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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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Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN)

Posted By Rebecca Ruggles, Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013

By Rebecca Ruggles
Consultant, The Green Funders Affinity Group, Director, Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN)

ABAG is hosting a new project these days. If you check the project tab on our website, you’ll see the Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN) has been added. It was already impressive list: the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative, the Baltimore Integration Partnership, the Maryland Community Foundation Association, and the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative.

I’m the Director of MdEHN, a project that grew out of my work with the Green Funders, an ABAG affinity group focused on the environment, sustainability and community greening. Betsy Ringel and Lara Hall at the Blaustein Philanthropic Group, and Margie Roswell with the affiliated Roswell Family Fund, were instrumental in educating me about how environment and human health are linked.

With Blaustein Philanthropic Group support, and former ABAG President Betsy Nelson’s blessing, we launched an exploratory project in the winter of 2012. We wanted to find out if there was a need for a forum to discuss and take action on environmental health issues in Maryland.

The answer came back "Yes” in the form of robust attendance at our monthly meetings, and the almost instant formation of a strong Steering group representing health professions, consumer groups, health advocates, and Maryland based organizations addressing aspects of environmental health.

By spring of 2012, we morphed into the Maryland Environmental Health Network. We began working on our first publication over the summer. We hired a second staff member in the fall, and became a formally sponsored ABAG project by the end of 2012.

As our work has expanded and taken on a life of its own, I’ve been fascinated by how our four funders have each contributed to filling out our agenda in a way that mirrors the concerns of the organizations and professionals who have joined the Network.

The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation gave us a firm focus on toxics (including both chemicals in consumer products and pesticides). The Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund added an emphasis on how child welfare is linked to environmental factors.

The Abell Foundation funded our Children’s Environmental Health Specialist who focuses on enhancing environmental health education in City Schools. And the Town Creek Foundation pushed us to think about advocacy and to bring our health perspective to bear on a range of statewide environmental issues. Town Creek also helped us publish our Children’s’ Environmental Health Progress Report, which has proven to be a valuable tool for both policy discussions and outreach.

Without any one of these funders, MdEHN would be a different project – or perhaps not be happening at all.

We’re excited to be officially a member of the ABAG family this year and look forward to what’s ahead in 2013.

Tags:  Environment  Eye on Philanthropy  March 2013 Members' Memo  MdEHN 

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Affinity Groups Growing and Thriving at ABAG

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

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

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

Current Affinity Groups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chair: Meg Woodside, Woodside Foundation
Staff: Elisabeth Hyleck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Adventures in Philanthropy

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Wednesday, January 9, 2013

January 9, 2013

[Updated January 22, 2013]

By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz

ABAG Communications Director

For the last 11 years the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers wrote our "Adventures in Philanthropy" column, published in The Daily Record. Andfor the last two years, ABAG has published our "Adventures in Philanthropy” blog.

As you may have read in our final column "Column Ends, But Let Stories of Giving Go On" you'll learn that while we've written our final column for The Daily Record, we will continue to place a great deal of importance on communicating about the good work of philanthropy.

ABAG’s Voice for Philanthropy, our "Adventures in Philanthropy" blog, publishes posts written by our staff, board, ABAG members and partners. The blog aims to 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 issues and philanthropic trends.

I encourage you to visit our ”Adventures in Philanthropy” blog and share your own views. Here are examples of a few of our more recent posts:

I hope you will subscribe to our RSS Blog feed today to be notified when each new blog is posted.

What topics are you interested in reading about this year?

Also, I invite you to continue connecting to stories about philanthropy by engaging with ABAG through our WebsiteFacebookTwitter and Linkedin pages, and by subscribing to our monthly Philanthropy News Online eNewsletter.

Interested in blogging with us? We’d love to hear your latest news and information, or learn of your thoughts on the world of philanthropy. Let us know!

Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz,

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Communications  Eye on Philanthropy  Foundations  Members' Memo 

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