Full Circle Meeting
There was a packed house at the last Full Circle meeting of the 2015/16 year, for speakers Thomasina L. Hiers, the Executive Director of Baltimore’s Promise (BP) and Tom Wilcox, President/CEO of the Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF), of which the BWGC is one of 800 funds.
Thomasina Hiers has an impressive background, having served under three mayors and two governors in City and State government. Currently she leads Baltimore’s Promise, an organization that coordinates strategies across public and private entities to identify quality programs, establish shared outcome measures and develop policies to assure that every child born in the city can lead a healthy productive life from birth through career readiness.
Moneys spent on programs for children in the city totals 3.5 billion per year in public and private funds. It is the goal of BP to leverage these resources for the greatest impact. To this end, work groups, comprised of leaders in government and philanthropy, study all factors that influence, impede or facilitate the effectiveness of programs and suggest cooperative solutions for change.
Ms. Hiers highlighted two of BP’s efforts: B’More for Healthy Babies has dramatically lowered peri-natal deaths in the city. A closer analysis reveals that despite this, the mortality rate for black babies is still four times higher than for white babies. The work group is tasked to find causes and recommend strategies to erase this discrepancy.
Another was Pre-school Education. Currently, there are only places for two thirds of qualifying children in the most effective programs, like Head Start and public pre-kindergartens. The goal is to provide slots for all children and to improve kindergarten readiness from 48% of children this year, to 90% by 2017.
Tom Wilcox also focused on the need for early education and outlined the progress made by bringing Judy Centers to 13 schools. The Centers effectively turn schools into a community resource, offering family support, health care and other services. Another initiative under way through BCF is to create more effective schools through training and support of principals. BCF is nearing completion of a 100 million dollar campaign to support its current goals in education and neighborhoods, and to build an endowment for the future needs of Baltimore.
Part of the meeting was devoted to Circle business. Members unanimously ratified funding for the 18 one-year grants presented this year. Two additional two-year grants were approved by all the members who attended the grants meeting in March. There were 119 applications. For the first time, applications were submitted and processed digitally. The changeover went remarkably smoothly thanks to additional training for the Team Leaders and the work of the Grants Implementation Team (consisting of co-chairs of Steering, Grants, Post Grants and the three Administrators of the online software.)
Members approved an increase in annual dues by $50 to cover program expenses related to the gradual growth of our membership to 450 members.
Lastly, members approved the proposed slate of Circle Officers – Co-chairs, Jodi Dunn and Vivian Manekin, Secretary, Sabine Oishi, Archivist, Susan Perl and Assistant Treasurer, Eileen Toohey. The outgoing Circle Co-chairs, Peggy Schapiro and Penny Wald, received a standing ovation in appreciation of their hard work and superb leadership over the past two years.