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Can local nonprofits come together to share resources like sugar? T. Rowe Price Foundation’s $6.5M commitment reflects the belief that ‘Baltimore is the best place in the world to change the world’

CLLCTIVLY and Arts Every Day are among the recipients of the latest grant program from the global investment firm’s charitable arm.

Arts Every Day 10x10 Exhibit. (Courtesy Arts Every Day)

Despite the efforts of grantmakers in Baltimore, challenges persist in ensuring equitable access to funding for Baltimore’s nonprofit sector.

Julia Di Bussolo, executive director of Arts Every Day (AED) since 2012, is all too familiar with this issue. In a recent conversation with Technical.ly, prompted by T. Rowe Price Foundation’s $2.25 million investment into AED and seven other nonprofit initiatives in Baltimore, she highlighted the ongoing struggle of institutional grant making.

“We’re not trying to fit our work into just predetermined metrics that don’t make sense for the organization or the goals of the projects,” Di Bussolo said.

She’s grateful the T. Rowe Price grantmaking process has allowed for that flexibility — she described it as a partnership — and is  outfitted with amenities like professional development and sustainability training for grantees.

Those initial investments form part of a larger $6.5 million commitment by the foundation, explained John Brothers, 2020 RealLIST Connector and president of the global investment management firm’s giving arm. He delved into what he called a tradition of creating a social safety net in cities like Baltimore since the uprising following the 2015 death of Freddie Gray

“Over 140 grantees are [also] getting multi-year general operating grants,” Brothers said. “That is a tradition for us. That’s not new, right. That is all part of what is now known as trust based philanthropy.” 

The grants are the foundation’s way of working in the community and paying attention to their “bedside manner” with nonprofits in the city, he said.

“Baltimore’s is amazing for its hustle around the arts and maker community,” Brothers added. His long-term vision for the foundation is to provide that community the tools it needs to continue creating and thriving. “What [do] things like technology and AI and all of these things look like when your current crop of your best and brightest young people don’t have access?” 

Along with the seven initial grantees, more than 140 other organizations — as yet unnamed — are slated to receive funding as part of this initiative. 

According to Brothers, the direction of every recent philanthropic dollar out of T. Rowe’s foundation has been informed by insights gleaned from a State of the Baltimore Nonprofit Sector report, as well as from listening sessions involving community members, leaders and global thought partners.

The foundation’s role, he clarified, is to provide infrastructure for nonprofits like AED (and over 275 other organizations since 2016), enabling them to reach their goals.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in the Baltimore communities saying, ‘I can’t wait for T Rowe Price to tell us where our community should go,’ ” Brothers observed.

Arts Every Day 10×10 exhibit opening attendee. (Courtesy Arts Every Day)

AED was awarded a $225k impact grant, which will bolster the ongoing efforts to advance the Baltimore City Public Schools Arts Education Strategic Plan adopted in 2018, per Di Bussolo. There have been setbacks, she said, but the nonprofit is maintaining its commitment to enhance arts education little by little in Baltimore schools through this initiative. 

“Sometimes it’s professional nagging. But at the heart of it it’s really about community organizing,” said Di Bussolo, whose work with AED, supported by a broader community, has already yielded some notable results. 

Since the inception of the plan, over 100 fine arts teachers have been hired, with more to come. Additionally, public forums provide opportunities for community members to engage directly with district leaders. Moreover, a version 2.0 of the fine arts strategic plan, presented to the Board of School Commissioners in February.

You can check out AED’s 10×10 Exhibit at The Peale through May 19.

Lend me some sugar, I am your neighbor

Another notable recipient of the recent investment from the T. Rowe Price Foundation is CLLCTIVLY, also slated to receive a $225k impact grant at $75 per year.

This award is for “Sharing Sugar,” a web platform initiative to facilitate resource sharing tailored for Black movement builders and founders.

“With the granted funds, CLLCTIVLY aims to improve the features and functionality of the Sharing Sugar web platform,”  founder Jamye Wooten told Technical.ly. “This encompasses refining the user interface, enhancing accessibility, and overall user experience. These enhancements will transform the platform into a more efficient tool, empowering nonprofits to seamlessly connect and exchange resources.”

The platform will streamline resource sharing by enabling organizations to connect online seamlessly, according to Wooten. 

Foundation president Brothers said the partnership to launch this platform is rooted in a simulation outlined in a 2021 Stanford Review article, as well as CLLCTIVLY’s established track record of supporting founders in Baltimore.

“When we think about partnership and collaboration to us the truest form is what happens between neighbors,” said Brothers. “I don’t have sugar — I go next door, and I borrow sugar. And I do that because my neighbor trusts me.”

Brothers believes nonprofits in Baltimore want to come together because they care about each other. 

“Baltimore,” Brothers said, “is the best place in the world to change the world.”

Additional $2.25M T. Rowe Price Foundation impact grant recipients

Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners

TrustPlus aims to enhance financial stability for Baltimore City nonprofit workers through personalized financial coaching and accessible financial products.

Coppin State University (CSU)

CSU will establish an academic center dedicated to researching and addressing the needs of Baltimore’s nonprofit sector, marking a pioneering initiative within Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Baltimore Nonprofit Finance Fund

The fund will establish an emergency loan fund for Baltimore nonprofits, aiming to provide diverse forms of capital and financial support through collaboration with local financial institutions.

Uplift Alliance

The Uplift Alliance, in partnership with the Foundation and University of Maryland, Baltimore, bridges support gaps for early-stage nonprofits by offering fiscal sponsorship services and operational assistance.

The Peale

The museum collaborates with local historians to preserve Baltimore’s rich history through storytelling and community engagement, aiming to share these narratives through various platforms.

Public Private Partnership

This award will establish a dedicated chief development officer position, streamlining philanthropic support for city agencies in Baltimore.

Companies: T. Rowe Price / Coppin State University / Technical.ly
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