Baltimore Leader Secures $20 Million to Support Black Leaders and Organizations After Learning of Foundation’s Closure 

Baltimore Leader Secures $20 Million to Support Black Leaders and Organizations After Learning of Foundation’s Closure 

After learning that the local foundation she leads (OSI-Baltimore) would close, a Baltimore leader sprang into action and secured $20 million from her parent organization, the Open Society Foundations, to seed a responsible wind-down effort.

Danielle Torain is a Black female attorney who has spent the past decade investing in Black-led groups and organizing efforts. She knew that without appropriate tie-off support, grantees, who are predominantly Black, could experience hardship. 

“I know firsthand the amazing work grantees are leading,” Torain said.

“I also know that without intervention, the closure of OSI-Baltimore could present a disruption to critical work and organizing. It could also have a disparate impact on Black organizers and groups. It was important to me then that we went to extraordinary lengths to mitigate harm. Raising funds to support a responsible wind-down was the least we could do.” 

OSI-Baltimore opened 25 years ago as OSF’s first and only field office. In its quarter century, OSI-Baltimore helped catalyze key policy changes; foster new movements; inspire national investments to Baltimore; and lead the local philanthropic sector in supporting organizations advancing new approaches to the city and region’s biggest challenges. 

Each year, OSI-Baltimore invests in 80 organizations and operates on a base budget of $5 million (the organizational budget is often higher as OSI-Baltimore leverages capital from public and private partners as well as other sources). The investment which Torain and several internal and external partners secured will jumpstart an evolution of the Baltimore Community Fellowship, which has supported more than 200 grassroots social entrepreneurs and social justice advocates since its founding 25 years ago.  

“I am so proud of the initiatives and leaders OSI had the privilege of supporting over the last 25 years,” Torain added.

“While OSI’s closure is certainly not the news I had hoped to share, I am thankful we are able to make this massive investment which will set grantees up for future success. I am also thankful to have had the opportunity to invest in a new initiative that will support community-based groups in OSI-Baltimore’s absence.”

As part of its transition, OSF will join other local and national investors, and invest $6 million to support the Maryland Black Futures Fund, set to launch later this year.

Spearheaded by placed-based movement organization CLLCTIVLY, and inspired by a California-based prototype, the Maryland Black Futures Fund is a new five-year, $100 million dollar campaign. It is designed to support Black power-building and movement-based organizations in Baltimore and across the state of Maryland. The fund will help ensure these groups have the sustained investments and resources necessary to eradicate systemic and institutionalized racism.