Last week, OSI-Baltimore Director Danielle Torain participated in Loyola University’s virtual panel discussion and networking event, “Stronger Together: Advancing Racial Equity and Business Growth,” as part of its Building a Better World Through Business series. Elizabeth Kennedy, associate professor of law and social responsibility at Loyola, moderated the panel, which also included Will Holmes, chairman of the Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce, and Angel St. Jean, CEO of the Black Brain Trust.
Torain talked about the idea of “philanthropic redlining” and how it shapes funding in Baltimore. “Unconscious and implicit bias impacts who we see as investment-worthy in the city,” she said, adding that the philanthropic and business sectors have further harmed marginalized communities by restricting their ability to fail, learn, and ultimately innovate.
“We as a sector, the philanthropic sector, could stand to do a more intentional job of exploring ways to deploy philanthropic capital in a way that allows folks to take more risks and to fail forward,” she said. “I think there is a powerful role for the business community, as well as the philanthropic community, to figure out how to leverage the capital that we organize to really support local innovation so that we can build a stronger capacity locally for change, for new and different approaches, so that we can iterate in Baltimore.”
“What we often see in Baltimore,” she continued, “especially working with communities of color, when you’re trying to innovate, it’s like a one-and-done type of thing. If you’re lucky enough to access capital to test something new or different or to test an idea, the stakes are high. If there is a view is that there has been failure, you don’t get a chance to try again. However, we know from best practices in the business sector, best practices in the social sector, is that it often takes intentional effort over time to get it right.”