(Screenshot via YouTube)
This story is underwritten by Kaiser Permanente, a Collaboration Sponsor of Baltimore Innovation Week 2017. It was not reviewed by Kaiser Permanente before publication.
Businesses transform the landscape of the city with offices, jobs and products. In order to thrive, many realize they need to help improve the city outside their walls.
Many of these community-oriented efforts in Baltimore go beyond charity, as businesses are looking to address entrenched disparities in health, education and economic opportunity. Finding solutions requires bringing together partners from across disciplines. There are chances for the tech community to get involved, as well as universities.
Here’s a look at five efforts we’ve seen spring up over the last year:
This $10-million investment in Baltimore is supporting entrepreneurs in the city’s neighborhoods. The 10,000 Small Businesses program provided business plan support and help with access to capital for nearly 60 entrepreneurs like Adashi’s Alex Menkes and Scrub Nail Boutique’s Jasmine Simms. In all, Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg Philanthropies are investing $10 million in Baltimore. Additional partners include Morgan State University, Johns Hopkins and CCBC.
— 10K Small Businesses (@GS10KSmallBiz) August 7, 2017
Technologists looking for a way to get involved in city government found an entry point with the Baltimore City Health Department. Spearheaded by CIO Mike Fried, TECHealth teamed members of the tech community with health department workers to create projects that could help the city. BCHD also provided support after the cohort completed work in the form of grant money and further validation. Bad Batch, which was built by Code in the Schools students, was one of the projects to launch from this effort. We’re wondering when other agencies will start duplicating BCHD’s efforts.
This community revitalization project targets a single ZIP code in West Baltimore. The 21223 area encompasses three of Baltimore’s most vulnerable neighborhoods, including Boyd-Booth, Fayette Outreach and Franklin Square. Kaiser Permanente partnered with Bon Secours Health System on an effort that will include construction of a new community resource center with economic, health and social services.
Kevin Plank and the companies he runs outside of Under Armour have gotten attention for efforts to revitalize Baltimore. This year, UA itself launched a new campaign called #WEWILL. It will be shown across the globe, but it has a particular focus on Baltimore. A website allows people to sign up for volunteer projects, and the effort will also include grants. The Baltimore Sun reported the project was put together with input from a listening committee that included leaders like Ericka Alston-Buck of the Kids Safe Zone.
Providing students with eyesight is the focus of this collaboration. Public school students in Baltimore received vision screenings and, those who needed glasses received pairs from Warby Parker. Politico reported 18,000 screenings were conducted, as of mid-August. Now experts are testing whether the new specs are also improving reading scores. The Baltimore City Health Department program is also supported by the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute and Johns Hopkins School of Education.