We are a nonprofit initiative committed to fostering more equitable, inclusive, sustainable neighborhoods by promoting and catalyzing community wealth building models and strategies across Baltimore. We envision a future for Baltimore in which all people can reach their highest potential. Our work prioritizes 1) Thought leadership to generate and advance promising new ideas, 2) Education to activate people on the ground, and 3) Concrete projects to build community wealth in neighborhoods that have experienced historical disinvestment.
Baltimore, like many post-industrial cities, suffers from significant unemployment, poverty, and systemic discrimination that has resulted in extreme inequities between its neighborhoods. Despite the city’s efforts to affect positive change, generational poverty persists, and too many neighborhoods lack vibrant businesses, family-sustaining employment opportunities, and quality, affordable housing.
Baltimore also has a high number of returning citizens, a population that has historically struggled to find and retain quality jobs. More than 60% of formerly incarcerated Baltimoreans are unemployed 1 year after release, and those who find employment earn 40% less on an annual basis. Community wealth building models have a track record of creating good jobs for those excluded from traditional labor markets and help foster important wage and asset-building opportunities for many city residents.
Community wealth building models are common in many U.S. cities and have a successful track record for creating quality jobs and vibrant businesses in some of the most distressed neighborhoods in the country. Such inclusive and sustainable models are rare in Baltimore. With the extreme inequities between Baltimore neighborhoods, it is clear that innovative approaches to economic and community development are sorely needed. Community Wealth Builders was made to fill this important gap.