The foundation primarily serves the city of Balitmore. Photo: Christian Hinkle/shutterstock

The foundation primarily serves the city of Balitmore. Photo: Christian Hinkle/shutterstock

As we cover in depth in our Mid-Atlantic States funding guide, dozens of philanthropic foundations focus on the state of Maryland. One of the most important names for local grantseekers to know is Abell.

The Abell Foundation dates back to 1953 and holds the distinction of being the largest private foundation to exclusively serve Maryland. It’s the legacy of Harry C. Black, a former publisher of The Baltimore Sun, and a great funder to know for local support across a variety of needs.

Here are the top things Maryland nonprofits should know about the Abell Foundation.

Mostly Focused on the City of Baltimore

Although the Abell Foundation is a statewide funder, it is most interested in the city of Baltimore. The foundation is based in Baltimore, and the bulk of its grants stay within city limits. Recent Baltimore-based grantees include the Baltimore Robotics League, the Maryland Alliance of Public Charter Schools and the Public Justice Center. Other grantees are based in Langley Park, Adelphi and Randallstown.

Seven Major Areas of Interest

The Abell Foundation has broad grantmaking interests organized around seven top areas of focus. Education grants support low-income children in Baltimore’s PreK-12 public education system. Workforce development grants fund job skills training, job retention efforts and job seekers’ access to essential services. Health and human services grants address hunger, homelessness, domestic violence, access to healthcare, family planning, economic insecurity and children’s health.

Abell’s community development grants support economic development, assist entrepreneurs, promote sustainability and invest in neighborhoods. Criminal justice and addiction grants focus on access to treatment, public safety, recidivism and juvenile justice. Grants for the environment address clean air and water, preserving undeveloped land and protecting the Chesapeake Bay. Finally, arts grants target underserved Baltimore communities and help artists live and work locally.

Types of Grants Offered

Much of the Abell Foundation’s funding goes toward ongoing projects that provide services. But this is also a good funder to know for start-up seed funding and capital grants for construction and equipment. However, this is not a foundation to approach with requests for operation expenses, travel, or sponsorships.

Program-Related Investments                            

In addition to grants, the Abell Foundation also makes program-related investments (PRIs) in Maryland. The funder regularly awards low-cost loans and loan guarantees at below-market rates, taking on higher levels of risk. Local organizations must pay back these PRIs over time, but they let recipients afford capital needs and secure stable facilities. Recent PRI recipients include Baltimore BioWorks, Harbor Designs and Manufacturing, and the Urban Pastoral Collective.

Five Opportunities Per Year

A notable point about the Abell Foundation is that it considers grants requests much more frequently than many other funders in the region. The board of trustees reviews new grant requests five times a year following established proposal deadlines in January, March, May, August and October. Meanwhile, Abell accepts small grant requests of $5,000 or less on a rolling basis.

You can learn more about this Maryland funder and access staff bios and contact information in IP’s full profile of the Abell Foundation.

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