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M&T Bank and the Aspen Institute’s “Weave: The Social Fabric Project” wants to award $70,000 to ten people or groups in Baltimore who have undertaken projects that foster connections and relationships in communities throughout the city.
The Weaver Awards, a program that celebrates and supports Charm City leaders, is designed for those who may not have an organization or any experience getting grants. Recipients must have a working budget of less than $250,000.
“There is a shared commitment to deep community investment and partnership,” said Krystle Starvis, the associate director of Weave: The Social Fabric Project at The Aspen Institute. “We were clear that we wanted to be in partnership with someone who is deeply committed to the community and was aware of the investment M&T Bank has already put into the Baltimore community.”
Applications are now open through July 2, 2021. Potential grant recipients must answer some questions about themselves, their communities, and their project. They must also produce three recommendations from community members.
A committee featuring 10 Baltimore residents is charged with choosing ten winners, each of whom will receive $7,000. M&T Bank, which has about 20 locations in the Baltimore area, provides the funds for the program.
“We partnered with the Aspen Institute because we thought it was an opportunity to take what they are doing and work it into our premier communities in Baltimore,” said Augie Chiasera, M&T Bank’s regional president for Greater Baltimore. “This just reinforces our mission to be a community leader in Baltimore.”
M&T has been a steady and sizeable corporate philanthropist for decades in Baltimore, providing between $3 million and $3.5 million each year to nonprofits, according to Chiasera.
“We noticed, particularly throughout COVID, there was a whole eco-system doing great things that we weren’t aware of,” he noted. “[The Aspen Institute’s] work was amazing, and we wanted to find a way to leverage our brand and approach with a group that we thought could benefit from the exposure and a little bit of money.”
In choosing grant recipients, officials will look at those performing deeds like feeding the hungry, organizing neighborhood beautification projects, and those emphasizing a “deep connection” in the neighborhood, Starvis said. “We have received positive feedback,” Starvis said. “Something that I’ve heard so much is the opportunity to build relationships between communities in the city.”
To learn more about the Weaver Awards, or to apply, visit: www.WeAreWeavers.org.