TU to host inaugural nonprofit summit aimed at supporting minority-led organizations
By: Isabella Hawkins, Contributing Writer
Towson University will hold its first nonprofit summit with the goal of connecting organizations, particularly Black and minority-led businesses, in the Baltimore area on May 5.
Baltimore-Towson University faculty fellows Aminata Sillah, Carrie Grant, Donn Worgs and Zosha Stuckey are organizing the event, known as the Baltimore Nonprofit Summit.
BTU, which is housed under the Office of Partnerships and Outreach, is trying to “provide more resources to those small grassroots organizations that are, often, more deeply connected to the communities they are serving,” Grant said.
It is the result of problem-led discussions about the lack of funding and resources for nonprofit organizations, especially those led by minorities, Kathleen Crostic, Towson’s assistant director of partnerships and engagement, said.
Seventy-two organizations have registered thus far, according to Crostic.
For the fiscal year 2021, the Nonprofit Finance Fund reported that white-led nonprofits were more likely than minority-led nonprofits to receive unrestricted funding, which “lets them decide how to spend their funds to best support their work.”
White-led nonprofits were also more likely to receive corporate donations and end the fiscal year in a surplus.
The summit webpage lists its goals as the following:
- “Demystify the funding process: engage in conversations to increase access to funding;
- Build action plans, workshop materials, and leave with deliverables related to diversifying funding;
- Network, connect, and build relationships and partnerships across a broad set of stakeholders;
- Share and problem-solve the needs and challenges that still remain for Black and minority-led NPOs.”
Stuckey said that Towson is bringing in the leaders and the change-makers who do the hard work. The summit will discuss decolonizing funding, diversifying funding streams, hosting interns and more.
Worgs, who is the director of the African and African American Studies program, said he hopes the summit will provide experiences that will help organizations in the work they are trying to do.
He explained that organizations with strong community ties tend to have weak relationships with funders.
The organizations Echoing Green and the Bridgespan Group have partnered to research racial disparities in philanthropy. They found in 2020 that nonprofit leaders of color tend to hit four barriers when requesting funding: getting connected, building rapport, securing support and sustaining relationships.
“We also want the funders to be a part of a conversation about how they can more equitably provide funding to the communities that they hope to serve,” Worgs said.
Although the summit is directed at nonprofit organizations, Sillah said they will need student volunteers.
“The value that Towson gets from this effort is almost immeasurable in terms of what students can learn,” Worgs said.
Admission is free, and nonprofit leaders are encouraged to come, though space is limited, Crostic said. The event will take place at West Village Commons in Ballroom C from 8:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m.
The summit will provide breakfast and lunch. There will be drum and spoken word performances.