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Bloomberg Philanthropies wants to help grow Baltimore arts groups

Bloomberg Philanthropies is expanding its Arts Innovation and Management grant program to seven new cities. Baltimore is one of them.

Baltimore is among seven new cities where Bloomberg Philanthropies plans to invest a total of $43 million in arts and culture nonprofits.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is expanding its Arts Innovation and Management program, which works to strengthen small and midsize cultural organizations. The organization will aim to invest in about 200 groups across Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Denver; New Orleans; Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

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Bloomberg Philanthropies asked 15 Baltimore organizations to apply for the invitation-only grants on Thursday. The group declined to disclose the groups selected.

"We have a lot of interest in Baltimore here at Bloomberg Philanthropies in lots of ways, in lots of reasons — dynamic city, dynamic mayor," said Kate Levin, who oversees Bloomberg Philanthropies' arts programs. "The cultural sector is something that we think could really contribute to the city's strength."

Through the AIM grants, each organization receives unrestricted funding — about 10 percent of its operating budget — in addition to management training, one-on-one mentorship and seminars that cover topics such as improving fundraising and effective marketing strategies.

Applications for the grants are due by June 20, and the organizations will be notified of their acceptance by Aug. 15.

In Baltimore, Bloomberg Philanthropies invited organizations to apply that had already participated in Capacity Building Baltimore, a program of the University of Maryland's DeVos Institute of Arts Management.

Bloomberg Philanthropies wants to see the organizations "continue to flourish, to thrive, to move forward" as a result of the program, Levin said. The goal isn't necessarily to grow the groups' size, Levin said, but rather to strengthen their abilities to serve their communities, plan for the future and increase their funding sources.

Founded in 2011, the AIM program has assisted more than 500 arts nonprofits, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies. The program was piloted in New York and expanded to cities including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The one-year program in Baltimore will vary slightly from other cities because the organizations have already patricipated in some training with the DeVos Institute, but grantees in every city are required to take part in the institute's management training.

Upon receiving the grant, each organization must also agree to secure 20 percent in matching funds.

The AIM program focuses on non-profits with budgets between $150,000 and $3.5 million because they tend to have a similar management structure, Levin said. Every organization invited to participate in 2018 has existed for at least two years, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies, and they work across a range of disciplines — from theater to dance to visual arts.

This isn't the first time Bloomberg has invested in Baltimore. In 2013, businessman and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the guiding force behind Bloomberg Philanthropies, gave the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health $300 million, its largest gift to date.

Last year Bloomberg Philanthropies teamed up with Goldman Sachs on a $10 million investment to launch a training and loan program for small businesses in Baltimore. The city was also selected in 2017 to receive as much as $500,000 annually for three years to work on driving down the homicide rate under Bloomberg's Innovation Team program.

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