BCF advocates on issues that are aligned with our priorities to strengthen schools and neighborhoods, and where our voice can make an impact. We define “advocacy” broadly, including not only lobbying for or against specific legislation or budget measures, but also building productive relationships with elected and appointed officials, convening stakeholders around a common purpose, leveraging our grants to secure public and private investments and informing and mobilizing our donors and other friends on issues of importance.

Among the issues we have advocated strongly for are:

Educational Equity

Since the 2016 creation by the Maryland General Assembly of the Commission on Innovation & Excellence in Education (the “Kirwan Commission”), BCF has engaged in an ongoing effort to use race equity as a framework for advocating for adequate funding and innovation in public schools. Our advocacy was supported by research BCF commissioned from The Education Trust to examine disparities in educational achievement between Maryland’s students of color and white students. 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. Find the data here in the full Ed Trust Report.

Throughout 2019, BCF CEO Shanaysha Sauls worked with other corporate and civic leaders to rally support for the Commission’s recommendations and the legislation that developed to enact them, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. 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 bill and deployed communications, on our website, social media, e-communications and newsletters to keep our donors and partners informed and engaged. 

We’re proud to report that the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future became law in February 2021! 

In April 2021, BCF hosted a donor update with our grantee Strong Schools Maryland to discuss what the Blueprint means for the future of education in Maryland, and what lies ahead as we turn to implementation. Check it out!

Digital Equity

When school and work went remote in March 2020, the disparity in access to affordable, reliable broadband in low-income communities of color versus that of affluent white communities was stark. Noting the impact on educational equity, access to Telehealth, employment opportunities and more, BCF brought every possible resource to bear.

When activists and community-based nonprofits launched the Digital Equity Coalition, we joined other funders to support hiring a full-time director for the group. We also coordinated a series of conversations between Digital Equity Coalition members, public agencies and private internet service providers, to negotiate for better service and keep communities’ voices centered in the process. As we convened partners, we also granted $250,000 to organizations like Elev8 Baltimore, PCs for People, and the Enoch Pratt Free Library to supply digital devices and hotspots, and $40,000+ to to pioneer mesh wifi networks that would amplify signal strength in underserved communities.

Finally, to spur systemic change, we supported the hiring of a director of broadband and digital equity for the City of Baltimore and advanced the issue to state legislators developing policy proposals for the 2021 General Assembly Session. BCF CEO Shanaysha Sauls submitted testimony in favor of the resulting Digital Connectivity Act of 2021, which aimed to establish an Office of Statewide Broadband (OSB) to coordinate efforts and secure and deploy resources strategically across all jurisdictions. 

We’re proud to report that the Digital Connectivity Act of 2021 became law in April 2021! 

The OSB awarded its first grants totaling $30 million in July 2021. They aim to ensure the half-a-million Marylanders lacking reliable internet access – including nearly 100,000 in Baltimore City – are connected by 2027.

In June 2021, BCF hosted a donor update about digital equity with Baltimore City Director of Broadband and Digital Equity Jason Hardebeck and CEO Jonathan Moore. Check it out below. 

BCF’s advocacy is supported by donations to our Civic Leadership Fund. 

Learn more and make a gift at the link below. 

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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.

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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:   

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Melissa McC. Warlow
Director, Baker Fund Grants Program
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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.

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.

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.