2021 Week 6: Nonprofit Management

Photo of Ryan Aghamohammadi, smiling RYAN AGHAMOHAMMADI | IMPACT HUB

Impact Hub’s work is inherently intersectional; being an organization that facilitates and catalyzes relationships across different sectors in the city of Baltimore, plus being an organization who prioritizes systems change work and viewing the city as a social ecosystem, Impact Hub constantly has to take into consideration the reverberations of its work and others’ work across the city. Its position as an intermediary between different groups has been an interesting one to learn from and view in action. While absolutely coming to the table with a certain, specific set of values, morals, philosophies, and ideas around how systems change, Impact Hub does not claim to have all the answers. I think this puts the organization in a really fascinating (and wonderful) position where their work is to desilo resources and propel growth forward. As I’ve navigated my placement, familiarized myself with its culture, and written (a lot!) about it, I’ve come to recognize the value of working within an ecosystem and systems change framework, one inherently intersectional and holistic in scope.

We’re so often expected to do everything alone. We’re expected to find the answers to a problem ourselves, to navigate our career alone, to process our emotions alone. Why is that? This pressure on being solitary limits our capacity to be at our best; all of us need other people. Why would we ever expect to move through our lives alone? I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated at how we are expected to silo ourselves off and do everything without any help. It doesn’t make any sense! We’re designed, fundamentally, to be in community with others. On the flipside, seeing work being done that is inherently collaborative, mutually beneficial, and where everyone learns from each other has dramatized how awful this societal pressure is. To be sure, there are certainly moments, circumstances, and fields in which solitary work might be the best course of action, but long-lasting systems change work requires all of us working together toward a shared future in which every sector in the ecosystem is taken into account.

Photo of Casey Levitt, smiling CASEY LEVITT | MADE IN BALTIMORE

Made In Baltimore’s work intersects with the work of several other organizations in the city. Even in the short 6 weeks as an intern with Made In Baltimore, I’ve encountered several other CIIP organizations. Made In Baltimore organized an accelerator program for home-based businesses, and the workshops were held at Impact Hub (Ryan’s placement). I heard from executive director of Waverly Main Street, where Lucas is placed, during a tour of commercial spaces on Greenmount. I updated the MIB member contact info for Jubilee Arts Youth In Business, where Kush is placed. I’ve also learned of many MIB members who got their start in their trade at the Station North Tool Library.

Some of these intersections are intuitive. For example, Made In Baltimore is a community of makers and craftspeople, so it’s natural that many Made In Baltimore members use the Station North Tool Library. However, I think the more exciting collaborations are with organizations who focus on youth development or on disadvantaged groups (such as people experiencing homelessness, folks who were recently incarcerated, etc). A huge focus for these organizations is helping their target populations land stable, well-paying jobs, and that’s where Made In Baltimore can help, both directly and indirectly. One of MIB’s main goals is to create stable, accessible manufacturing jobs in the city (there are currently 1,326 jobs supported by the MIB network), so MIB indirectly supports other organizations by helping creating jobs they can connect their constituents with. But through direct collaborations, Made In Baltimore can support organizations that launch social enterprises that employ their target groups. One example of this is Jubilee Arts; they run a program that employs high school youth in running an art-based business, and that business is in the MIB network. Another example is T.C. Prints, which is a screen-printing business run by the Transformation Center. T.C. prints employs Brooklyn residents facing poverty, addiction, and incarceration. In fact, some of my projects with Made In Baltimore are specifically promoting T.C. Prints. I’m organizing a tour of their production space for potential contract manufacturing clients, and I’m writing a blog post to advertise their custom fabrication capabilities.

I think Made In Baltimore will only become more connected with other causes in the city. People need jobs, people need incomes that allow them to take care of themselves, and Made In Baltimore is helping build those jobs from the ground up.


This week started out with several meetings. I met with many people who have been helping me throughout the summer, but I also met Brittny, the director of St. Ambrose’s homesharing program. She and I talked about the ways that the program serves low-income renters, elderly homeowners, and homeless youth. She is new at the organization and talked about the improvements she was hoping to make to the program to help clients more holistically. We also talked about careers and education, and overall this week, I’ve been getting to know my coworkers a lot better. I have been working on my graduate school applications already and it’s been helpful to get some perspective from people who are already established in their careers.

There is a lot of intersections between my placement and other interns’ placements. Some of the other interns are working in the youth advocacy and education fields. St. Ambrose’s youth homelessness homesharing has a lot of intersection with that. While St. Ambrose provides these young adults with housing, they still have other needs that are difficult to meet, such as education. In one of my meetings this week, one of my coworkers described St. Ambrose’s redevelopment approach as having two clients: the future homebuyer and the neighborhood at large. A lot of other CIIP interns are doing community organizing work, and this is certainly applicable to St. Ambrose. Not only does St. Ambrose work to improve neighborhoods’ housing quality, but it also hopes to build community engagement and communal values. St. Ambrose’s work is greatly varied, so there are bound to be intersections in even more areas than these.


If anything, Waverly Main Street’s mission can be frustratingly limiting at times in terms of opportunities for intersectional work. As a part of the main street program, Waverly Main Street’s work and, in particular, the funding for Waverly Main Street’s work is very specifically targeted towards community and business development in the Waverly neighborhood. Obviously, the performance of that work effects other areas and there are other needs in the community that need to be, but my understanding is that Waverly Main Street simply can’t apply its funding in those areas without effectively ceasing to be a Main Street and losing the support of the nationwide Main Street program. As an example, there’s a big need for housing support in Waverly already, and the need will only increase as Waverly Main Street does its job and promotes the business community in the neighborhood and attracts more business to the area. Waverly Main Street needs to be mindful of that and be careful not to make the problem worse, but they can’t be the ones to provide that direct support because the funding just isn’t there (or rather, just can’t be applied in that way). The organization is in the process of drafting a long-term strategic plan outlining its goals, so it needs to come up with an answer to those questions even if direct support can’t be that answer. In all likelihood, the answer will come from collaboration with other community organizations and in bolstering other programs even if we can’t be the ones to provide that direct support. Also, the Waverly Main Street newsletter can highlight housing programs and spread information of that kind as a way of showing consideration for those issues even though we don’t currently have a particularly good way to assist with those problems directly.

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