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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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ABAG By the Numbers #2: THE RESOURCE - 47 Staff Over 30 Years

Posted By Celeste Amato, Monday, July 29, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 2, 2013
By Celeste Amato, ABAG President

As ABAG celebrates 30 years of philanthropy and seeks to help shape the next 30 years of giving, we've told some of our story through our 30th anniversary infographic, ABAG By the Numbers. 
Each week, for 30 weeks, I'm briefly highlighting the 30 numbers in this infographic.

As The Resource on Grantmaking, The Network for Givers, and The Voice for Philanthropy - this week I'm focusing on:

47 Staff Over 30 Years 

Over ABAG's 30 Year history, we are proud to have attracted and retained a strong, creative professional staff with experience in a variety of key areas that support the mission and goals of the organization.

Our success as an organization can be attributed in part of our professional staff, who have had the skills, expertise, ambition and dedication to live up to and execute the expectations of ABAG members the past 30 years.

ABAG staff have been instrumental in working side by side with one another, our members, partners, and other key stakeholders to build our thriving community of funders.

Our staff have been and continue to be passionate about our community and equally passionate about the role philanthropy can play in bettering one's community.

Click here to learn more about ABAG's current staff.


Celebrating 30 Years of Philanthropy: Shaping the Next 30 Years of Giving

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

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Tags:  30th Anniversary  ABAG By the Numbers  Adventures in Philanthropy  July/August 2013 Members' Memo 

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Summer Reading List

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Friday, July 19, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 19, 2013 

By Elisabeth Hyleck, ABAG Strategic Initiatives Director

The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers’ Diversity and Inclusion Committee, has compiled this list of top picks for your summer reading. We thank the Baltimore Racial Justice Action’s resources webpage and the Kellogg Foundation’s Racial Equity Resource Guide for their compilations as well.

Pick one up, pour a tall, cool drink, and settle into your armchair for an interesting read!


The New Jim Crow: Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Michelle Alexander, The New Press, 2012

This book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. Legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.

The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class and Crime in America

Charles Ogletree, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012

Shortly after noon on Tuesday, July 16, 2009, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., MacArthur fellow and Harvard professor, was mistakenly arrested by Cambridge police sergeant James Crowley for attempting to break into his own home. Ogletree uses this incident as a lens through which to explore issues of race, class, and crime, with the goal of creating a more just legal system for all. Working from years of research and based on his own classes and experiences with law enforcement, the author illuminates the steps needed to embark on the long journey toward racial and legal equality for all Americans.

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

Revised Ed., Tim Wise, Soft Skull Press, 2011.

A highly personal examination of the ways in which racial privilege shapes the lives of most white Americans, overtly racist or not, to the detriment of people of color, themselves, and society. The book shows the breadth and depth of the phenomenon within institutions such as education, employment, housing, criminal justice, and healthcare.

Privilege, Power, and Difference

2nd Edition, Allan G. Johnson, McGraw-Hill, 2005.

A very readable book on oppression and privilege that covers race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and disability. Has a good chapter on "What Can We Do?”

American Beach: A Saga of Race, Wealth and Memory

Russ Rymer, HarperCollins, 1998.

A journalist documents the story of American Beach, an African American resort on Amelia Island in north Florida, and the family of its founder, Florida’s first black millionaire. An excellent example of how institutional racism and the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow embed themselves in the political, social and economic realities of current day America.

Education as My Agenda: Gertrude Williams, Race and the Baltimore Public Schools

JoAnne Robinson, Palgrave MacMillan, 2005.

A gripping narrative thoughtfully and clearly told by Gertrude Williams, deeply contextualized by Jo Ann Robinson. Williams identifies the essential elements of sound education and describes the battles she waged to secure those elements, first as teacher, then a counselor, and, for twenty-five years, as principal.

"Brown" in Baltimore: School Desegregation and the Limits of Liberalism

Howell S. Baum, Cornell University Press, 2010.

This book presents the history of Baltimore school desegregation and shows how good intentions got stuck on what Gunnar Myrdal called the "American Dilemma." From the classroom to city hall, Baum examines how Baltimore's distinct identity as a border city between North and South shaped local conversations about the national conflict over race and equality. The city's history of wrestling with the legacy of Brown reveals Americans' preferred way of dealing with racial issues: not talking about race. This avoidance, Baum concludes, allows segregation to continue.

Blockbusting In Baltimore: The Edmondson Village Story

W. Edward Orser,The University Press of Kentucky, 1997.

Like many suburbs, Edmondson Village, a post-WWI rowhouse development with 20,000 residents, saw a dramatic shift in its population between 1955 and 1965. Behind this change lay blockbusting techniques adopted by realtors in which scare tactics were used to encourage white owners to sell cheap, followed by drastic markups for potential black buyers who lacked access to conventional bank mortgages.

Baltimore's Two Cross Keys Villages: One Black. One White

James Holechek, iUniverse, Inc., 2003.

Baltimore’s Two Cross Keys Villagesis about two communities virtually next door to one another. As one was dying, the other was born. Cross Keys Village (named after a nearby inn) was established by African Americans in north Baltimore. Forty years ago, in a surprise rush to urban renewal, the city condemned and tore down most of the homes to make room for a high school parking lot. Author Jim Holechek interviewed many of the former residents of the old Cross Keys Village to learn what life was like in their disappearing enclave.

Articles and Reports

The Danger Outside

Jeannine Amber,Essence,2012.

"After unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin was shot dead by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, ESSENCE's Jeannine Amber interviewed his grieving family and explored the question: What should we be telling our young men about how to keep themselves safe? Below, as the nation reels from Zimmerman's acquittal, read her award-winning story.”

The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide

Thomas Shapiro, Tarjana Meschede, Sam Osoro, Institute on Assets & Social Policy, Brandeis University, 2013.

"The authors’ "analysis found little evidence to support common perceptions about what underlies the ability to build wealth, including the notion that personal attributes and behavioral choices are key pieces of the equation. Instead, the evidence points to policy and the configuration of both opportunities and barriers in workplaces, schools, and communities that reinforce deeply entrenched racial dynamics in how wealth is accumulated and that continue to permeate the most important spheres of everyday life. ”

Structural Racism & Community Building

Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change. 2004.

This publication describes the problem of structural racism in the United States and highlights its implications for community building.

America’s Tomorrow: Equity Is the Superior Growth Model

Sarah Truehaft, Angela Glover Blackwell, and Manuel Pastor, PolicyLink, 2011.

The face of America is changing, and the fate of America hinges on how we react to – and invest in – those changes. Written by PolicyLink and the University of Southern California's Program for Environmental and Regional Equity,America's Tomorrowmakes the case that racial and economic inclusion is critical to succeeding in the global economy.

Implicit Bias Insights as Preconditions to Structural Change

john powell and Rachel Godsil, Poverty& Race Research Action Council, 20:

Tags:  ABAG Committee news  Adventures in Philanthropy  Diversity  Inclusion  July/August 2013 Members' Memo 

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Recent Reports From the Field

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, July 15, 2013
Updated: Monday, July 22, 2013
July/August 2013
Check out these recent reports from the field:

Thank you to our national membership association, The Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, for compiling much of this information.

Tags:  July/August 2013 Members' Memo  Recent reports from the field 

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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:


About the Education Funders Affinity Group

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


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

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ABAG's Ed Funders Affinity Group

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

July 10, 2013

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

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

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

There are several ways that we are making this happen:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are excited about all that the Education Funders Affinity Group has accomplished and all that we have planned! I welcome your questions, comments and input - I can be reached

About the Education Funders Affinity Group

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

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

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School Greening in Baltimore City

Posted By Rebecca Ruggles, Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Updated: Monday, July 8, 2013

June 26, 2013 

By Rebecca Ruggles, Director, Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN) 

School greening is a national movement - and Baltimore is in the vanguard.

The Maryland Environmental Health Network worked with the Baltimore Sustainability Commission and staff of the Office of Sustainability to document the extent of recent investments in greening Baltimore public schools in the new report, "School Greening in Baltimore City."

The results are impressive.

We found an investment of about $2.5 million being made over the last two and a half years, and about 60% of City Schools have participated in school greening programs or practices of some kind.

What benefits come with adopting green practices in schools? We looked at the research and found a growing body of evidence documenting positive impacts on operating costs, academic outcomes, and school climate.

The benefits of green school practices are now well established and range from reductions in greenhouse gases emissions and energy cost savings, to improved student test scores and higher teacher and student retention. Of course, as a group dedicated to Environmental Health, we are also keen on the protections for children’s health that can accompany a greener school environment.

Our report was authored by Allison Rich, MdEHN's Children's Environmental Health Specialist.

She compiled data from 35 sources, and examined three specific questions:

  • What investment has been made to date in green practices in Baltimore City public schools and by whom?
  • How are academic and operational goals furthered by this investment?
  • Why should this investment be protected – and enhanced – as City Schools launches its 10 year plan for 21st Century Schools?

School greening activities engage students, teachers and families in new ways, and have been an important part of creating and sustaining the new wave of achievement, pride, and advocacy for Baltimore’s public schools.

Jamie Baxter, Program Director at The Chesapeake Bay Trust, commented: "So many other funders and supporters are involved. The Trust has supported schools with grants for environmental ed and restoration mini-grants. Its great to see that Baltimore City schools have been resourceful in tapping such varied sources of funding and support."

Interested in learning more? You can download and read the report here.


Rebecca Ruggles in the Director of the Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN) which convenes diverse stakeholders in the fields of health and environmental advocacy, research, and community activism, to support cross-sector dialogue and action that results in better protection of both human health and the environment. This report is a publication of the MdEHN and was prepared by Allison Rich, Children's Environmental Health Specialist, with assistance from Rebecca Ruggles The Maryland Environmental Health Network is a project of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG).

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Tags:  ABAG Project  ABAG's Eye on Philanthropy  Adventures in Philanthropy  Environment  Green  Green Funders  July/August 2013 Members' Memo  Maryland Environmental Health Network  MdEHN 

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The Business of Doing Good

Posted By Celeste Amato, Thursday, June 20, 2013
Updated: Thursday, June 20, 2013

June 20, 2013

By Celeste Amato, President, Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers 

Here at ABAG we focus on telling the story of philanthropy and highlighting the good work and impact of our 145+ membership. We strive to be a consistent voice for philanthropy, and one of the ways we are doing this is through our new monthly column on philanthropy in the Baltimore Business Journal

We are excited for the opportunity and hope you find it useful. 

Below you will find our first column, published on June 18 - let us know what you think!

The Business of Doing Good 

Foundations and nonprofits all too often believe that "the work will speak for itself.”

In most sectors communications to multiple audiences is standard business. Businesses with good ideas want existing customers, new customers and the world to know about their products or services. That’s how businesses grow. That need, in the philanthropic sector, is really no different.

Foundations invest in improved communities and quality of life through research and development, and in project and program implementation primarily through nonprofits. When an effective model for positive community benefit is identified and successfully tested how are we letting people know? How are we communicating with potential partners who can help us grow a model to scale and benefit more people? We aren’t - at least not often enough, not consistently enough and not effectively enough.

We don’t always see ourselves as the innovative business sector that we are – the sector where models for social change and benefit can be tested and proven. Typical news releases often focus on dollars out the door rather than impact achieved with foundation support. The need to change the way we talk about our work and the reach of our communications is becoming increasingly clear. Research from the Philanthropy Awareness Initiative (PAI) suggests that philanthropy faces an "awareness deficit” even among the most engaged citizens in our communities. Only four in 10 can name a foundation. Only one in 10 can identify a foundation’s impact on an issue they care about.

We need to talk more, not just to each other, but to the audiences beyond the individual projects we implement and the immediate geography and community we benefit.

Increased federal scrutiny of philanthropy is also pushing us to step up our communication efforts. Over the last several years there has been considerable activity in Washington on budget and tax matters that could have a significant effect on the future of the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. Even incentives for individual charitable giving are under attack.

Ours is a sector free of normal business constraints and uniquely positioned to take an adventurous approach to investment in problem solving and quality of life for all citizens. Sharing our business stories can help spread promising practices, earn champions, attract new ideas, and encourage more giving. And it can combat the awareness deficit among public and policy leaders.

It is wonderful work to explore and implement ways to make communities better places to live for all citizens – and the vital role of this sector in shaping the future of Baltimore and Maryland is why I am excited to write this column for the BBJ.

Let’s seize every opportunity to talk about the business of doing good.

Celeste Amato is President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG). As The Resource on Grantmaking, The Network for Givers and The Voice for Philanthropy, ABAG is a membership organization of more than 145 private and community foundations, donor advised funds, and corporations with strategic grantmaking programs - representing the vast majority of institutional giving in Maryland. Celeste can be reached at:

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore Business Journal  Celeste Amato  July/August 2013 Members' Memo  Nonprofits  Philanthropy 

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Baltimore Women's Giving Circle Awards $407,000 in Grants

Posted By Kimberly Warren, Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Updated: Thursday, June 20, 2013

BWGC Awards $407,000 to 23 Nonprofits Serving Women and their Families and Hosts a Speaker from Impact Austin 

By Kimberly Warren, co-Chair, Baltimore Women's Giving Circle

On May 29, 2013 the Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle (BWGC) held our 2013 Annual Meeting.

The highlight of the meeting was the ratification of grants totaling a historic $407,000 to 23 nonprofit organizations serving women and their families.

Since the founding of the BWGC in 2001, over $1.3 million has been awarded to 134 organizations focused on empowering women to achieve self-sufficiency.   

The meeting also featured Rebecca Powers, founder of Impact Austin, with a dynamic message about the potential community impact of giving circles through collective philanthropy.

Impact Austin is a giving circle that set a goal to recruit 500 members in five years, and achieved that goal. The circle awards five $100,000 grants to five organizations to be used within a two year period.

Rebecca talked about the potential impact that grants of this size can have on a community. She emphasized that being part of a circle leads to our members learning more about the needs in our area and the variety of ways we can contribute. Rebecca’s inspiring and humorous talk energized Circle members and led to many thoughtful questions from the audience. 

The feedback from our members confirmed that our last Full Circle Meeting was a huge success.  

The Baltimore Women's Giving Circle is a member of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, and a fund of ABAG Member, The Baltimore Community Foundation


Circle co-chairs, Kimberly Warren and Gail Shawe, with Rebecca Powers, founder of Impact Austin

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  BWGC  giving circles  July/August 2013 Members' Memo 

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