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Our "Adventures in Philanthropy" blog posts are written by our staff and diverse membership and offer a glimpse into the world of philanthropy, presenting current issues and information relevant to funders, policymakers, members of the media, and those interested in current issues and giving trends.


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Our Collaborative Network for Philanthropy Across Maryland

Posted By Celeste Amato, Tuesday, May 26, 2015
May 26, 2015
Remarks by Celeste Amato, ABAG President at ABAG's May 19, 2015 Annual Meeting
For ABAG this is traditionally a day where I would acknowledge our work over the past year and focus attention on the year ahead. But I am not going to do that today.
Instead I want to talk a little about recent events in Baltimore and what we might do about them -- together.
I am sure that like me, many of you, felt suspended in time watching events that you had hoped to never see in Baltimore again. Watching the loss of hard won investments and the terrible impact on already vulnerable communities and people left me feeling helpless, angry and profoundly sad.
Yet in all of the anger and violence that overtook our City, there were also amazing moments of unity. And, for all the mistrust, the distance and disparities between us – in the middle of streets covered in glass and debris - we started to gather together, black and white, and we just started cleaning up.

I have to believe that we can reach across the divisions between us and begin cleaning up the legacy of structural racism too. That may seem too simple, but what if we actually made it that simple - at least to get us started? Many of us, black and white, are very ready to reach across that divide and risk a little of ourselves to confront some hard truths.

Over these past weeks we’ve talked a lot about how to engage disconnected youth but I would challenge us to start right now with friends and colleagues. Let’s give ourselves permission to share our personal hurts, fears and misconceptions and begin to sweep them away.

This Association and all of the wonderful, truly caring people who dedicate themselves to sharing their talents, expertise and good fortune across this State, are uniquely positioned to be a lasting witness to this moment and a powerful voice to help transform it into a movement – a sustained conversation that we do not allow to wane.

Within our ABAG membership, there is experience and knowledge to be mined. This is a time for us to come together, to share what we know and acknowledge what we don’t know about solving the persistent disparities that challenge not just our city, but our state and our country.
My hope is that our City becomes a catalyst to drive the hard conversations that begin to set us all free and moving forward together.

Now, if you would all indulge me for just a few moments more:

I want to thank the ABAG board and many, many members for their guidance in formulating our new strategic plan and positioning the organization to respond to these great challenges.

To our many arts organizations and other partners who joined us today – thank you for all that you do to create, preserve and promote so much of what defines Maryland as home.

To our Annual Meeting sponsors CareFirst, BlueCross Blue Shield, Lynn Rauch of the Kentfields foundation and The Walters – thank you for bringing this beautiful venue within our reach.

And, I especially want to thank the ABAG staff, who have worked so hard these last few weeks to develop the action plans that will move us toward our strategic goals, to prepare for our Annual Meeting, and to be the go-to resource for information sharing and coordination in this turbulent time.

Finally, I want to thank every ABAG member for your participation in this collaborative network for philanthropy across Maryland.

Tags:  015 Annual Meeting  May 2015 Members Memo 

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ABAG Announces 2015-2016 Newly Elected Officers and Board Members

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, May 20, 2015


May 20, 2015 (Baltimore) - The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG) announced the 2015-2016 newly elected Officers and Board Members yesterday at the 2015 Annual Meeting.

"Our region benefits greatly from a long tradition of thoughtful, innovative, and committed philanthropy" said Cathy Brill, newly elected Chair of the ABAG Board of Directors and Executive Director of the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation. "I look forward to working with ABAG members and partners throughout Maryland to continue to strengthen our capacity to be responsive to community needs, particularly in light of recent events in Baltimore that are important to our city, region, and state.”

Newly Elected Officers:

· Chair: Cathy Brill, Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation

· Vice Chair: Timothy M. O’Neill, William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation

· Treasurer: Patti Sterling, France-Merrick Foundation

· Secretary: Diane Bell-McKoy, Associated Black Charities

Newly Elected Board Members:

· Tracey Barbour-Gillett, Abell Foundation

· Carmel Roques, Keswick Multi-Care Center

· Tamara W. Zavislan, Community Foundation of Harford County

ABAG's 2015-2016 Board of Directors and Officers


As a membership organization of 140 foundations, donor advised funds, and corporate giving programs, the mission of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG) is to maximize the impact of philanthropic giving on community life through a growing network of diverse, informed and effective grantmakers. ABAG is the region’s Resource, Network and Voice for Philanthropy:

Tags:  2015 Annual Meeting  ABAG Board of Directors  May 2015 Members Memo 

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Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, May 11, 2015
Updated: Friday, May 15, 2015

May 11, 2015

By Laurie Latuda Kinkel, ABAG Board Chair 

Members of ABAG,

We are one week away from our ABAG Annual Meeting on May 19, 2015.

We have been planning for months to make this our most engaging annual meeting to date, with an exciting new venue—the Walters Art Museum—and format. Jamie Bennett, the Executive Director of ArtPlace America, will set the stage for our conversation by reflecting on the art of placemaking. With community-based participation at its center, placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, and results in the creation of quality public spaces that contribute to people’s health, happiness, and well-being.

Could there be a more timely conversation for our region?

With Jamie’s remarks to frame our gathering, our Annual Meeting will introduce ABAG’s new strategic plan, presented by fellow ABAG members who have helped us define our goals and strategies for the next five years. In response to member conversations and surveys, through board retreats and staff work, we’ve created a plan that focuses on growing and strengthening a diverse network for philanthropy to influence critical issues and improve community conditions in our region.

As ABAG has responded to the extraordinary events of the last few weeks, I am proud of the work that the ABAG board, staff, and membership has done to create our new Strategic Plan.

The discussions we’ve had about diversity, inclusion, and equity; the need for philanthropy to engage with public and private sector partners; and how to best serve our members so that they can serve our communities—these discussions and the goals that we’ve set for ABAG in this new plan have proven timely as we’ve reacted to recent events.

In the last two weeks, I’ve seen our ABAG affinity groups adapt programming to meet member and community needs. Our arts funders came together with partners from the arts community to discuss the impact of recent events on arts and culture in the city. Our neighborhood and community development funders met with community partners to discuss how to strengthen neighborhood capacity through community engagement and leadership development. Our workforce funders have been meeting with public sector partners to develop plans for potential federal investment, as well as a youth engagement and employment strategy. The Baltimore Integration Partnership is working with local college and university presidents to strategize around the impact on and role of higher education institutions.

Celeste has organized a weekly conference call for members to facilitate information sharing about needs, resources, gaps, requests, and member plans. If you cannot join the weekly call, you can also find the latest information about the philanthropic response on ABAG’s #OneBaltimore Website Section for Members, updated daily.

Yesterday morning, Celeste and I attended Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s announcement of her #OneBaltimore Initiative.

The first objective of #OneBaltimore is to create a multi-disciplinary, public-private partnership to coordinate resources and promote policies and solutions focused on closing health, economic, education, and civic disparities in Baltimore City. Many of our ABAG members have been working for years to address these disparities. Within our ABAG membership, there is experience and knowledge to be mined. This is a time for us to come together, to share hard lessons already learned and the expertise within our network. It is also a time for us to be humble, to listen, and to acknowledge what we don’t know about solving some of the toughest problems facing not just our city, but our state and our country.

I want to thank every ABAG member for your participation in this collaborative network that we call philanthropy in Maryland. I want to thank the ABAG board for its guidance in formulating our new strategic plan and positioning the organization to respond to these great challenges. And I especially want to thank the ABAG staff, who have been working tirelessly these last few weeks to develop the action plans to bring our strategic plan to life, to prepare for our Annual Meeting, and to be our go-to resource for information sharing and coordination in this turbulent time.

Look for our continuing communication about philanthropy’s efforts to be a partner in building a stronger, more equitable community, under the #OneBaltimore banner on our website. ABAG will use the #OneBaltimore tag to identify its convenings and other efforts – in solidarity with the City and our shared focus of unifying Baltimore and advancing equity for all Baltimore and Maryland citizens.

I look forward to seeing you on May 19 at our Annual Meeting.

Tags:  #OneBaltimore  2015 Annual Meeting  May 2015 Members Memo  Strategic Plan 

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

Posted By Celeste Amato, Thursday, April 30, 2015

April 30, 2015

By Celeste Amato, President, Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags:  Baltimore  May 2015 Members Memo 

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Message to ABAG Members

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

April 28, 2015

Dear Members of ABAG,

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

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

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

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

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

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


Laurie Latuda Kinkel, Board Chair

Celeste Amato, President

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

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Nepal Earthquake Relief Efforts

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Monday, April 27, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Originally Posted: April 27, 2015
Updated: May 12, 2015

Sadly, on May 12 another major earthquake has struck the area. We will continue to post updates on the philanthropic response. 
Nepal and the surrounding area has been hit by a devastating earthquake and numerous after shocks.Thousands have died and the devastation is catastrophic. We are saddened by the events and send our wishes to everyone who has lost loved ones, homes, and livelihoods.
(View photos from a New York Times new article at this link, right)

As we do during times of disaster, ABAG is serving as a clearinghouse for our members and others with resources and information about relief efforts. 

How to Help Nepal: 7 Vetted Charities Doing Relief Work Following the EarthquakeAfter disasters, the best way to help is generally to donate money to effective and efficient charities that have an established presence on the ground. Charity Navigator is one of the leading resources for evaluating the work of nonprofits, and the organization has posted a list of highly-ranked charities that have mounted relief operations.

Beth Kanter's Blog - TIps on Donating to Help in Nepal

Global Giving - Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund


The Center for Disaster Philanthropy 

Our colleagues at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) are actively monitoring the situation, and keeping abreast of what local and national funders - including ABAG members - are doing in response, as well as how various organizations will meet human needs. They will be sharing information that they collect and offering analysis of the impact on their website,

Along with the Council on Foundations, CDP is holding a webinar at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 1 to discuss the needs and donor opportunities in Nepal. Register for the webinar here.

Center for Disaster Philanthropy Nepal Earthquake Recovery FundThey have also set up a Fund for future recovery needs. 
"Disaster Grantmaking: A Practical Guide for Foundations and Corporations" as well as the Donors Guide to Giving After a Disaster. A number of practical suggestions for good disaster grantmaking flow from these principles and are highlighted.

In response to the devastation caused by the Nepal earthquake, ABAG members are mobilizing to donate money, supplies, staff time and other resources to assist in the relief efforts.

Please let us know how you are engaged in relief efforts. Grant amounts, assisted organizations, and any other relief work that your organization undertakes will be valuable information as your grantmaking colleagues craft response strategies. 
Please contact Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Communications Director, with any information.


A joint study of the European Foundation Centre and the Council on Foundations determined that grantmakers can be more effective and strategic in addressing disasters by following eight principles of good disaster management.
  1. Do no harm.
  2. Stop, look and listen before taking action.
  3. Don't act in isolation.
  4. Think beyond the immediate crisis to the long term.
  5. Bear in mind the expertise of local organizations.
  6. Find out how prospective grantees operate.
  7. Be accountable to those you are trying to help.
  8. Communicate your work widely and use it as an educational tool.

Tags:  Disaster Grantmaking  May 2015 Members Memo  Nepal 

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Happy Earth Day!

Posted By Celeste Amato, Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Updated: Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 22, 2015

By Celeste Amato, ABAG President

Happy Earth Day!

This annual day dedicated to supporting the environment was first organized in 1970 and is now celebrated in more than 192 countries.

Earth Day has increased awareness of environmental issues and elevated concern for the health of our planet. Many U.S. foundations, businesses, and individual givers now focus funding on the environment. In fact, according to a recent Environmental Grantmakers Association report, in 2011, estimated funding to environmental issues by U.S. foundations reached an all-time high of $2.8 billion.

And, here in Maryland, our own funding community has done the same:

ABAG Project, the Maryland Environmental Health Network, convenes diverse stakeholders in the fields of health and environmental advocacy, research, and community activism, to support cross-sector education, dialogue and action that results in better protection of both human health and the environment. The project envisions a Maryland where children and adults enjoy clean food, air and water, and benefit from safe environments in their homes, schools and communities.

ABAG’s Green Funders Affinity Group gathers regularly to explore topics related to community greening, sustainability, and environmental protection. These environmental discussions cross all sectors, impacting community development, human health, and economic welfare.

The Maryland 2015 Legislative Session met with newly elected lawmakers, including a new Governor, and an ambitious environmental agenda in Annapolis. On April 29 ABAG’s Green Funders will host a Legislative Wrap-Up, featuring reports from Dru Schmidt-Perkins of 1000 Friends of Maryland, and Karla Raettig of Maryland League of Conservation Voters, on their observations and the outcomes of major environmental campaigns. Representatives from Blue Water Baltimore and the Maryland Environmental Health Network will also bring their perspectives to the program. All ABAG members are welcome.

Rebecca Ruggles, our ABAG staff member who consults to the Green Funders and directs MdEHN says, "The synergy between funders and environmental advocates always impresses me. We are lucky to have philanthropic leadership that is helping to shape everything from Baltimore and Maryland's climate action planning, to the state's food system, to broad regional support for addressing polluted run-off and cleaning up the Bay."

Tags:  Earth Day  Green Funders  Maryland Environmental Health Network  May 2015 Members Memo  MdEHN 

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