college. We decided to focus on funding schools that can bring together out of school programming with services and supports needed to help Baltimore students get the interventions, support and resources they need to succeed.

6. How does your education grantmaking relate to overall funding strategy for your organization?

Our goal in funding all our initiatives is to stop the cycle of poverty. By focusing on education, we are giving youth tools to move to college and careers.

Family League is committed to funding community-based organizations that are the content experts for their community and have proven track records for success. Part of our funding strategy is to provide implementation dollars to CBO partners but to also set the standards around quality, data collection and professional development. We are deeply committed to building the organizational capacity of all of our funded partners and provide hundreds of hours of coaching and professional development.

We welcome new ABAG member, The Family League!

Jonathon can be reached at:

Jonathon Rondeau

President & CEO, The Family League

jrondeau@flbcinc.org

410-662-5500


Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Ed Funders  Education Funders  Family League  September 2013 Members' Memo  Three Questions With 

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Education Funders Talk with Education Leaders

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

July 10, 2013

By Karen Alexander, ABAG's Education Funders Affinity Group 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


About the Education Funders Affinity Group

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

 

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

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Thank You, Dr. Alonso

Posted By Karen Alexander, Monday, May 6, 2013
Updated: Monday, May 6, 2013
May 6, 2013
 
By Karen Alexander, ABAG Education Funders Affinity Group
 
Today we learned that Baltimore City Public Schools’ CEO Dr. Andres Alonso is retiring at the end of the current school year.
 
Dr. Alonso’s six-year tenure made him the longest-serving Baltimore superintendent in almost two decades. During this time, graduation rates have steadily increased while both dropout and suspension rates decreased. In addition, City Schools’ enrollment grew, reversing a decades-old trend of decline.

Dr. Alonso will likely be best remembered for his landmark series of reforms, which include:

• empowering principals with budget decisions through the innovative Fair Student Funding model;
• closing failing schools and programs and creating new ones;
• decentralizing the system by reducing the headquarters staff by more than 50%;
• expanding school choice for city families; and
• negotiating an innovative pay-for-performance teachers' union contract.

Many grantmakers in the Greater Baltimore region are dedicated partners in funding education reforms.
 
ABAG’s Education Affinity Group was pleased to host Dr. Alonso for conversations with the funding community five times during his six year tenure. In addition, with Dr. Alonso’s support, senior district staff participate in ABAG’s monthly Focus on City Schools meetings, at which ABAG members receive timely updates on key education topics.

ABAG’s President Celeste Amato said, "We thank Dr. Alonso for his visionary efforts, and for his willingness to engage our funding community and many other regional partners in the transformation of Baltimore’s education system.”
 
ABAG looks forward to continuing our relationship with Baltimore City Public Schools through our Focus on City Schools meetings and we will be sure to keep our members apprised of the superintendent search process.
 
ABAG Members: Our next meeting will include an overview of the district’s proposed 2013-14 budget by Victor De La Paz, Chief Financial Officer. The meeting will be held on Friday, May 17th from 9-10:30am.
 
Please contact me with any questions: kalexander@abagrantmakers.org

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore City  Ed Funders  Education  Education Funders  Schools 

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Green Funders Affinity Group Embraces Cross-Group Collaboration

Posted By Kim Snipes, Sunday, August 12, 2012
Updated: Monday, July 23, 2012

Continuing on the theme of cross-group collaboration, our Green Funders Affinity Group actively seeks and explores ways to highlight how issues related to the environment impacts other work supported by ABAG members. With our new chair, Julie Hester of the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, and the continued leadership of consultant Rebecca Ruggles, the Green Funders welcome your participation and encourage you to attend an upcoming program!

At the beginning of the year, Rebecca and I, with former chair Allen Hance, brainstormed our goals for the Group. A format that continues to work well for the group is to focus on an issue and allow ourselves the time to "go deep" on a topic. Not feeling that we had finished exploring human health and the environment, our first goal states that we will "continue to deepen members' understanding of the intersection of human health concerns and environment challenges." Our programs are designed to increase members' awareness of the pressing issues and promising work in the field. It is our aim that funders will feel more connected to the field which is changing rapidly and that this leads to an informed grantmaking strategy.

So, with an eye towards cross-group collaboration and deepening our knowledge on issues related to human health and the environment, three of our programs this year already featured collaborations with other affinity groups. Two joint programs with the Education Funders took us to Great Kids Farm and updated members on the environmental literacy requirements that will be implemented at the start of the 2012-2013 school year.

The recent program on the environmental literacy requirements highlighted the work and energy of several ABAG members - the Baltimore Community Foundation, the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Constellation Energy. Collectively, these funders support advocacy efforts and the school systems (both Baltimore City Public Schools and other districts around the region) so that the requirements are not simply "another check box" on a long list of high school graduation requirements.

The requirements fit into existing work with the Maryland Green Schools and we were fortunate to learn from Bo Hoppin and the Boston Youth Environmental Network about how place based education in the Boston Public School System has measurably supported academic achievement. We also heard from Michael Sarbanes and Keisha Matthews about how the Baltimore City Schools are enriching existing coursework with the environmental literacy materials, resources and experiential learning. Ms. Matthews spoke about how the teachers are experiencing and participating alongside the students and are receiving professional development targeted towards integrating the new requirements into their lesson plans.

I encourage you to contact Rebecca Ruggles if you are interested in learning more or exploring your own funding interests for possible intersections with issues related to the environment and human health. We will explore the very topical issue of "fracking" and will hear from funders and the Health and Environmental Funders Netowrk about the widespread community mobilization around this issue.

Join us on October 19!

Tags:  collaboration  Education Funders  environment  environmental literacy  Green Funders 

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