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United Way of Central Maryland Announces Funding for Local Changemakers

$500,000 invested in innovators to support ideas that will make positive impact on their communities 

Baltimore, MD (November 19, 2021) – United Way of Central Maryland invested a total of $500,000 into innovative initiatives created by community members to benefit the region during the Changemaker Challenge. The Changemakers who received the top grant in each event include Alston for Athletes, B-360, Ballet After Dark, The Harford Community College Foundation, Improving Education, Kits to Heart, The Pro Bono Counseling Project, Safe Alternative Foundation for Education, Inc., Sharp Dressed Man, and Sober Truth.  

“The Changemaker Challenge isn’t a competition among applicants or ideas, instead it’s the challenge of addressing inequity,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “This platform gives more people a seat at the table and provides a way for changemakers to share fresh ideas that will help close service and resource gaps, so that united we can help even more people and drive positive, meaningful change in our region” 

Individuals and nonprofit organizations were invited to submit ideas for sustainable action to help residents and communities recover from the pandemic and the inequities it exposed. The Changemakers collaborated with Conscious Venture Lab and Neuberger & Co. for group and one-on-one preparatory sessions, and partnered with Wide Angle Youth Media, Storia Studio, and Rock Shore Media to create professionally edited videos to help convey their ideas. They recently presented their big ideas to virtual audiences of people from across the region. The audience also took part in the events by presenting the Audience Choice Awards to The Community Ecology Institute in Howard County, Found in Faith Ministries in Harford County, Storybook Maze in Baltimore County, Tendea Family in Baltimore City, and WeGo Foundation in Anne Arundel County. 

The 2021 Changemakers who received the top grants are: 

  • Anne Arundel County: Improving Education’s Bedtime in a Box provides families with everything they need to support and sustain a nightly routine and empower them to bond and read with their child every night. 

  • Baltimore City:  

  • B-360’s #Ride4Change campaign combines STEM education, workforce development, economic justice, and dirt bike culture.  

  • Ballet After Dark uses trauma-informed, holistic dance therapy for survivors of stalking, and sexual and intimate partner violence.  

  • Safe Alternative Foundation for Education, Inc. will open the SAFE Workforce Development Center to provide woodworking skills and experience to community members ages 11-14 and provide technical construction training with certifications to 18-24-year-old adults.  

  • Baltimore County:  

  • Kits to Heart will work with multiple partners to offer free art classes and workshops for the cancer community. 

  • The Pro Bono Counseling Project, Inc. will enlist licensed mental health providers as volunteers to see one to two pro bono clients annually. 

  • Sharp Dressed Man’s “Sharp Dressed Van” will allow the organization to offer high volumes of garment delivery to community partners and clients. 

  • Carroll County: In Carroll County, United Way of Central Maryland sponsored the Change-Maker Award as part of the Carroll Biz Challenge in August. Sober Truth, a program that provides treatment for those suffering from addiction, received top funding. 

  • Harford County: The Harford Community College Foundation’s BeVocal project engages the entire campus community as active bystanders prepared to recognize and intervene when someone is suffering a mental health concern by providing training workshops. 

  • Howard County: Alston for Athletes will provide youth Mental Health First Aid Training to athletic directors, coaches, and trainers in Howard County.  

Additional funded initiatives can be found at the following link

The Changemaker Challenge began in Howard County in 2017 as a partnership between United Way of Central Maryland and the Horizon Foundation. Now hosted by United Way of Central Maryland in Baltimore City and the surrounding counties, the Changemaker Challenge is focused on sparking innovation and fresh thinking to address the area’s most pressing issues, like access to healthy food, mental health, digital access, stable housing, expanding equity, education, and more. The first two Changemaker Challenges saw almost $100,000 invested in community members to address complex social issues, including supporting recovery from alcoholism with healthy alternatives, helping children from lower-income families access higher education and recreational sports opportunities, creating upcycled structures from recycled goods, spreading the word about Columbia’s Black freedom visionaries, and more.  

For more information, visit  


United Way of Central Maryland promotes equity, creates opportunity, and improves lives by increasing access to basic needs such as health, housing, economic advancement, and education. Learn more at