The B'MORE Fund Makes First Awards; Three Baltimoreans Honored

The B'MORE Fund at the Baltimore Community Foundation has announced the first recipients of the BíMORE Fund Award.

The three awardees-Tisha Edwards, principal of The Baltimore Freedom Academy; Joseph T. Jones, Jr., Executive Director of CFWD, Strive; and Sean Smeeton, executive director of Sylvan Beach Foundation-were honored for their commitment to the city at the first-ever B'MORE Fund Awards Gala on Thursday, October 23 at the Rotunda Theater.

The award recipients were secretly nominated and selected by B'MORE Fund members. Each received $5,000 with no restrictions on how the award monies may be used.

The B'MORE Fund is a "giving circle" created by individuals who wish to recognize the work of social entrepreneurs in the region. This group is also working together to become better informed about grantmaking, philanthropy, and the issues affecting the community. Giving circles are a new trend in philanthropy where people pool their resources- typically time, talent and/or money-and make decisions as a group on how to use the resources to impact a specific cause or interest area.

The 35-member B'MORE Fund was formed in 2002 when a group of young professionals came together to think of a way they could make a difference in Baltimore. The fund requires $500 per year from each member for at least a two-year commitment.

Chuck Morton, co-chair of the B'MORE Fund, said in a statement to the press: "We look for people making a real difference in the city-people who are not afraid to try something new to improve peopleís lives. By making awards to these kinds of people, we aim not only to celebrate and recognize their achievements, but also to inspire other Baltimoreans to make a difference too. I know that I and others in the B'MORE Fund have already been inspired by them."

"My hope is that they catch the bug and become life-long donors, volunteers, and activists," said Jan Rivitz, executive director of the Aaron and Lillie Straus Foundation, and partner in establishing the B'MORE Fund.

About the Honorees

Tisha Edwards, Principal of the Baltimore Freedom Academy
The Freedom Academy is one of the city's new innovation high schools, focusing on civic engagement and service. Ms. Edwards, an attorney with a passion for involving youth in their communities, seeks to help students become critical thinkers with an understanding of social and economic dynamics, in the expectation that they will become effective civic leaders.

Joseph Jones, CEO of the Center for Fathers, Families and Workforce Development
Mr. Jones works to empower low-income families by increasing the ability of men to be responsible fathers and wage earners. Mr. Jones himself struggled with addiction and engaged in crime; having turned his own life around, he is now devoting his time to changing the lives of men with similar struggles.

Sean Smeeton, Executive Director of the Sylvan Beach Foundation
Sylvan Beach takes an entrepreneurial approach to workforce development for disadvantaged young adult males. Mr. Smeeton's organization gives them a place to live, education, and a business experience, while at the same time fostering the development of a community. The Foundation has created two businesses-the Sylvan Beach Café and Sylvan Beach Homemade Ice Cream, both of which are operated and managed by young men enrolled in the program, and by program alumni.

Visit the B'MORE Fund website for further information: bmorefund.org.

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This story was published on November 14, 2003.