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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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Partnering With Maryland Nonprofits

Posted By Celeste Amato, Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 17, 2015

By Celeste Amato, President, Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers

Last week, members of our association, along with the Board and Staff of Maryland Nonprofits, gathered at the offices of the Blaustein Philanthropic Group to welcome Heather Iliff in her new role as President of Maryland Nonprofits.

The gathering reinforced our commitment to the strategic partnership between our two organizations. ABAG has long recognized this partnership as critical to meeting our own mission of maximizing the impact of philanthropic giving on community life.

Our shared interest in promoting a healthy and vibrant nonprofit sector make us essential partners committed to increasing the impact of our collective membership by sharing our expertise, influencing good governance, and increasing opportunities for dialogue and collaboration.

"I’m honored by the show of support from ABAG, the Blaustein Philanthropic Group, and the funding community in Maryland” said Heather Iliff. "Going forward, Maryland Nonprofits is focused on facilitating connections between nonprofits in an effort to improve quality of life in our state. Strengthening ties between the funding community and nonprofit organizations is critical to this effort.”

Heather and I will be looking for ways to increase our partnership opportunities and support our shared mission goals in the months ahead and welcome members to share their thoughts and join in that effort.

Welcome, Heather!

Tags:  March 2015 Members' Memo  Maryland Nonprofits 

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You Choose! ABAG Communications Update

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16, 2015

By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Communications Director 

One of the most important aspects of our network is how we connect and communicate with our membership. ABAG staff continuously seeks ways to communicate strategically and effectively providing valuable information and resources in a timely manner. In addition to meeting in person, we achieve this through our email communications, website, and social media.

We want to always be updating you to ensure that you have the most current information about all of ABAG's communications and how you can manage your delivery and content preferences.

Email Communications

You may have noticed that our eNewsletters have an enhanced look since the beginning of the year. We are also pleased to offer increased opportunities for managing the informationyou receive from us.

All ABAG members currently receive the monthly Members' Memo – our primary member communication providing the latest information on ABAG as a resource, network and voice for philanthropy.

In addition, we also publish the following eNewsletters and email updates:

  • Program Update (Bi-Weekly)
  • Business Giving Digest (Monthly)
  • Family Philanthropy eNewsletter (Monthly)
  • Education Funders eNewsletter (Monthly)
  • Health Funders eNewsletter (Monthly)
  • Philanthropy News Online eNewsletter (Monthly)
  • ABAG Project Updates (Ongoing)
  • Additional News and Updates (Occasional)

Contact me to review your current preferences and update your profile with us


You can control how you receive information from ABAG's website. ABAG staff update our website daily with new programs, blog posts, and the latest news about members, issues, and the sector.

  • ABAG Programs - Register for programsand sign up for the RSS Feed.
  • ABAG Blog - Search all blog postsand sign up for the RSS Feed.
  • ABAG News - View member andphilanthropy news and sign up for the RSS Feed.

Social Media

Social media is not only a great way to receive ongoing information where you are, but it's an increasingly important way to connect with others who share common interests. ABAG's Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin pages are updated daily with information about ABAG, our members, and news from the sector.

Connect with ABAG through:

  • Facebook - Follow ABAG's Facebook page. Be sure to set your notifications to "follow" and to "get notifications".
  • Twitter - Follow ABAG on Twitter. You can also follow our ABAG Member Twitter stream to see what your colleagues are tweeting daily.
  • Linkedin - Connect with ABAG on Linkedin.
How we communicate with you remains a top priority. As always, don't hesitate to contact me with any questions: or 410/727-1205.

Tags:  Communications  eNewsletter  March 2015 Members' Memo 

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Recent Reports from the Field - March 2015

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, March 16, 2015
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Program Materials: Making the Most of Your ABAG Membership

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16, 2015

By Elisabeth Hyleck, Programs and Initiatives Director

As you likely know, the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers serves members by providing more than 100 educational programs and events each year.

We recognize that it would, of course, be impossible for a member to attend all the programs one wants. That said, we want to help members to take advantage of the valuable knowledge, ideas, and resources shared at ABAG programs, even when you are not able to be present.

As a service to our members, we are populating our website with program materials after most events. You can find the materials on the bottom of event descriptions. In the last month, we have posted materials for the following events:

· Arts Funders Sharing and Planning Session

· Talking Shop: Why and How We Survey Grantees

· Focus on City Schools: 21st Century Facilities and School Portfolio Options

· Spotlight on Civil Legal Aid

Most files require member log-in. If you have forgotten your password please click here to reset your password or contact an ABAG staff member. You can always click on the Past button or the "Search our Site” box at the top of the events page to locate your event of interest.

Also, if you are interested in a program but are not able to attend, please let me or the staff contact for that program know. We are happy to send you notes and any follow-up materials directly.

For further information on ABAG's events and programs, please contact Elisabeth Hyleck, Programs and Initiatives Director

Tags:  ABAG Programs  March 2015 Members' Memo  Program Committee  Program Materials  Programs 

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Maryland Environmental Health Network Issues Two New Publications

Posted By Rebecca Ruggles, Friday, March 13, 2015

March 13, 2015

Rebecca Ruggles, Director, Maryland Environmental Health Network

One of the benefits of being an ABAG sponsored project is observing different techniques of change management used by the funding community. Commissioning timely reports is one of them.

At the Maryland Environmental Health Network, we’ve issued two new publications in the past four months. Last November, we came out with an analysis of how energy policy relates to public health. Energy and Health in Maryland: A Briefing for Health Advocates proved to be a useful tool to a wider range of our partners than we expected, from the League of Women Voters to the Baltimore City Energy Office.

This month, MdEHN released a report in collaboration with Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (MDH2E), titled Maryland Hospitals at the Intersection of Environmental Health, Sustainability, and Community Benefit.Together, MdEHN and MDH2E hope this analysis will assist Maryland hospitals to deliver a wide range of community benefits that also support sustainability and environmental health.

Co-authored by Joan Plisko and Dawn Cannon of MDH2E, the report provides examples of how Maryland hospitals are leading with environmental health and sustainability programs. Many of these qualify for recognition under IRS requirements for non-profit hospitals to deliver community benefits.

Maryland Hospitals have shifted to more sustainable practices in waste management, food purchasing, energy efficiency, and toxics reduction. Schools, faith communities, and other community-based organizations in a hospital’s catchment area can benefit from learning about these effective and healthy practices. When hospitals share this expertise outside their own walls, they get credit for delivering community benefits and contribute to the health of local communities.

MdEHN’s report Energy & Health in Maryland: A Briefing for Health Advocates created opportunities to engage legislators in Annapolis on the health benefits of moving Maryland to more renewable clean energy. Although the report’s framework is unconventional, it has proven thought-provoking and useful.

We know this new report on hospital community benefit programs will also be useful in engaging hospital executives in extending their expertise beyond hospital walls. ABAG members may also find the report interesting, if they fund hospital capital projects, serve as hospital trustees, work on community health, or are otherwise engaged with these critical anchor institutions.

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. MdEHN is a project housed at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG).

Tags:  environment  March 2015 Members' Memo  Maryland Environmental Health Network  MdEHN 

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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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Foundations on the Hill 2015 #FOTH – Keep to the Code

Posted By Adam Donaldson, Friday, March 13, 2015

March 13, 2015

By Adam Donaldson, ABAG Member Services Director

On March 18-19, the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG) heads to Washington, DC for Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) to remind Congress of the importance of philanthropy to their communities and the importance of the tax code to philanthropy.

Hosted by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, in partnership with the Council on Foundations, FOTH is a two-day event that brings foundation leaders to DC to communicate with Congress about key issues of importance to foundations and philanthropy. This year more than 180 participants are expected from 30 states.

Foundations and their grantee nonprofit organizations are created under the tax code. In return for tax relief, our organizations have pledged to work for a charitable purpose.

As Congress considers both individual changes to the code and comprehensive tax reform, ABAG pays attention. And, Congress has proposed changes to the private foundation excise tax, IRA charitable rollover, donor-advised funds and more. Changes to the tax code can enhance and expand the work of philanthropy. Or, they can hinder philanthropy and consequently, hurt the communities we serve. Congress must consider the implications of changes to the code on philanthropic and charitable organizations.

ABAG encourages members interested in federal policy affecting philanthropy to get connected with our Public Policy Committee; live updates from Foundations on the Hill can be viewed on Twitter using #FOTH15.

Special notice: The language of the Treas. Regulation 53.4945-2(d)(3) confers the self-defense exception to private foundations for communications with a legislative body regarding legislation that affects the "existence of the private foundation, its powers and duties, its tax-exempt status or the deductibility of contributions to such foundation."


Jack Sparrow: I thought you were supposed to keep to the code.

Mr. Gibbs: We figured they were more actual guidelines.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

Tags:  Charitable Tax Deducation  FOTH  March 2015 Members' Memo  Public Policy 

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Transforming School Libraries

Posted By Kate Sorestad, Friday, March 13, 2015

March 13, 2015

By Kate Sorestad, Program Officer, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

Since 2011, the Weinberg Foundation and its more than 40 amazing partners have worked together to create new, transformed elementary and middle school libraries within select Baltimore City Public Schools. And while brand new libraries are wonderful, they’re even better filled with thousands of brand new books! So for the fourth year in a row, the Weinberg Foundation and friends across the region are hosting a Book Drive to benefit the Baltimore Elementary and Middle School Library Project.

This year promises to be better than ever – but we need your help!

The Book Drive kicked off on March 2nd and will be running until the 31st. This year there are two great ways to be involved – by donating an actual book, or by giving online.

Option 1 – Book Collection! There are more than 40 sites across Baltimore hosting "book bins” where individuals can drop new, hardcover children’s books. Those books are then placed into the libraries that will be renovated this summer. Bin locations can be found by checking the Library Project website -

Option 2 Donate Online! It could not be easier to make a difference in the life of a Baltimore City student. Just go to or scan any of the QR codes found on posters and other promotional materials throughout the City (including at Barnes and Noble, Power Plant, or Enoch Pratt Free Library branches) and you will be taken to the donation page. Every $7 raised = one new book!

Want to make it a community service project for your entire office? Consider offering staff an incentive for bringing in new books or donating $7. Wells Fargo is having a "Dress Down for Books” day and other businesses are considering letting staff leave an hour early to reward contributions. The options are endless, and it’s not too late for your business or organization to get involved

We are also very excited that eight of the schools that have received new libraries over the past three years are also helping out with this year’s Book Drive. Students have decided to "pay-it -forward” by collecting pennies during the month of March. All monies raised will also go toward new books at this year’s new Library Project schools and these students are serious about the competition!

To date, the Weinberg Foundation has committed $10-million to transform up to 24 Baltimore City Public School spaces as part of the Library Project. Numerous national studies clearly demonstrate that a well-equipped, well-staffed, and well-resourced school library can positively impact nearly all academic markers, especially in high poverty districts. More so, we - and all of our wonderful partners - believe the Library Project sends a powerful message to the young students of Baltimore City that each child deserves the best.

Tags:  Library Project  March 2015 Members' Memo  Weinberg Foundation 

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Baltimore Women's Giving Circle - 14 Years Supporting Women and Families

Posted By Penny Wald & Peggy Schapiro, Monday, March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015 

By Penny Wald and Peggy Schapiro
Co-Chairs, Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle

Enlightened philanthropy starts with the generosity of informed donors who understand needs of their community on both macro and micro levels. Fifty-two women with a shared vision of how our region could be enhanced started the Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle (BWGC) in 2001.

Today, the Circle has more than 400 members.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we also celebrate the power of women’s collective giving.

The Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle - a fund of the Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF), and a member of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG) - aims to empower Baltimore area women to achieve self-sufficiency for themselves and their families.

By pooling and leveraging our enthusiasm and intellectual and financial resources, we bring about change by making grants ranging from $20,000-$50,000. Each member contributes $1,100 yearly to the Circle with $1,000 going directly to grants awarded that year. Since our founding, we have awarded 236 grants of more than $3.5 million to over 140 nonprofit service organizations in our community. 

The Circle helps its members become better philanthropists.

Our education programs broaden participants’ knowledge of the issues affecting women and families living in poverty. We’ve explored mental health, foster care, education, aging, domestic violence, parenting, mentoring, and affordable housing. One year we focused on poverty and its solutions, and another year, we explored issues related to education. Our guest speakers have ranged from the Mayor of Baltimore City to young women who grew up in foster care.

As the giving circle movement grows nationwide, opportunities for networking expand.

Our membership in the Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network has enabled us to learn from and share ideas with giving circles around the country. This March, Ann Boyce, a BWGC founding member, will represent the Circle on a panel at the International Fundraising Conference in Baltimore. The Circle will also host this year’s ABAG annual regional giving circle gathering in the fall.

As a member-driven organization, the Circle derives its strength from effectively integrating the talents, expertise, and energies of its dynamic and diverse members.

As we embark on our 14th year, BWGC continues to grow and invest in the Baltimore community, allowing us to achieve collectively what none of us could achieve individually. 

To learn more about the BWGC, visit and follow us on Facebook at:

Tags:  Baltimore Women's Giving Circle  BWGC  Collective Giving  Giving Circles  March 2015 Members' Memo  Women 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Monday, March 2, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March 2015

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

Cold? This local ice cream will warm you up!
Made with Baltimore’s Zeke’s Coffee by Glen Arm based Prigel Creamery, this tasty treat comes through the leadership of Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and their food provider Parkhurst Dinning working to direct campus food purchasing to local businesses. This Zeke’s MICA Blend Ice Cream is available only on campus.

University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB) launches Food Merchant Access Initiative
The BIP recently awarded grant funding to support a new initiative to connect catering purchasing by UMB, University of Maryland Medical Center, and Bon Secours to a range of food businesses located in the Southwest Partnership area. UMB is partnering with the Small Business Development Center, CUPs Coffeehouse and Kitchen, Pigtown Main Street, and others to overcome a series of identified barriers, provide technical assistance, and facilitate food delivery.

Loyola University Maryland looks to help improve York Road
Building on local community plans as well as recommendations from the Urban Land Institute, the BIP awarded grant funding to Loyola for a consultant to help explore and formulate some of the infrastructure needed to manage and oversee longer term commercial improvement strategies for this important corridor.

Anchor Driven Centre Theater Construction moves forward with Local Hiring
Building on the leadership of non-profit developer Jubilee Baltimore, Inc., and its general contractor Southway Builders, anchor tenants Johns Hopkins University and the Maryland Institute College of Art are working with Southway Builders to make local hiring opportunities available during the fit-out of their 25,000 square foot space at the Centre Theater on North Avenue. The new center for film will house each institutions’ graduate and undergraduate film programs.With financing from The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), Jubilee and Southway successfully incorporated local hires from Project JumpStart and Greater Homewood into the $6 million core and shell renovations that are wrapping up in March.

BIP Partner to Lead City Workforce Agency
Congratulations to Jason Perkins-Cohen who will be leaving the Job Opportunities Task Force after 10 years to lead theMayor’s Office of Employment Development. JOTFhas been a critical workforce partner with the BIP over the last four years helping move forward a range of new state and local public policies and funding programs as well as project level local hiring opportunities through JumpStart. We look forward to working with Jason in his new role and continuing to partner with JOTF.

TRF Continues Success in Baltimore
Supporting the expansion of The Reinvestment Fund’s lending and investment portfolio into Baltimore was a key objective of the BIP’s first round of work. In 2014, TRF closed $25 million in debt including financing on four Baltimore charter schools, Centre Theater, and phase 2 of the Chesapeake building. In addition, they helped finance the Eastern Shore Conservation Center in Easton, Maryland and finalized an agreement with Baltimore City to manage a pool of funds for energy efficiency projects. We are excited that their role and impact in Baltimore continues to grow. 

The Baltimore Integration Partnership is funded by the national Living Cities Integration Initiative and generous local support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Goldseker Foundation, Associated Black Charities, The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative and the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG). ABAG acts as a backbone organization, coordinating and staffing the partnership.

Tags:  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  March 2015 Members' Memo  Workforce 

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Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative Receives Grant from Walmart Foundation

Posted By Linda Dworak, Monday, March 2, 2015
Updated: Monday, March 2, 2015

March 2, 2015

By Linda Dworak, Director, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative 

The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG) has been selected as a recipient of a "Delivering the TDL Workforce” initiative grant from the Walmart Foundation. This $220,000 award will allow us to issue sub-grants to Cecil College and Maryland New Directions who will work as a regional partnership to increase access to middle-skill jobs in the Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics (TDL) sectors.

The TDL workforce is a critical underpinning of the retail industry, providing much needed integrated warehousing and supply chain management, and serves to link manufacturers and trading partners to wholesalers, retailers, and consumers.

This project is part of a $3 million national initiative of the Walmart Foundation to strengthen and expand training in 10 regions for TDL careers. The Baltimore grant will focus on employment related to the Port of Baltimore, providing training for commercial drivers, forklift operators and certified Global Logistics Associates. The projects will connect underrepresented populations to the industry, with a commitment to serve at least 25 percent female participants. The initiative is part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s $100 million commitment over five years to support programs that help increase the economic mobility for entry level workers to advance their careers, in order to promote a stronger workforce.

Both Cecil College and Maryland New Directions received funding through the State’s EARN program in 2014 to launch industry partnerships in this sector. As a nationally recognized collaborative of local and national grantmakers, the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative was invited to apply for the Walmart funds and is helping to grow and sustain the work of these EARN recipients. Both organizations engage deeply with TDL employers to design and implement their strategies. This work helps to advance our mission of providing access to better employment opportunities for low wage job seekers and incumbent workers while supporting area employers to address core human resource needs.

More information about the Walmart initiative is available here.

The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative (BWFC) is a public/private partnership dedicated to advancing the labor market prospects of unemployed and underemployed Baltimore City residents while meeting the needs of our region's employers for a skilled workforce. The BWFC is housed at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

Tags:  Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative  BWFC  March 2015 Members' Memo  Workforce 

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Open Streets for a Healthier Howard County

Posted By Ian Kennedy, Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February 24, 2015

By Ian Kennedy,Director of Communications, Horizon Foundation 

Open Streets Howard County starts with the simple and proven idea that the design of our streets and neighborhoods should support and promote healthy living. Residents of communities that are built to encourage walking and cycling typically enjoy improved health outcomes, as well as many other benefits.

Around the country, communities have recognized these benefits and are taking steps to make it easy for people of all ages, abilities, incomes, and ethnicities to move around safely and comfortably in their chosen mode of transportation.

With rising rates of chronic diseases related to unhealthy lifestyles, Howard County should join this effort and set about creating a safe, connected and comprehensive network of streets that are "open” for everyone. After all, our roads make up a great part of our public spaces, and they should reflect the kind of community we want: accessible, sustainable, healthy, welcoming, and connected.

Why Open Streets?

To enjoy the numerous and lasting health benefits of physical activity, adults need at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity and kids need 60 minutes. By creating a safe and accessible network of sidewalks, trails, pathways and transit facilities in Howard County, we can make it easier for everyone to accomplish these goals – whether by walking to school or work, riding a bike on errands, or running to catch the commuter bus.

The Horizon Foundation’s mission is to promote the health and wellness of people who live or work in Howard County. As part of our healthy lifestyles initiative, we’ve been working to make it easier for residents to choose nutritious beverages and food. And now we are working with our community partners and local residents to expand access to healthy transportation choices.

At our annual meeting in 2014, Mark Fenton, a national expert on transportation and health, spoke about the ways that community design could improve health. He gave a similar talk later that same evening, which you can watch here:

In addition to building awareness and support for healthy community design, we want Howard County Government to consider implementing a "Complete Streets” policy requiring that future road projects – from new construction to repaving – incorporate safe facilities for ALL users. A Complete Streets policy would also help ensure the successful implementation of the County’s recent Bicycle Master Plan and the Pedestrian Master Plan it is currently updating.

We know that creating a healthier built environment does not happen over night. It will require time and investments, but we can start by building awareness and support for this work. We are reaching out across Howard County to talk to families, organizations, leaders and others about ways we can make active and healthy transportation a reality.

Interested in finding out how? We’d love to meet you! Come and learn what Open Streets Howard County is about. Come to the Open Streets Howard County kick off, our celebration of "people power”, on June 13th in Columbia. We have a bunch of fun activities planned, but the signature attraction of this event is a demonstration of how an existing road built only for cars can function better for people, whether they choose to drive, cycle, walk, run, or take transit.

Our long-term vision is a comprehensive, connected, economically competitive, and well-used network of streets and facilities that support healthy transportation choices and accessibility for everyone in the community, regardless of age, ability, income, or ethnicity.

If you share this vision, here are ways you can help:

· Like "Open Streets Howard County” on Facebook

· Mark your calendars and plan to attend our Open Streets party on June 13th!

· Sign up to receive email updates

Tags:  Health Funders  Horizon Foundation  March 2015 Members' Memo  Open Steets 

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