Open Society Institute-Baltmore's 2018 Community Fellowship Program
Baltimore’s philanthropic community should find ways to support organizations run by people younger than 30, the Open Society Institute’s local office said Wednesday.
Less than 1 percent of foundation grants made to Baltimore-area organizations between 2012 and 2016 went to the organizations controlled by young adults that are helping to confront police violence, disparities in education, economic injustice and other social ills, the nonprofit said in a report.
Diana Morris, who leads OSI in Baltimore, said the organization’s findings give local nonprofits a way to evaluate how they support grassroots movements. The release of the report, “Young, Gifted, and Underfunded: Strengthening the Relationship Between Philanthropy and Youth-Led Movements,” is the first step in a campaign by OSI to build ties between youth activists and local funders.
“Collectively, we must create more opportunity and space for Baltimore’s young people to act on their own behalf and move our city forward,” Morris said.
OSI called on foundation leaders to review their internal policies and practices for possible barriers, including the possibility of racial bias, that prevent youth-led organizations from accessing their grants. Young activists have said philanthropic groups tend to base their funding on academic research, and want to support only those groups with long track records of success.
OSI is planning a series of events to help OSI and other foundations steer grants to youth activists working with children and teens to improve conditions in distressed communities. The first, set for March, will allow the Maryland Philanthropy Network to get feedback from local funders on OSI’s findings and recommendations. Morris said future meetings would bring foundation leaders and youth activists together to share ideas and come up with strategies for working together.
Celeste Amato, president of the grant-makers’ association, said OSI’s report will be a useful tool to bring the philanthropic community together and start a dialogue. Many foundations that operate in Baltimore don’t have the staffing necessary to pull together an analysis of its scope, she said.