The T. Rowe Price Foundation and nonprofit groups plan to open a center in downtown Baltimore to encourage entrepreneurship and financial health among low- and moderate-income residents.
Bmore CoLab, which the foundation will run with the help of CASH Campaign of Maryland and other nonprofits, will start offering classes and other financial services in February at an Inner Harbor center at Lombard and Calvert streets.
Local nonprofits will use the center to develop and launch free or low-cost financial health initiatives and work with community members to solve financial challenges.
The Baltimore-based money management firm’s philanthropic foundation donated and renovated the space on the ground floor of its headquarters tower. It will include a classroom where nonprofits can run training sessions and technical assistance workshops for local small businesses and entrepreneurs. It also will have a children’s room, designed in collaboration with Junior Achievement, that can be used by participants’ children.
The local nonprofits “have the expertise to make a big impact and just need additional resources and infrastructure to expand their services to our innovative small businesses and entrepreneurs in the Baltimore community,” John Brothers, the foundation’s president, said in the announcement. "A strong local economy and financially stable households benefit the entire community.”
The funding to open the center will be included in $2.7 million in Impact Grants the foundation announced in June. In a four-year initiative, the foundation aims to boost educational, cultural and financial opportunities for residents of underserved city neighborhoods.
Those grants more than doubled the foundation’s $1.3 million pledge in 2016 for West Baltimore neighborhoods in the wake of the April 2015 violence sparked by the death of Freddie Gray from injuries suffered while in police custody. The initial round helped to make fresh produce more accessible to residents and invested in after-school programs, soup kitchens and financial literacy programs.
The CoLab will offer another outlet for the CASH Campaign to reach aspiring entrepreneurs, especially “with so many people, nowadays, working in the gig economy or starting 'side hustles,’” said Robin McKinney, CASH Campaign’s CEO, in the announcement.
CASH works with low- to moderate-income people and families in the city and across the state to promote economic advancement. Other groups participating in Bmore CoLab include KIVA Baltimore, Innovation Works and Mission Launch. All, including CASH, receive grants from the foundation.
Space at Bmore CoLab will be available through appointments with the nonprofit partners, who were selected based on their mix of services, potential for impact and capacity to fully use the space over a three-year period.