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New film to feature Taharka Bros. Ice Cream food truck launch

Baltimore’s Taharka Bros. Ice Cream is launching a Kickstarter campaign June 12 to raise $35,000 for their new “Vehicle for Change” food truck. And a new movie by Oscar-nominated directors will document their effort in a new, yet-to-be named movie that highlights businesses that support social change.
“We don’t have a retail shop and a lot of people ask us to have a retail shop or ask how to get our ice cream,” Taharka CEO De'Von Brown says. “So this is a way for us to reach our audience, to have something that’s out in the community.”
Taharka Bros. serve up more than just the typical cookies and cream ice cream flavors. They serve what they call “food for thought,” flavors based on social movements. Their goal is to spread the message of inspiring movements and people in history through ice cream, such as a flavor named after Langston Hughes’ poem, “A Dream Deferred.”
Taharka has had a presence at festivals such as the Baltimore Book Festival and Artscape. They have also held events at their factory in Hampden, Baltimore and their products are available at over 65 restaurants in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. But a food truck will allow it to make appearances at more festivals, corporate events and colleges.
“Hopefully the food truck will be a way to reach people in terms of a physical one-to-one type of outreach. It’s a community outreach vehicle,” Taharka Creative Director Darius Wilmore says.
Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, who directed “Detropia” and “The Boys of Baraka,” have just wrapped up filming of a yet-to-be named movie on Taharka’s Kickstarter campaign. The movie will be featured at the Tribeca Film Festival next spring. The movie will also document Taharka’s collaboration with actress and comedienne Rain Pryor to craft a flavor named after her late father Richard Pryor, whose comedy often addressed class and race. The flavor is tentatively being titled “A Richard Pryor Moment.”

Writer: Daryl Hale
Sources: De'Von Brown and Darius Wilmore, Taharka Bros. 

Habitat for Humanity embarks on $8.5M home ownership project

Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake this year is investing in a $8.5 million project to jumpstart home ownership in three Baltimore low-income neighborhoods.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation gave the nonprofit a $1 million grant over two years, the biggest grant the foundation has given Habitat, CEO Mike Posko says. The project will be completed in 2015.

Habitat bought 56 properties in Woodbourne-McCabe, Mount Winans and Washington Village-Pigtown. Of the properties, 53 will be renovated and three will be demolished for recreational parks in each of the neighborhoods.
Posko says most of the properties were vacant. Habitat bought them in auctions and from the city for a range of $3,000 to $18,000 per house. The average house is 1,500 square feet in size. The parks’ sizes will vary in size. Habitat has worked in these three neighborhoods before and may do so after this project is done.
On average, it takes eight months to complete the rehab of a single house. Because of the Weinberg grant, Habitat can finish the project in two years. 

The $8.5 million figure covers construction only. It does not include volunteer time or family services that will be offered to future homeowners. It also does not include the purchase price of the properties.
Habitat is looking for other funding partners for the project, including private donors, corporations and other foundations. Among the donors that have already committed to the project are General Motors Corp., Orokawa Foundation Inc. and Parks and People Foundation, the latter two in Baltimore.
Posko says that part of the funding will come from the buyers’ mortgages. Habitat no-interest mortgages range from $125,000 to $150,000. “The price is determined by the family’s income. We give them a mortgage they can succeed with,” he says.
While much rehabbing is done by volunteers and the future homeowners, certain jobs require certified workers. “The project provides employment for the trade industry – plumbing, electric, heating/air conditioning installation, duct work, masonry, roofers,” says Posko.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is a Baltimore County-based $2 billion international foundation with annual grant-making of around $100 million. Amy Kleine, program director, says that addressing homelessness and homeownership for low-income residents of the city is a priority.
“The board approved the grant because the project will have a successful impact on three neighborhoods,” says Kleine. “We know that when Habitat rehabs homes, it has a ripple effect. We’re hoping to see that happen” in this project.
Kleine added that several former residents of homeless shelters that the Weinberg Foundation supports have gone on to become Habitat homeowners. “Homeownership is not feasible for this population without Habitat,” she says.
Sources: Mike Posko, Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake; Amy Kleine, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
Writer: Barbara Pash

Contest to promote black male identity launches in Baltimore

BMe, a nationwide initiative to highlight the accomplishments of African-American men and to encourage and support cooperation among them, debuted in Baltimore this year. 

The local initiative kicks off with a cash-prize contest for black men to relate stories of positive collaborative efforts. The deadline is Feb. 28 to enter and contest applications are on BMe’s website.

BMe, which stands for Black Male Identity, began last year in Detroit and Philadelphia. Like Baltimore, both cities have large African-American populations and strong black communities.
Baltimore was the next logical step, “an ideal city to demonstrate” BMe, says Rodney Foxworth, community engagement manager with Black Maryland Engagement, who is heading the local BMe initiative.
BMe's local community partners are Open Society Institute-Baltimore and the Center for Urban Families. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is funding the contest. This year, each of the three cities will receive $200,000 grant money. Individual amounts will vary, with a maximum award of $20,000 to any single entry. 
Last year’s contest focused on individual efforts. This year, collaboration was chosen as the theme for the one-time, one-year awards.
“We are collecting stories from black males. The first step is to talk about things they are doing in their communities,” Foxworth says. The criteria for the award is “to demonstrate collaboration and a positive outcome,” he says, whether it’s mentoring youth, teaching literacy skills or organizing black businesses.
Foxworth, a Baltimore native, is working out of an office in the Center for Urban Families, a nonprofit located at 2201 North Monroe St. near Coppin State University. He says BMe will stay in Baltimore after the contest. “It’s not meant to be a one-time thing,” he say. After the contest ends, Foxworth will be planning activities and community events.
Although BMe has only been in Baltimore about a month, the response has been encouraging, says Foxworth. “BMe is an effort to highlight the positive contributions black men make every day. It’s an acknowledgement of black men’s assets to the community.”
Foxworth says BMe may launch in other cities, possibly Pittsburgh next, although he doesn’t have a timeframe.
Source: Rodney Foxworth, BMe
Writer: Barbara Pash

Md. bill would give nonprofits more money for tax credits

The Maryland General Assembly  is considering a bill that would boost the amount of tax credits a state program offers by 75 percent.

Under House Bill 108, sponsored by Baltimore County Democratic Del. Stephen Lafferty, the pot of money the state allocates under the Neighborhood and Community Assistance Program would go from $2 million to $3.5 million each fiscal year. The state Department of Housing and Community Development oversees the tax credits, which have been used for job training, food banks, housing, historical preservation and arts and culture.

Lafferty says he is optimistic passage of the bill this year, though a similar bill he sponsored last year didn't pass. At a recent hearing, six nonprofits testified or submitted letters in favor of the bill. They included Lighthouse Inc., a Baltimore County youth and family service, and the Maryland Food Bank. There was no opposition.

“It’s a competitive program," Lafferty says. "Generally, it’s oversubscribed and some groups are not able to get allocations or they get smaller allocations” for tax credits.
Under the program, individuals and businesses can claim a tax credit for 50 percent of contributions of more than $500. A donor can claim tax credits against personal income tax and corporate income tax. Unused tax credit can be carried forward for five tax years.

“For every $2 donated, the donor gets back $1 in tax credit,” he says. With the bill, “nonprofits can use the tax credits to get more contributions and to get larger contributions.”
Lafferty formerly worked in that state department and was aware of the program, which has been in existence since 1997. 
Maryland Food Bank spokeswoman Kate Sam says the nonprofit’s meal distribution has increased 187 percent over the past five years. She calls the tax credit program “critical” during that time. It is an incentive to attract new donors and to retain and even increase support from existing donors, she says. 
“The nonprofit community is in great need of resources. It is clear to me that the leverage of increased tax credits will help nonprofit groups,” says Lafferty.
Source: Stephen Lafferty, Maryland House of Delegates
Writer: Barbara Pash


Baltimore nonprofit preps for Obamacare with new primary health care clinic

Baltimore nonprofit Institutes for Behavior Resources will open a new clinic this summer to provide primary health care services to substance abusers and their families, with $1.4 million in funding from state and foundation grants. 

It is part of the state’s efforts to have services in place by the time the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is fully implemented in 2014. 

The nonprofit is using the grants to renovate the institute’s 1920s era, six-story building at 2104 Maryland Ave. in Charles Village and to open the clinic on the currently vacant fourth floor. The institute's COO Reid Blank says he expects the clinic renovation to be finished by next month with an official opening in July. Blank says it is looking to hire eight to 10 employees for the health care clinic, including nurses, counselors, receptionist and part-time physicians to add to its staff of 40. 

The nonprofit will provide clinic patients and their families with screenings, tests and medical treatment as drug addicts may not have primary care physicians or get regular medical treatment.  The clinic will serve as a model for other states in preventive health care, a key tenet in Obamacare. In addition, the clinic will be available to patients at other substance abuse programs in Baltimore, such as Man Alive Inc.

"The grants enable us to expand services to patients and their families. Our patients have other health problems that are not always addressed, and that delays progress in treating their addiction," Blank says. 
The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene contributed $898,000 to the project. Other funders are the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, $270,000; The Abell Foundation, $200,000; and France Merrick Foundation, $50,000. The institute is paying the remainder of the total $1.5 million project.
Besides its REACH program for substance abusers, the 51-year-old institute works with government agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Railroad Administration and Department of Defense as well as commercial airlines, railroads, transit and trucking companies on the issue of fatigue.

Source: Reid Blank, Institutes for Behavior Resources
Writer: Barbara Pash

Hopkins Dementia Study Reveals Effects of Home Health Care

A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University and a Jewish charity revealed that people with dementia could live in their homes with help 10 months longer than those without help.

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Division of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neuropsychiatry and The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore partnered on the $1.8-million study, called MIND at Home. The study was designed by Hopkins and funded by Associated. The study was designed to provide a model that could be used by community service agencies throughout the country.
“This is the first study coming out of the geriatric psychiatry division that looked at dementia service delivery,” says Quincy Samus, a Johns Hopkins assistant professor in the division and project director.

Dementia care coordinators provided help for a range of needs, including general medical care, interactions of their medications, behavioral problems, social involvement like adult day care, home safety modifications, financial issues and safe driving.
The average age of the study participants, chosen at random from Baltimore neighborhoods, was 84 and many of them still drove their cars.
The help the participants received not only kept them in their homes longer but improved their quality of life as well, says Samus, who notes that the study was designed to provide a model that could be used by community service agencies throughout the country.
LeRoy Hoffberger, past chairman of Associated, is credited for being the catalyst for the study and leading its fundraising efforts. The 18-month study was staffed by Jewish Community Services, an Associated agency, with Hopkins developing the protocols for the dementia care coordinators. Hopkins experts from its Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center also participated.
According to Barbara Levy Gradet, Jewish Community Services’ executive director, the coordinators specialized in dementia care and the impact of dementia on family care-givers. 
Gradet says the Associated agency is now planning how to bring the study to scale, in other words, how to translate what worked for a small setting to the Jewish community as a whole. Still to be determined is a funding source to broaden the  scope, whether a federal agency or insurance companies.
In 2012, an estimated 5.4 million Americans of all ages have Alzheimer’s disease. Over 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for a person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, at an estimated cost of $200 billion.
Although results from the Mind At Home study have not yet been published in professional journals, preliminary findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference last month.
Calling the dementia service delivery system a “crucial concept,” Samus says the “ultimate hope is that other states adopt this approach.”
Sources: Quincy Samus, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Division of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neuropsychiatry; Barbara Levy Gradet, Jewish Community Services
Writer: Barbara Pash; innovationnews@bmoremedia.com

Weinberg Foundation Doubles Baltimore City School Library Project

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is more than doubling its Baltimore Elementary and Middle School Library Project from the original $2 million commitment to $5 million over the next four years to renovate and/or build libraries at 12 Baltimore City public schools.
The international foundation, headquartered in Baltimore County, announced the library project in December 2011. Less than a year later, it is unveiling its expanded initiative at a Sept.12 celebration at Thomas Johnson Elementary/Middle School, one of three schools to receive funding in the project’s first round. The other two schools are Moravia Park Elementary and Southwest Baltimore Charter School.
Amy Gross, Weinberg Foundation’s program director for education, children, youth and families, says the library project was expanded because of its early success. It is already partnering with 30 businesses, nonprofits and government entities on the project.
Says Gross, “We wanted to extend our commitment now for planning and to get others involved.”
At the September celebration, the second round of schools is being announced. This round also involves three schools, one of which is the East Baltimore Community School, due to open in the 2013-2014 academic year, for which a new library is being built. Gross declined to name the other two schools before the event.
Gross says that as part of a federal funding process, Baltimore City picks about six schools per year with library needs. The Weinberg Foundation uses that list as a basis for choosing project recipients although it also has its own criteria.
“We look for a school with a full-time librarian and strong principal support as to how the library can be utilized through the school, not only for instruction but for community involvement,” she says.
In the schools in the first round, Gross says that the existing libraries were gutted and a new design installed. Work included a new layout, new furniture, and additional books, computers and e-readers, aka nooks.

“We pretty much stayed in the footprint of the [existing] libraries but they look nothing like their previous spaces,” says Gross, adding that in new schools, the library space may be expanded. “Basically, it’s what makes sense for the school.”

The cost and size of the library project varies with the school. The spaces average about 2,000 square feet. The total cost of all construction and programmatic activities runs about $980,000 per library.  The foundation contributes, on average, $335,000 per library for capital and operating costs, with a U.S. Department of Education program contributing $360,000 and the city school system $145,000 per library. Partners provide the rest in additional financial and in-kind contributions.

The library project goes beyond the physical.  The foundation’s funding provides for professional development and to hire an additional staffer at each library to assist the librarian. Partners are providing other services, among them:
• Barnes and Noble, nooks and instructions to teachers on using them in an educational setting;
• Dyslexia Tutoring, teacher training for early identification;
• Enoch Pratt Free Library, management of the Parenting Corner that is being set up in each library, with books on parenting  and job search, and access to the Pratt system; and
• Wells Fargo, financial literacy training.
Source: Amy Gross, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
Writer: Barbara Pash

Goldseker Foundation Report Offers Strategy For Attracting City Residents

A report from the Goldseker Foundation takes an optimistic view of Baltimore City’s potential for job and neighborhood growth.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s goal of increasing the city population by 10,000 over the next 10 years is doable, according to report, “Great Neighborhoods, Great Cities, Strategies for the 2010’s.”  Released last month, it details how to improve the city to attract and retain residents.

Among them:
• Focus on retaining and attracting middle-income residents;
• Build from market strength wherever it’s found rather than concentrating all resources on the most distressed neighborhoods; 
• Market properties and neighborhood amenities to potential buyers; and,
• Give city-based employers incentives for workers to live nearby.
Timothy Armbruster, foundation president and CEO, says the report was intended to gather and analyze the demographic and economic data that has become available since the previous report in 2010. The foundation has put the report on its Web site and also sent it by email to public policy and nonprofit groups in order to reach the “opinion leaders,” says Armbruster.
The project started out as a small-scale look at the neighborhoods the foundation traditionally supports, and expanded to the entire city. The mayor’s goal gave the project a sense of urgency.
The report found that Baltimore’s population dropped 4.6 percent from 2000 to 2010. By contrast, Baltimore metro’s population rose by 6.2 percent and Washington metro by 16.4 percent during the same period. It concluded that people were not leaving Baltimore for job relocation.
Armbruster says the Goldseker Foundation’s works with community groups, businesses and nonprofits to focus its expertise and funding. 

“There is widespread interest and enthusiasm about the mayor’s goal,” he says. But it is not a city-project only. The institutions, businesses and public need to participate, too.

To that end, Armbruster has met privately with members of the institutional, real estate and nonprofit communities. He is considering holding forums with these groups as well.
“The response has been positive,” he says.
Source: Timothy Armbruster, Goldseker Foundation
Writer: Barbara Pash

Weinberg Foundation Grants Total $8M in April and May

Legal services for the poor and jobs training program were among the recipients of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation grants in April and May, which totaled $8 million. The grants present a snapshot of the Baltimore-headquartered foundation’s grants of approximately $100 million per year.
The Legal Aid Bureau got $850,000 over two years, for free legal services and educational material for low-income adults. Job Opportunities Task Force got $750,000 over three years to support the Task Force’s and Baltimore CASH campaign’s financial literacy programs.
Other Baltimore recipients are:
International Rescue Committee, $150,000 over two years;
Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training, $150,000;
Dayspring Programs, $100,000 over two years;
The League for People with Disabilities, $128,000;
House of Ruth Maryland, $250,000 over two years;
Family League of Baltimore, two grants totaling $175,000;
YMCA of Central Maryland, $120,000 over two years;
Art with a Heart, $40,000 over two years;
Resident Services, $80,000 over two years;
Wide Angle Youth Media, $50,000 over two years;
Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies, $50,000 over two years;
Community Law Center, $70,000 over two years; and
South Baltimore Learning Center, $25,000 over two years.

The foundation recently changed its award announcement format. Rather than issuing a grant list every two months, the foundation is issuing its grant approvals on a weekly basis via social media, primarily Facebook and Twitter. 
Craig Demchak, director of community affairs, says the Weinberg Foundation “is excited to share information on its grant making, reflecting the fine work of our many grantees who serve the poor and vulnerable. We are pleased to extend this vital, ongoing communication to a new audience through social media.”
The grants are earmarked for specific purposes. Two Baltimore organizations received six-figure grants.
Source: Craig Demchak, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
Writer: Barbara Pash; innovationnews@bmoremedia.com 

Gates Foundation Grant Goes To Hopkins Researcher

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to improve the health of mothers and children in rural, hard-to-reach areas by increasing vaccine coverage.
Dr. Alain Labrique, director of the Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative, received a Grand Challenges Exploration Grant from the Gates foundation. This is the first time that Labrique and Hopkins’s public health school have received this particular grant although members of Labrique’s team have received other Gates’ grants.
“Grand Challenges pioneered funding for innovative research, for researchers to receive seed funding to take their ideas to the next level,” Labrique says. He is working with a team to develop a virtual vaccine registry, called mTikka. Part of the study will look at the impact of mobile phones on rural health delivery. 
Labrique says the registry builds on 12 years of public health work in rural Bangladesh, particularly on behalf of maternal, neonatal and child nutrition and survival. His team works in partnership with the Bangladesh ministry of health and family welfare and social enterprise partners mPower Health. mTikka will be test-piloted in rural, remote areas of Bangladesh for future use in other developing countries.
The Grand Challenges grant covers a 12- to 18-month long period. Researchers can reapply for another Grand Challenges grant after that but “you cannot hold more than one seed grant at a time,” Labrique says.
Grand Challenges grants have two levels, each with its own requirements. The Phase 1 grants are for $100,000 each. The Phase 2 grants start at $1 million. Will Labrique be applying for a Phase 2 grant in the future? “Oh, certainly,” he says.
Source: Dr. Alain Labrique, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Writer: Barbara Pash

Closed Rec Center May Become Tech Center

Many of Baltimore's neighborhood recreation centers are scheduled to close, or have closed already, as a result of the city's continuing budget woes. Members of the Riverside community and Digital Harbor High School boosters have been looking at ways to transform the soon to be shuttered South Baltimore Recreation Center into a neighborhood technology center.

A meeting on the subject will be held Wednesday, Feb. 29 at the Baltimore Room at 100 Harbor View Dr. The meeting is being held jointly by the Key Highway Community Association and the HarborView Social Committee.

Andrew Coy, an educator at Digital Harbor High School who was named one of “10 Rock Stars Making A Difference In Baltimore” by the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, will fill the community in on plans to pay for the transformation. Coy is looking at using grant money to get the centers up and running. Digital Harbor students will also be presenting information about how technology impacts their education. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m..

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Jane Wehrle, founder of the Loop, an activity network in South Baltimore 

Groupon Fundraiser Helps Charm City Animal Rescue Exceed Goal

In this economy, it's been a challenge for Michelle Ingrodi of Charm City Animal Rescue to raise the funds that her charity needs to provide services for homeless animals in Baltimore.

A recent partnership with Groupon's nonprofit fundraising team -- called G-Team -- helped the animal rescue service find the funds it needs to keep the functioning. CCAR's Groupon event ran for three days and raised $2,060. The nonprofit sold 206 Groupons at $10 each, Ingrodi says.

“We aimed for $300, so this was really huge for us,” says CCAR founder Michelle Ingrodi.

The Groupon effort is just the first of this year's creative fundraising efforts for the animal rescue. CCAR will be raising funds through a tattooing benefit in March and a bull roast in April. The animal rescue also plans to continue the fundraising effort with a 1980's prom themed benefit, a “giant yard sale” benefit and New Year's Eve spay and neuter event.

“CCAR is funded only by donations. We don't have a facility yet, I don't even have a car, so both are very big on our list of items needed,” Ingrodi says.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Michelle Ingrodi, Charm City Animal Rescue

Constellation Energy Accepting Renewable Energy Grants

Constellation Energy is now accepting applications for its EcoStar Grant Program, which promotes renewable energy.

In its third year, the program provides grants of up to $5,000 to organizations working on community projects that fit into one or more categories designated by the Baltimore firm: pollution prevention, education and outreach, energy efficiency, conservation and community activism

Past winners of EcoStar grants in Baltimore include Coppin State University, Knowledge Is Power Program charter schools and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Coppin State University used EcoStar grant funds to study nanotechnology and solar power. Constellation has awarded EcoStar grants in 20 states since the program's inception. Last year, it awarded 85 EcoStar grants.

The deadline for applications for the 2012 EcoStar grant program is March 10. Grant awards will be announced on or before Earth Day, April 12.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Christina Pratt, Constellation Energy

Study Ranks Maryland as Second Most Charitable State

In the mood to give to your local soup kitchen this holiday season? Well you’re not alone -- at least not in the Free State.

24/7 Wall St. ranks Maryland as the second most charitable state, behind only Utah.

It analyzed IRS data compiled by the Urban Land Institute and ranked the states according to charitable donation per taxpayer. Marylanders gave $1,661 to charities, the study found. More than 40 percent of Maryland residents donate to charity.

The average income per taxpayer was $66,614 in 2009, making it the fourth highest in the country. The study found that, in general, the wealthier states gave more and the poorer states gave less.

Utah residents gave $2,388 per taxpayer, with an average income of $52,021. That puts it at No. 21 for income.

Maine ranked the least charitable, with residents giving an average of $612. It is the 10th lowest in income, pulling in $46,683 per taxpayer.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: 24/7 Wall St.

GiveCorps Uses Innovation to Spur Donation

GiveCorps is changing the way the non profits in Baltimore raise funds by offering charitable donors in the Baltimore area a sweet deal: give to something good, get something good.
“Our tag line is ‘Give Local. Get Local.’ The local aspect of GiveCorps is unlike other online giving platforms. For donors, GiveCorps provides an easy method to both support and learn about local nonprofits and get great discounts for merchants in return. We provide both on line and off line ways to engage in the community as well as great weekly newsletter GiveCorps Plugged In. GiveCorps offers non-profits a new vehicle for targeting younger donors, a new marketing platform and a vehicle to raise funds,” says GiveCorps founder and president Beth Falcone.
By soliciting small gifts from potential donors instead of looking for money from the same small pool of donors, non-profit organizations are able to connect more easily with the people who support them but can only offer up a small donation. Their supporters donate money through the GiveCorps site, and in return they score deals at Baltimore merchants, restaurants and attractions.
“GiveCorps is built around the notion that small gifts matter and everyone can be a philanthropist. The idea was to create a broad network of $10- $25 dollar young philanthropists who regularly visit the site, the GiveCorps Facebook page or receive and respond to the daily e-mail,” continues Falcone
Response to the site has been strong. GiveCorps has raised over $36,000 for Baltimore's non-profits, with an average gift of $36. The company hopes to expand the concept into another city in 2012.
Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Beth Falcone, GiveCorps


Rent-A-Center Donates Computers to Creative Kids, Inc.

Creative Kids, Inc. will be receiving new computers as part of Rent-A-Center's "Random Acts of Caring" initiative. The company will be providing Creative Kids with three laptops, six desktops and one tablet --  ten new computers in all.

"Creative Kids is grateful to be the recipient of Rent-A-Center's generous donation," says Jennie Fumarola, Creative Kids director. "The computers will serve our community in immeasurable ways, allowing us to provide increased access to computers and the internet and free educational instruction to families who may not have access to these resources."

Creative Kids operates community centers focused on helping children and families in Maryland. Through their community center programs, the non-profit uses a whole family approach to help disadvantaged families cope. The community centers, in Cockeysville, Essex, and Loch Raven offer children's activities including after school programs, tutoring, arts programs, and play groups. Creative Kids also offers programs designed to help adults in need, including job search assistance, financial training workshops, and ESOL classes.

The community centers feature computer labs that are accessible to the families Creative Kids serves. The new computers donated by Rent-A-Center will be used to enhance the programs and services that are offered at the centers.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Creative Kids

Welsh Construction Remodeling Celebrates 50th Anniversary With Charity and New Hires

Welsh Construction remodeling is celebrating 50 years in business this month, and looking to the future with new programs and new hires. Welsh Construction Remodeling recently added four staffers -- a  residential salesperson, an insurance salesperson, a Vice President of Operations, and a marketing and digital media coordinator.

"Welsh has been so enduring because of the quality of our people, and the fact that when we do work, we do it the Welsh way. We have so many of our own craftsmen and don't subcontract a lot of work. So we are able to control the production process and the quality of our work. And our first job and our last job that we get are only as good as the experience that our customers have. So we always make sure we do the right thing," says Joe Myerhoff, President and CEO of Welsh Construction Remodeling LLC

The company is making charitable donations as part of the celebration. Welsh is running a sweepstakes in celebration of its golden anniversary, and matching charitable donations to three area causes made by sweepstakes entrants.

"As a member of the community, it was important to Welsh to embrace some type of philanthropic activity for several of the area non-profits which are each doing a lot of good. And tying it into our 50th anniversary just made an awful lot of sense. We were very happy to be able to do this," Myerhoff continues.

Welsh Construction Remodeling is planning to expand its services this year, adding roofing, innovative new types of insulation, and a Fine Homes division.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Joe Myerhoff, Welsh Construction Remodeling

Knott Foundation Seex Tax Credit Boost to Non-Profit Investment

The head of Baltimore's Marion I. and Henry J. Knott Foundation says an expansion of Maryland's million-dollar Community Investment Tax Credit program to include corporate donors could help non-profit organizations expand their physical investments in the city, in addition to boosting programming.

"When I directed Light Street Housing, we used the CITC program to develop new relationships and garner tens of thousands of increased donations," says Knott Foundation executive director Greg Cantori.

Under the CITC, organizations that have received grants from foundations or other grantmakers can distribute tax credits to donors in order to spur more strategic giving. Donors, in turn, receive a tax credit that can be added to state and federal deductions the same year, or rolled over for as many as five years.

Donors can find non-profit organizations that match their giving goals and have available tax credits on the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development's GIVE Maryland site, here: http://www.mdhousing.org/givemaryland/

Writer: Sam Hopkins
Source: Greg Cantori, Knott Foundation

First Annapolis Irish Festival Successful Fundraiser for Hospice of the Chesapeake

Hospice of the Chesapeake was looking for ways to raise money in a difficult fundraising environment. A group of Annapolis based philanthropists was looking for a non-profit to benefit from the first Annapolis Irish Festival that they were organizing in Crownsville. The result was a match that exceeded everyone's expectations.

Several thousand people attended the bustling festival on July 9th, and Hospice of The Chesapeake raised both funds and awareness of its activities in Maryland.

"A group in Annapolis wanted to to put on a festival to benefit a non-profit in the community and approached us. The turnout has been wonderful. It's been great to work and meet people, and we're all having fun," said Kathy Bourgard, Director of Volunteers for Hospice of the Chesapeake.

This is the first year for the Annapolis Irish Festival. The daylong celebration of Irish culture included musical performances by Irish rock bands, traditional entertainers, Irish dancers, food, and shopping. The festival also featured Gaelic Games sponsored by the Baltimore Gaelic Athletic Association, and a large children's activity area.

Hospice of the Chesapeake will be making use of the new influx of funds to support the foundation's many programs, including the Life Centers. The organization operates two Life Centers, in Annapolis and Landover. The Life Centers provide grief counseling for adults and children, assistance for patients with terminal illness and their families, perinatal support, and educational workshops for caregivers and grieving families. Hospice of the Chesapeake will receive all of the proceeds generated by the Annapolis Irish Festival.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Kathy Bourgard, Hospice of the Chesapeake.

Vehicles For Change Debuts Art Van

Vehicles For Change, a nonprofit dedicated to providing vehicles to the disadvantaged in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, is launching a new Art Van. The organization hopes the combination exhibit and ongoing art project on wheels will raise awareness for its program. 

The Art Van is a work in progress. Initial painting on the van's mural was done by the residents of the City Arts Apartments in Station North. After finding out about Vehicles For Change's desire to have an art car of their own, Danny Stuelpnagel, coordinator of the art cars exhibition at ArtScape, stepped in to coordinate the development of the Art Van.

Vehicles for Change will be taking the Art Van on tour this summer, visiting festivals and events around the state. The Art Van will be making appearances at the Annapolis Arts & Crafts Festival, Columbia Festival of the Arts, ROOTS Fest, and ArtScape.

At each stop, festival visitors will be encourages to explore the Art Van's interactive features. Festival goers will be encourages to contribute to the ongoing art project by taking up brushes to further embellish the Art Van. Visitors will also be able to interact with the Art Van by playing a game with the magnetic pieces attached to the van. The game is designed to raise awareness about the challenges faced by low-income families without cars.

Vehicles For Change has donated more than 3,500 vehicles to the disadvantaged in the area since its inception in 1999. The Art Van is being underwritten by Precision Tune and PNC Bank. The festivals at which the Art Van is appearing have waived exhibitor fees for the community outreach project, and local merchants have donated the prizes used in the game.

Author: Amy McNeal

Source: Robin Yasinow, Vehicles For Change


Change Matters Becomes Maryland's First Benefit LLC

Change Matters, a social enterprise consulting firm, has become Maryland's first Benefit LLC. The Takoma Park-based company advises Maryland non-profit and social purpose businesses.

"This designation honors and recognizes the way we want to do business. In a balanced way. And really in a way that puts serious emphasis on community improvement and environmental stewardship. I do think that this designation is a differentiation factor," says Change Matters, Benefit LLC founder and principal Amy Kincaid.

The Benefit LLC structure is the first of its kind in the US. Maryland's Benefit Corporation law took effect last October, making Maryland the first state to recognize a specific corporate designation for companies that choose to balance financial concerns with social and environmental missions. The statute creating the designation was signed by Governor Martin O'Malley in May, 2011.

June 1, 2011 was the first day that companies could file for organization as a Benefit LLC. In addition to Change Matters, other Maryland firms are pursuing the Benefit LLC designation. Substance 151, a Baltimore-based communications firm, was the second company to file. Clean Currents, a wind and solar energy provider, has also filed for the designation.

"There are no direct, clear financial incentives to doing this. Even though I do think there is potential value to the state to encouraging this kind of business, there are no tax incentives, there are no special procurement points, marketing business development assistance, or such," continues Amy Kincaid. "I believe this kind of economic activity can generate perhaps modestly, but deeply and sustainably, local jobs and revenue and community assets, innovation toward solving social problems."

Change Matters founder Amy Kincaid will be moderating the panel discussion "Social Enterprise: When Your Business Is Changing The World" at July's ThinkBig Baltimore conference.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Amy Kincaid, Change Matters, Benefit LLC

SAIC Donates $300,000 to UMBC to Support STEM Education

Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) has committed $300,000 to support a new active-learning initiative at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) that draws on the latest technology and education research to help students succeed in critical introductory mathematics and science classes.

Creating an environment that engages and supports students as they begin studying these subjects is part of UMBC's College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences (CNMS) Active Science Teaching and Learning Environment (CASTLE) effort to increase the number of students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). More graduates are needed in these areas to help the U.S. maintain economic strength and an innovative edge.

"In this age of increasing global competition, it is essential that we support the students who will move our country forward in science and technology," says Larry Cox, SAIC senior vice president and business unit general manager. "This commitment to UMBC is an investment in both the number and quality of future scientists and engineers who will be available to work at companies like SAIC."

This collaboration builds on UMBC and SAIC's existing relationship, including SAIC's participation on UMBC advisory boards and the 2010-11 Visionaries in Information Technology Forum. UMBC students are active participants in SAIC's summer internship program.

"We are delighted to collaborate with SAIC to explore innovative ways to help our students excel in introductory math and science courses," says UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski. "As a leader in technology, SAIC is demonstrating a commitment to preparing more students for careers in these critical fields."

Source: University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Chewpons Launches Site for Daily Deals on Food and Drink

There's a new player in the popular daily deals game. Maryland-based Chewpons joins sites including Groupon and LivingSocial to bring residents in Baltimore City and surrounding counties discounted offers on food and drink from area businesses. 

Consumers who register thier e-mail address and zip code will receive "Daily Discounted Deals" ranging between 50 and 90 percent off in their email inbox.The Chewpons for featured businesses will be available for a period of 24 to 72 hours. The deals will expire six months to one year from the date of purchase. Chewpons do not require a certain number of participants and will not include an added service charge. 

A portion of the proceeds for each Chewpon purchase will go to support the charity of choice of that day's featured business highlighted in the site's "Daily Deal Donation" box on the homepage. If a business does not have a desired charity, then they may choose to give the proceeds to The Maryland Food Bank, Chewpons' primary charitable recipient.

Chewpons also rewards referrals with their unique "Chewbucks" program, which rewards existing users with discounts for recommending new ones.

Source: Chewpons
Writer: Walaika Haskins

OSI-Baltimore Awards $400K to Seven Baltimore Residents to Help the City's Underserved

An acclaimed comedian and mother of three will take young women from Park Heights on a journey through time to study their rich African and Native American ancestry and heritage. An attorney will work to protect low-income residents who have been victims of creditor abuse by providing training, assistance and co-counseling services to other attorneys who take on the victims' cases. A woman who learned to love skateboarding as an adult will mentor young Baltimore skateboarders and teach them leadership and self-advocacy skills, as they work to get a skate park built in the city. And a recent Johns Hopkins graduate will pair graduate psychology students with youth charged as adults to connect them with mental health, case management and rehabilitation help while they await trial.

These are just four of the seven people whom the Open Society Institute-Baltimore selected to be 2010 Baltimore Community Fellows, as the program celebrates its 13th year of supporting social entrepreneurs and innovators to achieve their dreams to improve the city.

Each of this year's fellows will receive $48,750 to work full-time for 18 months, implementing creative strategies to assist and revitalize underserved communities in Baltimore. This year's new class brings the total number of Baltimore Community Fellows to 117 — most of whom still are actively working in the city, continuing to bring their energy and ideas to effect social change.

"Our new Community Fellows are dynamic and committed social activists, each with an innovative vision for bringing opportunity and greater justice to Baltimore's neighborhoods so that all residents can participate fully in community life," says OSI-Baltimore Director Diana Morris. "With this 13th class, we are proud to add to our corps of talented Baltimore Community Fellows. Working across issues and neighborhoods, these Fellows are bringing hope, new approaches, resources and advocacy skills to residents throughout the city, mobilizing them to take action to meet their own needs and to revitalize Baltimore communities."

Source: Open Society Institute Baltimore
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Two Baltimore Community Health Centers Receive $500K Gift from GE Foundation

Chase Brexton Health Services and People's Community Health Centers, Inc., two Baltimore-based community health centers, have been awared a total of $500,000 from the GE Foundation - the philanthropic organization of GE. The funds, distributed as part of the organization's Developing Health program, are part of an effort to help increase access to quality healthcare across the United States.

Developing Health is a three-year, $25 million GE program that aims to improve access to primary care in targeted under-served communities across the United States. The program aligns with GE's healthymagination initiative, a commitment to reduce costs, improve quality, and increase access in healthcare.

"We are pleased to partner and engage with Chase Brexton Health Services and People's Community Health Centers to help drive community access to quality healthcare in Baltimore," says Bob Corcoran, president, GE Foundation. "A staggering number of 47 million people in the United States are uninsured or lack access to basic healthcare, and we are committed to providing services to the uninsured and underserved through grants and GE volunteering in the communities. Both Chase Brexton Health Services and People's Community Health Centers are well equipped to provide the necessary services and make a difference in their communities."

"Over the last 30 years at Chase Brexton, we've endeavored to create programs and services that enable us to provide comprehensive, affordable healthcare to our patients. This grant from the GE Foundation will help us expand our existing services and support our efforts to improve health outcomes for the people we serve," says David H. Shippee, CEO of Chase Brexton Health Services.

The grants will expand access to primary care for residents in the area. "We pride ourselves in providing medical care to those who cannot afford it, regardless of their income or their insurance status," says Patricia Cassatt, CEO of People's Community Health Centers, Inc. "We are honored to be recognized by the GE Foundation for our efforts, and are excited about the prospect of providing increased access to care with the help of the Developing Health program."

Developing Health is a partnership between GE Corporate Citizenship and the GE Corporate Diversity Council. Modeled after GE's successful philanthropic program Developing Health Globally, the program was launched in New York City in October 2009, and has since expanded to Milwaukee, Houston, Cincinnati, Louisville and New Orleans.

Source: GE Foundation
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Baltimore Community Foundation awards grants to 23 neighborhoods total of $85K in community projects

The Neighborhood Grants Program of the Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF) recently awarded $85,647 in grants to 23 community-led projects in neighborhoods across Baltimore City and County.

The BCF neighborhood grants fund a varietyy of projects like community gardens, neighborhood signs, and community festivals that have been proposed by a community organization. They reflect various interests and causes, with each project underlining the value of citizen power in action and how community organizations mobilize residents to complete a neighborhood project, build new leadership, or strengthen existing leadership within neighborhoods.

In Remington, for example, residents are working to provide constructive summer activities for neighborhood youth by organizing a first annual summer science camp. The 10-week program will provide young people with an exciting and enriching outlet during the summer months and into the fall, with lessons on steam engines, hot air balloons, solar ovens, and bio-fuels. The camp will help keep neighborhood youth off the streets and engaged in healthy activity while at the same time providing academic enrichment to combat the summer learning loss.

"The Neighborhood Grants Program is in many ways at the heart of what we do at BCF," says BCF President and CEO Tom Wilcox. "Our support of resident-led efforts to strengthen neighborhoods is a crucial investment in the life of our city, and one central to our vision of a Baltimore with a growing economy where all have the opportunity to thrive."

BCF's Neighborhood Grants Program is supported in part by the William Donald Schaefer Civic Fund at BCF, created in 2008 as a living legacy for Governor Schaefer, one that honors and perpetuates his commitment to Baltimore's neighborhoods.

BCF's 2010 Neighborhood Grants Program awards include:

Better Waverly Community Organization (Abell, Better Waverly) - $5,000
To attract more residents and merchants to Waverly's commercial corridor by designing, publishing and distributing a self-guided historic walking tour brochure focused on the area.

C.A.R.E. Community Association (Middle East) - $5,000
To discourage illegal dumping by reclaiming and beautifying a vacant lot in Baltimore's Middle East neighborhood.

Cherry Hill Community Coalition (Cherry Hill) - $5,000
To engage adults and middle school youth from Baltimore's Cherry Hill neighborhood in establishing the Eat Healthy, Live Healthy Community Garden, which will offer farm shares to community residents.

Duncan Street Miracle Gardens (Broadway East) - $3,892.95
To help this long-standing and successful community garden pursue a rodent abatement campaign.

Edmondson Heights Civic Association (Edmondson Heights) - $2,087.50
To increase neighborhood visibility and resident pride by installing a neighborhood sign in the center of the community.

Fells Prospect Community Association (Fells Prospect) - $4,900
To discourage and reduce littering, graffiti, and crime in the neighborhood by gating a problematic alley and transforming it into a community green space.

Greater Remington Improvement Association (Remington) - $1,384.68
For the first annual Remington Science Summer Camp, a 10-week Saturday workshop series for neighborhood youth that runs from late summer through the first weeks of the school year.

Hanlon Improvement Association (Hanlon-Longwood) - $3,000
To increase the number of active community association members by hosting a day-long forum that will explore neighborhood issues and community building solutions through resident focus groups.

Hezekiah Movement (Roundhouse) - $2,000
To support the Our Families in Healing Program's participation in the SoWeBo Recovery Expo, an event that provides Southwest Baltimore residents with information and resources related to addiction recovery services and drug prevention.

Lutherville Community Association (Lutherville) - $2,357
To improve community cohesion and neighborhood identification by installing a community sign, park benches, and greenery on land that sits at the neighborhood's gateway.

Madison East End Multipurpose Center (Madison East End) - $3,250
To promote healthy eating and exercise among neighborhood youth by conducting interactive workshops that incorporate technology and field trips to address issues of proper nutrition, mental health, and physical fitness..

Milton/Montford Improvement Association (Milton/Montford, Madison East End) - $3,160
To fund a summer peace camp for neighborhood youth, ages 6-13, that offers computer classes, arts and crafts, gardening, leadership development, and field trips.

Monument East Development (Dunbar/Broadway) - $1,300
To promote community pride and resident interaction by holding a Monument East Community Day celebration.

New Greenmount West (Greenmount West) - $4,942.50
To increase community engagement, awareness, and interaction by launching a neighborhood communications campaign that includes the use of community bulletin boards, newsletters, community dinners, new resident welcome packets, and a Greenmount West stories booklet.

Oliver Community Association (Oliver) - $3,500
To promote community involvement and social interaction through two "Evening of Jazz" events, featuring live jazz performances, poetry, art, and local vendors.

Overlea Community Association (Overlea) - $5,000
For the Lead On! Overlea project, a year-long leadership and community organizing training for neighborhood residents.

Richnor Springs Neighborhood Association (Richnor Springs) - $3,000
To improve neighborhood safety through Operation Safelight, a project to install energy efficient light bulbs and timing mechanisms on porch lights of neighborhood homes to ensure that the community's streets are illuminated from "dusk 'til dawn."

Seton Hill Association (Seton Hill) - $4,000
To raise awareness about the neighborhood by holding La Fete Francaise, a free community event with an emphasis on the neighborhood's historic French origins and featuring live music, French-themed food and drink, performers, art displays, and walking tours of neighborhood landmarks.

St. Frances Neighborhood Center (Reservoir Hill) - $4,772.61
To provide information and services to neighborhood residents by hosting the 5th annual Reservoir Hill Resource Fair, which will feature employment, health, and academic vendors in a block party atmosphere.

Stevenswood Improvement Association (Stevenswood) - $5,000
To promote community pride and awareness by installing lamp post street banners featuring the name of the neighborhood, as well as by beautifying the neighborhood gateways with new planters.

Union Square Association (Union Square) - $5,000
To beautify three target blocks in the neighborhood by conducting trash clean-ups and installing and maintaining planters and raised beds for flowers, plants, and trees.

West Edmondale Community Association (Gwynn Oak) - $3,100
To engage residents in a neighborhood-wide clean-up and beautification project by holding a "Motivation Day" contest that will reward blocks claiming the greatest number of participants.

Windsor Hills Neighbors (Windsor Hills) - $5,000
To raise the neighborhood's profile and increase resident pride by cleaning up and beautifying a neighborhood gateway with a community sign, plants, and flowers.

Source: BCF
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Citi boosts Enoch Pratt Summer Reading Program with $15K award

The Enoch Pratt Free Library has received a $15,000 award from Citi that will fund free outreach activities for its Summer Reading 2010 programs.

Summer Reading is an incentive and theme-based reading program offered at all Pratt locations throughout Baltimore. Every year, more than 15,000 children and teens register for the reading program and more than 35,000 participate in the free activities. The goal for registered participants is to read at least one book a week during the eight week session. Through branch-based activities and performances, such as musicians and storytellers, the program is designed to help children build a love for reading, promote family reading and help students continue to learn over the summer.

"Studies have shown that children who read over the summer are better prepared to continue their education when they return to school in the fall," says Carla D. Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. "But it's important to emphasize that reading is fun. Sometimes students get so busy they forget that there's more to reading than just school texts."

An important component of Summer Reading is outreach Every year, the library extends its Summer Reading program to 65-70 non-library-branch outreach sites (day camps, recreation centers, faith-based camps, school and day care centers), to ensure that these children have the same opportunities for reading practice as those who attend Library branch programs.

"Our summer learning outreach efforts are our single most effective way to reach children that don't have access to libraries during the summer," says Ellen Riordan, Pratt's Children Services Coordinator. "This generous funding ensures that over 4,000 children in 70 sites across the city have books, a library connection and a positive learning experience."

"The impact of Pratt's Summer Reading program on the local community is immeasurable," says Sheldon Caplis, Citi Community Development Regional Director for South Atlantic. "The contribution to strengthening education and communities across Baltimore makes Pratt an obvious partner for us."

Source: Enoch Pratt Free Library
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Baltimore Community Foundation gives 2010 grads $112K for college

The Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF), an umbrella organzation for a range of Baltimore-based non-profit groups, handed out $112,500 in scholarship awards to 67 Maryland students. The awards ranging in amount from $500 to $10,000 were awarded to graduating members of the Class of 2010 as well as former recipients currently attending college.

"A well-educated workforce is crucial to our goal of a Baltimore with a growing economy where all have the opportunity to thrive, and BCF is proud to support this vision by helping young people realize their dreams of attending college. Today we celebrate BCF's scholarship recipients, as well as the generous donors who helped make it all possible," says Tom Wilcox, BCF president.

Hilary Bowman, a graduating senior at Digital Harbor High School, recieved the $10,000 One Step Up Scholarship. The scholarship, established by Jonnie-Kay McLean and her husband Norman Morrison, was created to enable young women who have overcome significant challenges and displayed leadership qualities to go to college.

"I've been in education for 40 years and when I went to school, I was the only girl in my high school to go. I had no money at all, no way of getting money and had to work every single minute of the day. That made it really hard. So when I retired, we decided we wanted to do something for young women in Baltimore. We specifically wanted to do something for students who had to work [in high school or take on other roles] to help support their family," McLean explains.

The couple wasn't looking for the valedictorians, but students who were "solid citizens with real moral values who had done an awful lot in terms of leadership within their family, church, school or community. And someone we thought that with this chance would have a significant impact on their families, themselves and their community."

Bowman, ranked fourth in her class, was selected because of her dedication to her family and her studies. "She has helped her family pay bills, is one of the most active students in her school and has been involved in mentoring the younger children in her community. She has taken care of the community's 4- and 5-year olds through athletics and the community parks and recs program there, even though she has to work nearly full-time for her family," McLean says.

 Bowman, who will attend Maryland's Loyola University this Fall, will receive $10,000 for her first year in college; $5,000 for the second year and $3,000 for the third year. She plans to major in business marketing.

"I want to go into business marketing and create a non-profit company that will cater to young people, helping them to get out of the bad situations around them," says Bowman.

Here's a complete list of the scholarships awarded.

Sources: Jonnie-Kay McLean, Hillary Bowman
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Open Society Institute Baltimore gives $1.5M to fund job training for those with criminal records

The Open Society Institute-Baltimore has awarded $1.5 million to four local nonprofits to help low-income residents who face major barriers to employment. The gift will leverage an additional $1.5 million in state and federal funds, bringing $3 million to the state of Maryland.

The grants aim to strengthen communities by providing job training and placement for individuals with past criminal convictions. The $1.5 million will enable 141 individuals with criminal histories to be trained for jobs with career paths, such as nursing and geriatrics, advanced Microsoft Office certification, lead abatement and mold remediation, weatherization retrofitting, construction, culinary arts, construction and mechanical engineering. In addition, employers will be offered incentives--a wage subsidy for up to six months--to hire those who complete the training programs.

"People with prior convictions have an extremely difficult time re-entering the workforce. During a recession, the odds are stacked even higher against them," says Diana Morris, director of OSI-Baltimore. "These grants will help people who are working hard to get their lives on track. And local employers will benefit from a trained and highly motivated workforce."

The funding is part of a $6 million grant awarded to OSI-Baltimore by the Open Society Institute's Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation, an initiative created by George Soros in response to the recession. The fund helps leverage state and federal monies nationwide to strengthen the social safety net and expand economic opportunities for low-income people. The OSI-Baltimore grants require a one-to-one match, with most of the matching funds coming from public dollars.

"So many of these individuals want to make a fresh start and do it well and there's no better way than providing them with training for a new career and giving them the confidence to build a new life," says Debra Rubino, director of strategic communications at OSI-Baltimore.

Last fall, OSI-Baltimore awarded the first round of grants for nine Baltimore organizations and one city agency--with a special emphasis on job training, drug addiction treatment, dental care for the homeless and other urgent needs.

Founded by George Soros in 1998, OSI-Baltimore has invested more than $60 million, the largest single investment an individual has made in Baltimore to help those suffering from poverty and discrimination. This $6 million Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation grant is separate from a challenge Mr. Soros issued in 2006 when he said he would give $10 million more to OSI-Baltimore if local donors contributed an additional $20 million. To date, OSI-Baltimore has raised more than $14 million toward that goal, and the fundraising continues. All of the $20 million raised from the Baltimore community will go directly to OSI-Baltimore's core program areas.

The OSI-Baltimore grants will be awarded to:

Center for Urban Families -- $435,000 over two years to provide job training and paid internships in a variety of trades to people with past convictions and drug dependence. The participants will receive job readiness and skills training in such areas as nursing and geriatrics, advanced Microsoft Office certification, lead abatement and mold remediation, culinary arts, and construction and mechanical engineering. The Center will offer case management services and will also pay wage subsidies to employers for up to six months.

Civic Works, Inc. -- $532,000 to provide job training and paid internships to people with prior criminal records. Participants will be trained as environmental field technicians and abatement workers, as well as energy retrofit installers. All participants who successfully complete the program will be placed in entry-level green jobs. Civic Works will offer wage subsidies for up to six months.

Group Ministries, Inc. -- $215,000 to provide job training and paid internships in the building trades to people with past criminal convictions. Group Ministries will train participants to achieve journeyman status as plumbers, electricians or carpenters. The program will include a combination of classroom and on-the-job instruction, qualifying participants to be state-recognized apprentices. Group Ministries will offer employers a wage subsidy for up to six months.

Job Opportunities Task Force, Inc. -- $317,500 to provide job training and paid internships in the building trades to individuals with prior criminal records. Participants will learn job readiness, math and skills development in electrical, plumbing and carpentry. The Job Opportunities Task Force will subsidize up to six months' wages for employers who agree to hire graduates of the program.

Source: Debra Rubino, OSI-Baltimore
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Amerigroup Foundation gives $8K grant to Maryland DHMH Center for Maternal and Child Health

The Amerigroup Foundation has awarded an $8,000 grant to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene-Center for Maternal and Child Health (DHMH). The contribution will be used to help improve access to prenatal care in Baltimore City and Prince George's County by providing prenatal vitamins for those who register for prenatal care.

"Nutrition plays a critical role in pregnancy, and with Amerigroup's help, we will be able to provide prenatal vitamins to pregnant women, one step on the road to a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, as a part of Baltimore's strategic plan for improving birth outcomes," says DHMH Medical Director Dr. Lee Woods. "We are very pleased to receive this support from Amerigroup for our efforts to improve the health of mothers and babies in Baltimore."

The award is part of the Amerigroup Foundation's program that recognizes outstanding public advocacy efforts by government and community leaders to improve the health and well-being of children nationwide. This grant will reach almost 5,000 women and infants, according to the foundation.

"Baltimore City and the 44th Legislative District, in particular, have the highest infant mortality rate in the state," Maryland Delegate Keith Haynes explains. "It is incumbent upon all of us to do everything possible to decrease and ultimately eliminate infant mortality.

"As vice-chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health, I see firsthand the need for the resources to address this issue, and I applaud Amerigroup's financial contribution and commitment in this effort," he adds. "It will literally have a tremendous impact on not only saving lives but providing a future to our children."

This initiative is part of a comprehensive strategy in both Baltimore City and Prince George's County to reduce infant mortality 10 percent by 2012. It is Goal No. 14 of the Governor's Delivery Unit's 15 Strategic Policy Goals is to reduce the rate to 7.2 percent in the next two years, which would be the lowest rate in Maryland's history.

Source: Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene-Center for Maternal and Child Health
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Maryland Food Bank nabs $492K to expand services

Maryland's congressional delegation presented the Maryland Food Bank with a check for $492,000 to help the non-profit organization feed the growing number of Marylanders seeking its services. The funding for the Maryland Food Bank was included in the omnibus appropriations bill that was enacted into law in December 2009.

The Maryland Food Bank provides meals to approximately 44,600 Marylanders a week and 261,000 people a year. Since the economic downturn began in 2008, the Maryland Food Bank has reported a 30 to 50 percent increase in the demand for food. Many of its clients work fulltime and were considered middle class before the recession.

"In this recession, too many Marylanders have been faced with the difficult decision of whether to buy food or pay other bills such as rent, heat or health care," says Senator Ben Cardin, a member of the Senate Budget Committee. "The Maryland Food Bank provides a valuable service in helping to feed our state's hungry, and I am committed to ensuring they have the resources they need to carry out their mission."

The Maryland Food Bank, an affiliate of Feeding America, was founded in 1979 to coordinate the procurement and distribution of food donations from manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and government agencies to organizations providing free food to the state's hungry. It provides nearly 14 million pounds of food annually to 1,000 Network Partners -- including food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, low-income day care centers, after-school programs, senior centers, rehabilitation centers, and other feeding programs.

"This funding couldn't have come at a better time – when the fastest-growing segment of those in need is people who work fulltime and were considered middle-class before the economic recession," Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger says. "The Maryland Food Bank has been helping Maryland families get back on their feet for decades and this funding will now help them put a new roof over their own heads. I am proud to be a part of Team Maryland and will continue to fight to ensure Marylanders have the resources they need to weather this financial storm."

The Maryland Food Bank will use the funds to make improvements to its office spaces, install a new roof at the food bank's 87,000-square-foot distribution center in Baltimore, and other capital needs.

"The mission of the Maryland Food Bank is one of mercy," says Congressman Elijah Cummings. "That our land of plenty has citizens who go hungry is a national embarrassment. The Maryland Food Bank has done incredible work to fix this problem, and I am proud to help it continue that mission, in the words of its motto, until hunger ends."

Over the last 18 months, the Maryland Food Bank and its network of soup kitchens, food pantries and feeding programs have seen an increase in the demand for food of 30 – 50 percent. There has been an 11 percent increase in those accessing feeding programs serviced by the Maryland Food Bank over the last four years.

"In these difficult economic times, the Maryland Food Bank is playing a critical role providing food for the hungry," says Congressman John Sarbanes. "The Maryland Food Bank has been a lifeline for struggling families who didn't know where their next meal was going to come from."

"Because of the efforts of Senators Cardin and Mikulski and Representatives Sarbanes, Ruppersberger and Cummings, the Maryland Food Bank secured critical funding that will help us improve our operations so that we can get more food to more people in need," says Deborah Flateman, Maryland Food Bank CEO.

"We are building a movement to end hunger in Maryland while building a strong, effective organization that can meet the needs of those we serve," Flateman adds.

Source: Maryland Food Bank
Writer: Walaika Haskins 

Goldseker announces first neighborhood-school partnership recipients of $435K in grants

What makes a neighborhood great? The obvious answer -- its the people. But, attracting people to a neighborhood takes a combination of ingredients that include both home values, services and its public schools. Forging strong partnerships between communities and their schools, that's the motivation behind the Goldseker Foundation's latest grant initiative, Neighborhood-School Partnership.

In recognition of the interdependence between neighborhoods and schools, in which the quality of one directly impacts the quality of the other, the Goldseker Foundation provided the $435,000 to fund the new initiative. The Neighborhood-School Partnership joins another Goldseker Foundation program, Healthy Neighborhoods founded in 2001.

The Goldseker Foundation helped to create the Healthy Neighborhoods program with a $125,000 grant in 2001. Healthy Neighborhoods helps strong but undervalued Baltimore neighborhoods increase home values, market their communities and create high standards for property improvements, while forging strong connections among neighbors. The program has been a catalyst for residential investment, while the current school reform environment in Baltimore City has led to an increasing number of quality public school options to complement an existing network of strong private schools in the city.
Last week the non-profit organization announced the partnerships that team five neighborhood organizations with eight local grade schools.

"We've invested $2.2 million to try and create stronger neighborhoods through strong real estate markets, strong resident leadership and emphasizing everything that's right with a neighborhood. We intentionally started in neighborhoods where we wouldn't have to spend 20 years trying to fix the public schools," says Timothy Armbruster, president of the Goldseker Foundation. "We want to stimulate creative thinking about how neighborhoods and schools can work together to build from strength and tell the story about the good things happening in these communities."

Through the partnerships and grants, the foundation hopes to encourage joint neighborhood and school improvement strategies that will enhance the desirability of neighborhoods due to high-quality schools, well-maintained properties, and strong community connections, and also increase enrollment and academic quality at schools serving children living in Healthy Neighborhoods. 

"We'd like to see the education, community development, and public and private funding sectors working together to leverage investments in schools and neighborhoods for greater impact," says Armbruster. "Forging stronger connections between schools andneighborhoods is one more step in making the city more responsive and attractive to a wide range of families, including Baltimore's growing middle class."

The real winners, however, are the students will benefit from the curriculum, programs, and projects instituted at their schools. Students at Calvin M Rodwell Elementary School as a result of a $50,000 grant will take on the role normally held by local TV weatherman. The school's new Weatherbug Science Curriculum will allow the pint-sized meteorologists to use their knowledge of science and math to help create their own weather forecasts. It's partner, Garwyn Oaks Northwest Housing Resource Center will receive $25,000 for core operating support and marketing.

"It is incredibly important [to give students access to these extracurricular opportunities]. We spend so much time on basic skills, on making them ready to met standards. The enrichment they'll receive from these projects that draw on their imagination, that of course is most important," says Dr. Andres Alonso, Baltimore City Schools CEO.

Other schools and neighborhood organizations receiving funds are Cross Country Elementary/Middle and partner Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc. (CHAI), Gwynns Falls Elementary and Greather Mondawmin Coordinating Council, City Neighbors Charter, Hamilton Elementary/Middle and St. Francis of Assisi School partnered with Neighborhoods of Greater Lauraville Inc., and Barclay Elementary/Middle and Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle partnered with Greater Homewood Community Corporation.

Sources: Tim Armbruster, The Goldseker Foundation; Dr. Andres Alonso, Baltimore City Public Schools
Writer: Walaika Haskins

$80K in grants available for Kresge Arts in Baltimore

For the second year, the Kresge Foundation is offering some $80,000 in grant money for community art programs. The Foundation believes that a thriving arts and cultural community enriches the quality of life for residents, and in doing so, encourages civic dialogue, inspires new thinking, spurs innovation, and promotes neighborhood transformation.

The monies are part of the $200,000 the Foundation will invest in Baltimore In 2009 and 2010 in order to test its premise that community arts projects can effectively address community challenges. The Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF) is the local intermediary and administrator of this program.

According to the BCF, projects must be creative, well-conceived and compelling to be competitive. In 2009, over 130 applications were received; but only 12 grants were awarded with an average grant amount of $7,375.

Grants typically range from $2,500 to as much as $10,000.


  • Kresge Arts in Baltimore is open to nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations and municipal agencies or individuals and organizations with a tax-exempt fiscal sponsor.
  • Projects must take place in Baltimore City.
  • Grant awards are for projects only-- no operating or capital requests will be considered.
  • Applicants must include a letter of community or neighborhood support specific to the proposed project.
  • Projects must occur between June 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011.
  • No applicant can receive more than one grant per year.

Current Kresge grantees are not eligible to apply unless their project is complete and their final report received by the Baltimore Community Foundation before March 31, 2010.

Priority will be given to proposals with the following components:

  • Engaging arts and cultural activities, especially those that are designed and implemented with (not for) participants.
  • Projects that connect participants to specific and recognizable community issues, for example high school graduation rate, truancy, youth violence, literacy, parenting skills, recycling, litter, obesity, hypertension, job training, neighborhood safety, negative stereotypes, etc. (Lack of exposure to the arts, art as therapy, or in-school art experiences are not eligible for consideration.)
  • Projects that provide arts experiences in non-traditional spaces such as in after-school programs, low-income housing developments, juvenile detention facilities, women's shelters, community health centers, and empty storefronts, the temporary use or re-purposing of a space to facilitate arts activities occurring within communities.
  • New or expanded projects, rather than on-going initiatives.
  • Reasonable and appropriate costs to execute the project—keeping costs for equipment, materials and food to a minimum. Note: Total project budget may exceed Kresge grant range of $2,500 – $10,000 but other cash or in-kind revenue equal to the extra expense must be identified in the application.
  • Appropriate oversight and management to ensure a well designed and implemented project.
  • Collaborative projects that include other service providers.

A tax exempt IRS determination letter from the applicant organization or fiscal sponsor is required.

A letter of support from a community organization acknowledging the proposed project and its value to the supporting organization and the proposed target audience is required.

Applications will be declined based on the following criteria: not following application guidelines; incomplete application materials; no arts and cultural component; no connection to community issues; no planned resident participation.

Source: Baltimore Community Foundation
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Baltimore Ignite innovator grant deadline is tomorrow

Get your applications in today! Baltimore Ignite wants big thinkers who just need a little loot to get their idea of the ground. The innovative speaker series devoted to sparking new conversations and innovative thinking across cultures and disciplines has one $1500 grant available for the person deemed to have the most innovative idea that will benefit the citizens of Baltimore City.

The grant is the brainchild of Heather Sarkissian, a former member of the Peace Corps. "My background is in economic and social development. I was helping someone write a grant application, five pages for 1500 bucks, and I said there has to be a better way to fund these projects," she explains.

The experience got Sarkissian thinking about Ignite, the decision to charge for tickets to the upcoming Ignite in March (so attendees have guaranteed seats), her Peace Corps experience and access to grant funding. "Because it was pretty easy to access grant funding you could do these really cool projects if the barrier to entry were a lot lower."

In keeping with the Ignite philosophy emphasizing brevit, the grant application can be no longer than 650 words. The project must be carried out by an individual and cannot be a continuation of a project that's already begun. It must be completed in six months and the winner will present the project at Baltimore Ignite 6.

"The idea is really just to provide people with the opportunity to realize a project that they've been thinking of, but didn't have the access to the cash the needed. Secondly, and more importantly, it's about igniting a conversation around really neat ideas for making Baltimore a better place. That's the more crucial part because in the end we'll only select one winner for the full amount, but that will get people thinking 'if I had $1500 I'd want to this or want to do that,'" she says.

Over time Sarkissian expects that the Ignition grant will gain momentum with each successive Ignite and build up a database of "really cool ideas." The hope is that the grant will not only inspire Baltimore's citizens to think about what they can do to improve the city but also point the city's cash poor big thinkers in the direction of Baltimore organizations from which they could seek funding.

"Some of these individual citizens will either come up with ideas that are already being executed or fits very nicely with the mission of a non-profit and ideally we could just throw a contest that pairs these individuals up with the right organization that's doing this already," Sarkissian notes.

The grant committee includes members from the Baltimore Community Foundation, Enoch Pratt Library as well as several Baltimore Community Foundation grant recipients.

Source: Heather Sarkissian, Ignite Baltimore
Writer: Walaika Haskins

East Baltimore Development Inc. gets $12M to launch Elev8 program

East Baltimore Development Inc., (EBDI) was awarded a $12 million grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies to launch the Elev8 Balitmore project, a comprehensive program that seeks to improve educational and social outcomes for middle-school aged children by providing critical support structures for families and the communities in which they live.

Formally known as The East Baltimore Integrated Service in Schools (East Baltimore ISS), Elev8 is a project of East Baltimore Development Inc (EBDI), the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Baltimore Community Foundation. The key components of Elev8 Baltimore are derived from proven models for learning, health, and family supports locally and across the country. The EBDI's  goal is to strengthen the quality and increase the quantity of services available to students and their families through local and national partnerships.

The grant will enable the project to work with selected local schools to develop school-specific plans for delivery of full services for after school learning, comprehensive school-linked health services, and student and family supports to middle grades students and their families. It will enable participating schools, including Collington Square School for the Arts, Dr. Rayner Browne Academy, Tench Tilghman Elementary/Middle School, and East Baltimore Community School, with access to local and national professionals with a proven track record with adolescents; cross-school collaboration supported by a Network Director at EBDI and an Elev8 Coordinator
at each school; opportunity to share best practices and engage in local advocacy to improve local and state
approaches to learning, health and supports for adolescents and their families.

As part of the Elev8 Baltimore planning, EBDI is designing a new pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school and reaching out to four existing neighborhood schools as potential sites for Elev8 Baltimore implementation. The prospective schools are located within a mile of one another creating opportunities for sharing resources and services and establishing a meaningful safety net for children, families and neighborhood residents. Similar to the neighborhood demographics, each of the existing neighborhood schools are designated Title I and serve predominantly African American students. Below is a brief description of each school.

School hours at participating schools will be extended by some 50 percent, with the day extended either before or after typical school hours. They will also offer summer educational program lasting at least three to four weeks and Saturday programs at least
once per month. Additional time will also be devoted to rigorous educational and cultural activities related directly to improved
academic achievement and developmental competencies, including academics, with particular emphasis on English, math and science; physical activity, particularly team sports o Culture (music, art, dance, etc.); and behavior, especially factors that are key to academic success, such as study techniques and leadership development opportunities through civic or community engagement.

Student will have access to meaningful relationships with caring, trained adults through evidence-based, school-based mentoring programs. And families will have access to preventative medical services, substance abuse education; mental health education, counseling; dental and nutrition services; and age appropriate reproductive health education. Parents will also have access to information about financial literacy, the Earned Income Tax Credit and other public programs, including child healthcare coverage and food stamps

Source: EBDI
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Trans Siberian Orchestra gives $10K to Dawson Safe Haven Center

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra has donated $10,000 and 10 computers to the Dawson Safe Haven Center. Paul O'Neill, founder of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra says he was touched by the story of Angela Dawson, who perished in her home in East Baltimore after local drug dealers firebombed it in 2002.

O'Neill is currently on tour and dedicated the orchestra's latest album, "Night Castle" to the family, "I was just kind of in awe of this woman and her family. This album is just our way of paying tribute to her and her family," said O'Neill in an interview with WMAR-TV.

The Dawson family home was transformed into the Dawson Safe Haven Community Center in March 2007. The Dawson Center's mission is to provide a safe, nurturing, caring environment for the children and parents of the Oliver Community. After hearing about the Dawson Safe Haven Center O'Neill was compelled to further get involved and honor Angela Dawson's life with a donation.

"This unexpected gift will help us ensure that Angela Dawson and her family did not die in vain,'' says Mayor Sheila Dixon. "The Dawson Safe Have Center nurtures our most precious commodity, our children, the future of our city."

Baltimore Housing has made a commitment to improving the physical environment of the neighborhood through community clean ups and the demolition of vacant and abandoned properties. In addition, the agency funded the development of Preston Place, an affordable housing community in the neighborhood, and the first new homes built in the Oliver community in over 50 years.

Source: Housing Authority of Baltimore
Writer: Walaika Haskins

BSO OrchKids gets $1M donation

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's (BSO) OrchKids program received the best Christmas present ever. Baltimore philanthropists Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker will make a leadership gift of $1 million to the BSO's music education and life-enrichment program for kids.

The gift provides essential seed capital to support 50 percent of the OrchKids' incremental expenses as it expands over the next four academic years (years 2-5 of the program). These expenses include hiring additional instructors, purchasing supplies and instruments and adding one full-time administrative position to oversee the program as it grows to more than 300 students over the next four

Inspired by BSO Music Director Marin Alsop's artistic leadership and community vision, OrchKids is a year-round after-school program that provides music education, instruments, tutoring and mentorship to youth in Baltimore City at no cost to participants or the school. Launched in Fall 2008, the program served 30 first-grade students from Harriett Tubman Elementary School in its pilot year (2008-2009).

The school's closure at the end of the school year brought the program and the majority of the students enrolled in the program to OrchKids' new home, Lockerman Bundy Elementary School, also located in West Baltimore. In its second year, the program has grown to serve more than 150 pre-K through second grade students, both during the school day two days each week and after-school four days a week.

Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker have been involved in OrchKids since its early planning stages. They were among several community members who stepped forward to match Marin Alsop's initial founding contribution of $100,000. "The growth of the OrchKids program would not be possible without this visionary gift from Bob and Rheda," says BSO President & CEO Paul Meecham. "It is a huge vote of confidence in the remarkable progress already shown by the young students, whom they have come to know and love. Their gift, covering approximately 50 percent of the cost of the program over the next four years, will hopefully inspire others to help make a real difference in these children's lives."
"I have, for many years, been interested in providing educational opportunities to the underserved population," explains Meyerhoff. "The Meyerhoff Scholar Program at UMBC provides the opportunity to study and earn advanced degrees in Math and Science. The OrchKids project is focused on this same population in the beginning of their educational life. We're hoping to make a big difference there so that they can learn skills such as working with a team to produce something so beautiful and joyous as music. Rheda's longstanding relationship with the BSO and her interest in education makes us the happiest of partners in the OrchKids program."

Source: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Writer: Walaika Haskins

DP Solutions gives 30 computers to local high school

DP Solutions donated 30 laptops to senior class students enrolled in Baltimore City's National Academy Foundation (NAF) High School Academy of Information Technology earlier this month.

Gerald Markowitz, Business Development Manager at DP Solutions, who also sits on the IT Academy's Advisory Board, was responsible for spearheading this project.

"By putting high-end technology in the hands of these students, we help create a unique and modern IT experience for them, as well as attracting new students to the school and increasing enrollment in the IT program," says Markowitz. "It is through the participation of professionals like us that these deserving young people will have the mentoring, job experiences and support they need to succeed."

"DP Solutions' donation will directly support our students, furthering their IT education and providing them with technology necessary to be successful in higher education," Karen Webber-Ndour, Principal at National Academy High School, says. "More than that, DP Solutions' support and generosity tells our students that there are people outside of their high school that care about their success. NAF demands professionalism from its students in preparation for post secondary education and the competitive 21st century workplace. However, we cannot do this in isolation. It is only through partnerships and support from people like DP Solutions that we are able to accomplish our vision."

"DP Solutions' contribution has been put to work to help NAF fulfill its mission – to prepare students to succeed to their fullest potential by enabling them to enter the college and/or career of their choice," continues Ms. Webber-Ndour.

Ober Kaler law firm gives $35K in grants to Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound, others

Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound Center is one of three non-profits that will receive a total of $35,000 from national law firm Ober|Kaler's Community Grants Program. The annual program awards grants to community organizations dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk youth in the Baltimore and Washington, DC metro area.

Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound Center, Pediatric AIDS/HIV Care, Inc. will each receive a $10,000 Ober|Kaler Community Grant. A special $15,000 Grant will go to Horton's Kids. In addition to awarding the grant, employees of the firm will volunteer their time to this Program. A detailed description of each organization is listed below.

"We are particularly proud to lend a hand this year, our seventh year of giving, during these difficult economic times. The organizations we selected are doing very worthy work in the communities in which we work," said attorney Joseph C. Kovars, chair of Ober|Kaler's Community Grants Committee.

Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound Center will receive a $10,000 grant. The mission of this program is to provide a continuum of challenging, transformative experiences for 200 Baltimore City youth, 12 to 17 years of age in 2010. The Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound Center was established in 1986 by community leaders with the mission to build leadership capacity within our community by providing students, educators, and community leaders with opportunities to develop a better understanding of their capabilities and value to their community.

Pediatric Aids/HIV Care, Inc. will also receive a $10,000 grant. This organization provides children living with HIV/AIDS with education, therapy, and youth programming to empower them to live healthy and successful lives. Pediatric Care has been serving youth for over 20 years and will continue to do so until the stigma of HIV/AIDS is eradicated.

Horton's Kids will receive a $15,000 grant for its One-on-One Tutoring Program. The Horton's Kids tutoring program serves 163 children, ages 4-18, from the Wellington Park neighborhood in Washington, DC's Ward 8. The thrice weekly tutoring program takes place in Congressional Office buildings. Horton's Kids is in its eighth year and has successfully developed the "mobile tutoring approach" in which children travel to safe places stocked with personalized educational materials where they meet their regularly-attending volunteer tutors.

Source: Ober|Kaler
Writer: Walaika Haskins

BCF gift will increase Teach for America crew times 2

A charitable donation from Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker to the Baltimore Community Foundation and its Baltimore City Public Schools Fund will help double Teach For America's corps size in Baltimore City Public Schools by the 2010-2011 academic year and has already had an impact on the size of this year's corps, helping build it to 243 teachers.

"The Baltimore Community Foundation created the Baltimore City Public Schools Fund to accept contributions from private individuals and businesses who wish to support excellence and innovation in our city's public schools," says BCF President and CEO Tom Wilcox. "Through their generous gift, Mr. Meyerhoff and Ms. Becker are helping Dr. Alonso implement his powerful vision for transforming public education in Baltimore."

Monies raised for the Baltimore City Public Schools Fund are available for special programs and activities in Baltimore schools. Requests by Andrés A. Alonso, BCPS CEO are reviewed and approved by lead staff and trustees of BCF. Grants from the fund have supported a variety of projects and initiatives, from the Great Kids Come Back campaign, which helped re-enroll hundreds of students who had dropped out; to hiring teams of youth workers to help targeted schools change their culture and improve student behavior; to opening 24 new "Transformation Schools" serving grades 6-12 over the next four years.

Donors may also earmark contributions to the Baltimore City Public Schools Fund for specific purposes, as Mr. Meyerhoff and Ms. Becker have done for the Teach For America initiative.

"We are thrilled by, and extremely grateful for, this significant gift that allows City Schools and TFA-Baltimore to expand City Schools' teacher corps in this time of both economic challenge and critical momentum in our schools," says Dr. Alonso. "Teach For America is an important part of City Schools' overall strategy to improve teacher effectiveness in every classroom, and to continue to increase student achievement. On behalf of City Schools, I thank Mr. Meyerhoff and Ms. Becker for their tremendous generosity and commitment to our kids."

Teach For America, the national corps of top college graduates of all academic majors who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools, came to Baltimore in 1992. Currently, 243 corps members teach in 87 Baltimore City public schools. In addition, 194 Teach For America alumni continue to work in Baltimore in the field of education.

The corps is growing from 163 in 2008-2009, to 243 in the current school year, to 318 by the 2010-2011 school year. The Meyerhoff-Becker gift makes this possible.

"We're grateful to Mr. Meyerhoff and Ms. Becker for their support of our efforts to reach the day when every child in our city will have the opportunity to achieve academic success," says Omari Todd, executive director of Teach For America-Baltimore. "With this partnership, we can continue to provide high-quality teachers and leaders who are committed to taking on the challenges of Baltimore City Public Schools and advocating effectively for fundamental, long-term change."

Source: Omari Todd, Teach for America-Baltimore
Writer: Walaika Haskins

AFP MD names BCF "Outstanding Foundation of the Year"

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Maryland Chapter named the Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF) as the Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation of the Year at its National Philanthropy Day awards lunch.

The award was presented by Eddie C. Brown, a 2002 AFP Philanthropist of the Year honoree, who noted that not only has BCF supported and facilitated his family's philanthropy, it has done the same for thechritable deeds of hundreds of other philanthropists. "BCF serves Baltimore, and it serves Baltimore's donors. My family and I are among the hundreds of donors who have entrusted philanthropic assets to BCF, and who believe in the importance of a strong community foundation for this region."

BCF President and CEO Thomas E. Wilcox accepted the award, saying that he accepted "on behalf of the many hundreds of donors who have made BCF what it is today, and the hundreds more who are hard at work making it what it will be tomorrow."

The Safe and Sound Campaign nominated BCF pointing to the organization's impact in multiple areas of the Baltimore region's civic life and its encouragement of individual and corporate donors to expand their philanthropy. Specifically, the nomination touched on BCF's creation of innovative programs and organizations including Healthy Neighborhoods, Inc., the Middle Grades Partnership and Central Maryland Transportation Alliance.

More recently, BCF's development of a comprehensive civic agenda, "Invest in Baltimore", has provided a framework for donors who wish to focus their philanthropy on building a better Baltimore. "Invest in Baltimore" combines economic development with poverty reduction by making strategic investments in the areas of human services, youth, education, transportation, neighborhoods, diversity, environment, arts and culture, and promoting Baltimore.

BCF helps individuals, families and organizations carry out their charitable plans, with the common goal of improving the quality of life in the greater Baltimore region, today and for generations to come. To donors, BCF offers a complete toolkit for charitable giving, expert assistance in learning more about the causes they care about, and the opportunity to join others with similar interests to learn and give together. To the community at large, BCF offers a permanent, growing source of grant monies, as well as a common meeting ground and leadership on important issues in our region.

BCF also provides grantmaking oversight for two independent foundations, the William G. Baker Jr. Memorial Fund and the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation.

The Baltimore Community Foundation distributed $28 million in 2008 to hundreds of nonprofit organizations in the Baltimore region and beyond. With assets of $143 million, BCF comprises more than 600 different charitable funds.

Source: Thomas E. Wilcox, BCF
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Soros gives $5M to help those hit hardest by the recession

George Soros is giving $5 million to the Open Society Institute–Baltimore. The philanthropic gift will be used to provide services for thousands of the city's most vulnerable residents, including the homeless and those living in poverty, who have been particularly hurt by the recession.

Homelessness, for instance, in Baltimore has increased by 12 percent over the past year. The funding will provide grants to local nonprofits for a range of services, including jobs and employment training for disadvantaged youth, urgent dental care for homeless people, drug addiction treatment for the indigent, as well as housing, counseling and job training for formerly-incarcerated people. The Family League of Baltimore, for example, will receive $1 million, the largest single grant, to create year-long jobs for 200 youth, including 40 juvenile-court-involved youth who will be trained in construction trades and 50 youth aging out of foster care who will learn to plant, sell, prepare and serve food at Fresh Start Farm.

The $5 million in grants comes from the Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation, a new national fund created by Soros in response to the economic downturn. Soros's foundation, the Open Society Institute, is using the fund to make grants to states and national organizations across the country, including Baltimore, to provide relief from the recession for low-income people.

"Mr. Soros wants to provide an immediate lifeline for the most underserved people in our community who are struggling to find jobs and keep their families healthy," says Diana Morris, director of OSI-Baltimore. "Many jobs have vanished at a time when families need the income most. For some people the need is drug addiction treatment and very basic medical care. These grants form a safety net for the most vulnerable."

The OSI–Baltimore board of directors recently approved half of the $5 million for 10 Baltimore organizations. OSI will award the other half by early 2010 but is not soliciting new funding proposals.

The grants require each recipient to secure matching funds, most of which come from public dollars and will bring substantial additional, new investment to Baltimore.

"Being part of a national foundation enables us to periodically tap special funds and resources for the greater benefit of Baltimore," Morris explains. "All of these new grants support our intertwined local goals of tackling drug addiction, reducing over-reliance on incarceration and helping youth stay connected to school and on the road to success."

Soros founded OSI–Baltimore in 1998 and since then has invested more than $60 million, the largest single investment an individual has made to Baltimore to help those suffering from poverty and discrimination.

Source: Diana Morris, OSI-Baltimore
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Lockheed Martin donates $30K to MIDWIT

The Multinational Development of Women in Technology (MDWIT) organization will soon be able to better help women around the world enter and progress in the technology workforce thanks to a new IT infrastructure funded by a $30,000 donatoin from Lockheed Martin.

MDWIT promotes the advancement of women in technology through the development and dissemination of best practices, programs, research and policy. The new Lockheed Martin-funded system will provide a forum for this information, enabling all women in IT to gain broad visibility, specifically enriching access to and development of innovations, knowledge and research across the industry. The new system will consolidate existing systems under a framework that is easier to use, more collaborative and more interactive than the previous system.

"A technological infrastructure that supports not only communication but also collaboration is critical to furthering our mission," said Claudia Morrell, CEO of MDWIT. "Thanks to the support of Lockheed Martin, we will soon be able to leverage the collective intelligence of women all over the globe to foster a more diverse, productive and innovative workforce."

The new infrastructure will support MIDWIT's regional, national and international initiatives. The application will allow the organization to establish a repository of global knowledge to manage and share information. The system also will provide personalized content and social media tools to facilitate two-way communication between MDWIT's constituents, sponsors, members and partners.

The Baltimore-based organization will introduce the new system later this year.

Writer: Walaika Haskins
Source: Claudia Morrell, MDWIT

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