Focus on Advocacy
Through advocacy, we can accomplish more than through grants alone. At BCF, we define “advocacy” broadly, including not only lobbying for or against specific legislation or budget measures, but also building productive relationships with elected and appointed officials, convening stakeholders around a common purpose, leveraging our grants to secure public and private investments and informing and mobilizing our donors and other friends on issues of importance.
We advocate on issues that are aligned with our priorities in education and neighborhoods, and where BCF’s voice can make a difference.
2018 Advocacy Agenda
We advocate on issues that are aligned with our priorities in education and neighborhoods, and where BCF’s voice can make a difference. In 2018, BCF advocacy will focus on advancing racial equity in school funding and policy; improvement of Baltimore school facilities; regional transportation system improvements and other issues related to the vitality of Baltimore neighborhoods; and charitable giving incentives.
Racial equity in school funding
BCF is undertaking a campaign that uses race equity as a framework for advocating for adequate funding and innovation for Maryland public schools. Throughout 2018 and beyond, BCF will use grantmaking, strategic communications, research, coalition-building, and lobbying to recommend policy solutions that promote opportunity, equity, and justice. We will work in close partnership with policymakers and with other advocates, both locally and throughout the state.
Inadequate funding for public schools has a disproportionately negative impact on the futures of minority students and their families. Thirty-four percent of Maryland public school students are African-American and 15% are Hispanic. Many attend schools that are increasingly segregated and under-resourced. Racial disparities in education results hurt not just these students and their families, but Maryland’s long-term economic vitality.
In 2016, the Maryland General Assembly formed the Commission on Innovation & Excellence in Education (the “Kirwan Commission”). Its charge is to recommend policies to improve the quality of education in Maryland’s public schools, and to ensure that schools are adequately funded. The Commission is scheduled to issue a report to the General Assembly in 2018; its recommendations will not be fully successful if they ignore the effects and legacy of structural racism.
Improvement of Baltimore School Facilities
The conditions school buildings and other surrounding infrastructure in Baltimore City is an issue of ongoing concern. In 2016 the Maryland General Assembly commissioned the 21st Century School Facilities Commission to address disparities and issues in contracts and how school buildings were built, operated, maintained, merged, and closed. Better leadership and accountability from the public sector are needed to ensure the best outcomes for students, teachers, and communities. We should not be waiting until pipes burst and temperatures drop to ensure that our students have exactly what they need to learn in a safe, warm, welcoming environment across Baltimore City.
Regional Transportation System Improvements
Central Maryland Transportation Alliance (CMTA), an initiative of BCF, focuses on improving and expanding transportation options for the citizens and businesses of Central Maryland. Regional transit systems are vitally important to Baltimore neighborhoods and schools, since residents rely on public transportation to get to work, and City Schools students use it to get from home to school and back. Areas of CMTA focus in 2018 include preserving MTA bus lines, improving access to jobs, and expanding MARC service.
In 2014, BCF and the Maryland Community Foundations successfully advocated for the establishment of Endow Maryland, a state tax credit that rewards donors who help build permanent charitable funds at qualified community foundations in Maryland. BCF supports efforts to expand this credit, in order to promote charitable giving in Maryland. BCF also works with a community foundations across the U.S. to raise awareness at the federal level about the good that community foundations do nationwide.