Giving Tuesday, Giving Mental Health

BCF strives to keep donors informed of the greatest needs in our community and put our relationships and expertise to use identifying impactful nonprofits working to meet those needs. Among the greatest we are currently seeing is mental healthcare. The pandemic has been exceedingly stressful for many. Children have struggled with remote learning in a city where 40% of households do not have reliable, wired internet access. Families have experienced unemployment, unpredictable school and daycare closures, social isolation and the psychological weight of needing to constantly guard their physical health. All of this comes atop the ongoing stresses for low-to-moderate income families in Baltimore who are regularly affected by structural inequities.

Fortunately, there are many hardworking nonprofits that are deeply entrenched in the communities they serve and offering mental health support in a variety of ways. Here, we profile just a few of the outstanding organizations providing resources like clinical counseling, peer support groups and mentorship to sustain individuals during this trying time. All were recipients of grants from BCF’s COVID-19 Evolving Community Needs Fund and they continue to provide vital support to families every day.

HeartSmiles was founded in 2015 by West Baltimore native Joni Holifield to provide exceptional enrichment and leadership development opportunities to youth in Baltimore’s most underserved communities. In early 2020, HeartSmiles became a key partner in the Healing Youth Alliance (HYA) alongside University of Maryland School of Social Work, the Baltimore City Health Department, and the Black Mental Health AllianceHeartSmiles recruits young people ages 16 – 21 to serve as Healing Youth Ambassadors, who receive 24 weeks of training to discuss mental health issues and coping strategies with their peers – all through an Afro-centric framework and materials provided by the Black Mental Health Alliance. This framework is key to the program because culture is a cornerstone in the healing process. Youth learn about heroes in African and African-American culture, as well as history, struggles and triumphs, which can inform healing in their community. With this training, young people are prepared to positively address mental health issues in their community caused by violence, trauma, systemic racism and structural inequalities.   

I Am Mentality provides comprehensive mentorship, experiential learning opportunities and leadership development programs for young boys and men ages 7 – 18. I Am Mentality’s Leadership Academy teaches a wealth of skills in anger management, conflict resolution, financial literacy, professionalism, etiquette, resiliency and more, which are reinforced through mentor-mentee relationships, peer mentoring and support groups. I Am Mentality also partners with licensed therapists to support young people who have social-emotional, behavioral challenges, trauma experiences and adjustment disorders, and who need additional support to learn independent living and social skills. 

Pro Bono Counseling Project (PBCP) connects uninsured and under-insured Marylanders with compassionate and qualified mental health professionals who provide care on a volunteer basis at no cost. Since its founding 1992, PBCP has helped more than 30,000 individuals and families find mental healthcare that they would not otherwise have been able to afford. In 2020, as families struggled with isolation and other effects of the pandemic, PBCP established the WarmLine, which is staffed every day by compassionate, licensed mental health professionals who can listen to concerns and provide referrals for additional support 

Project Pneuma was founded by Damion Cooper in 2014 after the near-death experience of being shot an inch above his heart at point-blank range. He began a healing journey to teach lessons of forgiveness, self-control, discipline and redemption to other young men via mentorship. While mentoring a young man in prison, he discovered that his mentee was the assailant who shot him years earlier. Today, Project Pneuma works in 23 schools across Baltimore City to engage boys in social-emotional learning; academic enrichment and interventions; physical fitnesspublic speaking; the arts and experiential learning programs that expose young people to the world beyond their immediate community. 

Project Restore Foundation (PRF) provides strength-based care, behavioral health services and referrals for additional services to restore, uplift and empower young people, families and communities. PRF’s programs address a wide range of issues in underserved communities, including literacy, family engagement, mental health, grief, abuse and neglect, substance abuse and life skills. With a staff that promotes social change and social cohesion, PRF is able to help people develop the skills to use their resources and those of the community around them to resolve problems and alleviate challenges that prevent them from becoming successful.

Roberta’s House helps children and families struggling with grief from the natural or traumatic death of a loved one. With a core value of hope and the goal of honoring lost loved ones through positive and empowering grief experiences, Roberta’s House offers a wide range of peer support groups and programs to help clients express their grief safely and develop healthy coping skills. Roberta’s House also conducts community outreach programs and trainings for community groups, faith-based organizations and healthcare providers to implement grief intervention programs

As always, BCF staff are available to answer questions and to help you develop a plan for meaningful giving in the community you love. Contact our Donor Services Team at to get started today!

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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

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

Apply for a Grant

Our on-line application system provides applicants with a portal to start a new grant application or to continue updating an application already in process. Please be sure to select the “Save and Finish Later” button when you are finished working on your application in order to save your current session’s work. At any time during the application process you can select the “Contact Us” button in the top right corner of the screen and you will be able to send an email to the Baltimore Community Foundation staff with specific questions. 

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:   

When you are ready please select one of the following options:


I have not applied for BCF funding online in the past.
Select this option if you have never used our website to apply for a grant from BCF.


I previously applied for BCF funding online in the past.
Select this option if you have applied for any of BCF’s grants using our website. Your profile may still be in our system and you may login using your account.

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

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