Twenty years ago, the Open Society Foundations created its only U.S. field office in Baltimore, believing that focusing intellectual and financial resources on the entrenched, systemic problems of one region could yield significant impact and provide successful approaches that other municipalities could replicate, creating upward pressure for national change.
That belief was put to the test in 2017, as open society was under attack nationally in the form of draconian executive orders on immigration, a Justice Department trying to ramp up the War on Drugs and double down on mass incarceration, and a Secretary of Education with a history of diverting public money to private schools, and in many other ways.
At Open Society Institute-Baltimore, we leveraged 20 years of relationships, trust, and expertise to counter these assaults with focused action on the local level. Here are just a few examples:
- We worked with the Mayor’s office to establish the Safe City Baltimore initiative and provide education and legal support to ensure due process for immigrants threatened with deportation (see page 22).
- We continued our work under the auspices of the Coalition for a Safe and Just Maryland to limit the use of cash bail and expand pretrial services that allow people to stay in the community while they await trial without jeopardizing public safety (see page 3).
- Through grantees such as the Baltimore Education Coalition and the ACLU, we worked to ensure that Baltimore students receive equitable funding, and we partnered with the school district’s Re-Engagement Center to keep more high school students engaged in learning (see page 13).
In these pages and on our website you will find many more ways that the Open Society Institute has been able to create change for the Baltimore region, despite ongoing challenges on the national level.
Thank you to all of the generous donors who made our work possible during 2017. We hope you will continue to invest in us so that, through strategic and persistent efforts, we can bring about the significant change that will move our region forward for years to come.
Director, Open Society Institute-Baltimore