abc2As our nation, states, and cities continue to grapple with budget deficits in the midst of signs of economic recovery, it is critical that we begin to rebuild the life-blood of our population-the fragile middle-class. According to recent accounts, the reverberations of the recent economic recession and a widening generational wealth gap among Black Americans are significant and stand to set back gains achieved since post Civil Rights.

Founded in 1985, Associated Black Charities (ABC) is a statewide public foundation that seeks to facilitate the development of measurably healthier and wealthier communities throughout the state of Maryland through responsible leadership and philanthropic investment. Over the years, ABC has become a well-respected convener, advocate, technical assistance provider, and grantmaking entity, addressing issues such as family preservation, youth development, health services and promotion, and economic development and empowerment. It also has provided more than $6 million and 5,400 hours of technical assistance to more than 270 community-based organizations.

Because of the complicated dynamics of race and class in Baltimore, ABC has developed a multi-pronged campaign, More in the Middle, which incorporates strategies to change the trajectory of the largely poor and the few marginally middle-class African Americans to have a greater chance of contributing toward building a more economically viable city and region.

During the next few years, ABC will advance its More in the Middle campaign to address workforce development, post-secondary education, and African American business development. Through a series of open, multi-stakeholder dialogues and implementing its action agenda, ABC will seize this moment to engage in public policy and advocacy efforts, convene stakeholders, and regrant public resources to address policy and social practice barriers that maintain poverty and limit the economic stability of Baltimore's largely African American population. Ultimately, More in the Middle will ignite a new renaissance among existing residents enabling them to participate in and realize new economic opportunities while attracting and retaining talented African Americans, achieving a more economically inclusive future in Baltimore.

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Fostering sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.