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T. Rowe Price Case Study

Connectors of the Community

John Brothers isn't just a man with a plan - he's a man with a mission. Since taking over as President of both the T. Rowe Price Foundation and T. Rowe Price Charitable in 2015, John has led efforts to achieve sustainable and equitable economic development across Baltimore.

Meet John

John Brothers

John Brothers isn’t just a man with a plan – he’s a man with a mission. Since taking over as President of both the T. Rowe Price Foundation and T. Rowe Price Charitable in 2015, John has led efforts to achieve sustainable and equitable economic development across Baltimore. Rather than isolating himself in a corner office, John has invested countless hours immersing himself within the neighborhoods he aims to impact, fostering genuine bonds with community leaders. Instead of assuming he possesses all the answers to the city’s most pressing problems, John has dedicated years to learning from these leaders, earning their trust and gaining a deeper understanding of the dynamics within the city.

John’s unique “arm-in-arm approach” has become a hit, with over 180 companies reaching out to learn how they can apply it to their own communities.

Recently we sat down with John to talk more about his work and how EcoMap has aided in these efforts.

Digging to the Root of the Issue

The more time John spent talking to community leaders, the more something became abundantly clear to him.

“Many of the issues (facing Baltimore) stem from information gaps”, John explained.

This realization led to John and his team deciding to shift their strategy from addressing systemic issues in a vertical and isolated manner to a horizontal approach that involved working across different problem areas simultaneously.

In John’s words, they started working “across an ecosystem”.

Example of how to approach issues with an ecosystem approach

In order to accomplish this, T. Rowe Price began exploring how technology could be utilized to help fill information gaps and connect community members to under-utilized resources.

“We have to be more than grant-makers, John continued, “we have to be connectors of the community”.

Ultimately this desire to unite the Baltimore ecosystem led John and the rest of his team to EcoMap Technologies.

Enter EcoMap

With the generous support of T. Rowe Price, Baltimore Corps, Cohado, and other local organizations, EcoMap proudly developed two platforms aimed towards helping to fill these information gaps: Artist Navigator and BLK BTRFLY.

Artist Navigator, sponsored by Baltimore Corps and T. Rowe Price, has been a game-changer for Baltimore’s vibrant artist community, serving as a one-stop-shop for artists to discover resources and seize opportunities for career growth. The platform acts as a comprehensive directory, offering valuable information on over 1,000 assets vital to the ecosystem, including funding opportunities, artist residencies, grants, support organizations, and more. Moreover, it keeps artists informed about upcoming events, job openings, and professional development prospects, ensuring they stay connected to the lively local arts scene that exists within Baltimore.

Artist Navigator platform

As for BLK BTRFLY, it is an invaluable resource hub for Baltimore’s incredible Black-owned business community. The platform also functions as a directory, providing vital information on over 1,200 essential resources and black-owned businesses including funding opportunities, business development programs, and networking events. By connecting Black-owned businesses with each other and supportive organizations, BLK BTRFLY plays a vital role in leveling the playing field and fostering the growth of the local Black business ecosystem. By nurturing these connections, BLK BTRFLY cultivates a dynamic network where Black-owned businesses can exchange knowledge, share experiences, and collaborate on innovative ventures. To learn more about the platform and the The Black Butterfly Network, check out this case study we did with the man behind the platform, Cohado founder and multi-hyphenate Paulo Gregory.

BLK BTRFLY platform

Both platforms share a common goal: eliminating information silos that have historically left individuals without timely access to valuable resources.

“Artists in Baltimore were having trouble finding the resources that were right in front of them. And the same thing goes for the black-owned business community”, John explained.

“(EcoMap) uncovers and showcases the webbing and networks that exist in an ecosystem”.

SHINE Platform

After seeing the success of Artist Navigator and BLK BTRFLY, John and the T. Rowe Price team approached EcoMap about helping to further develop the Bmore SHINE Platform that they had been building. Bmore SHINE aims to help crowdfund money to support the dreams of young adults in Baltimore that have historically relied on “squeegeeing” to make ends meet. “Donors want to feel directly connected to their donations and SHINE provides a way to do that”, John explained. “Maryland is the second most philanthropic state, but this money doesn’t seem to be reaching Baltimore city”. As a company who’s helped thousands of entrepreneurs access the resources they need to succeed, we’re excited to play a role in helping youth entrepreneurs achieve more sustainable pathways to financial success.

The Future of Ecosystem-Led Economic Development

John’s community-driven approach has inspired many other cities and organizations to adopt similar strategies for promoting economic development. By emphasizing the importance of investing in community-driven initiatives and working horizontally across ecosystems, John has helped to create a new paradigm for economic development that is more responsive to the unique needs and challenges of each community.

As the impact of initiatives like EcoMap’s Artist Navigator and BLK BTRFLY continues to grow, it is clear that the future of economic development lies in community-driven solutions. By empowering communities with the information and resources they need to grow and thrive, we can create a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

If you’re an org looking for to support underserved founders and groups within your ecosystem, don’t hesitate to reach out and see how we can work together toward a more equitable and accessible future.

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