Celebrating the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future

Despite a challenging school year unlike any experienced before, Maryland’s students and educators received some much-needed good news in February when the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future became law after a long, hard-fought campaign stretching over many years. As a member of that campaign from the beginning, BCF joined with our partners in celebration.

Five years ago, the Maryland General Assembly created the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, commonly called the Kirwan Commission, and charged it with making policy recommendations to improve performance of Maryland’s public schools, and to recommend changes to their funding formulas. 

BCF recognized early on that the Kirwan Commission presented a tremendous opportunity to address long-time disparities in funding, opportunity, and outcomes in our schools. When the Commission was created in 2016, we were already focused on developing an advocacy strategy to secure public education funding to deal with a structural deficit at Baltimore City Schools and expand early childhood education. As BCF staff began engaging with the Commission, it became clear that additional data was needed to ensure that the equity implications of any potential recommendations were carefully considered. 

In 2018, BCF commissioned research from The Education Trust to examine disparities in educational achievement between Maryland’s students of color and white students. The research confirmed that these disparities are a reflection of how we organize our schools and shortchange certain students when it comes to critical educational opportunities from early childhood through high school. For instance, the report found that nearly half of Maryland’s Black or Latino students attend schools in one of the three most underfunded districts in the state. These districts received about $4,000 less per student than the old funding formula said they should. With that data in hand, BCF began advocating for a race equity framework to achieve adequate funding and innovation for Maryland public schools and all Maryland students. 

Throughout 2019, BCF CEO Shanaysha Sauls worked with other corporate and civic leaders to rally support for the Commission’s recommendations. Grants to Strong Schools Maryland and BUILD helped mobilize grassroots support across the state and city. When the 2020 General Assembly session began, BCF submitted testimony in support of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future—the legislation introduced to enact the Commission’s recommendations—and deployed our communication channels, from our website to social media to email alerts, in support of the legislation’s passage. 

When the 2020 legislation was subsequently vetoed by the governor, we continued to advocate with our partners in the Coalition for a veto override, which the General Assembly accomplished in February 2021. The Blueprint, which is now state law, contains a number of provisions important to BCF, as well as our donors and partners.  For example, it expands the availability of early childhood education by establishing voluntary full-day prekindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds, along with more funding for pre-K, Judy Centers, Infant and Toddlers programs, and Family Support programs.

Thank you to all our partners in the Baltimore region who joined us in making this once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform public schooling possible.   

What is the Blueprint?

The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is the legislation enacting the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission. The Commission made recommendations in five policy areas:

The legislation increases education funding by $1.1 billion over the next three years. 

How is BCF involved?

BCF complements our grantmaking and impact investing with advocacy for public policies to create a better future for the people of our region. We advocate on issues that are aligned with our priorities in education and neighborhoods, and where BCF’s voice can make a difference. Donors to BCF’s Civic Leadership Fund make this work possible.

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Proposals due on Wed., July 9, 2021

Building Stronger Neighborhoods Regionwide

Building Stronger Neighborhoods Regionwide

We have a nearly 30-year history of offering grants to resident-led groups and community projects in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. These grants give residents the resources they need to accomplish a small project, get more people involved, and encourage the next generation of neighborhood leaders. We also fund programs that support the development of leaders of all ages who are working to improve their neighborhoods and schools. Our support is intended to help identify, activate, inform and network leaders. And finally, we believe when schools and neighborhoods team up to improve their school and community, meaningful and lasting change can be made. We are interested in funding proposals in which the students and adults in schools collaborate intentionally with community residents, neighborhood associations, and other individuals, groups, and institutions in the area surrounding a school.

School Leadership

School Leadership

We believe that attracting and retaining effective and diverse school leaders is a key lever for change in Baltimore's educational landscape, and so we fund school leadership development efforts at the district and individual school level. We are interested in funding proposals that focus on principal coaching, mentoring, peer networking, wellness/self-care, as well as pipelines that identify and develop new leaders. We will also continue to support efforts that build a culture of appreciation and encouragement for school leaders.

How Can We Help?

Melissa McC. Warlow
Director, Baker Fund Grants Program
410-332-4172 x150

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To be considered for funding, proposals must be submitted through the online application portal, however, we provide a PDF version of the application along with other useful forms here for your reference:   

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Place-based Grantmaking in Selected School Communities

Place-based Grantmaking in Selected School Communities

We have allocated funds for two geographical areas that bookend a crucial corridor on the Westside of Baltimore City: Howard Park /Forest Park area (served by Calvin Rodwell Elementary Middle School and Liberty Elementary), and Reservoir Hill/Penn North area (served by Dorothy I Height Elementary). In these three schools and their surrounding neighborhoods, we will support projects and activities designed to make the communities safe, clean, green and vibrant; and improve the quality of the schools. Some projects may be neighborhood-focused, some school-focused and others collaborative projects between the schools and their respective communities.

Early Learning & Judy Centers

Early Learning & Judy Centers

High quality early childhood education has a lifelong effect on students. Through our Early Learning grant program, we are interested in system-wide early childhood education proposals that will help Baltimore City and County's youngest learners, and their families, get the start they need. Nonprofit organizations that offer programs and/or services to Judy Centers are encouraged to contact the centers directly to explore partnership opportunities.

How Can We Help?

John A. Gilpin


Director of Planned Gifts
410-332-4171 ext. 132

How Can We Help?

Kate Sam

Communications Officer
410-332-4171 ext. 181

How Can We Help?

Cathy Brill

Executive Director
Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation