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The Abell Foundation, Inc.


Last Updated: 2016-05-29

At A Glance

The Abell Foundation, Inc.

111 S. Calvert St., Ste. 2300

Baltimore, MD United States 21202-6174

Telephone: (410) 547-1300


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $334,408,042

Total giving: $12,086,628






Incorporated in 1953 in MD - The principal donor, Harry C. Black, was the chairman of the A.S. Abell Company, a newspaper publishing and television broadcasting company. The A.S. Abell Company, also made substantial contributions to the foundation's corpus. Gary Black, Sr., nephew of Harry C. Black, was chairman of both the company and the foundation. In May 1986, the A.S. Abell Company was purchased by a Los Angeles based conglomerate, the Times-Mirror Company. The foundation received about $112 million directly from the purchase, making it more than twice as large as the next largest foundation in the state at that time.

Purpose and Activities

The foundation has seven broad program areas of interest: 1) Community development; 2) Workforce development; 3) Criminal justice and addiction; 4) Education; 5) Health and human services; 6) Conservation and environment; and 7) arts and culture. Within these areas, the foundation invites requests for demonstration projects, feasibility studies, strategic planning, capital improvements, new construction, and equipment, program development and enhancements, research, and program-related investments.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

Arts and Culture

The foundation seeks funding opportunities to strengthen existing cultural arts organizations and to support emerging arts groups that are providing programming in underserved neighborhoods. The foundation looks for initiatives that help keep artists working and living in the metropolitan area; increase organizations' capacity to expand audiences; attract more cultural visitors; and stabilize and revitalize neighborhoods. The foundation also supports pilot projects that seek to determine the outcomes of cultural arts curricula on overall student academic achievement while at the same time reinforcing the state's mandate to integrate the cultural arts into the K-12 educational programming.

Community Development

The foundation encourages programs and projects that expand the business and job base of Baltimore City, anchor and spur public and private investment in redevelopment and improve the appeal of Baltimore as a place to live, visit and do business. The foundation recognizes the need to enhance the livability of neighborhoods and create open spaces desirable housing and commercial areas as a means to retain and attract both residents and jobs. By encouraging investment in redevelopment projects and housing renovations, leveraging of public and private capital, community planning and maximizing reuse of historic structures, the foundation focuses on those initiatives that foster improvement of downtown and neighborhoods. It further seeks to promote energy efficiency initiatives as well as cost-efficient delivery of municipal services, maximize Baltimore's use of competitive funding sources and increase the tax base. The foundation also encourages efforts to tie the health of the city to the region and state, through the support of energy efficient projects, foreclosure counseling, housing mobility, regional planning and growth management.


The foundation supports organizations that are working to protect and preserve Maryland's natural resources. Working in partnership with the public and private sectors, the foundation places special emphasis on those initiatives supporting ecosystem-wide conservation programs, including forests, wetlands, agricultural lands, watersheds and air and water quality. The foundation focuses attention on local projects reinforcing Maryland's Smart Growth, Rural Legacy, Green Print initiatives, Partners for Open Spaces and watershed implementation plans. The foundation also supports advocacy initiatives for environmental justice in underserved communities.

Criminal Justice and Addictions

The foundation seeks to increase access to substance abuse treatment and supportive services such as housing and job training for the uninsured and drug addicted individuals residing in Baltimore City. The foundation works to increase the impact and effectiveness of treatment services through cutting edge research and support of innovative service models designed to reach underserved populations. The foundation also supports programs and initiatives that increase public safety and reduce recidivism with a special focus on initiatives that address the barriers facing the returning ex-offender. A particular emphasis is placed on initiatives that provide transitional housing and the necessary social and legal wraparound services to support a successful return to the community.


The challenge to Baltimore City's leadership is to provide public school children with the same level of education as counterparts in surrounding suburban counties and to encourage and support the development of charter schools. The foundation supports efforts to provide quality instruction and leadership, promote professional development, develop effective curricula (pre-school through 12) through pilot projects, increase community involvement, enhance basic skills and further literacy enrichment. After-school and summer activities and intramural sports with academic components have received on-going support to help fill gaps in the extra-curricular programming. In recognition of the pivotal role of quality teaching and leadership, the foundation also supports recruitment and retention efforts, teacher training, and principal recruitment .

Grants to Individuals Program

Scholarships only to children of employees of the A.S. Abell Company. Giving limited to Maryland.

Health and Human Services

The program seeks to address societal issues associated with health disparities, family planning, teenage parenting, domestic violence, children's health and well-being, child abuse and neglect, hunger and homelessness. It also supports advocacy programs promoting access to health and mental health services, a stronger child welfare system, and a comprehensive system of universal health care. Furthermore, the foundation continues to provide opportunities for low-income families to live in quality housing in good neighborhoods throughout the region. The needs of Baltimore's homeless citizens--including runaway and homeless youth--are of particular concern. .

Matching Gifts Program

The foundation has a matching gifts program for its employees, officers, and trustees. The foundation will match $2.5 for every $1 contributed by participants, up to a maximum match of $10,000 for a single contribution or aggregate annual contributions for each participant.

Program-Related Investment

The foundation has made PRIs in the form of a loan for a building purchase to be used as a residential substance abuse recovery program and loans for a children's museum, to support second mortgages, a land trust, city college and housing assistance. Historically, the foundation has made PRIs in the areas of the arts, housing, human services, health, education, environment, media, community development, recreation, and employment. PRIs have provided interim financing, supported facility acquisition and improvement, and funded equipment acquisition. The foundation has occasionally provided PRIs through intermediaries.

Workforce Development

In recognition that a competent, skilled workforce is essential to the economic health and growth of Baltimore City, the foundation supports job skills training that enables low-income, unemployed and underemployed job seekers to secure jobs that pay family-sustaining wages. Priority is given to programs that link hard-to-serve job seekers with employment, that promote job retention for at least one year of employment, and that enhance opportunities for low-wage workers to improve their skills and move into higher wage jobs. The foundation works with nonprofit organizations, employers and public agencies to improve how public workforce development funding is being spent in Baltimore and to link effective programs with public funding. The foundation also works with nonprofit organizations to increase job seekers' access to needed services, including literacy services, transportation, substance abuse treatment, and services for ex-offenders. Finally, the foundation seeks to strengthen policy initiatives that support low-income families and enhance wages. These initiatives include increasing the minimum wage, increasing access to income support such as the earned income tax credit, and reforming child support enforcement for low-income, non-custodial parents .

Fields of Interest

  • Addiction services
  • Arts and culture
  • Child educational development
  • Child welfare
  • Community and economic development
  • Crime prevention
  • Early childhood education
  • Education
  • Elementary education
  • Employment
  • Environment
  • Family planning
  • Family services
  • Food aid
  • Health
  • Housing development
  • Housing for the homeless
  • Job creation and workforce development
  • Leadership development
  • Natural resources
  • Services for offenders
  • Youth organizing
Population Groups
  • Academics
  • Adolescents
  • Adults
  • Artists and performers
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Ethnic and racial groups
  • Ex-offenders
  • Females
  • Homeless people
  • Low-income and poor people
  • Offenders
  • Out-of-home youth
  • People of African descent
  • People of Latin American descent
  • People with HIV/AIDS
  • Single parents
  • Students
  • Substance abusers
  • Working poor
  • Young adults

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $334,408,042 (market value)

Expenditures: $19,613,169

Total giving: $12,086,628

Qualifying distributions: $16,454,612