Baltimore, MD

Philanthropy Tank: Empowering Baltimore's Young Changemakers

Susan Kelley

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Photo Courtesy of Philanthropy Tank

Philanthropy plus young people equals real change in the world. That's what this program, with a hub in Baltimore city hopes to gain by encouraging and mentoring young philanthropists in Baltimore, Maryland.

Philanthropy Tank Baltimore is beginning its 2nd year of supporting student-led philanthropy in the city with bold initiatives and big ambitions.

Applications for Philanthropy Tank are open until October 3, 2021.

Philanthropy Tank offers students in grades 8-12 the opportunity to gain mentorship and sponsorship for their student-led initiatives through a competitive process. Founded in 2015, the program has awarded more than $600,000 in grants to ambitious students seeking to improve their communities through a variety of initiatives.

The awardees, dubbed "changemakers," have led a variety of programs, including: Arts and Culture, Community Development, Education and Youth, Environmental Activism, Food Insecurity, Health and Human Services, Human and Gender Rights, and Racial Equality. According to its website, the primary aim of Philanthropy Tank is "to help shape students’ leadership paths and, through their creative solutions, address and improve social issues in our community."

Part of that mission includes workshops that are held year-round to teach essential leadership and management skills as well as ethics to young people. In order to make their programs successful, participants also learn marketing, branding, and social media skills to promote their initiatives to the broader community.

D'Mond Davis, student at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts, is one of the program's Change Makers. D'Mond led the program, "Hungry for Change," a student initiative that provides meal preparation services and education to low-income and minority populations in Baltimore to help them "avoid developing life-threatening health diseases."

Cristina Lindner, Tomas Carter, Mariele Sabat are the Baltimore Change Makers who created Art for the Soul, a fully student-conceived program that offers mentoring through music and art classes for migrant children in the Baltimore area who face economic barriers. A real emblem of success, since receiving funding, a total of 50+ children have graduated from Art for the Soul. The organization provides tutoring alongside arts education to meld the two into a fuller educational experience.

Reginald F. Lewis High School students Ania McNair, Naim Adams, Marque Knox, Zion Pittman, and Lanae Williams became Change Makers when they established "Not for Sale," a "student-led human trafficking initiative that focuses on raising awareness of human trafficking by providing resources to youth in the Baltimore City Community."

Recently, two awardees connected to conduct their philanthropic work together. The project, "Linking for Brilliance" team, led by Nakeia Jones, began collaborating with a fellow Philanthropy Tank finalist, Ania McNair from "Not for Sale," in order to further educational opportunities about human trafficking in the Baltimore area. The two groups are planning extracurricular programming to shed light on the difficult topic and aim to reach the whole of Baltimore Public schools through their programs.

Each Change Makers project has a sponsor-mentor to help guide them as they become successful in launching their initiative.

In order to apply, applicants must be a student in Baltimore City Schools, grades 8-12. Teams of up to 4 students may join together to apply as a single team unit. Projects should address an issue of importance within the city, and should be of interest or concern to the team and the city as a whole. Applications are due October 2, 2021 and are available on the Philanthropy Tank website. A Finals Event is held for selected individuals and teams in February, and winners are announced at that time. At the Finals Event, student finalists are asked to present their community impact ideas in person to a panel of Philanthropist Investors to obtain funding and mentorship for one year. The Philanthropist Investors pledge time and funds to the initiatives they deem most fitting, and agree to provide support over the course of the upcoming year, and sometimes beyond.

The next scheduled Finals Event will be held on February 17th, 2022, at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

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Susan is a runner, avid traveler, mom of three grown children, and a newly-transplanted Baltimorean who follows tech trends, especially at the intersection of health and the public good. Sound intriguing? It is. Often, technology is at odds with the "earthy-crunchy," but sometimes, it is a real boost. Susan is an avowed supporter of women's and human rights, so that situates well here.

Baltimore, MD
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