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Baltimore Nabs $19M as Part of Living Cities Integration Initiative

Baltimore City has been awarded $19 million in grants from Living Cities, a collaborative of 22 of the world's largest foundations and financial institutions. The city is one of five chosen as winners in the new Integration Initiative, which supports game-changing innovations that address intractable problems affecting low-income people. The award continues Living Cities' nearly 20-year commitment to Baltimore, which has resulted in millions of dollars for community initiatives.

The Baltimore Integration Partnership focuses on creating job opportunities and improving neighborhoods in Central and East Baltimore, while preparing residents for opportunities created by the construction of the Red Line, a 14-mile east-west transit line. Through the Integration Initiative, Baltimore is eligible for up to $19 million in grants, loans, and Program-Related Investments (PRIs) to support its efforts. PRIs are flexible, low-cost loans provided at below-market rates to support charitable activity.

The Integration Initiative is an effort to leverage the financial investment, influence, and leadership of Living Cities members to create a new framework for solving complex problems. It encourages local leaders to work together to challenge obsolete conventional wisdom, "rewire" the systems that are critical to making our cities places of opportunity for low-income people, and drive the private market to work on behalf of low-income people. The Integration Initiative seeks to institutionalize these changes through a focus on changing local, state and federal policy. The support to Baltimore is part of up to $80 million that will be invested in five metropolitan areas.

As part of its application, Baltimore's public, private, philanthropic and non-profit sectors agreed to work as  partners on the initiative. The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers coordinated the application. Partners in the effort are the Office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the Office of Governor Martin O'Malley, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Goldseker Foundation, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, Associated Black Charities, Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative, Johns Hopkins University and Medical Institutions, Maryland Institute College of Art, Job Opportunities Task Force, Central Baltimore Partnership, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, and the East Baltimore Development Inc. The Reinvestment Fund will serve as the financial intermediary, making targeted investments in projects that advance the initiative's goals.

The Baltimore Integration Partnership will build upon the success of Baltimore's Workforce Funders' Collaborative, an effort that has helped launch programs in biotechnology, healthcare and construction, moving thousands of low-income city residents into careers, and the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative's efforts to promote transit-centered community development.

"This selection represents a continuation of our relationship with Baltimore," says Living Cities CEO Ben Hecht. "Since 1991, we have invested $23 million in affordable housing and other initiatives in Baltimore, which has been leveraged to a total investment of $108 million. We have also previously invested in green retrofitting initiatives there."

Living Cities resources will help Baltimore create a model for how neighborhood, regional, city, and state economic development and transportation investments can benefit low-income people by driving and/or integrating workforce development, affordable housing and neighborhood amenities. Funding will result in at least 1,200 residents being connected to job pipeline services, 840 of whom will be employed in careers with family-supporting wages; 400 units of mixed-income housing built; and 346,000 square feet of mixed-use commercial space developed.

Source: Living Cities
Writer: Walaika Haskins
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