Getting funding where it’s needed most

byDarius Graham, Program Director, Baltimore, Nakia Horton, Manager of Diversity and Special Initiatives, and Erin McManus, Grants Assistant |
In 2018, the Weinberg Foundation launched the Baltimore City Community Grants program, a unique funding opportunity exclusively for small grassroots nonprofits. With a streamlined application process and fewer eligibility requirements than our standard grant application, the program was designed to create a pathway for small nonprofits to receive funding to do important work in neighborhoods throughout Baltimore. Small nonprofits can make a big impact on the people they serve but often operate with very limited budgets and capacity. In many cases, they are led by people with lived experience of the issue that the nonprofit addresses, which gives them unique insights and strong community connections. With the launch of the Baltimore City Community Grants program, these nonprofits became eligible to receive an operating, program, or capital grant of up to $10,000 per year for up to two years. In addition to providing access to funding, a goal of the program was for recipients to grow and eventually receive a larger grant via our standard grant application process. Since 2018, the program has awarded $682,500 across 88 grants to small nonprofits in Baltimore that are making a difference in the areas of housing, health, jobs, and education. Here are a couple of examples:
  • Drink at the Well provides a suite of supportive services to women survivors of sexual exploitation, addiction, and abuse. In 2018, it received a $10,000 operating grant. Since receiving that first grant, the organization has received four additional grants including a $50,000 operating grant in 2021. What started as a $10,000 grant opportunity has now resulted in a total of $100,000 in grants to date. The organization used some of these funds to launch and grow its social enterprise, Hon’s Honey, which provides employment to women in its program. That enterprise has grown from four employees to 12, and Hon’s Honey revenue has tripled, creating more revenue and opportunities for the organization and its participants.
  • Catherine’s Family and Youth Services improves the quality of life for residents of Northwest Baltimore via various education and empowerment programs. In 2018, it received a $10,000 operating grant. Since receiving that first grant, the organization has received two additional grants. What started as a $10,000 grant opportunity has now resulted in a total of $25,000 in grants to date. Since 2018, the program has grown to serve approximately 500 people weekly with household essentials (such as clothing, diapers, household products, etc.) and has provided over 20,000 prepared meals and 65,000 pounds of food. The organization’s youth program now operates year-round serving 25 youth during the school year and 30 youth during the summer.
While these examples show that the Baltimore City Community Grants program provides meaningful opportunities for small nonprofits, we can do more. Now, as the program enters its fifth year, we are making several changes to create even greater opportunities. Beginning this month, the following changes are in effect:
  1. The maximum grant amount is doubled to $20,000. Our hope is that these additional dollars will help fuel the growth, impact, and sustainability of small nonprofits during these especially challenging times and into the future.
  2. The two-year award cap is removed. With this change, nonprofits that have already received two years of grants under this program may reapply. Our hope is that providing additional years of support will afford nonprofits greater stability and a more flexible timeline for thoughtful strategic planning and growth.
With these changes, we are strengthening the pathway for small nonprofits in Baltimore to access funding to help them grow, deepen their impact, and ultimately create more opportunities—and even brighter futures—for the people they serve. For complete information on the Baltimore City Community Grants program, including eligibility requirements and application instructions, click here. (Scroll down to Special Grants Programs, and click the Baltimore City Community Grants tab).

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