On December 31, 1953, newspaper executive and philanthropist Harry C. Black founded the A.S. Abell Company Foundation – what is known today as the Abell Foundation, “the largest private foundation serving only Maryland,” according to its website. Black was chairman of the board of the A.S. Abell Company, then-publisher of the Baltimore Sun newspaper.
Today, the foundation’s work remains deeply connected to Baltimore. Its mission is “to enhance the quality of life in Baltimore and in Maryland,” through funding grants, research, and investments in new technologies that show promising impact on environmental and social outcomes. Ultimately, “the Foundation places a strong emphasis on opening the doors of opportunity to the disenfranchised, believing that no community can thrive if those who live on the margins of it are not included,” according to its website.
Today, it is run by an 18-person staff and seven-member Board of Trustees. Since its inception, the Abell Foundation has awarded more than $276 million to the communities in which it works.
Major Program Categories: Vulnerable children, youth and families are impacted directly and indirectly by a wide array of organizations that the Abell Foundation supports, across all seven of its areas of interest: education, workforce development, health and human services, community development, criminal justice and addiction, environment, and the arts.
For example, some of the larger grants the Abell Foundation has given so far this year include $124,618 to TurnAround, Inc. for “outreach, support services, emergency shelter, and transitional housing for Baltimore City victims of sex trafficking and their children.” Funding has gone to organizations like Citywide Youth Development in the amount of $150,000 to support the EMAGE (Entrepreneurs Making and Growing Enterprises) workforce development program, and Catholic Charities has been designated $102,000 to support English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at the Esperanza Center for unaccompanied immigrant children. For a full list of 2017 and prior grantees, see the Abell Foundation’s grants database.
It is also worth exploring the fruits of the Abell Foundation’s other commitments: its research publications and direct investments. These two facets of the foundation’s work highlight the ways in which the foundation is laying the groundwork for systemic change. The publications aim to marry “philanthropy with communication” to drive thought-provoking public conversation. It invests in developing new technologies to advance environmental and social goals, and through this work attract companies to Baltimore and create jobs.
How to Apply: For grant requests of $5,000 or less, organizations are able to submit an application for a “Small Grant” directly via an online application. The foundation considers these grants on a rolling basis.
Grant requests larger than $5,000 must be initiated by submitting a letter of inquiry (LOI) to the Abell Foundation. Letters of inquiry should highlight a project description, the amount of funding requested, a total budget, and information about the population served by the project. These LOIs should be submitted via email to [email protected], or via mail to
Robert C. Embry, Jr., President
111 South Calvert Street, Suite 2300
Baltimore, MD 21202
If the foundation is interested in learning more about a project from its LOI, the organization will then receive an invitation to apply online.
Name of Foundation: Abell Foundation
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Contact Information: Phone – 410-547-1300. Email – [email protected].
Coverage Area: Maryland, with a focus on Baltimore
Subject Area: Education, Workforce Development, Health and Human Services, Community Development, Criminal Justice and Addiction, Environment, Arts
Total Assets: $312,562,575 (2015)
Last Year Total Giving: $13,756,746 (2015)
Recent News and Grantmaking: