Bank of America nonprofit grants help Baltimore’s needy


— Bank of America has awarded more than $250,000 in grants to 21 nonprofit organizations to help support their efforts in addressing various needs in the greater Baltimore area.

The grants are part of the bank’s broader philanthropic investment in helping individuals and families in Baltimore lead stronger financial lives, officials said in a news release which noted that Baltimore City has one of the lowest median incomes in the country.

“If people can’t put food on the table and find an affordable place to live, they can’t begin to think about their overall financial security and future,” said David Millman, Maryland and Baltimore market president at Bank of America. “Our philanthropic investments are one way that we’re working to connect individuals in our community to the resources they need to lead financially stable lives.”

One of the roles of grant recipient Strong City Baltimore is to make organizations stronger by providing fiscal sponsorships to its nonprofit business service clients, said Michael Cross-Barnet, the media and communications manager for Strong City Baltimore, which recently changed its name from Greater Homewood Community Corporation.

“We handle the fiscal side of things for organizations doing good work all over Baltimore, and one such organization is the Youth Empowered Society (YES),” Cross-Barnet said. “Although we are technically the recipient of this B of A grant, the money will be used by YES in furtherance of their mission to support youths experiencing homelessness in Baltimore.”

Founded and run by former homeless youth and their allies, YES prevents and eliminates youth homelessness through the synergy of youth and ally partnerships. YES provides urgently-needed direct services to youth experiencing homelessness through trauma-informed peer and ally support; develops the leadership and employment readiness of youth who have experienced homelessness; and partners with youth to advocate for systems change.

“On an average day at the YES Drop-In Center, youth experiencing homelessness ages 14 to 25 come to meet their basic needs for food, clothing, hygiene products, laundry, storage, computer and phone usage,” said Lara Law, the program director at YES, which opened its doors three years ago and also provides a safe place to receive mail, clean up, rest, and plan for the future. “The youth are welcome to, and often do, bring their children. As youth access basic need services at YES, peer and allied staff establish supportive relationships with them, and support them to set goals, break their goals into discrete tasks, and make and sustain connections to long-term resources that help them stabilize.”

Also, the support of foundations like Bank of America fuels the success of organizations like the Women’s Housing Coalition— another grant recipient— and its ability to make a real difference for women and children experiencing homelessness in Baltimore, said the nonprofit’s development manager Kristin Danielson.

“The Women’s Housing Coalition houses and works with people who were homeless who want to take control of their lives and need help to lead stable lives for the rest of their lives,” Danielson said.

Because of the coalition, each year approximately 125 women and 45 children have a safe, affordable place to call home, and are able to experience stability and a better quality of life with safe housing, improved health, and access to education and employment opportunities.

“The skills, confidence and support network our residents gain through The Women’s Housing Coalition helps them begin to envision a positive future free from the trauma of homelessness and maintain stability for the rest of their lives,” Danielson said.

Bank of America is a vital and valued partner in the Women’s Housing Coalition’s efforts to provide stability and progress not only for the lives of its residents, but for the communities in which they live throughout the city, according to Danielson.

The grants build on years of philanthropic and employee volunteer support in Baltimore as part of a larger effort to help individuals and families build better money habits and find pathways out of poverty, bank officials said.

“Supporting nonprofit organizations that continue to address Baltimore’s most pressing needs is a top priority for Bank of America,” Millman said. “The organizations we support have had positive impacts throughout Baltimore and will continue to invigorate our community by helping families and individuals regain and maintain financial stability.”