2017 Week Five: Nonprofit Management


At CIIP orientation we were told that in Baltimore, a beverage consisting of half ice tea and half lemonade is called “half and half.” This left me with a burning question that, this week, I finally posed to everyone from Fusion within earshot-
“Ok, so if half lemonade and half iced tea is called “half and half” then what do
you call the half cream they put in coffee?”
A few voices say in unison,“Half and half.”
I sit frozen, my eyes wide and my hands outstretched in a gesture of confusion. I reach the conclusion that this is not fully illogical and that context clues would generally allow this linguistic overlap to persist without issue. Ally, Fusion’s Project Coordinator, then points out that this rabbit hole of the Baltimorean vernacular goes even further. She explains that there also is a way to order crabs that is half Maryland crab, half cream of crab-
“So, you could order coffee, dinner, and a drink and say I’d like half and half,
half and half, and half and half.”
I laugh as my brain quietly explodes. I am then informed that the half and half crab dish can also be called a “dirty crab.”
I’ve found no shortage of Baltimoreans who are willing to answer questions about the city. Just this past week I’ve heard stories about the transition from Procter and Gamble to Under Armor, the smell of McCormick spice, and how the Battle of Baltimore wasn’t fought so Thames Street could be pronounced the British way. I’ve heard candid replies about gentrification taking over parts of the city- that no one in Eager Park wants anything to do with you unless you make six figures and that developers are continually steamrolling communities. Overall, I’ve learned that Baltimore is a city with a complex past, present, and future and that you can hear many different perspectives about Charm City if you just ask and listen.


This week is the week of Advanced Leadership Seminars at Washington College at Chestertown with Maryland Leadership Workshop. Four Baltimore Corps team members drove to the Eastern Shore on Sunday afternoon to kick off the program. As a part of our visit we introduced Baltimore Corps and our work, framed the conversation around Baltimore and equity, and presented on four issues within Baltimore. Among the 20 students of the program, two were from Baltimore or around Baltimore. Every day different members of the Baltimore Corps team would make a conference call to the students of the summer program and answer any questions they may have about their project. My highlight of the week is one of the icebreaker activities that one of the Baltimore Corps staff members conducted at the summer program. Students, the young staff member of the summer program and Baltimore Corps staff members all sat in a large circle and one of the staff members read Dr. Seuss’ Sneetches, which is a children’s book centered on marginalization and discrimination. After Sneetches, we went around the circle answering questions. Every single person’s answer is absolute right, and it is the role of the others to simply listen and accept and support what the others answer in response to the questions. Questions range from “what is your favorite animal”, to “what is your biggest fear about going to college”, to “if beauty were a sound, what would it be”. Seeing the high school students listen, lean in and care for one another as they begin to learn more about one another was a great moment for me to see, become a part of, and to treasure.


Today, through Invested Impact, I was able to attend Baltimore Data Day. Not only was this event helpful towards enriching my internship experience, but it was great for me to be exposed to the conversations as an Applied Math and Statistics major. I want to hopefully use mathematics and data to support activists efforts in creating a more equal society. It was inspiring to see people from all sectors in Baltimore convening to discuss the real impacts that data can have on solving poverty and inequality in our city. Many neighborhood community leaders discussed how they were thankful for data that supported the fact that there was so much blight within their neighborhoods. This way they could use the information to prove to government officials that what they were fighting for was not just made up as some would try to claim. I was excited to see that I was not the only person who truly believes that math can have a social impact and help solve issues that I care about.

I am still working on writing my weekly blog posts for my organization, this week I have been focusing on systems entrepreneurs. Although I feel like I am starting to grasp the concept of impact investing there is still so much information about the philanthropy world that I am learning about every day. I really like how I am simultaneously learning so much about the field and becoming an active member within the Baltimore philanthropy/ non-profit sector by posting my writing through Invested Impact. I am sad that we are past the halfway point in the summer program, but I am looking forward to the work ahead and the possibility of maybe continuing in the fall.


These past two weeks have been a whirlwind. I attended: the celebration of a telehealth grant at Mosaic Community Services, the Data Day 2017 Kick-Off event at the Federal Reserve Bank, an Eight-City International Research Meeting, and a community meeting about sex work activity in Central Baltimore. Not only did I attend major events, but I’m also working on some exciting projects: finalizing the Front and Center Equitable Development Plan, updating a workforce development resource for employers looking to hire locally, and extending my internship into September.

This week was a whirlwind, and unfortunately, this blog post has been too. No deep thoughts or revelations this week – just a lot of excitement about the work I’m doing and the meetings I’ve been able to participate in. Can’t wait for week six!

picture of Della Xu CIIPDELLA XU | IMPACT HUB

Perhaps I’ve moved around five to many times, perhaps I was raised in a societal culture and education system that encouraged listening over speaking, perhaps it is just because of who I am—I absorb rather than exude. I criticize, synthesize, and formulate in my own head. I am receptive, curious, and open, but not easily convinced.

The Impact Hub experience has been both a paradise and challenge to my method of thinking and processing. I am presented by a great variety of stimuli—people, stories, ideas, and philosophies. In a meeting with an executive management coach and social entrepreneurial consultant, I was invited to ponder the use of social and emotional intelligence in management. In researching the practices of social incubator models, I was fascinated by the combination of rigid and precise structures and metrics with individualized and creative idea formulations and interactions in their programs. I ravenously intake and internalize, hoping to add these experiences to my personal and professional beliefs. However, I am faced with challenges too. I am presented with overwhelming unfamiliarity, ranging from the cultural landscape of Baltimore, to the dozens of issues and topics our members address, to talking to people who are at the same naloxone training I am but not merely because of their curiosity of the subject but because of the urgent reality of needing to revive someone experiencing overdose. As I am writing the membership handbook, or creating a crazy spreadsheet for our members, or drafting an office lease, I wonder if I am actually doing any good to the community, as indirect as my work seems. In the midst of my questioning, I remember the multitude of ways one can perform service, and know that understanding, embracing, and performing service will now be my lifelong effort and goal.

Five minutes into my talk with the founders of Vinyl Stories in Baltimore, I was convinced to start a vinyl collection.


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