We believe that a healthy middle class provides the backbone for our communities and our world. Because our resources are not unlimited, we have developed two funding responses to the challenges we see facing our middle class populations in Baltimore and in Israel.
One set of grants are targeted grants for neighborhoods or geographical areas that have identified a specific need or strategy for attracting and retaining middle class populations.
The other set of grants goes to institutions that can affect large numbers of people and improve the quality of life through the arts, education, and gathering spaces of all kinds. This includes libraries, museums, community centers, theatres, and playgrounds. These grants advance access or help to create the vital civic and cultural environment we believe is necessary to attract and retain a healthy middle class.
We invite and encourage other funders to join us in this effort by supporting programs and organizations that nurture our communities and help stabilize our cities.
Our Work in Baltimore Neighborhoods
We developed our target neighborhood development work as a result of research and discussions with a variety of community leaders. Understanding that our funding could not include the whole city, in 2010, we identified the middle class neighborhoods of Patterson Park, Hamilton-Lauraville, and Belair-Edison.
Factors influencing our target choices include: diverse populations, the presence of established community partners, collaboration with Healthy Neighborhoods, Inc., diverse housing stock, and strong assets, such as good schools, parks, and commercial corridors. We provide direct funding to the organizations and institutions that work to keep our target neighborhoods vibrant and viable for the families who reside there. Baltimore is a city of diverse neighborhoods and a strong network of healthy neighborhoods with significant middle class populations; we believe that our work helps to provide incentives for families choosing to move or to stay in Baltimore.
Some of our target neighborhood investments include:
- Partnering with Healthy Neighborhoods, Inc. in its work with organizations in our target neighborhoods.
- Supporting Belair-Edison Neighborhoods, Inc., Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street, and the Southeast Community Development Corporation, all organizations that sustain and improve the economic viability of the communities they serve.
- Supporting charter and parochial schools of excellence – such as City Neighbors, St. Francis of Assisi, and Patterson Park Public Charter School – which provide education options to encourage families to stay in Baltimore when their children reach school age.
- Making grants that encourage collaboration among non-profits. For example, we make grants to Young Audiences Arts for Learning, Maryland and Playworks Baltimore, which provide programmatic support to schools in our target neighborhoods. These organizations and schools work together to support families and children.
- Supporting the University of Maryland Social Work Community Outreach Service (SWCOS), which provides neighborhood fellows to community organizations in our target neighborhoods and other communities.
Supporting the Overall Middle Class
In addition to the funding we provide in our target neighborhoods, we also support the middle class in the whole of Baltimore City. Demographics show an influx of young professionals enthusiastic about meaningful urban living in Baltimore. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life and supporting people’s commitment to a vibrant Baltimore City. Some programs and organizations we support include:
- Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts: the producer of Artscape, the Baltimore Book Festival, Free Fall Baltimore, and the Baltimore Farmers Markets.
- Downtown Baltimore Jewish Community Center in Federal Hill, which provides an interactive space and programming not only for Jewish families, but for all families in downtown Baltimore.
- Center Stage’s Kickin’ It With the ‘Rents program, which brings families to the theater for dinner with artists and to see the current performance.
- Enoch Pratt Library branches.
- The Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
The Middle Class in Israel
In Israel, we concentrate on community development by engaging the next generation of civic leadership, supporting programs, and building or renovating facilities that improve quality of life.
Our capital projects in Israel reflect our commitment to building and sustaining a burgeoning middle class. In main cities, like Beer Sheva, Haifa, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv, our focus extends to theaters, museums, libraries, and parks. For these projects, we partner with local municipalities and the Israel Education Fund, founded by Joe Meyerhoff.
Our middle class investments in the Negev and the Galilee, which represent the geographic and socio-economic margins of Israeli society, specifically include new or improved day care centers, libraries, youth villages, sports halls, and community pools, many of which were originally built by Joe, Rebecca, Bud, and Lyn Meyerhoff.
Left Banner: Photo courtesy of Real Food Farms.
Right Banner: Photo courtesy of Hamilton-Lauraville Main Streets.