Nothing without community

Blog post by Christine Ross

Christine Ross, the president and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, has 20 years of leadership experience in the business community. She is a visionary coalition builder guiding the Maryland Chamber’s efforts to improve competitiveness, attract and retain talent, grow jobs, engage the community and provide legislative advocacy.

What sustains the economic success and competitiveness of a state? It’s about seeing the big picture, it’s about balance—it’s about community.

Each year, in preparation for the Business Policy Conference, we put together a lineup of expert panelists and keynote speakers to discuss public policy issues affecting the people of Maryland. As our conference approaches, I’m looking forward to facilitating conversation around significant subject matter, including the effect tariffs will have on jobs and the cost of doing business in the state, the growing opioid epidemic and how to reinvent the talent pipeline so more of our young people stay. However, we won’t just discuss advocacy that affects your company’s bottom line. I feel it is our responsibility, and an important part of our platform as the Maryland Chamber and Maryland Chamber Foundation, to highlight community-centered businesses and socially revolutionary ideas with our members and attendees.

I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to be exposed to and work intimately with some of the state’s most innovative nonprofits such as Humanim, Code in the Schools, and Thread. These are organizations that each reflect the immeasurable value of business to community partnerships.

Humanim

This year, Humanim, a nonprofit with the mission to ‘support and empower individuals who face social or economic challenges’ will talk about the power of partnerships in the community. It has over 40 programs that address the employment and training needs of low income, disabled and previously incarcerated Baltimore City residents.

When I hear from this organization, it is impossible not to be motivated by their success stories. These stories are not only about getting Marylanders back into the workforce and improving lives, they’re about making huge social impacts.

Our panel from Humanim will share these stories with you at our conference this September—I dare you to walk away and not feel inspired.

Code in the Schools

By 2020, there will be one million open jobs in computing nationwide.

It’s a statistic that caused one organization to take action. Code in the Schools is an in-school, after-school and summer program that has successfully spread computer science education across Baltimore City with the goal of empowering youth to be a part of this $500-billion dollar employment opportunity.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to see its impact firsthand when asked to speak at Code in the Schools CodeWorks graduation, a celebration of the more than 60 young people who completed a five-week boot camp learning to code.

Following the ceremony, as I chatted with the students, I saw directly how Code in the Schools is not only working to address the cyber deficit, but is providing inner city youth with the skills needed for a promising future. The male and female students alike seemed inspired by the experience.

Thread

Thread, a nonprofit that you may remember from last year’s Business Policy Conference, engages underperforming high school students who face hardship by providing each teen with a family of committed volunteers and increased access to community resources.

But it’s not your average mentorship program.

Sarah Hemminger, the co-founder of Thread, explained to my Leadership Maryland class that Thread supports its high school freshmen for nearly 10 years—the remainder of high school and six years thereafter.

Everything from packing lunches, providing rides to school, tutoring, connecting students and their families to existing community resources, coordinating donations—whatever it takes—to help these students realize their potential and thrive.


 

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