The Movement Team distributed over 1650 boxes of food and essentials like diapers.

COVID-19 Response Grants and the Long Road Ahead

Among the grantees were The Movement Team, which distributed supplies to 16 schools and community centers in Baltimore City, and Student Support Network, which provided food assistance at eight school sites in Baltimore County. Grants to Healthcare for the Homeless and Esperanza Center enabled the dissemination of credible information to homeless and Spanish-speaking communities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The impact of the funding was immediate. Grantees sent photos, videos, and testimonials about their experiences on the ground, along with many heartfelt letters of gratitude. Student Support Network President Laurie Taylor-Mitchell told us a distribution at Parkville High School was “one of the most wrenching events I have ever experienced. The line of cars stretched as far as we could see for hours.” Altogether, with BCF’s support, the organization handed out food for more than four hours, getting 9,000 pounds of perishables like milk, yogurt and meat and hundreds of bags of non-perishables and household essentials into the hands of anxious families.

Funding for emergency assistance remains critical, but from the beginning BCF recognized that this would be a long and far-reaching fight. As we made that first round of emergency grants, we simultaneously created the COVID-19 Evolving Community Needs Fund to address both urgent needs and those yet to come. We announced the new fund on Friday, March 13 and by Monday morning, funding inquiries were pouring in. The fund was seeded with $50,000 of BCF’s unrestricted grantmaking dollars and quickly augmented with generous gifts from Atapco Properties, The Baltimore Ravens, Bank of America, BGE, Brown Advisory, Constellation, the Exelon Foundation, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, J.P. Morgan Chase, the Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds, the Stephen and Renee Biscotti Foundation, Truist Bank, Wells Fargo and many family foundations and individual donors. By the end of April, BCF supporters had committed more than $1.75 million to serve struggling families and neighborhoods in the Baltimore region.

Recognizing that an emergency of this magnitude called for a proportional response, we worked with the United Way of Central Maryland and Baltimore’s Promise to form the COVID-19 Response Funding Collaborative of Greater Baltimore, which quickly grew to more than ten participating funders. Foundations are not usually thought of as nimble, but the Collaborative has the potential to be a model for rapid response philanthropy. Nonprofits can submit one proposal for review by all participating funders, who began meeting weekly in April to review submissions, with each funder applying their own unique decision-making processes and due diligence. This process enables BCF to be responsive to community needs, while providing the level of oversight and stewardship our donors expect of us for our COVID-19 Evolving Community Needs Fund and leveraging our dollars for maximum impact with other funders.

By the end of April, only six weeks after moving to remote operations, BCF had granted nearly half a million dollars from existing program funds and the COVID-19 Evolving Community Needs Fund, while the Collaborative had secured a commitment of $4 million to be disbursed by the participating funders, including BCF. BCF grants have supported organizations reaching especially vulnerable populations in under-resourced communities, such as St. Francis Neighborhood Center, a trusted resource for families and children in Reservoir Hill and Penn North, and Little Flowers Early Childhood and Development Center, which provides daycare for essential workers in East and West Baltimore. In addition, BCF is granting to nonprofits that support economic development in communities of color and will be needed in the recovery process. A grant to Baltimore Business Lending covered lost interest income for three months, during which time BBL waived payments from their borrowers to assist in weathering the impacts of COVID-19.

Alongside the COVID-19 Evolving Community Needs Fund, which will continue to address a wide range of needs as they arise, BCF worked with donors to establish separate funds for specific purposes. Among these are the Baltimore COVID-19 Food Security Fund where corporate donors and their associates can support emergency food distribution efforts. Likewise, the Baltimore County COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund allows concerned residents and businesses to support emergency assistance and health services targeted to Baltimore County.

Finally, BCF has partnered with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Abell Foundation, the Aaron and Lillie Straus Foundation, PNC, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Goldman Sachs to redirect the pre-existing Small Business Technical Assistance Fund at BCF to help women and minority-owned businesses work with the Baltimore Development Corporation and regional Community Development Financial Institutions. BCF has a longstanding commitment to addressing racial disparities in economic opportunity and the redirection of these funds will help protect wealth and capital created in communities of color by guiding entrepreneurs to grants, loans and federal, state and philanthropic resources.

All of this work has happened remotely and in a very short period of time thanks to our staff’s expertise, strong lines of communication with partners at every level and generous support from donors. With your help, we have been able to keep our finger on the pulse of the unfolding crisis and respond with utmost efficiency – as we will continue to do for the foreseeable future. By all accounts, the effects of COVID-19 will ripple through our community for weeks and months to come. BCF is committed to deploying all the tools available to us—from grant making to impact investing to advocacy—to mitigate the impact and ensure the progress we have made in so many neighborhoods and schools is not stopped in its tracks and that we emerge stronger, together.

To make a donation to BCF’s COVID-19 Evolving Community Needs Fund, visit www.bcf.org/evolvingneedsfund or contact Dara Schnee, Vice President of Philanthropy at dschnee@bcf.org. ν

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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