In 2021, we weathered the continuing disruption and devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. We celebrated the distribution of effective, groundbreaking vaccines and endured the waves of the Delta and Omicron variants. We also came to grips with the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black and Brown communities: from learning interruptions due to lack of internet access and stable learning environments to the challenges in returning to work due to the closing of childcare centers. We also mourned the 337 Baltimore residents lost to homicide, the 718 lost to COVID-19, and the 980 lives lost to overdose.
In the face of all of this, Baltimoreans continued to inspire us – sometimes simply by carrying on and other times by pushing for transformational change.
This past year saw record-setting levels of public and private investment. The 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provided $641 million to the City of Baltimore in response to COVID-19 and its negative economic impacts. Those dollars, which will be allocated to public agencies and non-profits over the next three years, will support work that has been core to Abell’s community partners for years: workforce training, green energy jobs, safe and stable communities, and digital equity. Baltimore is also seeing a surge in private capital flowing to our city’s innovative startups, with a 161% increase in dollars raised by startups in 2021, compared to the national increase of 96%. As these startups scale, they will create high quality jobs and more pathways to prosperity for more residents.
The work profiled in these pages captures a sliver of the diverse, innovative ways Baltimoreans responded to the crisis of the pandemic, the deeper, systemic challenges we face as a city, and the opportunity to build on our many strengths. Some projects are neighborhood or community-focused efforts to address an urgent, immediate need such as food insecurity or healing from trauma. Others are longer term programs and initiatives targeting the effects of climate change, the needs of returning citizens navigating the transition home, the barriers to homeownership, the issue of increasing access to capital for local businesses, and the need for more individualized math instruction and support. This report also highlights two long-term – and on-going – campaigns led by Baltimore advocates to ensure safe, accessible and affordable water for all and to expand Medicaid coverage for vulnerable conditions and populations.
Collectively, these organizations – and the hundreds of others we supported in 2021 – inspire us by their vision, actions, and impact.