Tag: social change

OSI Is Looking for a Few Good Fellows to Make a Difference for Baltimore

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The Open Society Institute Community Fellowship Program is now seeking applicants for its 17th class!  The program offers $60,000 over 18 months to individuals who are interested in implementing projects that address problems in communities all over Baltimore. The 2014 fellowships begin in November 2014.  To read about the 2013 projects, read Change Agents: OSI Announces Its 2013 Fellows

Application deadline: Monday, March 3, 2014 at 5:00pm. To apply, click here.

“Audacious Individuals” Receive Award From OSI

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The Open Society Institute-Baltimore awarded yesterday its “Audacious Individuals Awards” to James DeGraffenreidt, Dan Rodricks, Bebe Verdery, and The Core Alliance of Youth Leaders at a standing-room-only gathering of business, philanthropic, and political leaders, who came together to discuss ideas for moving Baltimore forward. The event, “Big Change Baltimore: A Forum of Ideas That Are Reshaping Our Future,” marks the organization’s fifteenth year of working to create changes in the city.

“We are thrilled to present this year’s ‘Audacious Individuals Awards’ to members of our community who have displayed exemplary efforts to improve the quality of life in the city in which we live,” said Diana Morris, director of OSI-Baltimore.

“Fifteen years after beginning our work here in Baltimore, we continue to be enriched by the ideas of individuals who persist in their audacious efforts, and never tire in dedication, commitment and determination. Our city is better off because of these individuals.”

Breaking Silos: Racial Progress in a Divided Community

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Rodney FoxworthThe following essay is re-published with permission from local writer and social entrepreneur Rodney Foxworth. It appeared on the website of Changing Media, a company committed to “helping visionary organizations harness the power of new media for social change.” -The Eds.

I live an intensely bifurcated life, which has begrudgingly placed me in the role of cultural translator and community bridge-builder. And the bifurcation of my life has never been more pronounced than it has been over the past year.

For the past year, I’ve worked to help build a community of social entrepreneurs in the field of Black Male Achievement through BMe, a project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Open Society Foundation; concurrently, I’ve helped organize and connect a growing network of (mostly white) self-identified social entrepreneurs and changemakers, with very little overlap between the two communities, a sad reality that haunts me day and night. While there are traumatic structural and historical forces that have produced a city as doggedly segregated as Baltimore (and the world of social change has not been exempted), I’ve largely failed in my responsibilities as an organizer and advocate for Baltimore City.

Johns Hopkins Students Leading Social Change in Baltimore

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Navigating Baltimore City’s thorny special education bureaucracy. A micro-farming project that breaks up “food deserts” by harnessing the skills of refugees and immigrants who were involved in agriculture in their home projects. A science league that teaches creative thinking and science/math skills in a fun (and competitive) after-school program. Each of these projects was dreamed up and designed by a Johns Hopkins undergraduate for a three-week mini class that taught students how to draw up a business plan — and how to think thoughtfully about how they might make Baltimore a better place.

But the plans aren’t just academic theory. The class, called Leading Social Change and taught during Hopkins’ January intersession term, culminated with the brand-new Social Entrepreneurial Business Plan Competition. And the three students who won (with the projects mentioned above) each got $5,000 in seed money to make their idea a reality.

This is, it seems to me, an unabashedly good idea. Students gain real-world skills in budgeting, writing grant proposals, and coming up with innovative — and achievable ideas. And then they put those skills to use in their own communities. The class was made possible by a $75,000 gift from alumnus Christopher Drennen, who has himself learned, it seems, how to spur social change in innovative ways.

Read more about the projects and the class that inspired them here.

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