The Open Society Institute–Baltimore, established in 1998, is the only field office for the Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Programs, focusing on a single city and testing the effectiveness of place-based philanthropy on some of the biggest challenges facing Baltimore and other urban centers in the United States.
Its four intertwined programs aim to keep children connected to and engaged in school by making city-wide reforms that:
- lower suspension rates, increase attendance, and explore new, high-value models for Baltimore’s high schools;
- make drug addiction treatment accessible to all who need it through well-implemented health care reforms and support for a diverse coalition to advocate for treatment expansion; and
- reduce the number of Marylanders caught up in the criminal/juvenile justice systems through diversion and re-entry programs and the systemic reform of ineffective and discriminatory sentencing, parole, and probation policies.
The fourth program, the Baltimore Community Fellows, is a network of social innovators—now 160 strong—all of whom work directly to revitalize underserved communities, demonstrating the potential of talented individuals to catalyze social change.
Until 2005, the Open Society Institute–Baltimore was funded solely by George Soros. It now actively seeks other investors to support its work, recognizing that success lies in having the full investment of the Baltimore community. The board is comprised of prominent business leaders, scholars, and experts in the field.