Earlier this month, Inside Philanthropy published a lengthy story looking at the 20-year history of OSI-Baltimore, titled “Soros in Baltimore: Lessons from 20 Years of Place-Based Giving.”
The article is only available to Inside Philanthropy subscribers. Here is an excerpt of the opening:
Place-based giving has long been a cornerstone of the American philanthropic tradition. Since the earliest days of organized giving, wealthy donors have mobilized to improve the cities and towns where they live—funding parks, cultural institutions, schools, and more. This kind of giving remains as strong as ever. Inside Philanthropy reports almost daily on local giving aimed at improving the communities where donors live and foundations are based—including a cascade of eye-popping gifts by an elite class of billionaire “supercitizens” like George Kaiser in Tulsa, Eli Broad in Los Angeles, and Richard Kinder in Houston.
George Soros is yet another mega-giver who has engaged in ambitious place-based giving, even though he is best known for his global philanthropy. Soros has given hundreds of millions of dollars for initiatives focused in New York City, most notably the After-School Corporation. But his most intriguing effort to improve a place has unfolded in Baltimore, where he began funding in 1998. Today, the Open Society Institute-Baltimore operates with a staff of 18 and an operating budget of just over $8 million. More than a quarter of that comes from donors other than the Open Society Foundations.
Two decades working in one community is cause for reflection—about both the impact of focused philanthropy in Baltimore, a city that has continued to struggle, and the larger challenges of place-based giving.
The story goes on to describe OSI-Baltimore’s history and current work in detail and concludes, in part, “OSI-Baltimore models the foundation policies and characteristics that support effective place-based initiatives. The institute has built real trust in the community and fully understands the context of its funding area—including race and class dynamics. After 20 years, itʼs also deeply embedded.”