This report highlights the meaningful work undertaken by OSI-Baltimore and our amazing grantees and partners during 2022; however, I am writing it in the context of the announcement early in 2023 that Open Society Foundations made the difficult decision to close OSI-Baltimore. We are simultaneously reporting on and celebrating work that was planned and implemented with an eye toward a long-term future while accepting the reality that our future is not what we anticipated. Although we are saddened that our beloved Baltimore will no longer benefit from funding and staffing dedicated exclusively to our community, we are proud of OSI-Baltimore’s 25 year legacy, including all that we accomplished during 2022.
This year, we began shifting our programmatic approach to a more integrated and holistic frame. As a result, you’ll see some changes to the names of our portfolios and exploration of new areas of investment. This nuanced, but intentional, pivot was based on input
from our stakeholder engagement outreach and strategic planning as well as learnings gleaned during the pandemic. Importantly, based on these insights, we doubled down on our commitment to racial justice and the need to address the many insidious ways that structural and systemic racism cut across all programmatic areas. We reaffirmed our key areas of focus and continued our exploration of emerging areas for investment.
Our grant making, coalition building and partnerships remained grounded in the intertwined issues that have challenged Baltimore communities for decades. These included efforts to promote harm reduction interventions, implement restorative practices and improve community safety. Wherever possible, we moved toward more flexible and intersectional funding that more appropriately meets the demands of the moment by allowing grantees to address a wide range of related issues.
Several critical investments were responsive to an immediate issue while laying the ground work for longer term impact. For instance, following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, in partnership with colleagues in Open Society–U.S., we helped ensure access to reproductive care. While a vitally important resource to protect the bodily autonomy of pregnant people, access to abortion services is just one component of reproductive justice and we saw this response as a component of a broader agenda to ensure health equity.
Efforts to address the crisis within the fiscal sponsorship landscape is another important area of focus with both short- and long-term strategic approaches. The repercussions resulting from an under-resourced system were long-brewing but reached crisis proportions with the closure of one fiscal sponsor. OSI–Baltimore partnered with the Annie E. Casey Foundation to fund a study of the ecosystem, which provided valuable insights and significant recommendations for long-term solutions. In an effort to rebuild trust and catalyze aligned investments, we acted on the recommendations by allocating resources to address a portion of the harm caused by the closure of the fiscal sponsor and by committing future resources toward the implementation of the longer term interventions.
In addition to responding to emerging issues, we continued to provide ‘patient capital’ to seed and test innovative approaches. A key exploratory area is the Economic Justice portfolio launched in 2021. This year, we renewed investments in innovative approaches that increase access to capital for communities of color and other historically under resourced people and groups and looked for ways to broaden the impact. Our Narrative Change and Civic Engagement program sought to ensure that all voices are heard. In partnership with Baltimore’s Promise, we continued to manage and facilitate the learnings from the B’More Invested initiative and supported the cohort of grantees as they explore options for sustainability. All these efforts represent new ways of achieving OSI-Baltimore’s enduring mission to build an equitable and inclusive society.
OSI-Baltimore’s work in 2022 was strong and meaningful and helps to solidify the legacy that OSI-Baltimore will leave after its closure. We deeply value and respect the commitment, expertise and energy of our grantees and community partners. We are confident and proud that the efforts we supported this year and throughout our 25 year history will contribute to our legacy and will continue to bear fruit into the future.