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News & Press: ABAG's "Adventures in Philanthropy" Blog

Adventures in Philanthropy: "Grants Help Drive Change in City Schools"

Monday, March 26, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Betsy Nelson
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March 22, 2012

By Betsy Nelson

Special to The Daily Record 

Nationally, 22 percent of all foundation grants invest in quality private and public education, which makes education second only to health as a grantmaking area.

Here at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, education grants are part of many of our members' portfolios. Yet, a few years ago, we realized that we didn't know much about the breadth and depth of that education-related funding. We also wanted to be responsive to members' requests for information about their peers' grantmaking.

To capture this information, this fall we asked members about their investments in education. Forty-eight responded to our biennial survey, providing information about their education focus areas and their 2010 education-related grants. Here's what we learned.

In 2010, ABAG members contributed more than $34.2 million to education efforts in Maryland through more than 800 grants to more than 500 organizations. They gave more than $11.9 million to organizations working with Baltimore City Public Schools, to individual schools and the school district itself.

ABAG members support a wide array of education focus areas. More than half of the members support programs for students during afterschool or extended school hours, as well as teacher recruitment and development. More than one third of the members support projects for summer learning, mentoring, arts education and early childhood (school readiness), as well as programs at independent/private schools.

A profound impact

Wendy Samet is the chair of ABAG's Education Funders Affinity Group and vice president of the Goldsmith Family Foundation. The foundation was established in 1991 with a bequest from the estate of Harold Goldsmith, a well-known entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Born and raised in Baltimore and a graduate of Baltimore City College, Harold wanted to make a difference in the lives of the children growing up in our city today. He believed that improving the educational and cultural opportunities available to Baltimore youth would have a profound impact on their futures.

"Although I never knew Harold Goldsmith, he and I share that dream,” says Samet.

And the belief that education is the pathway to opportunity is shared by an increasing number of funders. Over the years, I have seen a growing willingness to support Baltimore City school efforts.

ABAG members interested in supporting education meet to learn more about worthy initiatives, educational research findings and best practices. It is not unusual for Education Funders to gather two to three times a month to explore different aspects of educational activity.

Since May 2008, Education Funders have met regularly with Michael Sarbanes, executive director of the Office of Partnerships, Communications and Community Engagement for Baltimore City Public Schools. These "Focus on City Schools” meetings offer an opportunity to learn about the city schools' outreach efforts and to provide input on the school system's plans.

This is a critical time for efforts to improve educational opportunities for children and youth, both in public and private spheres, during the school hours and after school. Education funders encourage others to join with them in supporting quality educational programs. Contact me for more information.

Betsy Nelson, president of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, writes every other week for The Daily Record. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org.


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