As the COVID-19 crisis took hold a year ago, large institutions struggled to address issues ranging from food insecurity to remote learning loss to insufficient broadband. Many turned to community-based organizations for their on-the-ground expertise. Though relatively small, these grassroots organizations are largely comprised of staff who were born and raised in the communities they serve. As the pandemic unfolded, deep relationships allowed community-based organizations to identify children and families most at risk. A foundation of trust ensured that resources were accepted without hesitation. Further, these organizations had long operated with limited financial support, but a driving commitment to meeting needs. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” as the old proverb goes and their creativity has led to innovative solutions with immediate impact and the potential to be game changers long-term. Well beyond COVID-19, with sufficient support, the work of community-based organizations could be replicated and scaled to build a stronger, more equitable Baltimore—and beyond. Thankfully, BCF’s strategic plan includes a strong emphasis on community engagement, giving us a front row seat to the powerful work underway. Here, we profile just a few of the ingenious individuals and organizations that are leading the charge.
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