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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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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, August 12, 2015
July 29, 2015
By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP)

Two New Anchors Join the BIP
The BIP is pleased to welcome Notre Dame of Maryland University and LifeBridge Health to the partnership. Eleven anchor institutions are now part of the collective impact strategy focused on establishing economic inclusion as the business culture of norm in the Baltimore region through local hiring, purchasing and community reinvestment.

BIP Helps Support MICA Arts Incubator Study

The BIP has awarded funding to the Maryland Institute College of Art to explore the development of a career acceleration support network for artists and designers with economic and social equity impact. A consultant will help evaluate the feasibility of a city-wide infrastructural network to attract and retain creative talent helping incubate businesses as well as support those in the creative space. The study is expected to last approximately six months and is jointly funded by the Surdna Foundation.

BIP, Food Hub, City Seeds, and Lexington Market Collaborate on #MadeInBaltimore Food Vendor Fair

Hosted at Lexington Market in June, BIP anchor institutions, food service providers, hotels, and restaurants networked with thirty local food vendors showcasing their products. Well covered by the media, the event not only connected anchor institutions with local purchasing opportunities, the effort promoted local businesses andraised up the importance of local purchasing to help create jobs in Baltimore. The event was coordinated with City Seeds, A Humanim Social Enterprise, which will accelerate food businesses in Baltimore and support job creation in the food innovation economy through a planned business training program called the School of Food. Read more in the Baltimore Sun and see the event video.

BIP supports "Made in Baltimore” Pop Up Shop and Vendor Fair for Anchors

Organized by the Industrial Arts Collective (IAC) of Baltimore, a pop up shop will be held in the gallery space of North Avenue Market startingon August 8thgoing through September 25th. The pop up shop will feature products made by more than 50 light manufacturers, artists, and others. As part of this effort, the IAC and the BIP will be collaborating to connect partners and anchors to IAC businesses and locally made products on September 15that 5:30. BIP event details forthcoming – contact BIP staff.

Opportunity Collaborative releases Regional Plan for Sustainable Development

Completed in June, the RPSD represents the first joint and sustained effort by the governments and significant non-governmental organizations in the region to collectively address regional planning issues including workforce, transportation and housing to identify cross-cutting responses to the challenges created by regional disparities. The report outlines goals and strategies to advance economic opportunities and competitiveness including working with anchor institutions; improving transportation access to career, training, and educational opportunities; and closing the gap in opportunities between communities by increasing the supply of housing affordable to the region’s workforce at all income levels.Full Report

UChicago, Drexel, and JHU Panel Highlight Anchor Inclusion Initiatives

William Towns (University of Chicago), Lucy Kerman (Drexel), and Charlene Moore Hayes (JHU) spent a June morning with BIP anchor leadership to talk through how each of their respective institutions is moving forward programs and initiatives to support local residents and businesses. Discussion highlights included UChicago Local,which features local hiring and workforce coordination approaches as well as the CASE procurement initiative. Drexel’s Office of University and Community Partnership’s is advancing local purchasing and job training initiatives as well as supports for K-12 schools in West Philly.Finally, Johns Hopkins is moving forward comprehensive efforts to hire locally including the hiring of exoffenders.


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),which acts as a backbone organization, coordinating and staffing the partnership.

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

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ABAG's Green Funders and Workforce Development Affinity Groups Visit Hidden Parts of Baltimore's Landscape

Posted By Rebecca Ruggles, Monday, July 20, 2015

July 20, 2015

By Rebecca Ruggles, ABAG Green Funders Affinity Group Coordinator

So much we take for granted in our daily lives is the result of complex operations just out of sight. This is true for both our water and wastewater systems, and for the continuous movement of goods in and out of Baltimore Harbor.

Members of the Green Funders and Workforce Development affinity groups at ABAG have recently gone behind the scenes to see hidden parts of our greater Baltimore landscape.

In May, the Green Funders and a few guests toured the Back River Waste Water Treatment Plant in Essex. This is where everything that goes down the drain ends up.

With the capacity to treat 180 million gallons of "influent” daily, the plant occupies a 466 acre site owned by Baltimore City on the west shore of the Back River, which flows to the Chesapeake Bay. It serves 1.3 million residents of Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

If you’ve ever looked out over East Baltimore from Clifton Park or while driving out Erdman Avenue, you’ve seen two strange gold domes on the horizon. These are anaerobic sludge digesters, and they stand over 150 feet high. We stood on a catwalk inside these huge edifices after having walked all over the complex, seeing each stage in the complex process of sewage treatment.

In June, undaunted by our foray into the dark corners of wastewater, the Green Funders took a tour of another somewhat hidden feature of metropolitan Baltimore – the port. This time workforce funders and environmental funders joined together for a bus tour of three port businesses. Hosted by the Baltimore Port Alliance, funders and guests visited the operations of Steinweg, Ruckert and CNX.

At Steinweg, we were oriented to the volume of product being moved in and out of huge warehouses lining the shores of the harbor. The unique holding and handling requirements of different types of product dictate the nature of the operations. Steinweg, for instance, is retrofitting a warehouse to meet USDA requirements for handling organic grain. At Ruckert, we saw mountains of salt and learned about the 24 hour response required during storms when road salt is in constant demand. At CSFX, we heard how run off is managed from the coal piles that are visible just north of the 895 harbor tunnel.

On a tour last winter of the Dundalk Marine Terminal and Seagirt facility, members of the Green Funders saw ocean-going vessels being loaded with new vehicles, cranes lifting containers from ships and plunking them onto the backs of cabs, and acres of agricultural machinery awaiting transfer to other countries.

Seeing what’s behind the scenes of major features of our greater Baltimore region stimulates new conversations about how communities can benefit from jobs and be protected from pollution.

If you have an idea for a "behind the scenes” tour, let us know.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Affinity Groups  Green Funders  July/August 2015 Members' Memo  Workforce  Workforce Development  Workforce Funders 

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The HEART of Workforce in Baltimore and Our Region

Posted By Linda Dworak, Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July 1, 2015

By Linda Dworak, Director, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative

Last week I had the opportunity to speak before 500 people at the Opening Plenary of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions annual meeting held here in Baltimore. I am pleased to share my remarks that touch upon Baltimore, some of the amazing people who are at the heart of workforce innovation, and some of the amazing funders who are investing in this important work:

"Good afternoon and welcome to Baltimore!

We are so glad to host this meeting. We hope you’ll have a great visit - please explore some of our fantastic local restaurants, take a walk along the harbor out to Harbor East, Fells Point or up north to Mount Vernon! Eat some crab and have a great time here!

I’d like to take a moment to thank the team at the National Fund for Workforce Solutions for putting all of this together. They have worked really hard and have crafted a couple of days of incredible events and workshops. What a great team!

How wonderful it is that this meeting is here in Baltimore this year- not just because it’s a fun city to visit, but also because we believe that the opportunities and challenges we face here are emblematic of the economic and workforce situation that is shared by so many cities.

The Baltimore region is among the wealthiest in the country. In fact, this region enjoys among the highest levels of wealth and income in the world! We are ahead of the national average on educational attainment, median income, and unemployment. Our strategically located region is a center of innovation and technology, a home to fast growing companies, and as a major center for higher education, boasts a very highly educated population.

And yet, I am sure that many of you turned on the television last month and saw a very different picture of Baltimore. In the wake of the death of young Freddie Gray in police custody, you saw a Baltimore suffering with frustration, anger, and despair. You probably saw images of homes that had been boarded up – not because of recent violence - and left vacant for many years. You saw poverty, unemployment, and violence in communities where for generations, people have been left out or intentionally excluded from this region’s prosperity though policies and practices, resulting in striking disparities that run through our region on educational, racial and jurisdictional lines.

You saw some of this region’s best assets: men, women, parents and youth - with aspirations and unfulfilled potential, for whom opportunities to participate and gain the benefits of our thriving economy have been out of reach for too long.

And then there is yet a third side to this story of Opportunity and Exclusion… one that was so inadequately portrayed in the national news. I struggled to find a word for this third component of our local reality, so I’m going to call this third piece HEART. By HEART – I am referring to optimism, collaboration and commitment. A strong desire by MANY to work together to build a city and a region that is better – stronger – and that works for EVERYONE.

On the day after the violence where windows were smashed and businesses looted, I was blessed with the opportunity to join hundreds of Baltimoreans who spread out onto every street and vacant lot in the Sandtown neighborhood carrying shovels, brooms and garbage bags, looking for a way to participate and help. People of every race and age were working side by side, talking to each other, united in a common effort. And an UPRISING, not of violence, but of a desire to participate in positive change was so visible and tangible. I was never so proud to live here – to be a part of this place.

A fundamental component of the vast disparity in our region has been the lack of functional pathways to good jobs - middle skill jobs that pay a family sustaining wage. We need more of these types of jobs and better means for getting to them. Businesses in our communities need access to skilled workers and help to connect to the talent we have in our communities.

The work of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative has been to bring together a coalition of stakeholders- philanthropy, public sector actors, employers, non-profits and faith-based organizations to work together to recognize and raise up ALL of the human assets we have in our communities - making quality employment more accessible to more people –working to close that gap in employment opportunity.

Much of our approach has focused on supporting workforce development models that understand the labor market and the key industry sectors – and work with employers in those sectors to build pathways to middle skill jobs while enhancing the competitiveness of industry sectors.

While you are here – I hope you can meet some of the folks who represent this HEART I am speaking of- the ones who get up every morning with optimism and a determination to make our city better.

I hope you will meet:

  • Candace King, a current employee of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who prepared for her job at the BioTechnical Institute of MD where she accessed skills and work experience enabling her to become a Laboratory Technician in one of our region’s strongest industry sectors.

I hope you will also meet:

  • Representatives from a group of bold health care employers who lead the Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare – providing on the job coaching to hundreds of front-line workers and developing a new health care apprenticeship program
  • The Greg Richards, the CEO of a weatherization company called EcoMize USA, one of his outstanding employees and the program staff at the Baltimore Center for Green Careers who are working together to build more equitable and sustainable economy by training residents for quality jobs in the growing green economy.
  • Representatives from MD’s EARN program who will talk about how the State has now taken up the industry partnership charge, launching industry lead workforce approaches in Baltimore and throughout Maryland.

I also hope you get the chance to chat with:

  • Staff from our great sector partnerships who are helping individuals to obtain employment in construction, deconstruction, manufacturing, culinary/hospitality and transportation and logistics.
  • Members of our local philanthropic community like the Abell Foundation, the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the Annie E Casey Foundation, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and a list of so many others too long to read out loud, who provide critical support for this work.

To enable you to meet up with this outstanding group of funders, policy experts, employers, employees and providers – I am going to embarrass my local friends by asking all of our local Baltimore partners and colleagues with HEART to stand for a moment so you can identify them.

Now I have the opportunity to introduce one of our strong supporters, Judge Ellen Heller, Chair of the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. The Weinberg Foundation helped found the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative and has been a long time major funder of effective workforce practices in Baltimore. It is also a major investor in the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

Judge Heller is retired from the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, where she was appointed the Judge in Charge of the Civil Docket and ultimately the Circuit Administrative Judge overseeing the entire court—the first woman in Maryland to hold that position. Judge Heller is the former President and Chair of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, an international relief organization operating in over 70 countries that has provided rescue, relief, and renewal activities for communities in need since 1914.

In 2009 Judge Heller was inducted into the Baltimore Jewish Hall of Fame and in 2008 named to the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. She is a board member of a number of philanthropic, policy and higher education institutions and has received a very long list of awards and recognitions for her exemplary work. She has been named one of Maryland’s top 100 Women for three consecutive years.

There is no way my words of introduction can adequately describe the extent and quality of service and leadership that Judge Heller has provided to Maryland. So I will take the honor and privilege of passing this microphone along."

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative  BWFC  July/August 2015 Members' Memo  Linda Dworak  Workforce 

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Weinberg Sector Skills Academy - Investing in Workforce Development

Posted By Linda Dworak, Monday, June 1, 2015

June 1, 2015

By Linda Dworak, Director, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative

Last week, I drove out to the Eastern Shore with Marci Hunn of the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and Melanie Styles, of The Abell Foundation. The purpose of our trip was to participate in a session that was part of the opening retreat for the Weinberg Sector Skills Academy (WSSA).

The WSSA is a year-long learning and leadership experience for senior professionals who provide workforce development services and technical training in the Baltimore metropolitan area. The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has launched the Academy with additional funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and The Abell Foundation and technical support from the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative.

When we stepped out onto the bucolic campus of The Aspen Institute’s Wye River Conference Center, we were immediately struck by the very high level of positive energy and fast camaraderie among the Academy participants. The participants, who were spending 2.5 days together during the opening retreat, had arrived earlier that afternoon and were already well into deep and lively discussion about systems change and partnership building. Marci, Melanie and I joined in a fruitful discussion about funder hopes for the Academy and for greater collaboration within the provider network and then were invited to share in a spirited dinner. By the time we begrudgingly departed, leaving the participants to enjoy the remainder of their retreat, we three were filled with their contagious optimism and creative verve.

The Weinberg Sector Skills Academy, which will be conducted by the Aspen Institute’s Workforce Strategies Initiative, will consist of nine retreats, meetings, and webinars over the next 12 months. The program will conclude with capstone project presentations by small teams of participants. The curriculum is designed to engage participants in developing the skills and strategic perspective to better meet the needs of low-income individuals seeking employment in Baltimore.

Having worked with the Aspen Institute on launching the National Sector Skills Academy in my pre-ABAG work life, I couldn’t be more delighted that our local colleagues now have an opportunity to experience this program. I am confident that they will gain much as individuals, and that our city will benefit tremendously from this important program.

The following individuals have been selected to take part in the inaugural 2015 program:

· Steve Bountress, Vice President, Living Classrooms Foundation

· Jacqueline Buedel, Director of Academic and Career Advancement, Caroline Center

· Wayne Butscher, Ph.D., Director of BioSTART and Laboratory Associates Program, BioTechnical Institute of Maryland

· Elaine Carroll, Program Director, Jane Addams Resource Corporation

· Jeff Carroll, Vice President, DETAILS, a social enterprise of Humanim

· Eric Clay, Director, Career Development, Bon Secours Community Works

· Tona Cravioto, Senior Director, Workforce Development, St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore

· Nancy Fenton, Executive Director, Episcopal Community Services of Maryland

· Terry Fisher, Director of Programs, Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare

· Gicelle Fundales, Director of Training and Production, Civic Works

· Jean Henry, Director of Workforce Development and Community Education, Baltimore City Community College

· Rosalind Howard, Business Services Manager, Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Employment Development

· Lois Mitchell, Director of Programs, Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition, Inc.

· Sara Muempfer, Director of Workforce Development, Maryland Department of Human Resources

· Jermaine Peterson, Culinary Program Manager, Moveable Feast

· Nii Sowah, Director of Family Stability and Economic Success Programs, Center for Urban Families

· Matt Stubbs, Program Manager, JumpStart, Job Opportunities Task Force

· Clair Watson, Program Director, Maryland New Directions

Click here to read the press release from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

Tags:  BWFC  June 2015 Members' Memo  Workforce  Workforce Funders Collaborative 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update - March 2015

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Thursday, March 26, 2015
Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2015

March 26, 2015

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

Strong Workforce, Strong Economy: Baltimore Regional Workforce Development Plan
This new report from the Opportunity Collaborative combines earlier studies on workforce barriers and career pathways and offers recommendations to advance workforce development in the region. The report explores strategies for strengthening industry led partnerships, building stronger basic skills/post-secondary education, improving transportation/job accessible housing, undermining structural racism, supporting people with criminal records, and expanding resources. The report will ultimately be incorporated with regional plans on transportation and housing in a "Regional Plan for Sustainable Development” which is expected to be released this summer.

TRF to manage HCPI Development Fund; BIP helps capitalize fund
The HCPI Development Fund has negotiated a relationship with The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) to manage a targeted $10 million fund for real estate redevelopment in Central Baltimore. The HCPI Fund will be used in tandem with $4.5 million in acquisition funds from the State of Maryland. So far, Johns Hopkins University has committed $750,000 from the HCPI budget to the Fund; the BIP has enabled TRF to prioritize $400,000 from an existing predevelopment pool for the fund; and TRF has raised $85,000 for staffing from two different sources.

Webinar Discussion/New Report on Economic Inclusion
The Annie E. Casey Foundation hosted a webinar and panel discussion on March 20, 2015 entitled "Community Change: A Focus on People and Place” highlighting economic inclusion activities in Baltimore, New Orleans and across the nation. The webinar was recorded and is available for viewing. In addition, a new report "Expanding Economic Opportunity: Lessons from the East Baltimore Revitalization Initiative,” was also released. It details outcomes, findings and recommendations from the inclusion efforts in east Baltimore, includes examples of other inclusion policies and practices from Baltimore (including the BIP) as well as across the nation, and concludes with lessons for the field.

Small Business Resource Center offers "Contractors College”
On April 8th the Small Business Resource Center, in partnership with the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office and the BIP, will be hosting the first of 5 training sessions to help local construction contractors build capacity. The first class will focus on "Doing Business with Hospitals and Universities” and feature overviews by several anchors on their procurement processes and opportunities. Additional classes will feature training on OSHA, Bidding and Estimating, Project Management, and Local Hiring/MBE Certification. More Information.

Food Hub and BIP to Host Food Vendor Fair
Together with American Communities Trust and the Baltimore Integration Partnership, the Baltimore Food Hub is organizing a Vendor Fair on June 8th from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Lexington Market to showcase the best of Baltimore's local food & beverage businesses. Buyers from anchor institutions, in addition to hotels, supermarkets, and restaurants, will be in attendance with the goal of connecting with local food vendors to arrange potential purchasing and distribution agreements. For more information, please contact

BIP Helps Fund Training on Race and Food
Over 30 individuals including representatives of the Baltimore Food Policy Advisory Committee, area nonprofits, anchor institutions, and community members participated in a day and a half long training on structural racism. The sessions focused on equity in the food sector and explored policy and programmatic issues in relation to food deserts, healthy food access, and community engagement. Coordinated by the Baltimore City Food Policy Director, the training was also supported by Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Baltimore Community Foundation.

Baltimore City / TRF Release 2014 Housing Market Typology
The 2014 Housing Market Typology was completed by TRF in partnership with Baltimore Housing and Baltimore City Planning. The analysis provides a report card on the health of the city housing market and regular updates help reveal changes or trends. The resulting map illustrates the range of housing markets found throughout the City, which are categorized within eight market types. Since 2005, Baltimore’s Housing Market Typol ogy (HMT) has been used to help guide public policy, market studies, community plans, grant funding applications and capital improvement programming. Learn More and Download a Copy.

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:  April 2015 Members' Memo  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  Workforce 

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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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President Obama Announces the Formation of UpSkill America

Posted By Linda Dworak, Thursday, January 22, 2015
January 22, 2015
By Linda Dworak
Director, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative

"Tonight, I'm also asking more businesses to follow the lead of companies like CVS and UPS, and offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships -- opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher-paying jobs even if they don't have a higher education." – President Obama, State of the Union Address, January 20, 2015

Yesterday President Obama announced the formation of UpSkill America, an employer-led initiative to expand economic opportunity for American workers.

The critically important and impactful work of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, our nonprofit, public sector and employer partners, and other similar networks of funders and providers in cities across the country has informed the development of this initiative.
As a result, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions - of which BWFC is an affiliate - has been asked by the White House to be one of 5 partners in this exciting new effort.

The goals of UpSkill America are very close to a core strategy of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative at ABAG: To promote smart investments in frontline workers in order increase opportunities for family-supporting careers while at the same time helping employers find the talent they need to be successful companies/institutions.

We have much exciting work ahead of us.

Those who have been involved in operating or supporting effective industry focused workforce initiatives in Baltimore should be proud of the critical part you have played in creating the ground work for this Presidential initiative!

I look forward to writing more on UpSkill America in the coming weeks and months.

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  January 2015 Members' Memo  President Obama  Upskill America  White House  Workforce 

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Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative (BWFC) 2014 Results

Posted By Linda Dworak, Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, December 31, 2014
December 31, 2014
By Linda Dworak, Director, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative
We've had a busy and succesful year in 2014 and are pleased to share BWFC's 2014 Milestones & Highlights:

BWFC members meet at ABAG each month to discuss strategies and collaborate on efforts to help unemployed and underemployed Baltimore City residents find jobs and build careers, while meeting employers’ needs for a skilled workforce. BWFC’s work has been focused on helping to launch, sustain and grow industry focused workforce partnerships. 

BWFC members have pooled and aligned over $12Million in funds for sector-specific training providers in Baltimore to date.

In 2014:

BWFC secured $355,000 in new funding from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions/Social Innovation Fund.

Sectoral employment programs in 5 industry sectors received sub-awards from BWFC. BWFC’s support is helping these programs to enroll an additional 203 jobseekers in training and 175 incumbent workers in coaching in 2014. At least 25 (12%) of the 203 new enrollees are projected to be young adults ages 18-24. Since 2006, BWFC has helped support training for over 1200 jobseekers with program placement rates averaging between 70-80%.

BWFC oversaw progress on 7 Industry Engagement Support grants. With funding provided through NFWS/SIF and Living Cities, these grants were awarded by ABAG to six sectoral training programs resulting in deepened employer engagement and/or more robust employer partnerships. 

BWFC helped in the launch/development of two new industry partnerships: one on Manufacturing and one in Transportation and Logistics.

    • Manufacturing: BWFC took steps to help replicate the successful Chicago-based Careers in Manufacturing program by inviting the Jane Addams Resource Corporation (JARC) to come to Baltimore. BWFC convened local investors  to meet with JARC and provided $30,000 in seed funding to JARC to develop a replication, implementation and funding plan.To date, an additional $340,000 has been committed by BWFC partners to launch this exciting sectoral workforce initiative to be housed at Baltimore’s new Regional Skills Center on Park Heights Avenue.
    • Transportation and Logistics: Following on the work of the Opportunity Collaborative in mapping career pathways in this sector, Maryland New Directions has established a new Maritime Transportation and Logistics Industry Partnership. The partnership subsequently received an EARN implementation grant. BWFC is working with MND and Cecil College to apply for funding to expand this program in 2015.

Through its capacity-building activities, BWFC augmented the ability of local providers to design and deliver quality workforce services.

 The Spotlight on Sector Speaker Series provided a forum for Baltimore City workforce practitioners to learn and explore strategic components of effective sector-based workforce practice by hearing from model programs outside of Baltimore and participating in a facilitated discussion forum. BWFC held two Spotlight in 2014. These events drew an audience of 30-60 workforce practitioners, policy-makers and investors.

The Data Users Group helped local workforce providers to plan for and implement quality data collection, management and review practices. The group met throughout the year. Approximately 8 organizations participated in the group.

• BWFC financed the participation by 12 Baltimore-area organizations representing 18 workforce programs in the National Benchmarking Network. Each organization was given individualized reports and has the opportunity to receive one-on-one feedback from the Benchmarking Network staff. Summary findings were also presented to the BWFC funders.

BWFC and the ABAG Workforce Affinity group hosted several events for ABAG members including:

• Literacy and Numeracy Deficiencies – Featured Speakers: Kisha Bird and Neil Ridley, CLASP and Martha Holleman (local consultant)

• Social Innovation Fund Briefing – Featured Speaker: Lois Nembhard, Deputy Director, Social Innovation Fund

• Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act – Featured Speaker: Rachel Gragg, National Skills Coalition

• College Achievement – Model for Year 1 – Featured Speaker: Wes Moore, Bridge EdU

Through our communications efforts, BWFC: 

• Produced new marketing materials and profiles of workshop partnerships

• Upgraded our website (to be released in early 2015)

• Posted blogs through the ABAG blog

• Conducted a radio interview on WYPR (an NPR station)

• Developed site visit plan for White House resulting in July 2014 visit by US Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland

• Coordinated with National Fund for Workforce Solutions to produce a JPMorganChase/Politico profile of the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland

In June 2014, BWFC coordinated the participation of multi-stakeholder group at the National Fund for Workforce Solutions conference in Chicago

BWFC is thrilled that the National Fund for Workforce Solutions will hold the 2015 conference here in Baltimore. Look out for news from us about how you can participate! 

Throughout the year, BWFC participated intensively in a number of collaborative and  collective impact efforts including: The Opportunity Collaborative, the Baltimore City Opportunity Youth Collaborative, Baltimore’s Promise, and the Baltimore Integration Partnership. Each of these have their own long lists of accomplishments in 2014. We congratulate our colleagues on their great work! 

All of us at the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

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  Workforce 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) 2014 Year in Review

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, December 30, 2014
December 30, 2014
By Kurt Sommer, BIP Director

Building off of a successful first round of work and through support from Living Cities, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Goldseker Foundation, the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) launched 2.0 in 2014 to deepen anchor institution’s efforts to support area residents, businesses and communities. With nine institutions as well as city, state, foundation, financial, and nonprofit partners, the BIP has been working to advance economic inclusion through anchor institution hiring, purchasing and capital investment powers.
This work is moving forward in alignment with the new Baltimore City Anchor Plan which was signed this past June through the leadership of the Mayor’s Office and the participating anchors.

Through the leadership of our BIP partners, it has been a very productive year:

• Five institutions are currently exploring how to use their hiring powers to better support area residents building from extensive work in this sector by two additional participating anchors. The institutions have been working to better understand internal and external barriers to local hiring, have identified key job sectors with upcoming opportunities, and are connecting with workforce training organizations that can help meet their hiring needs.

• All of the institutions are working to better direct spending to Baltimore minority and local businesses. This past year, the BIP has fostered research exploring anchor food purchasing policies and practices while completing an analysis of the small business ecosystem. Many participating institutions have been opening the door with food which is a common purchasing sector. Additional work in the construction field and cooperative purchasing is being explored.

• All of the institutions are working to improve Baltimore neighborhoods through capital investments, planning, and active partnerships with neighborhood organizations. Baltimore anchors have long been leaders in this field so BIP efforts have been focused on the inclusion side of the capital investments particularly around local hiring. Three institutions currently have buildings underway with local hiring commitments while the balance are exploring the approach for upcoming capital projects or are seeking to strengthen minority and local contracting activities.

As the BIP moves forward into the second of our two year initiative, we look forward to helping our partners move forward new projects and activities to advance and sustain our goals. Thus, the BIP is pleased to announce funding support to make this work possible including:

• A planning grant to support the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Center for Urban Families’ efforts to develop a West Baltimore Workforce Initiative to align workforce services for residents. Programming opportunities would be based at the Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School’s newly renovated Weinberg Library.
• A grant to the American Communities Trust and Food Hub to host a large vendor fair with anchor institution and other local food buyers in late spring. The Food Hub, which the BIP has previously invested in on the capital side, was also just awarded Sustainable Communities Tax Credits by the State of Maryland.

It has been a very exciting year with more to come in 2015. Thank you all for your leadership in moving this work forward. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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:  ABAG  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  Workforce 

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Anchoring Job Creation in Baltimore

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Thursday, November 20, 2014
November 20, 2014

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

B’More Organic, a small Baltimore based drinkable yogurt company, recently began selling its products to Maryland Institute College of Art and Loyola University through new relationships forged at a vendor fair this past summer.  Spurred by this and other new contracts, this micro-enterprise is searching for new real estate in the City and is anticipating hiring staff to accommodate market growth.  

Realizing the purchasing power of anchor institutions to support local businesses and in turn create jobs is the focus of a new report, "A Roadmap for Anchor Institution Local Food Purchasing in Baltimore". Authored by Karp Resources, the report explores food procurement processes in anchor institutions, and identifies a range of strategies to more fully realize local purchasing power. The report recommends actions to support local minority-owned and small businesses, modifications to procurement processes, and outlines legislative opportunities to connect purchasing power to businesses in reinvestment areas. Many of the recommendations are applicable not just to food but other services and commodities as well.  

The report further argues that the "actions and methodology used to change procurement processes can serve as a model for the private sector, compounding local job growth and economic impact.”  That premise is a goal for the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP), a collaboration of anchor institutions, foundations, government and nonprofit partners working to explore the economic development power of anchors institutions.  Anchors are heavily invested partners in our communities with a self interest in safe, attractive and vibrant neighborhoods to attract students and faculty. Anchors cannot do it alone, however, and local purchasing power is not unlimited. Local purchasing strategies can be a catalytic force for employment but only one ingredient in a recipe for economic development in Baltimore.

A second important ingredient is small business technical assistance and access to financial services.  An inventory of public and private programs to help businesses grow their companies completed earlier this year for the BIP and Associated Black Charities finds that there are a range of resources available but that a key challenge for businesses is market identification and training in how to make the sale.  It also finds that companies may not know about some of the programs available to them and that many of the programs are not effectively tracking their clients or measuring success.  

To this end, local partners are working to bolster small business resources.  Baltimore Development Corporation recently announced their goals to expand and strengthen small business investment programs. Johns Hopkins University (JHU) announced a pilot technical assistance program to support women and minority owned businesses to help them increase their ability to meet the purchasing needs of large area employers including anchors. Finally, a range of local stakeholders are collaborating on the Food Hub, a new food business incubator which is expected to break ground early next year in east Baltimore.  The Food Hub will support culinary enterprises with technical assistance including help with accessing new contracts such as those with anchor institutions while working to connect area residents to jobs that the businesses create.  

Local purchasing strategies to support area businesses can generate much needed jobs for Baltimore.  However collective action is also needed to be successful as well as an enabling environment to intentionally leverage anchor institution purchasing to build opportunities for area businesses and residents.

Tags:  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  Workforce 

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Baltimore Welcomes Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Senator Ben Cardin

Posted By Linda Dworak, Monday, August 11, 2014
Updated: Monday, August 11, 2014
August 11, 2014
By Linda Dworak
Director, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative
U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez and U.S. Senator Ben Cardin recently visited Baltimore’s BioTechnical Institute of Maryland (BTI) for a special tour, a private lunch meeting, and an Employer Roundtable. BTI is one of the original sectoral workforce grantees of the ABAG-based Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative. It’s training and job placement strategies exemplify the industry-led model that BWFC and our members have worked to launch, sustain and grow since the late 1990’s.
Our friends at BTI described the activities that took place during the visit:

Welcomed by Deric Richardson, a successful BTI graduate and employee of Paragon BioServices, and Kathleen Weiss, BTI’s Executive Director, the Secretary and Senator donned lab coats and toured the lab facilities, learning about BTI’s tuition-free lab training. Secretary Perez joked that, "Just putting on a lab coat makes me feel smarter.” During the tour, they observed and talked with BTI’s summer students, who were conducting a molecular biology exercise, reconstructing proteins at the lab benches.

Joining the lab tour was Dr. Marco Chacon, President of Paragon BioServices and Deric’s employer. The Secretary and Senator engaged informally with BTI’s staff, Deric and employers, inquiring about the state of the industry and the employment needs and challenges of industry employers.

Perez and Cardin next addressed the press, emphasizing the critical importance of the bio-pharma industry and the growing need for skills-ready employees. BTI’s training was specifically identified by the Department of Labor as a "What Works” program that effectively addresses employers’ needs by providing tuition-free, industry-based job skills to un-and under-employed, motivated workers and connecting them to employment opportunities.

Secretary Perez and Senator Cardin joined a private lunch with Deric and a few others to gain a personal perspective on the issues and challenges of skills training, career advancement and employer priorities.

Following lunch, Secretary Perez led an Employer Roundtable with CEOs from several industries, including biotech, health care, cyber, advanced manufacturing and workforce development professionals. A lively exchange of ideas ensued centered around workforce issues and suggestions for addressing the workforce needs of today - and preparing for those of tomorrow.

Secretary Perez’s visit took place during the same week that President Obama signed into law the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). WIOA, which was enacted by large bipartisan majorities in both the House and the Senate, includes some modifications to the previous federal workforce system by expanding the types of effective strategies that our Funders Collaborative has promoted to better prepare disadvantaged adults and youth to be successful in the workplace.

The Secretary’s visit is one of a number of recent indicators that through impactful aligned and pooled grantmaking, BWFC is making progress towards our goal of influencing the development of sustainable public sector support and revenue streams for workforce interventions that work!

You can read more in this recent Baltimore Business Journal article

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore Workforce Collaborative  September 2014 Members' Memo  Workforce 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Tuesday, July 1, 2014
July 2014
By Kurt Sommer
Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

Baltimore City and Anchor Presidents Announce New Commitments
The Baltimore City Anchor Plan was signed Wednesday by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and eight anchor institution presidents, solidifying a shared commitment to collaborate and align resources to increase public safety, local hiring, local purchasing, and quality of life. The plan details the anchors economic strength, community engagement, and development activities laying out a series of goals for the City, the anchors, and strategic partners to help move forward. Read the Plan

TRF Closes Financing on Centre Theater
The Reinvestment Fund closed on financing for the Centre Theater. The project is driven by the co-tenancy of the film programs of both The Johns Hopkins University and the Maryland Institute College of Art. The schools are partnering in a shared opportunity to meet their facility needs by making an intentional investment to anchor a catalytic real estate project in the revival of Station North. TRF provided New Market Tax Credits, bridge and permanent financing as well as a predevelopment loan to support this catalytic project led by Jubilee Baltimore.

Opportunity Collaborative Releases Workforce Barriers Report
This new study finds that a significant number of job seekers in the Baltimore region lack necessary workplace skills and must overcome multiple and complex challenges to find work, ranging from inadequate transportation to a criminal record. Among its recommendations, the study calls for increased funding for training and basic adult educational programs, improved public transportation to link low-income areas with employers and the development of new "pathways” to help lower-skilled job seekers find jobs and advance in family-supporting careers. Read the Report

EARN Grants Announced
Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation announced the first EARN implementation grants. The program, passed by the legislature in 2013 with support and advocacy from a range of BIP stakeholders, provides grant funding for industry led workforce training partnerships. Congratulations to DLLR for their leadership in moving this important program forward and all of the inaugural grant recipients. Read More

From the News Desk:
Contact Me With Questions:

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  July/August 2014 Members' Memo  Workforce 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Updated: Monday, April 28, 2014

April 22, 2014

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partership

The Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) is a collaborative effort to expand opportunities for low-income residents and communities in Baltimore by unifying job opportunities with revitalization investment. Partner communities include the neighborhoods represented by the East Baltimore Development Initiative; the Central Baltimore Partnership; and West Baltimore communities adjacent to the proposed Red Line. The BIP is supported by Living Cities and includes a range of stakeholders aligning resources and activities while working to strengthen the linkage between physical and human capital development. BIP is a project housed at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

BIP Shifts Gears into 2.0
The BIP has moved forward with a new phase of work focused on increasing economic inclusion in Baltimore.  This phase is focused on advancing inclusion through educational and medical institution (anchors) hiring, purchasing and community reinvestment activities.  Nine anchors are participating in the initiative as well as a range of philanthropic, government, and financial partners.  By working with these significant employers, the BIP hopes to identify barriers to local hiring and purchasing, support changes in policy to remove barriers and develop an implementation model that can be adopted by other businesses throughout the region. The BIP is supported by Living Cities, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Goldseker Foundation, Associated Black Charities, and the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative.  

Pilot Food Purchasing Study Launched

The BIP has contracted with Karp Resources to help identify specific opportunities to redirect anchor food spending to Baltimore businesses.  The study will examine anchor purchasing policies and barriers as well as the readiness and capacity needs of local businesses to meet anchor purchasing demands.  The report is expected to be completed this summer and builds on the successful work "Anchor Institutions and The Food Cluster in Baltimore.” This BIP Phase 1 work was recently highlighted by ICIC in their report "Anchor Institutions and Food Systems: A Recipe for Economic Growth.” 

TRF Closes Financing on Chesapeake Phase 2
With a few projects still in the hopper from the prior round of work, The Reinvestment Fund closed financing recently on phase 2 of the Chesapeake Building. An earlier investment helped local partners reopen the doors to the famed restaurant after being closed for 25 years. This new phase will help restore the upper floors into commercial and residential space. Several additional projects funded with predevelopment resources in BIP Phase 1 are anticipated to move into construction in 2014. 

From the Anchor News Desk

Accomplishments, Outcomes and Lessons Learned from the BIP 2011-2013

Community Science completed its 2011 – 2013 evaluation of the Baltimore Integration Partnership providing an assessment of the initiative’s project and system level efforts to link job opportunities to revitalization investment. The report captures the totality of investments and outcomes of the BIP and its partners in the first round.  Outcomes included supporting more than 500 job training opportunities for area residents, over $150 million of new investment in Baltimore neighborhoods, and over 800 job opportunities.These investments were focused in on targeted neighborhoods in the City helping local partners move forward both place based and people based outcomes.  The report also explores the systems level work that the BIP and its partners completed including a range of executive orders at the City and State level, new funding for workforce training as well as new policies and practices to advance economic inclusion in Baltimore. Finally, the report outlines a series of recommendations for broader economic inclusion efforts in Baltimore.


Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  april 2014 Members' memo  BIP  Workforce 

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Closing the Skills Gap

Posted By Linda Dworak, Thursday, March 6, 2014

March 6, 2014

By Linda Dworak
Director, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative

We are delighted to share a link to content published in yesterday’s Politico Magazine which highlights the great work of the one of our local partners – the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland (BTI).

BTI is one of several highly effective industry sector-oriented workforce programs supported by the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, housed at ABAG. With a high level of engagement with employers along with quality training, case management and job placement services, BTI enables unemployed and underemployed Baltimore residents to initiate careers in our local biotech sector.

The Politico segment features Melody Barnes, chair of the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions and former assistant to the president and director of the United States Domestic Policy Council, who is interviewed by Chauncy Lennon, managing director of global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase, about what works to close the skills gap.

The accompanying video, “Closing the Skills Gap,” showcases BTI and includes an interview with Fred Dedrick of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

BWFC was delighted to support BTI and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions in making this media piece possible.

To read the interview with Melody Barnes and watch the video, click 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.

For More Information

Contact me, Linda Dworak at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers by phone: 410-410-727-1205 or email:

Tags:  Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative  BWFC  Workforce  Workforce Development  Workforce Funders Collaborative 

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Making Statewide Sector-Based Training and Industry Partnerships a Reality in Maryland

Posted By Linda Dworak, Monday, January 6, 2014

January 6, 2014

Originally Published for the National Fund for Workforce Solutions Blog

By Linda Dworak, Director, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative

2014 is already off to a great start in Maryland. Last month, the State announced that it had awarded planning grants to 29 industry-led groups seeking to launch or grow strategic workforce partnerships.

These planning grants mark first major steps in the roll-out of our State’s new EARN (Employment Advancement Right Now) initiative. Later this year, Maryland will award implementation grants to support targeted skills training and education to workers, and help businesses in priority industry sectors to meet their employment needs.

With impressive bi-partisan support, the $4.5 million EARN fund was created by the State legislature and Governor Martin O’Malley in 2013. The program goes far to reach one of the long-standing systems goals of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative – "to support the development of a designated public revenue stream” to support effective sector-oriented models of workforce development.

Since the late 1990’s, members of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative (BWFC) have aligned and pooled resources to launch and grow workforce partnerships in priority industry sectors that offer family-sustaining careers and fit with economic development goals for our city. BWFC members include philanthropic and public sector investors with a commitment to helping low wage workers access better employment opportunities. Today BWFC supports industry partnerships in the biotechnology, health care, construction, green industries and retail/hospitality/food service sectors. These partnerships bring employers and non-profit organizations together to design and deliver training and education approaches that are in line with the skills that employers really need. Jobseekers and entry-level workers receive industry-valued credentials, coaching, wrap-around supports, and job placement services.

Our approach has proven successful. Through the efforts of the BWFC more than 700 low income and disadvantaged Baltimore City jobseekers have earned an industry credential or degree, 70 – 80% of program completers have been placed into employment, and data shows that a majority of these individuals experience significant wage gains at placement, job retention and wage progression over time.

I am delighted that Maryland’s new EARN initiative is extending this type of industry-targeted collaboration to employers and workers throughout the state. Strategic Industry Partnerships will come together during the planning phase to identify shared opportunities to develop and sustain a skilled workforce for their sectors and regions and will work with community based organizations, local governments, organized labor and educational institutions to develop and implement effective strategies.

Employer groups are embracing this collaborative approach to workforce development. They anticipate it will help them to fill vacancies more efficiently, retain and promote a more diverse talent pool, and ultimately increase the overall competitiveness of their businesses. Employer involvement will be key to preparing skilled labor to enter demand occupations and helping their current workforce obtain skills for advancement.

We were thrilled to learn that 5 of the EARN planning grants involve organizations that are also supported by the BWFC and its members. Funding provided through the EARN grants will help these groups to refine and expand their current sector-targeted workforce strategies by augmenting their industry intelligence and building additional partnerships.

We equally are excited about thenewpartnership opportunities that will arise through EARN and will contribute to the health of industries that provide good jobs to Marylanders. We are especially hopeful that the EARN program will make important strides towards opening new opportunities for the many men and women for whom lack of opportunity has lead to chronic unemployment and underemployment. From the perspective of BWFC, success ultimately will lie in EARN’s ability to extend employment gains to those who have historically not reaped the benefits of our State’s robust economy.

About the BWFC:

The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative is housed at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.Current members are: The Abell Foundation,The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Associated Black Charities,Bank of America,The Baltimore City Mayor's Office ofEmployment Development,The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, andThe Surdna Foundation. BWFC is also supported bya federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grant awarded to the National Fundfor Workforce Solutionsfrom the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  BWFC  Collaborative  Workforce 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Thursday, September 26, 2013

September 25, 2013

By Kurt Sommer, Director, The Baltimore Integration Partnership

ABAG Project, The Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) is a collaborative effort to expand opportunities for low-income residents and communities in Baltimore by unifying job opportunities with revitalization investment. 

Governor O’Malley Issues Executive Order to Promote Workforce Development and Community Hiring
As part of the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s ongoing focus on job training, Governor Martin O’Malley has issued an Executive Order directing State agencies to promote apprenticeship programs and encourage hiring in priority areas. Many thanks to the Governor’s Office for their ongoing leadership in workforce development. This Executive Order comes in the midst of the state’s efforts roll out the new EARN grant program to support job training. Press Release/Executive Order

Regional Plan For Sustainable Development moves forward; TRF part of selected consultant team.
The Opportunity Collaborative, hosted by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, announced that it has selected GCR, a New Orleans based consulting firm that is teaming with The Reinvestment Fund, and Hodges Development, LLC to craft a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD). The plan will incorporate workforce, housing and transportation elements and represents a significant joint and sustained effort by the governments and significant non-governmental organizations in the region to collectively address regional planning issues. More on the RPSD

Development Projects Continue to Move Forward
Area reinvestment projects, driven by a range of BIP partners, continue to move forward in Baltimore fostering new energy and investments. Earlier this summer, the Chesapeake Restaurant opened creating more than 40 new jobs for area residents.BIP partners assisted with hiring which was supplemented with a grant to help train new employees. Phase 1D of New Barclay Homes is also moving forward. This TRF and Healthy Neighborhoods financed phase features 15 rehabbed homeownership units and began construction this summer. On the other side of Central Baltimore, Seawall Development is finishing work on 10 new for sale homes with construction financing from TRF. All the homes are sold or under contract. All told over the past 2 and half years, TRF has helped finance 12 projects which will yield $136 million in new investment when completed.

BIP in the News
A few of our projects, partners, and colleagues have made the news lately. Below are a few key articles:

Request for Proposals – Demonstration Projects
A second and final round of funding for demonstration projects is available through the Opportunity Collaborative new RFP. The prior round supported several key projects by BIP partners including the Last Mile Initiative by Central Maryland Transportation Alliance examining gaps in access via public transportation to jobs in three key areas. It also supported Central Baltimore Partnership’s work linked to the Homewood Community Partners Initiative. More information on the RFP including the approaching deadlines can be found here.

Redefining the Rust Belt
The Federal Reserve Banks of Richmond, Cleveland, Chicago and Philadelphia, partnering with the Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and the National League of Cities, will be hosting the second in a series of mini-conversations entitled "Redefining the Rust Belt: An Exchange of Strategies by the Cities of Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, and Philadelphia.” The next event, hosted by Cleveland, is scheduled for October 25thfrom 8 a.m. to Noon. For Baltimore registrations, please visit:

The BIP 2.5 Year Impact
Below is a brief snap shot on BIP investment and hiring activities to date:

  • Total development projects financed: 12
  • Projects in Pipeline: 4
  • New Leveraged Investment: $136 million
  • Job Training Opportunities: 384
  • Total Job Placements (projects, training orgs, and workforce access points): 699 and counting
BIP Moving Towards 2.0
The BIP’s initial round of work is drawing to a close. Through the leadership of our partners, an amazing array of project and system related outcomes have been achieved. We are in the midst of moving towards a potential second round of work that will continue to advance economic inclusion approaches in Baltimore. More details will be forthcoming.

Tags:  ABAG Project  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  Collaboration  Workforce 

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Chesapeake Restaurant's Revival Shows Power of Partnerships

Posted By Celeste Amato, Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My latest column in the Baltimore Business Journal - 

August 13, 2013

By Celeste Amato, Contributing Columnist

President, Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers

Baltimore Business Journal

A new neighborhood restaurant, the Chesapeake, opened in the Station North Arts District this summer.

Long-time Baltimore residents will remember the site as the original Chesapeake Restaurant — a Baltimore dining institution for more than 50 years until closing in the late 1980s. After being shuttered for 25 years, 1701 N. Charles is serving lunch and dinner, and providing a new destination to grab a drink with friends. So, why reference a restaurant in a column about philanthropy and partnering for impact?

The rebirth of the Chesapeake as an active, vibrant business is the result of a new kind of multi-sector collaboration, bringing together government agencies, regional anchor institutions, financial institutions, next generation business leaders and social entrepreneurs to maximize reinvestment opportunities in neighborhoods, and reconnect low-income residents to employment.

The collaboration driving the Chesapeake project is the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP). Funded by the national Living Cities Foundation, this now 3-year-old partnership, is comprised of Baltimore foundations, private universities, government agencies and nonprofits that have come together to explore not just one-time, on-the-ground projects — but how those projects can inform long-term changes to workforce, capital and educational systems, policies and processes affecting Baltimore’s inner-core communities and residents.

Through its lending partner, the Reinvestment Fund, the Baltimore Integration Partnership offers a range of loan products for predevelopment, acquisition/ construction, small businesses, as well as semi-permanent and New Market Tax Credit financing.

Over the past several years the Baltimore Integration Partnership has helped move forward more than $100 million in projects beyond the Chesapeake Restaurant, including Apples & Oranges Fresh Market in East Baltimore; Telesis Barclay, a redevelopment of vacant lots and rowhomes in the Barclay/Midway/Old Goucher neighborhoods; the proposed Henderson- Hopkins School, a Johns Hopkins partnership school for kindergarten-8th grade in East Baltimore; and MICA Graduated Studios on North Avenue. Each project represents significant reinvestment and provides community residents new services, amenities and jobs.

"Partnering for impact is critical because government cannot overcome employment and other challenges on its own and neither can philanthropy” said Kurt Sommer, Baltimore Integration Partnership’s director. "Affecting large-scale change takes a large table, an opportunity to learn from the work, and leadership to tackle difficult issues, challenging conversations and ultimately to remove barriers and take risks for lasting change.”

Recognizing that no one sector can go it alone, Baltimore foundations are partnering now, through Baltimore Integration Partnership and other collaborations, to ensure a greater chance for lasting positive impact on the future of Baltimore and the region.

Celeste Amato is president of ‎the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore Business Journal  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BBJ  BIP  Jobs  September 2013 Members' Memo  Workforce 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 5, 2013

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

Policy Brief Released on Workforce Training in Baltimore

Job Opportunities Task Force and the Baltimore Integration Partnership are pleased to release "Investing in Baltimore’s Workforce: Leveraging Opportunity and Moving to Scale.” This policy brief documents workforce training funding trends and needs in Baltimore and finds that declines in federal workforce funding to Baltimore City has left local leaders with less resources to overcome high training and education needs. It also finds that too many Baltimore City adults are on the sidelines with low educational attainment and high unemployment. To make inroads into these challenges, the report recommends a range of strategies to consider and highlights the need to work across agencies and sectors while better coordinating efforts to make progress and drive towards scale. The report was released last week as part of panel discussion moderated by Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers President Celeste Amato featuring the Secretary of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Leonard Howie, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development Karen Sitnick, and President/CEO of Associated Black Charities Diane Bell-McKoy. Panelists spoke about initiatives already in the works to help move towards the goals laid out in the report, including EARN - a new $4.5 million statewide training fund - and Baltimore City's Ready to Work for You campaign. Special thanks to the panelists, the University of Baltimore for hosting the event, and to Jason Perkins-Cohen, Andrea Roethke and the team at Job Opportunities Task Force for their work and leadership on the policy brief.

Download the Report (PDF) / Blog Post by author Andrea Roethke

CMTA Op-Ed on Transportation Investments and Workforce Access

Earlier this month, Governor O’Malley announced the first wave of transportation investments resulting from funding enhancements passed by the legislature during the 2013 session. Projects include $170 million in funding for Red Line Final Design and $100 million to expand MARC rail service – big wins in infrastructure investment for Baltimore. Michele Whelley, President and CEO of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, praises decision makers for these decisions and discusses in this Baltimore Sun op-ed how vital these investments are for Baltimore residents to access the growing job base in Baltimore suburbs and the DC area.

TRF Closes Predevelopment Loan For Center Theater

One of the BIP supported investment tools managed by TRF is a predevelopment loan fund that provides early stage financing for key real estate projects. The tool provides capital to bridge financing or to overcome key front end hurdles to move projects forward. Such a resource is particularly critical in urban environments like Baltimore as developers sometimes struggle to overcome unexpected site and building conditions while they weave together construction or permanent financing often from multiple sources. This past month, TRF closed a predevelopment loan to support the redevelopment of Center Theater at 10 E. North Avenue. The vacant art deco building was bought at public auction last year by Jubilee Baltimore. It is currently envisioned to be the new home for the film programs of Johns Hopkins University and Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). The project has also benefited from financial support from area institutions including MICA, local business leadership, the American Communities Trust, the France-Merrick Foundation, Community Legacy funding. The project was recently awarded a Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit. In addition to Center Theater, TRF provided a predevelopment loan in late 2012 to help local developers stabilize and develop plans to transform the former Hebrew Orphan’s Asylum in West Baltimore into the Center for Healthcare and Healthy Living. In 2011, TRF provided predevelopment financing to support the Lillian Jones apartment complex in Johnston Square – a $16 million project that is currently leasing up. Through the BIP workforce goals and the leadership of the French Companies, Southway Builders, and the Johnston Square community, it has helped to support job opportunities for 9 area residents through its construction.

Local Hiring Takes Center Stage in Baltimore
On Monday night, the Baltimore City Council approved local hiring legislation requiring recipients of certain city contracts to estimate the potential new jobs created to complete an awarded contract AND requiring 51% of those jobs be filled by Baltimore City residents. The City Solicitor declared the legislation unconstitutional and likely to be overturned in court. The Rawlings-Blake Administration has indicated that it will let the legislation become law without signing. Read more about the legislation.

Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative to Receive Award for Excellence in Workforce Development
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS) has named the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative as a recipient of its 2013 Chairman’s Award for Exemplary Collaborative. The award will be made next week at the third annual National Fund meeting in Atlanta. Congratulations to the staff, foundation and government members! Read the News Coverage

Federal Reserve Forum Redefining "Rust Belt"

Via videoconference and in-person at the regional Reserve Banks in Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit and Philadelphia, participants will exchange experiences developing and implementing strategies to attract new residents and new investment. Speakers will include Baltimore’s Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and Jeremy Nowak, nationally-known community development leader, and Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
Learn More and Register Today

New Report on using Data for Community Based Workforce Development Programs

This new report, written by consultants Marty Miles and Stacy Woodruff-Bolte, in collaboration with the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, analyzes data from more than 200 organizations that submitted participant data for more than 332 programs. The authors examine the outcomes of programs with varying characteristics and making findings and recommendations to help funders and providers set more realistic expectations for performance and make better informed decisions about program design.

Read the Report


The goal of the Baltimore Integration Partnership is to reconnect low-income Baltimore City residents who are predominantly African American to the regional economy, maximize the linkage between physical and human capital development, and to reinvest in targeted inner-core neighborhoods so that they become regionally competitive, economically diverse, sustainable communities of choice. Learn more about the Baltimore Integration Partnership by visiting our website at The Baltimore Integration Partnership is a project of The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  BIP  June 2013 Members' Memo  Workforce 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, May 1, 2013

April 30, 2013

TRF Closes Financing on North Avenue Market

Moving forward another redevelopment project in Central Baltimore, The Reinvestment Fund closed financing last week with Center City, Inc. The financing enables façade work and renovations to support a new retail tenant expected to open next fall. In addition to TRF, renovations of North Avenue Market have been supported by local business leadership and strategic grant funds from the State and other local partners. This is the 10th project TRF has financed in BIP target areas in approximately two years of operations.

Workforce and Transportation Victories in Annapolis

New funding for workforce training and for transportation projects was secured this year by BIP advocate and government partners. The O’Malley Administration sponsored EARN legislation (Employment Advancement Right Now) passed with a $4.5 million budget allocation to support sector-based workforce training partnerships. Ban the Box legislation applying to state job applications also passed but economic inclusion requirements linked to certain state construction projects will need more work. State lawmakers raised the gas tax to create approximately $4.4 billion in new funds to support transportation projects including Baltimore’s Red Line over the next 6 years. Federal decision making processes on the Red Line are still underway. Other wins for BIP partners include $3 million for the Homewood Community Partners Initiative, $250,000 for the Biotechnical Institute of Maryland and $1 billion for Baltimore City School construction!! See 2013 JOTF/CMTA Legislative Summaries.

The Last Mile
The Central Maryland Transportation Alliance and BWI Business Partnership are conducting the Last Mile project to study work commutes and how transportation systems, such as buses and trains, effect access to jobs in the BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, Arundel Mills, and Ft. George G. Meade business corridor. The information collected through this survey will be used to identify gaps and develop recommended transportation solutions that could connect workers to jobs in the fastest growing employment corridor in the Baltimore metropolitan region. The project is funded through a demonstration project grant from the Opportunity Collaborative.

TRF Makes National Cut for NMTCs

The Reinvestment Fund was one of 85 organizations to be awarded Federal New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) in the round announced this week. This year’s award of $45 million will be available for projects throughout TRF’s footprint. In the last year, TRF has deployed NMTCs in three high impact projects in Baltimore including the long sought Shop Rite grocery store in Howard Park which closed on financing this week. Last year, TRF allocated tax credits to two vital projects led by BIP partners including the Henderson-Hopkins School at EBDI and the MICA Graduate Studios on North Avenue.

Baltimore Data at Your Fingertips

The BIP Mapping Tool has been updated! Explore the widget developed provided by PolicyMap to locate BIP-financed developments, partner investments, as well as neighborhood job resources. You can also view demographic, socioeconomic, housing and jobs data for the BIP target area and all of Baltimore City.

Request for Letters of Interest: Opportunity Collaborative Education and Engagement Sub-grants

The Baltimore Metropolitan Council ("BMC"), on behalf of the Opportunity Collaborative, is seeking Letters of Interest from organizations in the Baltimore region interested in engaging the public on behalf of the Collaborative. Approved organizations will be eligible to receive engagement sub-grants from the Collaborative. The Collaborative will undertake three rounds of engagement. Details on the award requirements, deadlines and Request for Letters of Interest.

Save the Date

Job Opportunities Task Force and the BIP will be releasing the Policy Brief "Investing in Baltimore’s Workforce: Leveraging Opportunity & Moving to Scale” on May 28th from 2-3:30. The event will feature a panel of speakers including DLLR Secretary Leonard Howie, MOED Director Karen Sitnick, and ABC President and CEO Diane Bell-McKoy. Thank you to the University of Baltimore for hosting the event. Event registration and further details will be forthcoming.


Putting It All Together

I knew there was something particularly good about that turkey sandwich I bit into but it took me about four hours to realize how good it did indeed taste. On the way home from work it hit me that the BIP’s work had come full circle through that bite and I think in a way that exemplifies the power and opportunity of the work we are doing together.

Many of you know that over the over the past two years the BIP has been working with partners to foster economic inclusion by working to connect area residents to workforce services through community based pipelines, access to nonprofit job training providers as well as connectivity to jobs in projects we are financing and those in area anchor institutions. This work has been hard and challenging in every way as we work to build and connect distinct activities into a cohesive approach to foster economic inclusion.

One of the development projects financed by TRF that recently opened is Apples and Oranges, a new East Baltimore grocery store providing fresh healthy food in a food desert. The owners of Apples and Oranges believed very much in local hiring and worked with BIP partners to make that possible. The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development helped place 12 of the 20 new employees as well as 3 others linked to security positions connected to the store. Hired candidates came from community workforce access points and training providers including Central Baltimore Partnership/Greater Homewood, East Baltimore Development, as well as area sector based training partners Humanim(retail training) and St. Vincent de Paul (culinary/food training). The BIP also provided a small training grant so the new employees could receive ServSafe training.

Two weeks ago Apples and Oranges catered a BIP Anchor Engagement Workgroup lunch. The food was prepared by area residents our partners helped train and place in a business establishment that moved forward with the help of a CDFI. The lunch was attended by seven anchor institution leaders as well as philanthropic and government partners. The discussion featured a briefing by Karp Resources of their ongoing study highlighting how Baltimore anchor institutions can use their food procurement activities to support local businesses who in turn can support new jobs. Attendees included Johns Hopkins University which recently announced its efforts to set local hiring and purchasing goalsMaryland Institute College of Art which is moving forward local hiring, as well as Morgan State University which this morning announced the Morgan Community Mile Initiative. But sustaining these approaches needs more than anchor leadership and through our strong public partners that work is underway as well. In addition to the Karp briefing, representatives of Mayor’s Office noted their ongoing work to develop a Baltimore City Anchor Plan which will work to align City investments and activities with the interests of the anchors. And finally, earlier in the week Governor O’Malley signed the EARN legislation into law which was advocated for by BIP partners and creates a new $4.5 million training fund to support sector based workforce training.

Individually each of these efforts is a win. Collectively, and as part of a system, they mean much more and represent the power and possibility of aligned work. Thanks to the many stakeholders that are making this work happen.


The goal of the Baltimore Integration Partnership is to reconnect low-income Baltimore City residents who are predominantly African American to the regional economy, maximize the linkage between physical and human capital development, and to reinvest in targeted inner-core neighborhoods so that they become regionally competitive, economically diverse, sustainable communities of choice. Learn more about the Baltimore Integration Partnership by visiting our website at

Tags:  Ad  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  TRF  Workforce 

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Funders Partner to Invest in Training

Posted By Linda Dworak, Monday, March 4, 2013

March 4, 2013

By Linda Dworak, Director, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative

Our blog post was originally published as a blog for Huffington Post on February 28, 2013

By Linda Dworak & Kathleen Weiss

Four months after being laid off from her job as a mail operator at a local Baltimore business, Caléche Arrington applied to participate in a program she hoped would prepare her for employment in Baltimore's growing biotechnical sector. With a husband also unemployed and four daughters to support, 30-year-old Caléche was ready to take a chance on a new career, hoping the tuition-free training opportunity offered by the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland (BTI) would open new doors to her.

As a resident of East Baltimore, she could see signs of opportunity all around her as new buildings were erected in the growing bio-park in her neighborhood adjacent to Johns Hopkins Hospital. But, she would require help to access this opportunity.

Arriving at BTI, Caléche met with intake staff that reviewed her employment history and discussed her preparedness for participating in this industry-led, nonprofit's Laboratory Associates training program. Although she showed program staff that she was a motivated, hard worker who very much wanted to improve her opportunities for employment and her ability to support her family, Caléche's scores on assessment tests reflected a definite need for academic strengthening in math and reading comprehension before she could enter the rigorous program.

As such, BTI enrolled Caléche in its BioSTART program. During 12 weeks of hard work to advance her math skills and reading proficiency and improve her professionalism and knowledge of the bioscience sector, Caléche excelled in her daily work, never missing any class time. She obtained an overall grade of 90 percent, which more than demonstrated her preparation and readiness for the demanding bench skills training of BTI's Laboratory Associates program.

The curriculum and pace of the Lab Associates training require a heightened focus and attention to detail. Caléche was not alone in her need to double her efforts during the program, but her results were extraordinary.

As in BioSTART, Caléche did not miss a day, nor was she late even once, despite juggling the demands of four children and relying on public transportation. By the time she completed 180 hours of hands-on training, she had mastered a new set of skills and concepts, while gaining fresh self-confidence in her abilities to be a lab professional.

The capstone of BTI's industry-focused training is an internship secured and paid for by BTI at an area life sciences organization. Caléche interned as a lab technician at a large area bioscience company, where she applied her new skills and obtained valuable on-the-job experience. Again demonstrating her can-do attitude, Caléche started her day at 3:30 a.m. in order to take care of the early morning needs of her family and get to work, using public transportation, by 6:00 a.m. Through its robust student counseling and support strategy, BTI was able to connect Caléche to Vehicles for Change, a partner nonprofit organization, which provides low-cost cars to working individuals.

Just recently, Caléche advanced her career by accepting a full-time position with a comprehensive benefits package as a lab technician in the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her salary alone is 63 percent greater than her highest past wage.

BTI's programs are designed and operated with the ongoing input and collaboration of more than 30 life sciences companies in the Baltimore region. These employers recognize the current and future need for skilled and dedicated staff and are committed to opening pathways to quality jobs for area residents.

The initiative is also supported by members of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative (BWFC), a partnership comprised of foundations and public sector entities, which recognize the tremendous impact that industry-based workforce partnerships can make in advancing opportunities for low-wage workers. This collaborative supports similar sector-targeted workforce initiatives in the health care, construction and hospitality sectors, providing a mix of occupational skills training, case management and coaching, access to supportive services, job readiness classes, and job development and placement services for low-income job seekers or entry-level workers. BWFC is an affiliate of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, which brings national and local investors together to collaboratively support these sectoral models of effective job training and placement.

Since coming together in 2006, the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative has aligned and pooled close to $7 million to support industry partnership models in Baltimore City. This work is supported in part through a grant from the federally financed Social Innovation Fund, established to mobilize public and private resources to find and grow community-based nonprofits with evidence of strong results. Combined, the sector-specific initiatives supported by the Baltimore collaborative have enabled more than 500 unemployed or underemployed jobseekers to complete demand-driven, industry-specific occupational skills training programs with job placements ranging between 75-80 percent. These initiatives have also provided employer-sponsored, on-the-job coaching to more than 1,000 entry-level health care workers, and demonstrated evidence of significant job retention and wage progression over time.

In short, these examples show that funders and employers working together to advance common goals and support workforce initiatives -- and that are aligned with real industry needs -- can and do lead to meaningful jobs outcomes. To learn how to support more programs like these, visit JobRaising.

Linda Dworak is Director, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, and Kathleen Weiss is Executive Director, BioTechnical Institute of Maryland.

Tags:  ABAG Project  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore  Workforce  Workforce Funders Collaborative 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013

February 27, 2013

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership 

Looking Back at Two Years With Much Work Ahead
With two years under our belt, the BIP continues its work to expand opportunities for low-income residents and communities in Baltimore. There is much work ahead of us, but we are starting to see our collective work add-up. To date, 9 community development projects in our target areas have received financing from TRF leveraging roughly $100 million in new investment. The projects include 34 units of homeownership housing, 76 units of rental housing and 270,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

Our workforce training fund has supported 269 seats of training in key industry sectors with new awards still being made. Employment strategies including jobs through anchor institutions, projects that have been financed, placements through training providers, and through opportunities in other area businesses have yielded more than 100 new job opportunities for area residents with more in the pipeline. While projects are important, the end product of our work is about learning from our approaches, adapting, and finding ways to sustain them through strengthened partnerships as well as new policies, protocols, and legislation. We are seeing these emerge as well through the leadership of our amazing set of partners – THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU ARE DOING.

Apples and Oranges Moves Toward Opening; BIP Helps with Financing, Hiring and Training
Come help celebrate East Baltimore’s newest market, Apples and Oranges, which will open on March 9th. Owned by Erich and Michele March and located on North Avenue and Broadway in a food desert, it will offer area residents and businesses fresh and healthy food options as well as basic groceries, prepared foods, and catering. Various BIP stakeholders, working in concert, have helped move the project forward including TRF which provided financing assistance while HumanimEast Baltimore Development, Inc. and the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development collaborated on identifying area residents and employees for hiring consideration. The BIP has also awarded a small training grant so new employees working with food can receive a ServSafe training certificate. Congratulations to everyone and please be sure to support the new store. Visit their webpage or follow details on the new opening via Facebook.

BIP Awards New Workforce Training Grants
Three new training awards have been made by the BIP. In addition to the ServSafe training for Apples and Oranges employees noted above, an award was made to Tower Management (associated with the Lillian Jones redevelopment) for lead certification training for three employees. In an effort to explore new approaches to education gaps in our target areas, the BIP also awarded a grant to Baltimore Reads to support an accelerated GED program for fifteen students.

State of Maryland and Opportunity Collaborative Award Resources
Several key projects and BIP partners have been awarded grants and tax credits over the last several months that help move forward key reinvestment and workforce development opportunities. The Opportunity Collaborative awarded its first round of Demonstration Project Grants. Key awards include an exploration of public transportation in targeted employment centers including BWI by the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance; a market and economic feasibility analysis of the West Baltimore MARC Station by the Baltimore City Department of Transportation; and implementation funding for Central Baltimore Partnership in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University for the implementation of portions of the Homewood Community Partners Initiative.

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s Community Legacy Program awarded The Reinvestment Fund a total of $350,000 to support reinvestment projects in Preston Place and Duncan Square. Central Baltimore Partnership received five Community Legacy awards totaling $440,000. They include stabilization and improvements for Load of Fun; streetscaping and signage for the Baltimore Design School; renovation costs for affordable housing in Remington Village (also financed by TRF); renovation costs for E. North Avenue Galleries, and stabilization costs for the Centre Theater. Center Theater was also awarded $3 million in tax credits through the Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit Program. The BIP is very excited about these awards that are helping moving forward catalytic investment and building broader opportunities. (Photo by Greg Pease).

University of Maryland-Baltimore Creates New Position to Help Students Transition Into Jobs
Working to increase opportunities for graduates of the Baltimore City Community College’s Life Science Institute which is located in the University of Maryland Biopark, UMB recently created a new employment tier strengthening connectivity between employment opportunities and candidates. This new employment tier enables "bench ready” individuals with associates degrees trained through the institute, rather than just those with bachelor’s degrees that were not necessarily ready, to obtain positions within the research labs. This approach exemplifies the opportunities of aligned employer and training approaches to meet mutual needs and expand opportunities for Baltimore residents. For more information contact Lisa Rawlings at

Opportunity Collaborative Re-Launch Event Scheduled
Postponed this past fall because of a Hurricane, the Opportunity Collaborative Launch event has been rescheduled to March 25, 2013. Please join regional civic and political stakeholders at the University of Baltimore’s Moot Courtroom from 3:00 – 7:00 PM to officially launch the initiative that is exploring regional approaches to workforce and housing which will be incorporated into a regional plan for sustainable development. Guest presenters include Dr. Manuel Pastor and Rha Goddess. Dr. Pastor, Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California will speak on issues of demographic change, economic inequality, and community empowerment. Rha Goddess is a world renowned performing artist and activist, her work has been featured internationally in several compilations, anthologies, forums and festivals. For more details and event registration.

BIP Thanks Southway and Telesis
This past December at the Central Baltimore Partnership Awards event, BIP staff recognized the work and commitments of Southway Builders and the Telesis Corporation to achieve BIP economic inclusion goals as part of their work in Barclay. The 10 unit affordable homeownership redevelopment project financed in part by TRF was under construction for approximately 6 months and wrapped up work in July 2012. During that time, the developer, contractor, and subcontractors retained 3 community hires from a prior phase and hired four new individuals. Overall, 59% of their work hours on the project were held by Baltimore City residents and 44% of contracting costs went to minority business enterprises. Both Southway and Telesis are continuing their efforts in other ongoing projects. Keep up the great work!


The goal of the Baltimore Integration Partnership is to reconnect low-income Baltimore City residents who are predominantly African American to the regional economy, maximize the linkage between physical and human capital development, and to reinvest in targeted inner-core neighborhoods so that they become regionally competitive, economically diverse, sustainable communities of choice. Learn more about the Baltimore Integration Partnership by visiting our website at

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore Integration Partnership  BIP  Workforce 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Baltimore Integration Partnership Update
December 13, 2012

By Kurt Sommer, Director

Johns Hopkins University Announces $10 Million Commitment to Neighborhoods
Congratulations to Johns Hopkins University on its commitment to contribute $10 million over five years to enhance and strengthen the 11 neighborhoods surrounding the university's Homewood campus in Central Baltimore. This $10 million in flexible funding is the first commitment to the $60 million HCPI agenda. The goal for the JHU funding is to help enhance and strengthen neighborhoods by funding projects chosen in conjunction with the neighborhoods themselves and with other members of the Homewood Community Partners Initiative, a collaborative effort convened by Johns Hopkins last year. JHU also announced that it is setting aggressive new goals for hiring and promoting Baltimore City residents and for making purchases from local and minority owned businesses. Read More about the Announcement and the HCPI Initiative

TRF Partners with Seawall on Homeownership Project in Central Baltimore
BIP's CDFI partner, The Reinvestment Fund, closed financing with Seawall Development Corporation helping move forward the redevelopment of 10 homes in the Remington neighborhood. The project is part of a larger 30 unit redevelopment targeting teachers and other residents transitioning from rental housing into homeownership. The redevelopment is leveraging land and vacant buildings awarded through Baltimore City's Vacants to Value program as well as purchase incentives for homebuyers provided through Greater Homewood Community Corporation from the Abell Foundation. The project includes the BIP's inclusion goals for hiring and construction contracting. This project is the 8th development project financed by TRF in Baltimore over the past 18 months including two New Market Tax Credit transactions. Congratulations to Seawall and TRF. Read More about this project and Seawall's projects here and here.

City of Baltimore Announces New Job Hubs
Congratulations to the Mayor's Office of Employment Development and the City of Baltimore on the launch of 4 new community job hubs. The hubs are being operated in partnership with area community organizations. The four hubs are intended to supplement services offered at the City's three one-stop career centers by offering no-cost classes taught by professional technology trainers that prepare residents for 21st-century jobs as well as access to academic resources, customized skill training, employer recruitment events, job alerts, and job fairs. Read more here and here.

Train-Baltimore Website Launched
Job Opportunities Task Force completed a new online resource for Baltimore area residents seeking to build their skills and find training resources to meet career goals. The website synthesizes the vast array of nonprofit and community college training programs while providing connectivity to other supportive and job search services. The website culminates a two year effort by JOTF to make this information more readily available and better connect area residents to workforce services and resources.

Small Business Ecosystem Study Launched
Associated Black Charities (ABC) and the BIP are jointly launching a study of the small business ecosystem led by area researcher Marsha Schachtel. This work builds on earlier work led by ABC and was inspired by a similar study recently completed in Cleveland. A small advisory group has been formed to help guide the research which is expected to last approximately 5 months.

CDFI Roundtable Convened
A variety of BIP stakeholders including Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Reinvestment Fund, the City of Baltimore, and the Maryland ABCD Network, were joined by the Opportunity Finance Network to host a CDFI Roundtable last week. Participants included a range of CDFIs as well as CDFI support organizations to explore common interests in an ongoing local network as well as better understanding barriers and opportunities to grow CDFI capacity in the area. The BIP and other stakeholders plan to reconvene the group in the new year.

BIP in the News
Joe Nathanson recently covered the work of the BIP in his The Daily Record column. The article, available through subscription, can be found here.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The goal of the Baltimore Integration Partnership is to reconnect low-income Baltimore City residents who are predominantly African American to the regional economy, maximize the linkage between physical and human capital development, and to reinvest in targeted inner-core neighborhoods so that they become regionally competitive, economically diverse, sustainable communities of choice. Learn more about the Baltimore Integration Partnership by visiting our website.

Tags:  Baltimore  Baltimore Integration Partnership  Workforce 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 23, 2012

By Kurt Sommer, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

ABAG Announces Appointment of New President
The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers is pleased to announce the appointment of our new President, Celeste Amato. Celeste comes to ABAG with an inspiring leadership background in public service. She has an eighteen year career in City government, most recently in entrepreneurial positions as architect of, and Media and Communications Director for, Baltimore City's Cleaner Greener Initiative and the City's conversion to single stream recycling and One PLUS ONE curbside waste collection. "Philanthropy can make the critical difference in so many issues important to the future of our city, our region, our communities and our individual quality of life" says Celeste. "I look forward to bringing fresh eyes and new energy to an extremely successful organization and will work to firmly establish the philanthropic community as an essential and highly valued partner in local and regional program and policy development, implementation and success." Read More

BIP Teams with Karp Resources to Explore Local Food Procurement Opportunities

The BIP is pleased to announce that Karp Resources will be working with several BIP Anchor Institution partners to explore how to strengthen linkages between their food spending and local food suppliers. Karp Resources' will explore both the supply side of area businesses in this sector but also the workforce opportunities that may result from the increased local business investment. This research initiative builds on the ongoing work BIP stakeholders are taking to explore how to best leverage the hiring, purchasing, and capital investment power of anchor institutions as well as the BIP's recent workforce training investments in food and culinary preparation.

Pathways to Employment in America's Cities

This new report by the National Skills Coalition explores ways that federal policy can better support efforts to integrate physical and human capital investments in America's cities. The work incorporates input from several BIP stakeholders as well as leaders from New Orleans, the Twin Cities, Chicago, and Seattle. The report argues "that federal investments that create jobs and federal investments that prepare people for jobs are not always aligned. Likewise, at the local level, community development and workforce development efforts are often not coordinated. Despite growing interest in making this connection, it has been challenging for local community development and workforce development practitioners to collaborate, even as both know that coordination is essential for improving the skills and employability of low-income individuals and for more efficiently using limited public resources.” Read the Report

Federal Reserve Hosting Forum on Anchor Institutions in Baltimore
The Baltimore Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond is hosting the fourth forum in the series Redefining Capital: Exploring Baltimore's Next Economy on November 8, 2012. A range of national and local panelists and speakers will discuss the linkages between anchor institutions and their surrounding communities as well as opportunities to leverage anchors to help catalyze neighborhood reinvestment. Speakers include Mary Kay Leonard, President and CEO, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, as well as representatives of several of the BIP's anchor institution partners.
Register for this Event.

Baltimore's Sustainable Communities Initiative Launch Event
Please join regional civic and political stakeholders at the University of Baltimore's Moot Courtroom on Monday, October 29, 3:00 – 7:00 PM for the launch of Baltimore's Sustainable Communities Initiative. The initiative includes efforts to explore regional approaches to workforce and housing which will be incorporated into a regional plan for sustainable development. Guest presenters include Dr. Manuel Pastor and Rha Goddess. Dr. Pastor, Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California will speak to us on issues of demographic change, economic inequality, and community empowerment. Rha Goddess is a world renowned performing artist and activist, her work has been featured internationally in several compilations, anthologies, forums and festivals. For more details and event registration.

The goal of the Baltimore Integration Partnership is to reconnect low-income Baltimore City residents who are predominantly African American to the regional economy, maximize the linkage between physical and human capital development, and to reinvest in targeted inner-core neighborhoods so that they become regionally competitive, economically diverse, sustainable communities of choice.

Learn more about the Baltimore Integration Partnership by visiting our website

Tags:  Baltimore  BIP  Capa  Living Cities  Workforce  Workforce development 

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Finding Career Jobs for Low-Wage Workers

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's always inspiring to start a new year with some good news.

Just before the holidays, it was announced that Baltimore is one of 10 communities to receive a total of $5.5 million in new funding to expand innovative approaches to job training and career support from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions via the federal government's Social Innovation Fund — a landmark effort to co-invest with private philanthropy in identifying solutions to some of the nation's toughest challenges.

The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, housed at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, will receive $600,000 over two years to add to its investments in work force partnerships that train and place formerly low-wage workers in career track jobs in biotechnology, construction, health care and food service/culinary arts.

Meeting employers' needs

Work force partnerships bring employers and training providers together in targeted sectors to create training and career support programs that meet the needs of employees and employers.

"The highly effective work force partnerships supported by the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative are meeting the needs of our region's employers while training and placing formerly low-wage workers in jobs that can support their families and lead to a career — even in this difficult economy,” said Marci Hunn of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, a co-chair of the Baltimore Funders Collaborative.

Along with the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, other members of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative include the Mayor's Office of Employment Development, the Abell Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, whose associate director for civic sites and investments, Patrice Cromwell, joins Hunn as co-chair.

Dollar-for-dollar match

In the press release that accompanied the announcement of the award, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake noted that she "was extremely proud to receive word that Baltimore had been selected as one of the first recipients of a Social Innovation Fund award.”

The Social Innovation Fund award establishes a dollar-for-dollar match from the Living Cities Integration Initiative for work force training announced as part of a larger award to Baltimore several months ago. Staff and logistical support for the Collaborative comes from the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

We are particularly proud to have received this grant because the Social Innovation Fund is an innovative new federal funding source that addresses major challenges confronting communities by growing high-impact nonprofit organizations delivering proven solutions.

This blog post was originally published in the Daily Record, as part of a bi-weekly column series written by ABAG President Betsy Nelson

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or

Tags:  Baltimore  collaborative  foundations  fund  giving  innovation  philanthropy  social  solutions  workforce 

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