The Foundation’s grants fall into seven areas of interest:
The challenge to Baltimore City’s leadership is to provide its children, the vast majority of whom qualify for free and reduced meals, with access to high-quality educational options from birth through college and/or career. The Foundation has a strong commitment to the PreK-12 public education system in Baltimore and its educational partners. With a focus on increasing achievement for city students, the Abell Foundation supports efforts to provide quality instruction in all content areas, provide a broad portfolio of effective schools, create successful transitions to and through college and work, increase family engagement, and promote literacy enrichment. In recognition of the pivotal role of quality teaching and school leadership, the Foundation also supports teacher and principal recruitment and retention efforts as well as leadership development strategies. After-school and summer programming with an academic orientation have received ongoing support to help fill gaps in school-day offerings. The Abell Foundation is committed to supporting children and youth who are educationally vulnerable while also preserving educational options that serve advanced learners.
In recognition that a competent, skilled workforce is essential to the economic health and growth of Baltimore City, the Abell Foundation supports job-skills training that enables low-income, unemployed and underemployed job seekers to secure jobs that pay family-sustaining wages. Priority is given to programs that link hard-to-serve job seekers with employment, that promote job retention for at least one year of employment, and that enhance opportunities for low-wage workers to improve their skills and move into higher wage jobs.
The Foundation works with nonprofit organizations, employers and public agencies to identify and support effective workforce initiatives and to link them to public and private funding. The Foundation also works with nonprofit organizations to increase job seekers' access to needed services, including literacy services, transportation, substance abuse treatment, and services for ex-offenders. Finally, the Abell Foundation seeks to strengthen program and policy initiatives that support low-income families and enhance wages. These initiatives include increasing access to income supports such as the earned income tax credit and benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The health of a community can only be as strong as the well-being of its citizens. Through grants awarded in this area, the Abell Foundation seeks to address societal issues associated with economic insecurity, access to health care, family planning, domestic violence, children's health and well-being, hunger and homelessness. The Foundation also supports legal services and advocacy programs promoting access to health and mental health services, a stronger child welfare system, resources for current and former foster youth, and a comprehensive system of services for the homeless. Finally, the Foundation supports programs that provide opportunities for low-income families to live in quality housing in good neighborhoods throughout the region.
The Abell Foundation encourages initiatives that attract resident investment in neighborhoods, promote sustainability, increase economic development opportunities and nurture entrepreneurial talent to increase the livability of neighborhoods, the number of residents, the number of jobs and the size of the tax base. As successful households are key to neighborhood health, the Foundation supports efforts to remove barriers preventing residents from stabilizing household finances and invests in community-led projects to improve energy efficiency, increase fresh food access, enhance neighborhood amenities and reclaim neighborhood green space. The Foundation maintains an interest in programs that address concentrated poverty, racial wealth disparities and tie the economic health of Baltimore City to the region.
High levels of substance abuse and related crime in Baltimore City are causing high rates of incarceration and a significant deterioration in the quality of life in communities throughout the city. In recognition that drug addiction is a complex disorder that touches every aspect of an individual’s life, the Foundation seeks to increase access to substance abuse treatment and supportive services such as housing and job training for uninsured and drug-addicted individuals living in Baltimore. The Foundation works to increase the impact and effectiveness of treatment services through cutting-edge research and support of innovative service models designed to reach underserved populations.
In addition, the Foundation supports programs and initiatives that increase public safety and reduce rates of repeat criminal behavior (recidivism). Emphasis is placed on initiatives that address the barriers facing the returning ex-offender, particularly including efforts to provide transitional housing and the necessary wraparound services to support a successful return to the community. Finally, the Foundation supports efforts to reform the criminal justice system, reduce violence, and achieve juvenile justice.
Protection and preservation of Maryland’s abundant natural resources is critical to promoting a healthy and sustainable environment, society and economy in the state. The Abell Foundation supports programs aimed at improving air and water quality and addressing environmental threats. The Foundation supports efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, with a particular focus on the development of renewable energy and creation of clean energy jobs. In all of its work in support of a cleaner and healthier environment in Maryland, the Foundation seeks to ensure environmental health and justice in underserved communities.
In recognition of the overall economic health of a city, the Foundation seeks funding opportunities to strengthen existing cultural arts organizations and emerging arts groups, with a focus on those working to provide programming for underserved communities in Baltimore. The Foundation looks for initiatives that help attract artists to live and work in Baltimore, use the cultural arts to improve student academic achievement, and stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods.