In 2015, a team of researchers at Harvard University published a landmark study showing that African-American boys in Baltimore City had the lowest rates of upward mobility in the country. Another study found a 19-year gap in life expectancy between certain neighborhoods in Baltimore City and others. And then there were the findings from the Department of Justice in 2016: that there is reasonable cause to believe the Baltimore Police Department uses “enforcement strategies that produce severe and unjustified disparities in the rates of stops, searches, and arrests of African-Americans.”
While these findings are distressing, they are not particularly surprising. We see young black boys and their families struggle to navigate through underresourced schools; low-paying, dead-end jobs; punitive criminal justice laws; and neighborhoods plagued by violence, disinvestment, and inadequate access to healthy spaces in which to grow and play.
But we also see the opportunities to improve these conditions.
The Abell Foundation is committed to improving the lives of underserved populations in Baltimore City by supporting results-oriented efforts to solve systemic social, economic, and environmental problems; providing research to better inform civic conversation about relevant issues; and investing in new businesses and technologies that have the potential to benefit society. Through our grantmaking, research, and investments, the Foundation aims to help break the cycle of poverty that wreaks havoc on the lives of so many of our fellow citizens.
The work profiled in these pages captures some of the opportunities we have identified: workforce development programs that successfully place returning citizens in jobs; changes to the pretrial system that reduce the reliance on cash bail; career and technical education (CTE) pathways that lead to meaningful careers; expanded access to sports programs and physical activity; progress in the fight against youth homelessness; energy and safety upgrades for seniors and low-income homeowners that stabilize neighborhoods; and investments in entrepreneurs that grow our city and our economy.
These programs and partnerships offer vital reminders of our power and capacity to affect change.
We are proud to share this report of our activities in 2017.