Grassroots Grantmaking + Fusion = Community inFusion

     Approaching East Baltimore, you cannot help but notice among blocks and blocks of rowhomes the tall gleaming buildings of Johns Hopkins or as some community residents have dubed it “Vatican City.”  Then suddenly, within the shadows cast by these large ever-expanding structures you stumble across large ghostly fields that seem so lonely and out of place. These fields are all that remain of the 700 families that were displaced from their homes in East Baltimore to make way for the building of an 88- acre technology park..  Like many other historically working class neighborhoods in the city, East Baltimore’s rich history, deep roots and memories are in danger of being paved over/buried to bring in the wealthier class. In an effort to help remaining residents restore residential power in their neighborhoods, The Annie E. Casey Foundation has partnered with Fusion to pilot a small grants program modelled after successful grassroots grantmaking programs in Cleveland, Detroit, and Atlanta.  Residents from the neighborhoods we serve (C.A.R.E., McElderry Park, and Middle East) developed the program’s name —Community inFusion.  Check out our grassroots approach to grantmaking, a year’s worth of work,  below!

1) Hire Community Organizer as Project Coordinator (Allison Duggan) and Americorps

Public Ally (Tamika Bryant) to begin the capacity building process from the bottom up!

2) Go with residents and Annie E. Casey Foundation Staff to Cleveland to learn as a team

how to approach neighborhood capacity building through grassroots grantmaking and seeing it in action. (Thanks Neighborhood Connections for the awesome learning  experience!!!!)


3) Research, attend race trainings, and learn through the power of Storytelling,  the history of Neighborhoods in East Baltimore

4) Attend Community Association Meetings to:

a) Meet the Community Association Members and Resident Leaders

b) Meet other nonprofits and grassroots groups working in the area

c) Learn about the needs and interests of the neighborhoods from neighbors

5) LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN, then TALK to throw out some ideas… and then LISTEN again!

6) Bring together Residents Leaders to formulate:

a) Grant Guideline

 b) Grant Boundaries

 c) A Small Grants Committee

7) Recruit Small Grants Committee Members (3 from McElderry Park, 3 from Middle  East, and 3 from C.A.R.E.) based on the suggestions of the Resident Leaders and  review draft grant and committee member guidelines for final input.

8) In the meantime, implement the model of Neighborhood Connection’s Network Night…

Why? Because the residents who came with us to Cleveland loved it and said that they want to see it happen in their neighborhood!  Repeat step 5!


a) PHYSICALLY- by distributing copies at Community Association Meetings,  NorthEast Market, and digitally on website



a) Provide Grant Writing Trainings that will EMPOWER and prepare residents with tools and resources they may need for other grants out there in grant world!

b) Provide technical assistance- If people need help filling out grants… JUST DO IT!

c) Make yourself readily available for any additional questions or needs (At Fusion we try to be!)

d) REPEAT STEP 5 throughout Grant Application Process!

11) Have the Small Grants Committee review grants, interview applicants, and award  grants… Provide the support they may need in order to do so!

12) Provide an orientation for grantees to meet other grantees, committee members, and  familiarize themselves with Fusion’s Procedures. For those who applied and did not receive funding, set aside time to meet in person if they wish to do so.  Try your best to make sure that they walk away feeling ENCOURAGED not discouraged.. Repeat Step 5

13) Reflect with Grantees, Residents and Small Grants Committee on the entire process in order to the Community inFusion Small Grants better! Utilize Step 5!

14) Repeat Steps 3 – 13 with the revisions and suggestions provided by our awesome neighbors in C.A.R.E., McElderry Park, and Middle East!


…We did it! Congratulations to the eleven fantastic groups that have been funded by Community inFusion Small Grants Program in the Spring 2016 Round. Special thanks goes out to our Small Grants Committee, comprised of residents from C.A.R.E., McElderry Park, and Middle East neighborhoods for working so hard and diligently to support their neighbors and help them receive funding.  Please see the  full list of Spring 2016 Grantees below.


McElderry Park Masterpieces Lunch and Literacy:

Summer Reading and Lunch Program

Project Leaders:

Neighborhood: McElderry Park

Program Status: Successfully Completed


Build – A – Bike:

Program created for youth to teach skills and violence prevention.    

Activities and lessons include learning how to fix and maintain bikes, resolveconflicts, increase health and reduce stress through exercise, and bike tours around the city.

Project Leaders:

Neighborhood: McElderry Park

Program Status: Ongoing


Team Redemption:

Youth Boxing After-school Program for young men in conjunction with Safe

Streets East.    

Project Leaders:

Neighborhood: McElderry Park

Program Status: Ongoing


Economic Development through Peer to Peer Support:

Community Entrepreneur Speaking Series and Homebuyers Club   

Project Leaders:

Neighborhood: C.A.R.E./McElderry

Program Status: Ongoing


Mural Art Project: Structures in Nature, Plants, Flowers and Insects:

Working with neighborhood youth to create a wall of birdhouses that    

incorporates a mural in hopes to bridge cultures, neighbors, and the environment.

Project Leaders:

Neighborhood: C.A.R.E.

Program Status: Ongoing


The Amazing Grace Summer Kids Camp

Free Summer Camp for children of the McElderry Park Neighborhood in partnership with Amazing Grace Lutheran Church

Project Leaders:

Neighborhood: McElderry Park

Program Status: Successfully Completed


Feed The Village:

Summer Food Program providing youth and summer youthworkers of  

McElderry hot nutritious breakfasts and lunches.

Project Leaders:

Neighborhood: McElderry Park

Program Status: Ongoing


Madiera Street Snowblower and Safe Streets

To gear up to serve the neighbors in the Middle East (specifically families and   

elderly) snowblowers, salt, shovels etc. were purchased to help keep the    

streets safe and clear during the snowy winter months.

Project Leaders:

Neighborhood: Middle East

Program Status: Ongoing


Community Vacant Lot Maintenance Beautification Team:

Neighborhood Vacant Lot cleanup efforts that provides residents of CARE   

with new tools and stipends for the 2016 Summer/Fall season.

Project Leaders:

Neighborhood: C.A.R.E.

Program Status: Ongoing


2nd Annual Back To School Rally:

Rally to provide Middle East Youth with school supplies to be prepared for the

new school year.  The Group may also take leftover funds to do another

school supply giveaway in the winter when supplies often run out.

Project Leaders:

Neighborhood: Middle East

Program Status: Ongoing


The Ladies Home Improvement Project

C.A.R.E. has many single mothers and single female homeowners in their    

community that need assistance with home repairs. Recognizing the demand,   

residents skilled in handiwork/ repair, will teach light maintenance   

skills around the house to help alleviate the costs of hiring professionals.   

Project Leaders:

Neighborhood: C.A.R.E.

Program Status: Ongoing


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