In 2018, Open Society Institute-Baltimore celebrated its 20th Anniversary, which gave us a rare opportunity to reflect on the positive impact we’ve had on Baltimore during our first two decades.
Entering our 21st year, we celebrate the resilience of our staff, our grantees, our Fellows, our supporters, our partners—indeed of the people of Baltimore. Our city continues to face very real challenges, but Baltimore’s strength is its people, who continue working every day to confront the systemic issues that hold people back. And we couldn’t be more proud to work alongside our fellow Baltimoreans to bring about real, lasting change.
Twenty-one years after our founding, we’re still here, pushing our beloved city to live up to its true potential, and we’ll be here for as long as it takes. Among our 2018 accomplishments:
- Helped the Community Oversight Task Force—mandated by the federal consent decree to review Baltimore’s civilian oversight processes—release a robust
report with recommendations to greatly improve civilian oversight of the Baltimore Police Department.
- Released a critical new report, Young, Gifted, and Underfunded, which looks at ways funders can better support youth-led movements, and started a series of conversations to advance that work.
- Supported advocacy partners to secure $1 million in new state funding to expand pretrial services, which offer an alternative to the predatory cash bail system, to jurisdictions that do not currently have them.
- Launched the Advocacy and Leadership Training Program, a series of trainings across Maryland that provide people directly impacted by addiction with the knowledge and tools needed to advocate in their own voices on self-identified policy concerns.
- Expanded implementation of restorative and other complementary practices that improve school climate in city schools, leading to fewer suspensions and higher test scores and graduation rates.
- Established Baltimore City Schools’ Re-engagement Center to provide opportunities for students who have separated from school to gain the credits they need to graduate.
- Worked alongside advocates to fight for long-term, adequate school funding for Baltimore City and other historically under-resourced Maryland school districts through the Governor-appointed “Kirwan Commission.”
This is a small sample of our work and it doesn’t mention the ten dynamic individuals in our 2018 cohort of Community Fellows, the engaging public events in our Talking About Race series, the involvement of our Leadership Council and Advisory Board (page 35), or any of the dozens of other grants and projects you’ll read about in this report.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of our donors, Baltimore residents who have chosen to join us in the crucial year-in, year-out work of building a better Baltimore. We’re still in this together.