During this time of uncertainty, I have been astounded and proud to see the way people, companies and organizations are coming together to help their community. COVID-19 has created an unprecedented situation that has negatively impacted the lives of many. One bright spot has been watching the local collaborations that have been created or strengthened under these circumstances. Here at Towson University and across the region people are banding together to increase their ability to help others.
Over the past several weeks Towson University has in numerous ways supported students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. One example of the connection and caring of this community was seen during last month’s TU Big Give. The campaign scheduled to be a week-long philanthropic celebration shifted to a day of giving focused on those that have been most greatly impacted by COVID-19 crisis. Raising over $125,000 in 24 hours from contributions of 1,000+ donors to provide immediate financial assistance for students, faculty and staff showed an extraordinary outpouring of support. The numbers surpassed the initial goal of $100,000 and outpaced last year’s seven day event.
Towson University is not alone in stepping up to the plate to help. Companies both large and small are coming together and leveraging what they can—money, expertise, donations and people—to address the needs that have arisen out of this crisis. Collaborations are happening at all levels in the business community.
T. Rowe Price and BGE are donating money to local nonprofits to help people and organizations in need. Knowing that for thousands of families the closures of schools also means the loss of meals, T. Rowe Price donated $250,000 to the Fund for Educational Excellence to support food security issues for Baltimore City Public Schools students and their families. Local businesses and nonprofits have seen their organizations come to a stand-still under the stay at home orders, so Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Constellation and their parent company, Exelon Corp., have donated $1 million to help with the daily operating costs of Maryland nonprofits and small businesses to provide coronavirus relief. The funds have gone to several organizations leading this charge including the United Way of Central Maryland COVID-19 Community Fund, The Maryland Food Bank and the Baltimore Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Evolving Community Needs Fund.
Entrepreneurs and business leaders are utilizing their expertise and networks to aid those that are struggling during this stressful time. Both companies and students are benefiting from their efforts.
The good news is that there are federal, state and local resources available for businesses. However, navigating all of the options and finding the right one for your company can be difficult. Recognizing that some small businesses were drowning in the sea of options, a group got together and created a solution to overcome this challenge. Leveraging their organizations’ expertise, they developed the Maryland Business Relief Wizard, an online tool that helps guide companies to the resources that best fit them. Partners and contributors include: Howard County Economic Development Authority, Mindgrub, BTS Software Solutions, Maryland Department of Commerce, Howard County Chamber of Commerce, Maryland Tech Council, Maryland Chamber of Commerce, IBM, and various industry subject matter experts including KatzAbosch, Capital Services, and Offit Kurman Attorneys at Law.
Another challenge has been shifting students to online learning. One of the biggest obstacles has been access to devices. Again leveraging their expertise as well as their connections within the business community, DigiBmore was created. This group includes leaders of technology companies and organizations lead by Ed Mullin, executive director of the Baltimore Robotics Center and CTO of Think; Jonathan Moore of RowdyOrb.it; McKeever “Mac” Conwell, from Maryland Technology Development Corp. (TEDCO); Adam Bouhmad of Project Waves and Andrew Coy of the Digital Harbor Foundation. They are collecting old or unused devices, such as laptops and tablets, and redistributing them to Baltimore City school children.
These are just a few of the many, many stories of community support. Watching people, companies and organizations who are encountering their own hardships due to the COVID-19 crisis focus on how they can help others has been a positive outcome of these difficult times. The collaborative nature of this support is remarkable—by coming together the impact achieved is greater than it could have been if one person, company or organization went it alone. Please share your or your company’s contribution to coronavirus relief with us. We will continue to highlight these stories of support and recognize those that are behind the efforts.