Nonprofits get help in tough times

Despite slump in assets, Weinberg Foundation sets record with $100 million in grants

December 03, 2008|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,

Despite a sagging economy and a decline in charitable giving nationwide, the Maryland-based Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is distributing a record $100 million in grants to nonprofits, a quarter of which will stay within the state.

Trustees for the foundation - one of the country's largest private charitable organizations - made the announcement yesterday at a reception for about 600 community leaders and elected officials, including Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin, at the Hilton Baltimore hotel.

Weinberg Foundation officials said they were able to meet distribution goals even though assets are down 13 percent. The foundation still claims more than $2 billion in assets but is not accepting applications for new grants until next spring.

"We realize more funding is needed for nonprofits at a time when less funding is available," said Donn Weinberg, vice president of the foundation. But he added that the foundation has committed nearly all the money it set aside for this fiscal year.

The Weinberg Foundation introduced several new initiatives this year, including the Maryland Small Grants Program, which is expected to award about $6 million to smaller nonprofits in the state.

About 400 nonprofits submitted applications to the program, which has been lauded by advocates, who say it simplifies the application process and reduces the wait for a response.

The largest new grant was awarded to East Baltimore Development Inc., which was given $15 million for the second phase of a revitalization project near the Johns Hopkins Medical Center. The money will be distributed over the next five years to fund initiatives for work force development, senior services and education.

Statewide grant recipients included the Center for Urban Families, CASA de Maryland, the Maryland Food Bank, the Center for Jewish Education, the Archdiocese of Baltimore and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Trustees said they might have less money to give out next fiscal year because of the loss in assets but anticipate distributing at least $90 million worth of grants.

"We're going to be giving money well into the future," said Barry I. Schloss, treasurer for the Weinberg Foundation.

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