BCF believes a strong Baltimore region starts with high-quality schools in vibrant, interconnected neighborhoods. To that end, our discretionary grantmaking is focused on enriching effective public schools with principal preparation, student support services, and early childhood education programs, and equipping neighborhoods with the resources they need to steward community assets, attract new investment, and develop social capital.
This grantmaking remains critical in the time of COVID-19. The pandemic has shone a bright light on the need for a better education system for all. School buildings may be closed, but teachers and administrators remain hard at work. Therefore, funding for technology, technical training, and support partner programs are needed more than ever to ensure children remain engaged. Neighborhood grants from Little Italy to Mondawmin, Union Square to Ednor Gardens, are supporting resident-led projects like community composting, neighborhood signs and banners, and socially distant summer concerts to remind isolated residents that they are part of a vibrant, caring community. In the first half of 2020 alone, more than $900,000 in grants from BCF’s program funds were awarded to schools and communities across Baltimore.
BCF complements grants from our discretionary funds for school and neighborhood projects with advocacy for systemic, structural reform and impact investments in projects with significant community benefit, such as affordable housing complexes, new commercial and community spaces, and the transformation of blighted buildings into community assets. This multi-level strategy, in which we strive to align various investments for maximum impact, also supports the success of recent public and private investments in Baltimore, such as 21st Century School Facilities (which BCF advocated for through the Transform Baltimore campaign).
BCF’s current strategic plan amplifies this tiered approach with place-based investments and deep community engagement in communities along and adjacent to the Liberty Heights Avenue corridor in Northwest and Central West Baltimore. Working closely with local and civic leadership to understand residents’ own vision for improving school quality and quality of life in the surrounding neighborhood, we are making grants to Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary/Middle School in Howard Park, Liberty Elementary School in Forest Park, and Dorothy I. Height Elementary School in the Reservoir Hill/Penn North communities. These are paired with capacity-building grants to community development corporations and program grants to local nonprofits offering resident leadership, support services, and resources that families need. Together, these holistic investments are creating stronger communities where every child and family have the opportunity to thrive. ν